Low-cost dongle increases value of <$100 tablets

A while back Microsoft made a policy change that Windows will be free on small tablets. Because of that shift, I purchased an HP Steam 7 tablet for well under $100 (at the time I was working for HP). There are now a number of low-cost tablets on the market from a range of vendors (e.g. Dell Venue 8, HP Stream 8) that run full Windows 8.1.

One of the issues almost all of them have though is a single interface port – a micro-USB. Unfortunately, this is also used for charging and just plugging in a powered USB hub just doesn’t work to allow you to also connect to peripherals. So you can’t charge and access USB devices at the same time!

I came across a dongle from Dell (for about $20) that does exactly what I needed.

It lets me charge the tablet, while allowing me to plug in a powered USB hub and connect a mouse, my phone, a thumb drive… With the use of Mouse Without Borders I can even manipulate the cursor from my other PC – if needed. Right now I have this device controlling my 3D printer. Granted, it does charge it slowly but it is at least enough to keep up once fully charged.

Note the thumb drive attached and the tablet is still charging.


So the addition of the dongle took a nice, cheap tablet and turned it into a general purpose, portable workstation.


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