Kanex USB-C hub becomes part of your iPad Pro [Review]

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Kanex iAdapt 6-in-1 Multiport USB Type-C Docking Station review
The Kanex iAdapt Docking Station clips securely to your iPad Pro, adding significantly to its capabilities.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Kanex’s USB-C hub clips solidly to the side of your 2018 iPad Pro, adding HDMI and USB-A ports, dual memory card readers, and even a 3.5mm audio jack. It can be used alongside Apple’s popular keyboard folio or without.

This latest entry in the iAdapt line offers a very unusual design that wraps around a corner of the tablet, so we tested to see how well it stands up to real-world use.

Kanex iAdapt 6-in-1 Multiport USB Type-C Docking Station review

A danger with clip-on hubs is that they can put pressure on the iPad Pro’s USB-C port. Attaching an HDMI cable, a USB cable and an audio cable can add up to quite a bit of strain. Even worse, this is uneven pressure, twisting the tablet’s port.

Kanex’s solution is make its hub L shaped so it can clip to one corner of the iPad. It attaches to the USB-C port via an short flexible cable. This makes the hub easily accessible without putting any pressure on the port.

This design means the iAdapt Docking Station can also be used with a MacBook. It can’t clip onto the laptop, but when plugged into a USB-C port the HDMI, USB-A and other ports are available. That extra flexibility is very convenient.

Speaking of flexibility, this is a one-size-fits-all product. There’s only one version for the 12.9- and 11-inch iPad Pro.

The iAdapt Docking Station clings tightly enough to the iPad Pro to almost become part of the computer. You can carry the tablet around with this add-on attached and it won‘t slip off. That said, because this hub sits behind the display it adds considerably to the thickness of the corner its clinging to.

Most of the exterior is aluminum, and it comes in space grey, with curved corners but sharp edges. It matches the appearance of the iPad Pro quite well, especially tablets that are also space grey.

It’s 3.25 inches by 1.4 in. by 0.75 in. (not counting the cable) and 1.7 ounces. It fits in a pocket, or goes easily into a gear bag or purse.

If you’re carrying the iPad Pro around with this accessory attached it’s better to set it down face first because the tablet won’t lie flat on its back — the hub sticks out too much. And, of course, it’s not possible to flip the keyboard behind the screen with the iAdapt Docking Station attached.

This hub rests over one of the tablet’s four speakers but is designed to allow the sound to pass through. We couldn’t detect any appreciable effect on audio quality.

Plus, the designers solved another big design challenge: Part of the Apple Smart Keyboard sits behind the iPad’s display, making the tablet thicker exactly where the iAdapt Docking Station needs to connect. But not everyone uses this keyboard, so the hub’s design has to adapt to the differing thicknesses. Kanex’s solution is a removable insert for when the hub is being used without the clip-on keyboard.

Kanex iAdapt 6-in-1 Multiport USB Type-C Docking Station
The iAdapt Multiport Docking Station has an insert so it can be used without a clip-on keyboard.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

This works well with Apple’s offering, and we successfully tested it with the Brydge Pro too. We had equal luck with folio cases that cling to the iPad with magnets, as long as they are fairly thin. The iAdapt Docking Station can’t be clipped on alongside more protective cases that wrap around the corners of the tablet, like the STM Atlas.

6 ports

The USB Type-C port in the 2018 iPad Pro supports a wide range of accessories, and the iAdapt Docking Station offers the appropriate ports for almost all of them.

On the top is a USB Type-A port. Having this set around the corner from all the others give plenty of room for over-sized thumbdrives.

With iOS 12 this port can be used with keyboards. Install iPadOS 13 and it can access almost any USB drive as well as a mouse. It offers up to 5Gbps.

On the other edge of Kanex’s accessory is an HDMI port. When used with an iPad Pro this supports up to 2K video at 60Hz. A MacBook increases that to 4K at 30Hz.

Next to this is a microSD memory card reader stacked above a full-size SD card reader. These support cards up to 2TB in size. With iOS 12, images can be imported from these cards, but iPadOS 13 enables full access to all the contents.

A USB-C port on the iAdapt Docking Station allows the iPad to receive power while this hub is in use, but that’s just the beginning. Other USB-C accessories can be daisy-chained in.

Near the bottom of the hub is a 3.5mm headphone jack, convenient for plugging in wired headphones or speakers.

Adapt Multiport USB-C Docking Station
You can plug six different accessories into the Adapt Multiport Docking Station.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Kanex iAdapt Docking Station performance

We tested all of the ports in this hub it’s an iPad Pro running iOS 13 and can confirm they perform as expected.

Tests of the ports were done individually and in combination. There were no difficulties streaming a video stored on a thumbdrive to an HDMI television. Or copying images from a USB drive to a microSD card.

The iAdapt Docking Station was able to read the contents of USB-C thumbdrive. And it could access the USB-A port on a second USB-C hub.

Audio quality through the 3.5mm jack is fine for listening to headphones while working, but probably isn’t studio quality.

This accessory gets only slightly warm, even when multiple ports are being used. It’s aluminum casing helps it shed this heat.

Kanex iAdapt 6-in-1 Multiport USB Type-C Docking Station final thoughts

The 2018 iPad Pro is the first Apple tablet with a USB-C port. Accessory-makers are still exploring the best designs to work with the powerful port. Satechi’s rival offering is quite simple, while the HyperDrive version is also designed to protect the tablet’s USB port. More than either of those though, the Kanex iAdapt Docking Station can take up semi-permanent residence on the side of the tablet.

The design makes it better-suited for iPad Pros that generally have a clip-on keyboard attached. And it’s not compatible with protective cases.

Pricing

Kanex’s list price for the Kanex iAdapt Docking Station is $99.95. At the time of this writing, this is a B&H exclusive.

Buy from: B&H Photo Video

Competing products

The rival Satechi Mobile Pro Hub sells for $59.99, but it lacks built-in memory card readers. Hyper’s HyperDrive iPad Pro is $89.99, and is the iAdapt’s strongest competition.

Kanex provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more stuff we recommend.