Plugable’s very affordable HDMI adapter connects your Mac and TV [Review]

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Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter review
Using an external display with a MacBook is a breeze with the Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

MacBooks don’t have HDMI ports, but the Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter makes it easy to connect your laptop to an external monitor. Even better, this accessory is inexpensive and very portable.

I tested the adapter for work, watching video, and playing games. Here’s how it held up.

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Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter review

While a MacBook display on its own is good enough, studies have shown you’ll get much more done on a larger display. But Apple doesn’t make it easy to connect your laptop to the HDMI monitors that are widely available and relatively inexpensive.

That’s where the Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter comes in. It makes using a second screen with your MacBook or iPad Pro a snap.

Hardware

The design of this product is simple and straightforward. A 1.7 inch by 1 inch by 0.4 inch (4.3cm x 2.3cm x 1.1cm) piece holds the HDMI port. It attaches to a USB-C connector via a 1.5-inch flexible cable. The whole package weighs less than half an ounce.

It’s completely pocketable. Or, in the alternate use case, you could easily leave it attached to the HDMI cable of a monitor, ready to be plugged in at any time.

Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter performance

A big advantage of this peripheral is it’s “plug and play.” Attach it to your MacBook or iPad Pro, plug in an HDMI cable, and you’re good to go.

I tested the Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter with a variety of screens, and had no difficulties. I even used it with the LikPok Hyper Mirror wireless HDMI transmitter without a hitch.

It supports up to 4K (3840 by 2160 pixels) video at 30Hz. Other options include 3440 by 1440, 2560 by 1440, 1920 by 1200, 1920 by 1080 and lower.

This adapter doesn’t offer the highest resolution or screen refresh rate, so real videophiles and hard-core gamers might not be satisfied. But if all you’re looking for is a way to connect your Mac to a larger screen so you can easily read emails while also accessing the web, this is a fine solution. And it’s decent for watching TV or gaming.

Plugable’s adapter fully supports any Mac with a USB-C port. It works well with an iPad Pro, within the limitations of the iPadOS. That means it’s mostly good for connecting a tablet to a larger display for enjoying streaming video. Again, gaming works too.

I didn’t test it with Windows, Android, Linux or Chromebooks, but this peripheral should work with any computer with USB-C DP Alt Mode.

Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter doesn’t require an additional software.
The Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter is very small.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter final thoughts

There are plenty of multiport adapters on the market, each with a collection range of ports. Plugable’s offerings takes a different route — it handles a single job. By doing so, it’s very inexpensive and portable.

It doesn’t support high-end resolutions and refresh rates, though.

Pricing

The Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter is $14.95 on its manufacturer’s website. Amazon charges that same price.

Buy from: Amazon

To see the value, consider that Apple sells a Belkin video adapter that’s a bit better but still very similar. It costs $49.95.

Other Comparable products

Anyone who needs a USB-C to HDMI adapter might want to connect to other accessories too. Fortunately, there are some great options with loads of ports.

Consider the Satechi Aluminum USB-C Multiport Pro Adapter. It has an HDMI port and a lot more. Like an pair of USB-A ports, and memory card readers too. It costs a lot more than $14.95, though.

Or the OWC USB-C Travel Dock is built like a tank. It has an HDMI port, plus USB-A and SD.

Plugable provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.