boxart
Hardware Info:

OWC USB-C Travel Dock E
Specifications:
1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) Type-C integrated 5.9" cable
2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) USB-A ports
1x USB Type-C port for a power adapter up to 100W
1x HDMI 2.0 port
1x Gigabit Ethernet port
1x SD 4.0 card reader; supports up to 312MB/s
Integrated cable storage
LED power indicator
Dimensions: 3.2" x 1.0" x 3.2"
Weighs 6.1 oz
Price: $64.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you Other World Computing (OWC) for sending us this USB-C Travel Dock E to review!

I have a lot of computers. Like, a lot. I am not just your typical guy who's into tech - my day job is managing Linux servers, and I build my own PCs and servers at home. I also love portable devices, so I actually have 4-5 computers that I call 'mine' - in addition to my server and work Macbook Pro. So, as it turns out, I can really use a small high-quality travel dock like this one!

First, it has to be said that OWC has done a great job with the build quality on the USB-C Travel Dock E. It looks and feels great in the hand, and I'm not worried that it's going to break easily after throwing it in a backpack. The housing is a combination of thick plastic and aluminum. The plastic is very sturdy - no amount of reasonable pressure will make it flex, and it could probably take quite the beating. Don't use it as a weapon though - I'm afraid for how much damage it could do to whomever it might hit! The dock will likely be fine, but you might imprint some tiny blemishes in that aluminum. Gotta keep it looking sharp!

Because it's meant primarily for travel, it comes with an integrated 5.9" USB-C cable to connect to your laptop. I do wish it was a couple of inches longer while using it with my gaming laptop, but it's quite fine for my other stuff, like my work's Macbook Pro or my rather small GPD Win devices. It also charged everything but my gaming laptop perfectly; the only reason the gaming laptop wouldn't charge is because it doesn't support USB-C charging. There are no current USB-C devices that support over 100W charging, though a new 240W standard is coming. But for right now, this OWC supports virtually all USB-C based laptops, since it will pass through nearly 100W of charging power, taking only a small amount for itself.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Very good build quality, and looks great; nice selection of ports; 4k@60Hz output on HDMI port works well; SD 4.0 card reader works great; power delivery works as advertised
Weak Points: Gets quite warm in use; HDMI port is only 2.0 (not 2.0a), so no 4K@60Hz with HDR; rare random screen restarts/disconnects with my portable monitor

Unfortunately, if just plugged into a computer, the USB-C port can supply a small amount of power, but not as much as the Type-A ports, and no data can be passed through the Type-C port, so you can't use that port as pass-through the other way, only as a power port to the laptop, not as a data connection from it.

Speaking of Type-A ports, there are two of them, and they are both of the 5Gb/s variety. They are appropriately colored blue, and transfer data as fast as you could expect that to work. The plugs feel very solid when inserting or removing a cable, and I expect them to last a long time as well.

There is a 1Gb/s ethernet port on this USB-C dock, and it's a very welcome addition. (The previous version of OWC's travel dock did not include this.) My house and ethernet infrastructure is currently in the midst of an overhaul, so I can't easily test the network speed at the moment, but I'll try to update this review when I get a chance to do so.

There are things that are if particular note about this OWC Travel Dock E: the HDMI port, and the SD card slot. I imagine you are thinking right now 'what is so special about those?' Well - I'm glad you asked!

OWC USB-C Travel Dock E

Unfortunately, if just plugged into a computer, the USB-C port can supply a small amount of power, but not as much as the Type-A ports, and no data can be passed through the Type-C port, so you can't use that port as pass-through the other way, only as a power port to the laptop, not as a data connection from it.

Speaking of Type-A ports, there are two of them, and they are both of the 5Gb/s variety. They are appropriately colored blue, and transfer data as fast as you could expect that to work. The plugs feel very solid when inserting or removing a cable, and I expect them to last a long time as well.

There is a 1Gb/s ethernet port on this USB-C dock, and it's a very welcome addition. (The previous version of OWC's travel dock did not include this.) My house and ethernet infrastructure is currently in the midst of an overhaul, so I can't easily test the network speed at the moment, but I'll try to update this review when I get a chance to do so.

There are things that are if particular note about this OWC Travel Dock E: the HDMI port, and the SD card slot. I imagine you are thinking right now 'what is so special about those?' Well - I'm glad you asked!

First of all, the vast majority of HDMI ports on USB-C docks are typically HDMI 1.4; these kinds of ports support only 1080p or maybe 1440p at 60Hz; 4K is supported at 30Hz, if it's supported at all. However, this one includes an HDMI 2.0 port, which supports a resolution of 4K@60Hz - this leads to a very nice desktop experience on a 4K monitor. However, it must be pointed out that HDR support was added in HDMI 2.0a - that little 'a' makes all the difference. So HDR is extremely finicky with this dock, if you can get it to work at all. I tried and it was, well, finicky - either the TV I was testing with didn't go into HDR mode, or it would try but things would look strange.

The other feature that is a bigger deal that it appears at first glance is the SD 4.0 card slot. The Secure Digital slots on most laptops and card readers tend to be of the older 3.0 variety; this supports all currently released SD card sizes, but you are performance limited to around 90MB/s. I confirmed this with my formerly best SD card reader than I have in the house, and older Lexar. With this SD 4.0 card slot, it supports a transfer rate of up to 312MB/s. I recently reviewed the OWC Atlas S Pro 128GB SD card, and I saw transfer rates of over 260MB/s with this OWC Travel Dock E! In an ironic twist of fate, my desktop computer's best SD card reader is now a travel dock designed for portable computers.

My experience testing the OWC USB-C Travel Dock E has been mostly positive, with a few issues to note. First, the little square can sometimes get quite warm to the touch; not enough to burn anyone, but you can definitely tell it's on if you touch it. The other issue is that I would get occasional, rare video blinks when using it as the power source and video connection for my portable monitor. I am guessing that it's related to the USB power draw for the screen, rather than video signal, but I can't be totally sure. All I know is it would blink sometimes and go right back without me doing much of anything. This testing was performed on my work laptop, a MacBook Pro (with M1 Pro processor).  From what I can tell, it doesn't work on Nintendo Switch, which isn't surprising - it doesn't like anything that doesn't use the exact same chipsets that Nintendo used on their original one.

Despite the small quirks I ran into, I am still generally positive on the OWC USB-C Travel Dock E. The build quality is great, the feature set is better than many similar devices, and I really like how it looks. I believe the price is reasonable for what it includes, and is certainly a step up from the cheaper USB-C docks I've bought in the past. Recommended!


Allkeys

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