Sometimes you just need the bare essentials. I’ve been searching for USB-C hubs and docks for several months now and I’ve been wanting ones that cover all the bases. There are some that are small and easy to toss into a laptop bag for travel and others that are massive and meant for more permanent installations. And then there are docks like the Symbus from Moshi that are just the right size.
Symbus is a compact USB-C dock for use with a MacBook or other USB-C laptop. Its purpose is to provide you with a semi-permanent solution to creating a desktop environment that’s easy to interface with alongside your laptop. The dock is small but weighted so that it doesn’t slide around on a desk. It measures 4.53″ x 2.8″ x 1.14″. So, it’s small enough to slide into a laptop bag for portable working locations, but honestly, I’d leave it as a permanent installation since that’s how it was designed. The dock has one HDMI port that is compatible with HD displays (4K @ 30Hz, 1080P @ 60Hz) and one Ethernet port that will transfer up to 1000 Mbps. This is actually a lovely option since most USB-C laptops have no easy option for a wired Internet connection.
On the front are two (2) USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports that will transfer data at a rate of 5Gbps. Both of these USB ports provide fast charging in addition to the data delivery. Aside from those four ports, there is also a DC power port on the back that connects to a standard power pack and cord for the dock. Symbus will provide power delivery up to 65W for laptop charging. This is compatible with MacBooks and MacBook Pros up through the 13-inch model from late 2016. The 15-inch MacBook Pro (late 2016) with Touch Bar requires 87W of power in order to charge it. The final feature on the dock is the Smart LED indicator that shows battery status for the laptop you are connected to.
The box is pretty standard for Moshi products. It is reminiscent of Apple branded boxes (mostly white) and it features a nice photo of the product on the front. The main features are shown on the front of the box while more detailed remarks are found on the back. When you open the box you will find the dock and its power accessories. There is a small carboard insert that talks about the Moshi USB-C Dock utility app. The app is very simple as it’s really just a monitor for the unit. When it’s plugged in, you can see the charging status of the laptop, eject any connected devices, and update the firmware if it’s needed. There is no official manual that is boxed with Symbus. The operation is pretty self-explanatory though as it’s designed to be plug ‘n play.
The main concern I had with this dock was its charging capabilities. I have an HP Spectre x360 laptop that uses USB-C to charge at 45W. So it was the perfect guinea pig for the project. I plugged the dock into the wall and then it’s USB-C connection to the HP. The laptop was actually at 0% battery so it was the perfect time to test this out. After about 40 minutes, the laptop’s battery is showing a 32% charge. The Symbus has registered a bit warm to the touch, but it’s not a dangerous ‘hot’ feeling. The next test I performed was to transfer a file from a USB 3.0 flash drive to the desktop of the computer. The video file was over 360MB in size and it only took 3 seconds to transfer. I did have an odd issue come up while I was reviewing files on the flash drive though. The file explorer window on the HP kept reverting back to the root file menu on the flash drive and then it would open additional windows without my involvement. The HP Spectre x360 comes equipped with a USB port so I tried the same drive in that port and haven’t had any glitches. That said, I also plugged in a Bluetooth adapter into the Symbus and the mouse has worked just fine. I’m willing to dismiss the glitch as just a ‘glitch’ and not a defect since there were other devices connected that worked without issue.
The Symbus is a nice solution for incorporating a laptop into a desktop environment. It’s got a great, clean design to it and it’s minimalist in its purpose. It’s been a strong performer for me and I would recommend it to others.