Article – From the horse’s mouth
USB-C Hybrid Multiport Adaptor (Product Page)
Satechi have released a USB-C laptop dock which doubles as a storage-device enclosure for M.2 form-factor solid-state drives.
This device, described as the USB-C Hybrid Multiport Adaptor is the same size as a typical portable USB-C hub that you would use to connect USB peripherals or a display to an ultraportable laptop. Here, it would be small enough to stow away with your ThinkPad, MacBook or XPS 13 in a laptop bag or briefcase.
It has 2 USB 3.2 Type-A peripheral ports and a 4K HDMI display connection for an external monitor. I suspect that this works like a DisplayPort – HDMI adaptor but connected in a USB-C DisplayPort alt manner. As well, there is a USB-C PowerDelivery “charge-through” port so you can connect your laptop’s USB-C charger to the adaptor to charge your laptop and power the peripherals. This can support up to 100 watts power according to that standard.
But, wait! There’s more with this device that makes it stand out from the crowd of travel-friendly USB-C docks. Here, it has a compartment for you to install an M.2 form-factor solid-state drive. It can accept most of these drives up to the 2280 physical size factor but cannot support SSDs that work to the NVMe high-speed interface standard. The only tool you should need is a small screwdriver to install the anchoring screw for the M.2 SSD stick.
It is effectively similar to one of those USB portable hard-disk enclosures that you may move a small hard disk to when you upsize an existing computer’s hard disk and the hard disk has some mileage left in it. Here it means that an old SATA solid-state drive can serve as data backup or offload storage for your computer.
The problem that may come about with this USB-C hub that has integrated storage abilities is it may not work well with some dedicated-purpose devices like smart TVs or audio equipment. This is due to such devices not having device-class support for USB hub devices in their firmware and expecting the storage device to be directly connected to their USB port.
But for device compatibility, this Satechi USB-C Hybrid Adaptor should work according to standard USB and USB-C device classes so it can work “plug and play” with most computing setups. This should include use of the USB Mass Storage device-class drivers that are present in most operating systems.
It costs USD$89.99 before shipping and taxes and doesn’t come with any SSD sticks out of the box.
Personally, I would like to see Satechi work towards a variant that uses an NVMe interface for M.2 SSDs in order to support newer SSDs that are likely to be installed in recent laptops. That would then earn its keep when the time comes to upsize a laptop’s SSD storage.
But at least it is a step in the right direction to combine a USB-C docking station and an SSD-drive enclosure in one highly-portable box. This is especially about making it feasible to repurpose that low-capacity SSD stick as auxiliary storage.