The Plugable USB-C Stand Dock doesn’t stop at simply holding up your iPad so you can see the display, it’s also an 8-port hub that allows you to connect an external screen and other accessories to your tablet.
I put the portable and affordable stand/hub to the test in my home office. Here’s how is stood up to the challenge.
This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.
Plugable USB-C Stand Dock review
As great as an iPad feels in your hands, sometimes you gotta go hands free. Whether you’re simply checking a recipe while you cook, or have gone whole hog and turned your tablet into a desktop computer with keyboard and mouse, iPad can handle it. But you need a good stand.
And if you’re using your iPad to its full extent, you probably need a hub that lets you connect to an HDMI monitor, keyboard/mouse, flash drives and SD cards.
With the Plugable USB-C Stand Dock, you get both iPad accessories in one. That’s less clutter… and less money out of your wallet.
Portable folding iPad stand
The first thing you see when you look at the stand is an aluminum plate that curves up along its bottom edge to hold a tablet. The “shelf” is padded to protect the computer from scratches, and is wide enough to be compatible with a variety of models, not only iPad.
The support arm of the Plugable USB-C Stand Dock has a double hinge design so it can be adjusted in two ways. You can tilt your tablet so the screen and the front-facing camera point toward your face. But consider, the computer is held in place by gravity, so you’ll need the device leaning back to keep your iPad from tumbling out of the stand.
The second hinge allows you to adjust the height of your computer. The bottom edge of your tablet can be up about 2 inches, or all the way down until it touches the ground.
The hinges are tight enough that the stand supports my 12.9-inch iPad Pro. There’s no question of it collapsing under the weight.
But you can fold the Plugable USB-C Stand Dock until it’s about 1.3 inches thick, 4.0 in. wide and 7.75 in. long — small enough to fit easily in a backpack. It weighs only 1.3 pounds.
The base is also wrapped in aluminum, and it’s where you’ll find the eight ports.
8 useful ports
iPads have long supported a wide range of external ports without needing additional software drivers, adding to the tablet’s usefulness. Even better, the new iPadOS 16 enables high-end models with M-series processors to make full use of external displays. It’s reached the point where an iPad can be a light-duty desktop.
The ports built into the Plugable USB-C Stand Dock make that iPad desktop even more useful. A power/data cable runs from the accessory to the tablet, giving access to all the ports.
That includes an HDMI port that supports up to 4K video at 30Hz. I tested it with my 27-inch, 4K screen from Innocn and I can definitely tell that the display is 30Hz, not the usual 60Hz. The external screen looks fine, but not as good as it usually does.
The two USB-A ports allow you to plug in a keyboard and mouse. I tested each type of accessory to be sure, and there were no problems.
These ports are also useful for flash drives, but be aware that they support the older USB 3.0 standard, which means they top out at 5 Gbps. In my real-world testing, transferring from drive to iPad over one of these ports goes quickly — I can move a 1GB test file in 5-8 seconds. When going the other direction, transfer speeds depend heavily on the quality of the flash drive. With a top-quality drive, I can move a 1GB file in under 5 secs. With a cheap thumbdrive, the same transfer took about 2 minutes.
Plugable also built in a pair of SD and microSD card readers. These are very useful if you have a drone or other camera that uses these small memory cards. Moving a 1GB test file off a card and onto my iPad via this reader took 8 secs. But transfers to the card are slower, taking 75 secs. to copy the same test file. Both card readers are available at the same time so you can easily move files between them.
There’s also an audio jack in the stand/hub. Plug a pair of speakers or maybe a headphones into the Plugable USB-C Stand Dock and you’re ready to listen to music while you work.
The list wraps up with a USB-C port needed to connect the hub to your computer using the 18-inch cable that comes with the hub. There’s a second USB-C port for connecting the accessory to a power source. This can handle up to 100W — more than enough for any iPad.
All these ports are supported by any iPad with USB-C, which is almost every model in Apple’s current product lineup. Full external-display functionality requires an iPad Pro or iPad Air with M-series processor.
Plugable USB-C Stand Dock final thoughts
Don’t fall into the trap thinking that the only “real” computer is a Mac. Any computer able to get the job done is a real computer. That can be an iPad in a stand, especially when its one like Plugable’s with additional ports.
That said, the HDMI and USB-A ports in this stand/dock are not top of the line, which I’d be more critical about if the price for this accessory was higher. As it is, I can recommend the product for productivity but it’s not well suited for entertainment.
The Plugable USB-C Stand Dock costs $69, which wouldn’t be too bad a price if it were only a stand without a hub. As it is the price is decent. Plugable sells product through Amazon so head there to make a purchase.
Buy from: Amazon
If you want to shop around, the Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub for iPad Pro is a strong competitor. It’s more portable but has one less USB-A port and a higher price. Read my review of this accessory.