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The Kadi Port: More Ports for Your MacBook

I thought long and hard about my use cases before I took the plunge and bought a 12 inch MacBook last year. Could I really live with just one port on the machine, and one that consists of the relatively new USB-C at that?

In the end, I came to the conclusion that yes, it would work for me. A year later, I haven't regretted the decision. Most of the time, I can simply enjoy having a lightweight, sleek, and portable laptop. When I do have to connect it to something, it's usually a projector, when giving a presentation. In that situation, it doesn't matter to me that there's an ugly adapter dangling from the machine, since it's now stationary for the length of the presentation anyway. Afterwards, I unplug it and it goes back to being sleek again.

Nonetheless, I did look into alternatives to the adapters that Apple is selling (I own both the VGA and the HDMI adapter, since you can still encounter both connections in the wild). Not surprisingly, a couple of Kickstarter projects also tried their luck in this area. I ended up backing three of them.

Soon, however, the Kickstarter projects began to hit technical limitations. Apparently, there was, at the time, no USB-C chipset on the market that could do everything they promised. As a result, one project gave up entirely (and we got our money back). Another restarted with the aim of producing a more traditional external USB hub. Only one project charged on, but was hit with a lot of delays.

So instead of an estimated delivery in August 2015, it took until August 2016 for the Kadi Port to arrive on my doorstep.

The Kadi Port comes in a darkish grey / anthrazit colour. I thought it was also available in space grey, to match the colour of my MacBook, but that must have been one of the other projects; the project page clearly states that it has a "soft matte black finish", with no other colour options mentioned. With a year's delay, can you blame me for the confusion? It does actually look quite nice when attached to the MacBook, so all's well.

The fit is excellent. When plugged in to the MacBook, there's no noticeable gap between the device and the laptop and even the curved bit at the top fits nicely around the MacBook enclosure.

One thing that immediately became clear is that it's important to make it a habit to remove the Kadi Port by grabbing it at the top, i.e. place your thumb before the "K" of the Kadi logo, and then pull away from the MacBook. If you grab it at the bottom, you'd create a leverage effect that, over time, will probably damage the single USB-C port of the computer.

The Kadi Port has two USB-C ports, one USB-A port, and an HDMI port. The USB-C at the top of the device is meant to connect the power adapter, whereas the one on the side can be used as a regular USB-C port. My first test was with my external hard drive (that I use for TimeMachine backups) and promptly failed. The hard drive's LED lit up but it made clicking noises and eventually the MacBook popped up a message that it couldn't read the drive. The disk is fine, though, when connected directly. It seems the Kadi Port on its own simply doesn't deliver enough power through the USB-C port to properly run the hard disk. The external hard disk does work when connecting the Kadi Port to the power adapter, though.

USB sticks work without external power in both the USB-C and the USB-A port.

       

The HDMI port works as expected. The Kadi Port does get noticeably warm after two hours of usage, but not excessively so. My main concern here is again with the connection. The HDMI port is on the lower end of the device and the cable potentially pulls on it due to its weight, which again exposes the entire flimsiness of the construction. It does work flawlessly, mind you, it just looks a bit vulnerable.

The fit of the ports on the Kadi Port is tight. You have to hold tight the Kadi Port itself when attaching or removing devices or cables, so as to avoid it coming off (or the above-mentioned leverage effect). In other words, the process is a bit awkward.

First verdict after some light use: It works as promised and it looks nice. The concept of the USB-C connector on the top of the device being the only connection with the MacBook does make the entire setup a bit flimsy, though. When removing devices or cables from the Kadi Port, you're always concerned about damaging your precious single USB-C port in the process. The whole thing would feel much safer if you could somehow attach the lower end of the device to the MacBook, too (but that is simply not possible).

The Kadi Port goes into my bag now, together with the Apple adapters, and we'll see which one I'm tending to use more.

Creative Commons Licence "The Kadi Port: More Ports for Your MacBook" by Dirk Haun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

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