When businesses started shifting workforces to remote work a year ago, many employees had to figure out how to set up a home office quickly. Even if you had the perfect space or decided the couch would do, having the right tools is even more important.
While plenty of companies supply employees with work from home gear, that’s a luxury smaller businesses can’t afford. And if all you had was a laptop and mouse, it can be difficult for a person to be as productive who was used to a two-monitor (or more) setup at the office.
Luckily, that’s fixed with a small gadget that expands your laptop’s capabilities, and a recent release from Anker adds the bonus of more storage. But is it worth the cost of upgrading or adding a USB hub for the first time?
Working from home must-haves
The must-have work from home accessory at the beginning of the pandemic was the webcam, which led to shortages globally. Not a lot of focus was put on docking stations or USB hubs that allow you to connect one or more monitors and other peripherals to your existing setup.
They come in all shapes and sizes, most with at least one HDMI port and at least two standard USB ports, and connect to a laptop via USB-A or USB-C. The latter even allows for pass-through charging, meaning one less thing to plug into your laptop.
The recently-released Anker PowerExpand 4-in-1 USB-C hub doesn’t have a bunch of expansion ports but what it does have is a built-in SSD for file storage. And that makes it worth a look for both working from home and traveling.
Anker PowerExpand 4-in-1 SSD USB-C Hub
Anker sent a sample unit of this USB-C hub for me to review with basic specs including a single 4K HDMI port, two standard USB ports and one USB-C input for pass-through charging. Now think about your own setup.
Let’s say you have a fairly modern laptop like mine, which is an HP Spectre x360 15-inch 2-in-1 PC with a single HDMI port, USB port and two USB-C ports. One of which is a much faster Thunderbolt port. I can already add a second monitor, a phone charger and a wired keyboard or mouse.
With this Anker, I can add another monitor thanks to the HDMI port and other tech like a webcam that’s a much higher resolution than the one built into the laptop. While I have a much more powerful docking station for my home office, I was able to take my setup to the patio on a recent nice day and it worked flawlessly.
Bonus: SSD and pass-through laptop charging
The fact that this USB-C hub has a built-in 256GB SSD already makes it much more unique than others on the market. You can store backups of your own personal files and images or use it strictly to save work-related material.
I also mentioned the pass-through charging, which is definitely a bonus if you have a compatible USB-C cable and high-wattage power adapter. That simplifies the setup even more, especially if you take your laptop and this hub on a trip.
Its small size and carry pouch make it the perfect travel gadget, fitting in virtually any pocket in a backpack or messenger bag. Bring along an HDMI cable to turn even a TV into a second screen.
Is this Anker hub worth it?
The Anker PowerExpand 4-in-1 SSD USB-C Hub can be the perfect home office or travel accessory, depending on your situation. Just make sure to check your laptop’s specs to make sure it’s compatible. The good news is that this hub works for both PC and MacBook laptops.
While the $99.99 price tag might seem a little high for a hub with limited ports, that extra cost is the built-in 256GB SSD. For me, that absolutely makes it worth the extra for that added convenience. That’s even taking into account that this is a secondary hub for my setup.
I’ve used various Anker products for several years, including portable chargers and countless charging cables. This is another hit.