The word ‘dongle’ has not been without controversy in recent years, but the fact remains that with the popularity of items like Google’s Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, and any number of USB Wi-Fi adapters, we’re living in dongle-rich times.
While I personally use a good many dongles throughout each day, these are the three USB dongles that I find useful enough for them to have a permanent home in my traveling office.
This simple device disables data transfer through a USB connection. Although that might not seem useful at first, there are two main reasons why this is a good thing. First, by blocking data transfers, it allows a connected device to charge at its optimal level of voltage, usually resulting in faster charge times. Second, and more importantly, it prevents juice jacking, a situation where data on your device can be accessed and hacked through a public charging station. For this reason, it’s often humorously called a USB condom, and I never plug my phone into a free charging station or a rental car’s USB port without this dongle in place. It provides a lot of security for just $7.
I use a lot of SD cards, primarily for photography and extra data storage. It’s quite inconvenient to constantly swap cards in and out of the single SD slot on my laptop, and this dongle is a great solution for juggling multiple SD cards. In fact it has two card slots—one for a regular-sized SD card and one for a microSD card. And even better, the two slots can be used simultaneously—a great tool for $8.
Last year I splurged on a Nexus 5X, and while it’s been a pretty great phone (aside from falling victim to the bootloop issue), it came with one small wrinkle—it relies on a USB-C connection. And while USB-C seems to be where the world of electronics is going (at least right now), this phone is still the only device I own that needs this connector. I like being able to charge different devices from a single cord, so I picked up this little dongle that lets me use a single microUSB cable to charge my phone as well as the two devices essential to working remotely—my Karma Go and my Anker PowerCore. This dongle’s one drawback is its small size (which makes it easy to misplace), so I’m glad it’s sold as a set of two for only $8.
So there they are—my three picks for incredibly useful USB dongles. I always enjoy learning about how other people work and what technology they use to make their lives easier, so I’d love to hear what dongles you use to help you get things done, whether it’s for work or recreation. Let me know in the comments!