Portability is important when I travel, but when I'm at home I need power. That means my laptop usually sits on the charger and I use my desktop. I like having a desktop monitor, my full-size keyboard, my trackball, and enough ports to add and remove things as I see fit. As cool as modern laptops are, most of them have stripped out most of the useful ports for using them like full desktops, at least the way I use mine.

VAVA, a company with multiple USB-C hubs in its gallery of products, made something with a little more power baked in. Specifically, an actual power cable so this hub can act more like a docking station. Not only does it offer me a bunch of ports like any good hub, but it charges my laptop while I use it. And it does way, way more when I need it to.

Desktop Power

VAVA USB-C Docking Station

Supercharging my laptop

Everything you could possibly want to add to your laptop, all through a single USB-C cable that also charges while you use it. Turn your MacBook into a battle station.

Pros:

  • So. Many. Ports.
  • Powers everything I could ever need
  • Qi charging is a huge plus

Cons:

  • Front USB ports are power only

VAVA USB-C Docking Station What I like

As much as I enjoy the slim, ultraportable nature of the MacBook Pro line when I'm out and about, when I'm at my desk I need a little more. The whole point of the MacBook Pro is to offer me a laptop with enough power to use as a desktop, but with a pair of USB-C ports and not much else that limits my options a bit. I don't know anyone with a MacBook Pro without a hub of some kind to add a few ports, but you need something truly special to be called a docking station in my book. VAVA's rig offers:

  • Two HDMI ports
  • Six USB ports
  • USB-C port
  • Ethernet port
  • SD Card slot
  • Headphone jack
  • Qi charge

I don't know anyone with a MacBook Pro without a hub of some kind.

It's all accessible through a single USB-C cable. Well, sort of. The wireless charging pad sits on the front face of the dock, so I can drop my phone on right after plugging in my laptop. The otherwise messy array of cables for my preferred desktop set up is concealed behind my monitor, and the powered dock is enough to charge my MacBook at the same rate my normal charger would. The best part is that I'm not even using the full extent of this dock, I could connect another display if I really felt like I needed it.

And that's what makes this docking station such a big deal for me. It's everything I wanted and more, so I know I can expand if and when I'm ready. It's also not platform dependent, which I really appreciate. This will work with anything running USB-C, including every MacBook and whatever comes next. It's the first accessory I've had in a while that felt legitimately futureproof, instead of just compensating for what wasn't baked into my machine.

VAVA USB-C Docking Station What I don't like

As capable as this docking station is, there are a few things I wish were a little different about the design. The front panel, which is mostly set up for the wireless charger, isn't really designed for the iPhone X, XS, and certainly not the XS Max. There's an adjustable plate at the bottom of the panel so you can fit your phone, but it's not quite enough to make it so you can stand any of the new iPhones up vertically. Instead, you have to lay the phone horizontally on the plate in order to charge your phone. Which, while good enough to actually charge the phone just fine, isn't super functional when you want to use the phone while it is on the charger.

There are some important things to know about the six USB-A ports. While there are a ton of ports on this thing, they aren't all created equal. Only two of these ports are USB 3.0. Two more are USB 2.0, and unfortunately, two of them are just for charging. These two ports are on the front, so what looks like ideal ports for connecting a thumb drive when you need to aren't actually that useful. Clearly, it's too much to ask for six USB 3.0 ports on top of everything else going on the back of this thing, but it'd be nice if the front ports were slightly more functional.

VAVA USB-C Docking Station Should you buy it?

4 out of 5

If you've been looking for a docking station so your laptop can be a little more useful when you're at your desk, this is hands down the best I've used. And having the wireless charging capability on the front is brilliant. It's just plain cool to be able to do all of this with a single cable, and the $216 asking price is more than fair for everything you get here.

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