Latest MacBook hub on Kickstarter is the neatest yet, with form-fitting design

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Ever since Apple launched the single-port 12-inch MacBook, we’ve seen a flurry of companies offering to add the missing ports back in through various adapters, hubsdocks and more. Latest to the party is Branch, a Kickstarter project whose USP is its ‘form-fitted’ shape, which is naturally available in each of the three MacBook colors.

The emphasis here is on packing the essentials into an extremely portable unit, providing USB-C pass-through, two USB 3.0 ports and one Mini Display port capable of driving a 4K monitor. The company had originally pitched with HDMI (shown above), but said that it has switched to Mini DisplayPort following feedback from Kickstarter users … 

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You also have the option of 64GB of embedded flash storage, to extend the storage capacity of your MacBook through a slightly longer model.

The company’s claim that the hub “looks like it belongs on your Macbook” is something of an exaggeration. It still looks to me like a kludge, and I do have to raise an eyebrow at the sense or otherwise of buying a single-port MacBook only to bolt onto it something like this, but I guess the argument is you’ll add it when you need it.

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At the time of writing, there are still Early Bird Specials for $59, and the company will throw in a Mini Display to HDMI adapter. Once those are gone, it will be available for $69, still saving $79 on the planned retail price. The Branch 64 model, with 64GB of embedded storage, costs $119 on Kickstarter, saving $20 on the retail price.

Shipping is scheduled for July and August for the standard and extended storage models respectively. You can back the project here.

If you’re still wondering whether the 12-inch MacBook is for you, check out our review.

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Comments

  1. monty72 - 8 years ago

    That’s not really entering into the spirit of it. is it?

  2. rogifan - 8 years ago

    Why not just get a 13″ rMBP if you need more ports? The entry level is the same price as the rMB.

    • hungarianhc - 8 years ago

      Travel convenience of the 12″ MB while being able to dock to a large monitor with keyboard / mouse in the office…. That’s me, at least.

    • triankar - 8 years ago

      the rMBP is a bit heavy, compared to the MBA and the rMB. Had they given the MBA the Retina treatment, this would have been the perfect all-round laptop. But no, in 2015 we have to choose between a non-retina golden mean, an underpowered, port-limited lightweight laptop and a heavy-ish workhorse.

    • tmeesseman - 8 years ago

      The idea is that it’s something to keep in your bag just in case. If you need something like this daily, then yeah… upgrade the MacBook Pro.

  3. beyondthetech - 8 years ago

    Lets hope it fairs a little better than the Zendock that premiered on Kickstarter over two years ago that has YET to deliver a product.

  4. Eric William Smith - 8 years ago

    “one Mini Display port capable of driving a 4K monitor” but it shows an HDMI port in the picture. Plus, I know the MacBook’s supported (external) resolution is less than a retina thunderbolt, can it drive 4k even?

    • monty72 - 8 years ago

      My Late 2013 Macbook Pro 15 with a video card struggles to run youtube vids on a 4k screen, so I’m guessing no.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      “The company had originally pitched with HDMI (shown above), but said that it has switched to Mini DisplayPort following feedback from Kickstarter users”

    • hungarianhc - 8 years ago

      If you read the campaign they say how initial prototype was for HDMI, BUT backers preferred mini display port. They will include a mini dp to HDMI cable. Final version has DP.

  5. jrv6 - 8 years ago

    This is getting close
    I travel for work, and the small MacBook is tempting, but I want to travel with a minimum number of accessories and cords. I need a display port, one USB port, and one Ethernet port in addition to the USBC passthrough (mostly for charging)

  6. James Clatworthy - 8 years ago

    These docks totally miss the point. AirPlay for display, iCloud or google drive for docs etc. I agree with the chap below. If you want ports get the pro. The MacBook is about style and portability. It’s not for mega users. It’s for people who want to type a letter on something beautiful.

    Better still. Companies need to start producing peripherals that have USB type C. It’s the port I wish was invented 20 years ago. All the plugs, ports, adapters etc exist because a uniform one has not been invetpnted yet. I think Apple are saying ‘here you lot. Give this ONE a go’ (I appreciate that Apple didn’t invent it!!)

    • hungarianhc - 8 years ago

      Not if you’re on the road a lot… And love the Macbook 12 for that… But you want a great solution to plug into a keyboard / mouse / monitor when you’re in the office.

  7. rnc - 8 years ago

    Say what you will…

    But the MB is ready to be docked: power, USB, video with just one (1) cable!

    It is the future

  8. Why? It is butt ugly and ruins the MacBook design. If you can’t live without the missing ports, either buy a dongle or buy a different Mac!

  9. NQZ (@surgesoda) - 8 years ago

    No thunderbolt — useless.

  10. PMZanetti - 8 years ago

    This is the right way to go. The “dock” has always made it much more sensible to have a Laptop with 1 port for both the portability and the ease of desk use. It makes a lot more sense to me to have 1 powerful port that connects to the dock and every other imaginable peripheral connected to that. Who wants to plug in and unplug 10 connectors everytime you set down on your desk? No, 1 connector and rule them all, and leave it all at the desk.

  11. dugbug - 8 years ago

    KADI port should be listed. It was the original kickstarter of this format to my knowledge and looks far more integral to the macbook design. Ben, here is the link. Maybe do a mini post on it?

    https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/003/818/230/0940a921340f07c859cd69777e26a5bb_original.jpg?v=1432009209&w=680&fit=max&auto=format&q=92&s=a343cc9663dc052f276217a5cce3870b

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/714748206/the-kadi-port-a-macbook-essential

    It has a slightly different port selection.

  12. alfredprunesquallor - 8 years ago

    If you need this abomination, you bought the wrong computer.

  13. Paul Andrew Dixon - 8 years ago

    This was almost perfect, until i read that they are changing the hdmi to a display port instead… i just want hdmi to plug to a TV… have no need to plug to a monitor, and many new monitors have hdmi anyway — this would mean carrying an additional adaptor…
    they should have a display port option with free adaptor…and a hdmi instead of a display port option.

Author

Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!


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