Two gadgets to improve your work from home setup

There was a time when a laptop was my only work computer, and I spent

There was a time when a laptop was my only work computer, and I spent a minute or so each morning connecting my peripherals such as external monitors and printers.

Back in the day, there just wasn’t a docking station solution for my MacBook Pro.

I didn’t mind too much at the time. It was just the price I paid for using that laptop as my work computer.

Fast-forward more years than I care to admit, and technology has made it easier on anyone who works with a laptop to connect or disconnect a desktop full of peripherals to make work easier.

I give all the credit to Thunderbolt, which is a technology invented by Intel.

I first heard about Thunderbolt as a port on my MacBook Pro.

Thunderbolt allows you to connect several different types of peripherals, including monitors, ethernet cables, USB devices and some others. To use the different peripherals, you had to buy dongles (adapters) for each type of connection.

Apple has included Thunderbolt on all its MacBooks since 2011, and the latest MacBooks have Thunderbolt 4, which looks like a USB-C port but can do a lot more. There are also Windows computers with Thunderbolt, but not too many.

One Thunderbolt 4 port can connect all the peripherals you’d need (well, at least all the peripherals I need).

EZQuest Ultimate Plus Dual HDMI USB-C Multimedia Hub Adapter

Late last year I looked at a few portable Thunderbolt hubs from EZQuest, and this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, EZQuest introduced the Ultimate Plus Dual HDMI USB-C Multimedia Hub Adapter (let’s just call it the Ultimate Plus). It’s one of the larger hubs I’ve seen, but it can do a lot.

EZQuest makes a nice selection of hubs for Thunderbolt ports, and many of them are small and designed to just be tossed in your laptop bag, but the Ultimate Plus is different.

It can be carried around, but it is pretty big. It looks more like a Mac Mini than a hub, and it would be best sitting on a desk rather than in your bag.

It measures 6 by 6 by 1 inches and it has a case made from aluminum. It has rubber feet and is designed to sit on your desk.

You connect the hub to your laptop with one cable via the Thunderbolt port and then connect everything else to the hub.

The Ultimate Plus has two HDMI ports for video. One can output 4K video at 60 hertz and one can output 30 hertz.

It also has one VGA port that can output 1080p video at 60 hertz.

This means you can have three external monitors on a Thunderbolt 4-equipped laptop like the new Apple MacBook Pro.

It has one gigabit Ethernet port for wired networking, and a 3.5mm headphone jack that doubles as a microphone jack.

There are four USB-A 3.0 ports that can provide 4.5 watts of charging output.

The Ultimate Plus has two memory card readers, one for a full-sized SD card and one for a microSD card.

There is pass-through charging, which means you plug in your laptop’s USB-C power supply to the hub, and it passes up to 100 watts to your computer to keep it and all of your connected peripherals powered up.

Note that there are no extra USB-C ports on the hub. You get one for power in and one to connect to your host computer, but no more.

The Ultimate Plus hub works as advertised. It is a dead simple way to easily connect a desk full of peripherals to your computer.

The aluminum case did get a bit warm to the touch (but not hot) when it was in use.

You do have to be aware of the HDMI outputs. I plugged in a 24-inch Dell monitor to the HDMI 2 port and it didn’t work. I switched it to the HDMI 1 port, and it worked right away. It was the difference in the refresh rate that caused the issue.

EZQuest does a good job with documentation telling you about the differences between the two HDMI ports. My display only wanted to work at 60 hertz, so I had to plug it into the 60 hertz HDMI port.

The Ultimate Plus is the perfect accessory for your work-from-home desk. It even works well with Thunderbolt 4 desktop computers, if you’d like to add more ports and have them a bit more accessible on your desktop. It is really nice to be able to plug in new peripherals without reaching around the back of your computer.

The Ultimate Plus will cost $219 when it goes on sale later in February.

Pros: Good variety of ports, easy to set up.

Cons: No extra USB-C ports, and you need to be aware of HDMI port limitations.

Bottom line: If you work with a Thunderbolt 4 laptop, this is a great option to easily connect all your peripherals.

EZQuest UltimatePower 120W GaN USB-C PD Wall Charger

EZQuest UltimatePower 120W GaN Fast Charger

If you have a newish laptop, there’s a good chance you charge it with a USB-C cable.

My 2020 MacBook Pro uses a 61-watt USB-C charger, and it measures 3 by 3 by 1 inches.

The Apple charger is very nice, but it has only one USB-C port, so you can’t also charge your iPhone or other USB-powered device.

The EZQuest UlitmatePower 120W GaN Fast Charger (I’m going to call it the charger) has twice the power output and two extra USB ports.

The charger has one USB-A port and two USB-C ports. This isn’t an Apple-only charger. It can charge up any USB device you have.

Either of the two USB-C ports can output up to 100 watts. The USB-A port can output up to 30 watts.

Your devices will communicate with the charger to receive the maximum amount of power available to charge at the fastest rate.

I took this charger on my last trip, and I was able to charge my MacBook Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max and Apple Watch at the same time.

The charger is also smaller than an Apple charger. It measures 2.16 by 3.03 by 1.25 inches.

The reason the EZQuest chargers are so small is because they use GaN, which stands for Gallium Nitride technology that allows for more transistors in a smaller space. The charger can be smaller and more powerful.

The charger includes a European plug adapter and a USB-C cable, both of which are very handy when you need one.

EZQuest has four chargers in the UltimatePower GaN lineup:

  • 30 watts with one USB-C port for $29.99.
  • 65W with one USB-C and one USB-A for $59.99.
  • 90W with two USB-C and one USB-A for $79.99.
  • 120W with two USB-C and one USB-A for $99.99.

These chargers will be available later this month.

Pros: Small, powerful, fast charging, multiple ports.

Cons: None

Bottom line: This charger can replace three USB chargers and it’s smaller.

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