Brilliant 6-in-1 USB-C Hub makes iPad Pro even more useful [Review]

The USB-C port in Apple’s latest professional-grade tablet is a giant improvement, but a new accessory still manages to make it even more useful. The HyperDrive iPad Pro allows every type of wired accessory supported by this computer to be accessed. Even better, it’s designed to clip to the side of the slate for maximum ease of use.

Don’t miss our in-depth review of this USB-C hub developed especially for the latest iPad.

Hyper HyperDrive iPad Pro review: 6-in-1 USB-C hub

Any USB-C hub will work with the 2018 iPad Pro, but Hyper designed its offering to cling to the side of the tablet. The casing is aluminum and the outer corners are rounded to match the iPad, so this add-on almost looks like it’s a part of the computer, especially if you choose the appropriate color.

At 3.6 inches by 1.2 in. by 0.4 inches and just 1.1 ounces (0.07 pounds), the HyperDrive is easily pocketable.

Still, there’s room for an HDMI port, USB-C and USB-A ports, 3.5mm headset jack, as well as SD card and microSD card readers.

Hyper HyperDrive iPad Pro
HyperDrive iPad Pro offers a 3.5mm headset jack, a USB-A port, microSD and SD card readers, a USB-C port and an HDMI port.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

A black plastic flange on one long edge of the hub serves to keep it in place when cables are plugged in. This reduces stress on the iPad Pro’s USB-C port. In our testing, this worked very well; the hub stayed connected even with a heavy HDMI cable plugged in.

Using HyperDrive with a MacBook

The flange doesn’t interfere with attaching the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio, but the HyperDrive can’t be clipped onto the side of the iPad Pro when it’s in a case that covers most of the bottom edge. And that’s a lot of them. The flange does prevent this hub from being plugged into a MacBook.

Hyper’s solution is to make the flange removable, and include an adapter that allows a short USB-C extension cable to be attached. This allows the hub to be used with a non-iPad computer, but it’s a hassle. Removing the flange and adding the cable requires removing and replacing screws. Anyone wanting to easily swap the HyperDrive back and forth between an iPad and MacBook will have to give up on clipping the hub to the side of their tablet.

Also, be aware that the flange fits tightly against display and might interfere with a screen protector.

Hyper HyperDrive iPad Pro performance

Serious tablet owners can probably find a use for all six of the ports in this hub.

HDMI port

The HDMI port in the HyperDrive is capable of 4K video at 30Hz, or 2K at 60Hz. We tested it and experienced no issues.

This connection can be used to mirror the iPad Pro display, which doesn’t take up the full width of a TV because of differences in resolution. However, most video applications are smart enough to deal with this, so they do take full advantage of the external display. We confirmed this with the Amazon Prime app.

There are iOS presentation applications as well as drawing apps that also take full advantage of a second screen.

Hyper HyperDrive for iPad Pro
A flange on the edge of the HyperDrive helps reduce strain on the iPad Pro’s USB-C port.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

USB Type-A port

The USB-A port in the HyperDrive allows an external keyboard to be plugged in. This can be very convenient for business travelers who don’t want to carry a keyboard around with them. Just ask to borrow a standard one when you arrive at your remote workplace.

Unfortunately, this port can’t be used with a mouse because iOS doesn’t support that type of accessory. That might change next fall, though.

Plug the Lightning cable that comes with an iPhone into the USB-A port to transfer pictures on the handset to the tablet, but not vice versa. Inserting the plug automatically opens the Photo apps and shows the images that can be copied over.

This setup will also charge the iPhone, as power is flowing from the hub to the handset.

USB drives can be inserted into this port, but only to import images from specific folders used by cameras. Sadly, there’s no way to transfer images from the iPad to the external drive, again because of limitations in iOS. There are hopes this will change in iOS 13. (Keep your fingers crossed.)

SD and microSD card readers

The HyperDrive offers both an SD card reader and a microSD card reader. Both are handy for importing images taken with external cameras. Just insert a card of either format into the reader and the Photos application will automatically launch showing thumbnails off the pictures available for transfer.

These images have to be stored in specific folders, but those are set by industry standard. Every camera we tested uses them.

Again, this is a one-way processes. Pictures can’t be moved from tablet to card because iOS doesn’t support that.

3.5mm headset jack

The headset jack in the HyperDrive is a boon to those irritated that Apple left one out of the 2018 iPad Pro, instead expecting people to use Bluetooth speakers or headphones.

That said, Hyper doesn’t seem to have gone all out with this feature. While we don’t have the equipment to test audio quality, we felt that a song played over a Bluetooth connection sounded slightly better than over a wired connection to the same speaker. The difference isn’t huge, and anyone just wanting some music or a podcast might not care.

USB Type-C port

The primary use of the USB-C port in the HyperDrive is to allow the iPad Pro to charge while using other accessories. Our tests indicate that this hub transfers power at 18W at most, even though the iPad can receive power at up to 30W. Not a terrible limitation but one to be aware of.

On the other side of the coin, the port is good for more than just power. We daisy-chined a second hub and everything but the HDMI and USB-C ports on the second hub worked fine.

HyperDrive, iPad Pro, and accessories
This is what’s possible with the HyperDrive and an iPad Pro.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Hyper HyperDrive iPad Pro final thoughts

There’s so much potential in the USB-C port in the iPad Pro — potential that’s fully unlocked by Hyper’s 6-port hub designed for this tablet. The benefits to businesspeople and consumers are clear: make a presentation from your iPad, use an easily-available keyboard, copy your vacation photos onto your tablet in a snap… the list goes on and on.

HyperDrive is well designed, with the flange is a brilliant addition to reduce potential damage to the iPad’s USB-C port. All it’s ports work as well as they can, given some irritating iOS limitations.

Hyper’s HyperDrive iPad Pro sells for $89.99. It’s chief rival, the Satechi Mobile Pro Hub, has a similar design and costs less, but it doesn’t have the memory card slots, nor does it include the protective flange.

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

This article was originally posted here