Laptops

Infinite USB is back, this time tackling the new MacBook's lone USB-C port

Infinite USB is back, this tim...
Infinite USB's new accessory plugs into a USB Type C port, to expand what you can do with the new MacBook's lone port
Infinite USB's new accessory plugs into a USB Type C port, to expand what you can do with the new MacBook's lone port
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Charging an iPhone and iPad through the standard (non-Type C) USB version of Infinite USB
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Charging an iPhone and iPad through the standard (non-Type C) USB version of Infinite USB
Chaining several Infinite USB accessories together
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Chaining several Infinite USB accessories together
Infinite USB's new accessory plugs into a USB Type C port, to expand what you can do with the new MacBook's lone port
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Infinite USB's new accessory plugs into a USB Type C port, to expand what you can do with the new MacBook's lone port
When you order Infinite USB-C, you can choose from models with MicroUSB, Lightning and female USB cables
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When you order Infinite USB-C, you can choose from models with MicroUSB, Lightning and female USB cables
The accessory magnetically snaps shut when you're finished using it
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The accessory magnetically snaps shut when you're finished using it
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Five years ago we saw a clever take on USB splitter accessories, with the daisy-chainable Infinite USB. Today the company is back to try to tackle the problems created by Apple's extreme minimalism in the new Retina MacBook, with a new version that plugs into its USB Type C port.

While that new 12-in MacBook has one of the smoothest laptop designs you'll find, it also only has that one port. The new Infinite USB-C does exactly what its predecessor did – only plugging into a USB Type C port, like you'll find on the new Retina MacBook as well as the 2015 Chromebook Pixel.

Chaining several Infinite USB accessories together
Chaining several Infinite USB accessories together

In case you missed Infinite USB the first time around, the new version is a lot like the old. It's a small accessory that plugs into a USB-C port, with an adapter (for either Lightning, microUSB or female USB) snaking out from one side. But it also has a female USB-C port on it, which lets you stack multiple Infinite USB-C accessories, daisy chaining ports to your heart's content. You can't actually stack an infinite number of them, as the name suggests, but you can chain more than anyone is likely to ever need.

Suddenly the new MacBook's frustratingly limited one port isn't quite as limited.

Standard USB splitter accessories, though, are a dime a dozen, and we'll likely see many of those showing up before long that fit the new Type C ports. If you only need one or two extra ports at a time on the new MacBook or Chromebook Pixel, then grabbing one of those accessories may come out cheaper than buying two or three Infinite USB-C adapters (on Kickstarter, they'll cost you a minimum of US$18 each, and that goes up to $20 each if you want to choose your own color).

It's a clever idea that may not ultimately make the most financial sense.

When you order Infinite USB-C, you can choose from models with MicroUSB, Lightning and female USB cables
When you order Infinite USB-C, you can choose from models with MicroUSB, Lightning and female USB cables

Infinite USB-C also doesn't solve the new MacBook's fundamental issue that you're required to lug adapters around with you to use any USB 3.0 (or older) accessories. This may be a small accessory, but it's still an adapter nonetheless – and another thing you'll need to remember to throw in your bag.

Since the Infinite USB-C has that female USB Type port on it, you might be wondering if you can charge the new MacBook while using another accessory. But the Infinite dongle unfortunately doesn't have the necessary charging module to make that happen. So if you want to charge the MacBook while also connecting to a USB 3.0 device or accessory, your best bet right now is still Apple's $79 Multiport Adapter.

The Infinite USB-C is currently on Kickstarter, and has met its original $10,000 goal 20 times over, with three days left. Backers are expected to receive theirs this July, by which time you'll likely have many more USB Type C adapters and accessories to choose from.

For more on Apple's single-ported notebook, you can check out Gizmag's new Retina MacBook review.

Sources: Infinite USB, Kickstarter

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3 comments
Daishi
In relation to the MacBook you can buy an Intel Atom PC on a stick like MeeGoPad for $100 and it comes with a standard USB and a micro USB port. It only comes with a trial version of Windows but the point is it's tiny and there is still room for 2 USB ports.
Jeff Rolfe
Worst problem that most USB adapters, including this one, have is sticking objects out of the side of your device - it puts a lot of strain on the smaller & smaller sockets being used and leaves the adapter/dongle and socket vulnerable to being damaged by any sort of impact!
I've not seen a strong, flexible USB adapter with a very small plug on the lines of the nano wifi adapters which would reduce the risk of damage to either dongle or device.
I have grandchildren as testers!
Gregg Eshelman
Why is Apple so obsessed with making computers that have to be surrounded with a rat's nest of cables and peripherals if you want anything more than the basic system?
"Use wireless!" they say. Well then there's still a clutter of gadgets, most of which still require power cords, so then you have to add a power strip to the pile.
The original Air had just one USB port. Acer quickly replied with their little laptop with THREE ports and a full size Ethernet port.