back to article USB-C for Surface owners arrives in form of a massive dongle

Lovers of USB-C who have had a Surface device inflicted upon them may soon find their long wait for dongle-based delight is at an end, according to reports. USB-C is notable by its absence from Microsoft's current line-up of Surface tablets. Only the Surface Book 2 has been blessed by the wonder-connector. The Surface Laptop …

  1. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Windows

    ?

    MS think they're at least as good as Apple and can therefore charge an apple-like tax? Alas no one else thinks that. $7.99 shurley?

    1. mevets

      Re: ?

      Maybe behave like apple is the new strategy. They wouldn’t respond to the Reg’s questions either...

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: ?

        Microsoft hasn't decided if they want to be Apple or Google. The "let's be Apple" camp is pushing Surface, which can go up to $3000 or so, and the "let's be Google" camp is pushing all the data collection built into Windows 10. The only thing clear from this is that whatever Microsoft ends up as, they obviously no longer want to be Microsoft!

        At least they don't seem to have a "let's be Uber" camp!

  2. Anonymous Bullard

    I had a surface laptop, only for a month because they're absolutely useless because of this. 1 usb, and a display port which always requires a dongle. That's it.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Boffin

      Display port

      The mini-DP port is absolutely standard, and so can connect to most monitors without any form of dongle, using cheap cables. I'm typing this on an SP4 connected to an HDMI monitor with a cable that cost about £8, from memory.

      Personally, as a highly mobile user, I find the SP4 the best mobile computer I've ever owned, to the extent that I've had it for over two years and have felt no urge whatsoever to replace it. I have also stopped using a separate desktop PC in the office, replaced with a docking station for the SP4 with a big screen, and keyboard and mouse. Loses some CPU grunt, of course, but there's always AWS or Azure if I need some temporary big processing power - thus far I haven't needed that.

      GJC

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Display port

        <iPersonally, as a highly mobile user, I find the SP4 the best mobile computer I've ever owned, ... I have also stopped using a separate desktop PC in the office, replaced with a docking station for the SP4 with a big screen, and keyboard and mouse.</i>

        As "a highly mobile user", I'm a little surprised you are in "the office" enough to warrant having a desk (and desktop computer) of your own. The last time I had a dedicated desk in "the office" was back in 1997 (giving this up was a cathartic experience); I had given up the desktop computer a few years previously, after getting my first laptop (a 386 running WfWg).

        About the only times, my laptop gets plugged into anything other than the power supply is when I'm doing a presentation or dumping to external HDD.

        1. Geoff Campbell

          Re: Display port

          I spend most of my weekdays on customer site one way or another, normally juggling 3-4 clients at any given time. I sometimes get customers I can work on from my (home) office, in which I have a dedicated desk.

          Then I get to spend the weekends working on company admin, speculative development, and so on. Not every weekend, of course, but enough to be noticeable.

          GJC

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Display port

            I sometimes get customers I can work on from my (home) office, in which I have a dedicated desk.

            Thanks for the clarification. I've largely given up on the home office desktop, not because I don't try and use it, just that I have to slot in around the teenagers doing homework...

            1. Geoff Campbell

              Re: Display port

              Ah, one of my non-negotiable requirements when we bought this place (back in the late Jurassic some time) was a spare bedroom that I could convert into a dedicated office, which I've been very careful to keep devoid of any stuff other family members might want to come in and use.

              Also, our teenagers are just moving out. It's amazing how quite the place just became...

              GJC

            2. Geoff Campbell

              Re: Display port

              Oh, and I forgot the main use for the mini-DP socket on the Surface - connecting it to hotel TVs to watch Netflix stuff in the evening :-)

              GJC

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      I had a surface laptop, only for a month because they're absolutely useless because of this. 1 usb, and a display port which always requires a dongle. That's it.

      OK I realise that "absolutely useless" is hyperbole but the level of management and sales that lust after them in this office really don't give a shit about ports.

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    No comment. Was that on the price or the fact that it's a chunky lump plugged into a slim device?

    1. A. Coatsworth
  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The chunkiness most probably hides other electronics wanting to snoop on your data and send it to His Billness' servers in Redmond...

  5. HPCJohn

    Dogs danglies

    I dont have a Surface. I do have an HP Spectre though and USB-C is the dog's dangly bits.

    HP Spectre also usefully has a normal USB-3 connector on the other side, with charge on sleep.

    So you can charge your phone, or use a USB powered peripheral from the 'normal' USB port.

    I can laso say that the Hyperdrive adapter I have is lovely. USB-C to the laptop. Then you get an HDMI graphics port out, two USBs and a USB-C charging port.

    1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

      Re: Dogs danglies

      I have a HP EliteBook Revolve 810 G2 tablet, and no USB-C is a mixed blessing. I also have the USB sleep-and-charge port.

      When I saw the article I was like, "Heck, if I could find that on eBay, then I get USB-C!" Turns out to use bloody Surface Connect.

      But don't you find the Sleep-and-Charge port slow (as in charges a phone slowly)?

      Wish I had something like the Hyperdrive! I have to do with a dock (gives a bunch of USB ports, VGA, HDMI, power).

  6. Multivac

    All the disadvantages of a tablet coupled with all the disadvantages of a laptop, without a keyboard, then go and install Skype LOL!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Multivac

      The Surface Laptop has all the advantages of a laptop. The Pro doesn't need a keyboard as it is a tablet (albeit with a proper CPU and memory). The Book is a high end portable workstation which can also become a notepad for meetings.

      If you'd ever used Hangouts you would be glad of a Skype for Business installation!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Multivac

        I hate Google Hangouts... but I find Google Meetings far more reliable than Webex, GTM and Skype for Business. Just for the simple reason its only relies upon the browser, I've only ever had 1 person unable to use it and that happened because he did not have a Chromium-based browser installed!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: The Pro doesn't need a keyboard as it is a tablet

        cause why would you ever need a keyboard, if you can type on the screen, lol.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re: The Pro doesn't need a keyboard as it is a tablet

          "cause why would you ever need a keyboard, if you can type on the screen, lol."

          If you need a real keyboard but the Surface Laptop, a tablet form factor may not be for you. If not, the Pro is an exceptionally capable tablet with a "good enough" keyboard cover and screen keyboard

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Multivac

        "If you'd ever used Hangouts you would be glad of a Skype for Business installation!"

        I use both every day. Hangouts isn't great by any means, but Skype for Business is an abomination; the UI is all over the place. Folks at work hate it with a passion but lazy IT bods don't know any better so that's what gets rolled out. I don't even know how a diehard Microsoft fan can see much merit in it.

  7. Lusty Silver badge

    Eh?

    So reviewers complain when laptops only have USB-C because there are no actual accessories, and complain when only USB3 (the exact same speed but a universally compatible port)?

    I have a Surface Book and a Surface Laptop. They are the best laptops I've ever owned including my Macbook Pro. I use Bluetooth and wireless to connect accessories these days. The only thing I even own that needs a USB port is a storage stick, and that's old USB. I'm curious what it is that you're all plugging in in 2018 that's worth getting so upset about?

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Eh?

      I'll trust Bluetooth when it's as good as a cable.

      I'll trust WiFi when it's as good as a cable.

      I'll trust Qi when it's as good as a cable.

      until then, give me ports on my laptop so that I can use a cable.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Eh?

      A mouse? A keyboard? A headset? All these you can get wireless versions, or wired versions for a tiny fraction of the price?

      Not to mention an external hard-drive.

      1. Lusty Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        "A mouse? A keyboard? A headset?"

        Uh, it's a LAPTOP. It has a keyboard and mouse, and there's one USB port if you need a headset. The dock has 4 USB ports so for desk use you can leave a keyboard, mouse, two monitors, a webcam and speakers set up permanently. The power supply also has USB built in so you don't even need the dock if you don't want it.

        I realise that the Reg tries to look cool by bashing MS, but this is trying a bit too hard.

        And external USB hard drives in 2018? It's 2018! At least get a NAS if you're not ready for cloud yet. Although I assume given your legacy requirements you also store local VMs. Sigh.

        1. Tikimon Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: Eh?

          "And external USB hard drives in 2018? It's 2018! At least get a NAS if you're not ready for cloud yet."

          Yeah, and in 2018 external drives are pretty sweet for a good price! They also require NO internet connection, are worlds faster than anyone's streaming rate, and won't eat into a data allowance moving files around. Encrypted for security, immune to cloud provider hacking, can be stored in a safe. Good luck putting your NAS in your pocket!

          Is it the millennials? There's a huge lack of perspective in these forums. Just because it's new doesn't mean it's better, or that it will totally replace something that was working fine already. I can list a dozen things that were proclaimed dead and obsolete, but inconveniently insist on sticking around being useful.

        2. Zebo-the-Fat

          Re: Eh?

          Not ready for the "cloud"? (cloud = other peoples computers!)

          I want MY data on MY hardware!

          (yes I am an old fart!)

          1. Mike007

            Re: Eh?

            I want MY data accessible. Even if I forgot to bring my laptop and hard drive stack.

            The silver lining on a NAS.

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Eh?

          most laptop "mice" (i.e. fondle-pad) SUCK (especially when you're trying to type and your thumb causes 'tap-click' to activate all of the time) and so an external mouse and "shut that damn thing off" on the mouse pad is THE option when you wanna get work done. And I need a USB port for the mouse. And speakers/headphones need a proper WIRED jack, especially if you're sitting in an airport etc..

          people who design the Surface should be DAMNED into HAVING TO USE the thing, ALL OF THE TIME. And no special treatment, either.

          It's like the fastest way to streamline your manual system: assign a programmer to "operate" it. Out of pure frustration he'll streamline the process so that it starts running at 0-dark-thirty on monday, such that by the time he arrives at 10AM or so, it's "all done" for teh week, and he can do fun stuff for the additional 4.9 days. [back in the late 80's, that was ME, and I actually DID that].

          Similarly, MAKE the engineers that design the surface ACTUALLY USE IT.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Eh?

            "people who design the Surface should be DAMNED into HAVING TO USE the thing, ALL OF THE TIME. And no special treatment, either"

            Every employee at MS gets a surface these days. We have a choice between Book, Pro and Laptop. I don't know anyone who has issues other than the weight on the Book, but even that is kind of OK given the spec and the 17 hour battery life.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Eh?

              >I don't know anyone who has issues other than the weight on the Book

              What? it's only 1.65kg the bag/rucksack is probably heavier.

          2. Tony Paulazzo

            Re: Eh?

            people who design the Surface should be DAMNED into HAVING TO USE the thing, ALL OF THE TIME. And no special treatment, either.

            I'm on my second Surface Pro and I absolutely love it. At home I use the superb SP keyboard, on the sofa it becomes my favorite tablet and in the office a powered USB3 hub connects a decent keyboard, mouse, ethernet, DVD burner & printer effortlessly, plus a decent monitor plugged into the display port.

            When shopping around to replace the SP3 I looked at many, many options, then stuck with the Surface, it's a beautiful piece of engineering.

            On topic, USB C - meh, don't need it, my phone has wireless charging and MS are taking the piss a bit with that price, but their Surface Dock is also over priced for what it does (IMHO).

        4. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Eh?

          How much does the dock cost, smart guy?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Eh?

            "How much does the dock cost, smart guy?"

            Smart guys get them for free because their company buy them. For everyone else? No idea, don't really care. The Surface book my work got me is £3k so the dock is basically irrelevant in terms of cost, as is the pen and Bluetooth surface arc mouse and all the other toys they gave me. For the Surface Laptop I bought with my own money in shiny shiny blue...I use the accessories work paid for and swap one cable to change to "pornhome mode" from "El Regwork Mode".

    3. Oddlegs

      Re: Eh?

      Very few tablets/ultralights come with a plethora of ports. If you need to plug in a large number of accessories then this isn't the form factor for you. Given that then by far the best choice of port is USB3 due to being compatible with just about every accessory out there.

      Yeah this dongle's expensive but that will be partly because Microsoft knows no-one will buy it since it serves no purpose whatsoever. Want to only carry a single charger to charge your tablet and mobile? Well carry the surface charger and charge your mobile off the tablet. You wouldn't be able to charge both devices at the same time from the USBC charger anyway.

    4. HPCJohn

      Re: Eh?

      Lusty, I agree. If you need a USB storage drive they have USB-C connectors now, and if I am not wrong some models have both that and normal USB.

      If you need to use normal USB peripherals buy a USB-C hub which is the size of a packet of chewing gum. My Hperdrive adapter is for all intents and pusrposes a desktop docking station, which you can happily carry with you in the laptop case.

    5. Avatar of They
      Meh

      Re: Eh?

      Wireless mouse = batteries

      Wireless headset = batteries

      Wireless keyboard = batteries

      Connecting all these to your laptop means more drain on your battery, or you plug in the little dongle and that draws power.

      All of that means charging stuff up. And cost if you don't use a rechargeable battery.

      Bluetooth and WIFI signals can get interference from all kinds of sources depending on quality of build and location. Other frequencies getting in the way, Microwaves, brick walls, hot air, phase of the moon sometimes. (it can be the oddest things)

      Wired means none of the above (I am not aware of power drain in a wired mouse, presume there is a fractional one).

  8. Dabooka Silver badge

    Oh well

    At least once it's released you'll get a whole load of knocks-off on AliExpress and Banggood.

    Still pretty poor showing by Redmond there though.

  9. ElectricFox
    Joke

    Maybe they've taken on an Apple engineer.

    Like this guy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHZ8ek-6ccc

  10. Dwarf Silver badge

    Batman

    Why do I increasingly feel like modern day version of Batman with a ruck sack (utility belt) full of little adaptors and dongles to make the simple things I want to interface with talk to my nice new shiny machine.

    How about making the machine a little bit bigger and stuffing all the hardware in the box, so I don't need to worry in the first place.

    1. Def Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Batman

      How about making the machine a little bit bigger...

      You do know you can already get larger laptops, right?

      1. Dwarf Silver badge

        Re: Batman

        Yep, but its the same on the phone, laptop or tablets, form over function.

        Take for example Apple - On Macbooks, thou shalt have UCB-C, but on the phone, its got to be lightning, then they don't even make an adapter to plug in your headphones on Lightning to the Mac, hence forcing people to use an array of adapters or go to their fancy bluetooth headphones - that use yet another cable to go from Lightning to UCB C to charge. Then you hit the lack of sockets problem and have to get yet another adapter to increase port count or put back the connectors that should have been there in the first place. The net effect is that the machine looks a mess on the desk, not an art form. Design fail !!

        At least on older style Laptops there was PCMCIA / CardBus to allow you to plug in virtually everything.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Batman

          >hence forcing people to ... go to their fancy bluetooth headphones

          They might be fancy, but they (Bluetooth headphones in general) are a real PITA if you regularly use and thus swap between several devices... However, once paired and connected...

  11. MrKrotos

    USB C

    I have a Gemini PDA, instead of buying the stupidly priced USB C Hub from planet at silly 50 quid mark, I grabbed a 7 quid one off of ebay, works fine here :)

  12. Phil W

    I don't get it

    I don't get why you'd especially need a USB-C port on a laptop, handy perhaps but not essential.

    With the exception of a handful of USB memory sticks (most sticks that have C have an A at the other end) most devices you're likely to want to connect such as phones or USB HDDs/SSDs are going to be a USB-C socket on them not a plug, so a USB A to USB-C cable will work just fine. Further I have yet to see a device such as a phone or USB HDD that has a C socket that comes with only a C to C not an A to C cable.

    1. HPCJohn

      Re: I don't get it

      Phil, USB-C handles not only the serial signalling. It handles power input, with various power profiles for different devices.

      Plus:

      10 Gbps Ethernet

      HDMI graphics up to 4K AFAIK

      Thunderbolt

      So you can have a lightweight laptop which plugs into an external full feature GPU (or indeed any other PCI Express card)

      1. Phil W

        Re: I don't get it

        USB-C can do those things but in my experience rarely does all of them, or often any of them. The majority of USB-C implementations I've seen on laptops and even desktop PCs are actually just plain old USB connections and don't support any of those things, in fact some of them weren't even USB 3.x they were just USB 2.

        Frankly the whole one port to rule them all philosophy seems like a waste of time and effort to me, especially if that port isn't always going to do all of the things it can be used for. The whole point of USB is that it's Universal so that generally speaking if you see a USB socket you know you can plug in a USB device and it's likely to work, USB-C may as well be RSOUFSB (Random Subset Of Unlabeled Features Serial Bus)

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: I don't get it

          >Frankly the whole one port to rule them all philosophy seems like a waste of time and effort to me, especially if that port isn't always going to do all of the things it can be used for.

          On the MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3/USB-C makes sense, it satisfies Apple's minimalist ethos: it effectively means they can provide a single port that users can use in whatever way suits them. The only catch currently is ensuring that things can easily connect together, thus, for example, you really need an HDMI or Displayport, compatible monitor - not one with SVGA/DVI.

          Also USB-C can be used as a replacement for the proprietary docking station connector found on many Windows laptops. In the Apple scenario, the docking station gets re-imaged into something elegant https://eu.hengedocks.com/pages/vertical-macbook-pro-2016

  13. ukgnome Silver badge

    We received a surface pro at work - ooh look face to unlock we noted.

    And then we unlocked it with a photo.

    After 5 mins we put it away and it hasn't seen the light of day since.

    An example of a good idea poorly executed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      “And then we unlocked it with a photo.

      After 5 mins we put it away and it hasn't seen the light of day since.”

      Can’t tell if joking or retarded. Features are not mandatory.

      1. ukgnome Silver badge

        @Anon

        Features are not mandatory but if you have them then make sure they work.

        If this feature can be easily fooled then what else is amiss?

        Well where to start:

        Usability

        Connectivity

        Upgradability

        Repairability

        to name a few.

    2. Donn Bly

      Re: Ooooh...

      I'll take it off your hands for you. I'll even pay shipping....

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      After 5 mins we put it away and it hasn't seen the light of day since.

      Our IT people get constant nagging from managers and sales people wanting them.

  14. Zwuramunga

    GRRRR!

    You buy a tablet.

    Then plugin enough crap to make it the same as a laptop plugged in to a Docking Station.

    JUST BUY A LAPTOP!

    Laptops are guaranteed to come with a keyboard at no additional cost!

    1. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: GRRRR!

      We’re talking about laptops, mostly. What are you talking about?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a Microsoft spokesperson told The Register: "No comment."

    wonderful job, I tellya! All you do is ask your superior what to say, and then - repeat. Makes a ministerial job challenging in comparison...

  16. ozor
    Alert

    Size Matters..

    But in this case does it really...

    The people who would be interested or use this can just replace their charging unit with this and thus are carrying around the same amount/size of clutter.

    Quote from the source article: "The actual connector itself is rather large, with similar dimensions to a standard Surface charger."

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes, the new business model

    'Minimalism' and 'aesthetics' used as an excuse to sell you overpriced accessories (dongles).

    It's already happening with smartphones, with the removal of headphone jacks.

    http://www.xperiablog.net/2018/05/30/sonys-2-in-1-usb-type-c-cable-now-shipping/

  18. Steve C#

    Why even bother reporting on the Surface?

    The last two companies I have worked at have banned any further purchases of MS Surfaces. One of these companies actually does work for Microsoft. The MS Surfaces are so unreliable (constant blue screens) and unrepairable that it was a waste of employee's time and the company's money.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Why even bother reporting on the Surface?

      This honestly sounds like something engineered by a BOFH to me, but as you're the common factor, that obviously isn't the case.

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