The New Apple Pencil

New Apple Pencil

This week, Apple released a new budget Apple Pencil ($79 US) that dumps the Lightning connector for USB-C. I like that they took the trouble to change the design. The old Lightning pencil had the plug at the top, leaving me with a (nearly) irresistible desire to turn my iPad into the world’s most expensive and precarious lollipop. This new design saves us from the temptation.

This also marks another step in Apple removing the Lightning connector from the line. When considering what is next for the transition to USB-C, my money’s on keyboards, trackpads, and Magic Mouse. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Apple Mouse got a redesign in the process to something that doesn’t have to be turned on its side to charge?

Untangling USB-C

I just recently discovered Glenn Fleishman’s post about the confusing state of USB-C cables and how to (more or less) untangle them. The problem, if you didn’t already know, is that even though all USB-C cables have the same connector, they don’t have the same capabilities. Just recently I ran a speed test on my external USB-C cabled SSD only to discover that its performance was way below spec. Unknowingly, I had used one of my short USB-C charging cables instead of one of my short USB-C data cables, which is much faster. Glenn’s piece on this mess is excellent.

Review: Inateck Aluminum Unibody USB-C 3 Port USB and Ethernet Hub

With the inclusion of the USB-C port, the new MacBook is more friendly to third party parts manufacturers than it has been in a long time. There’s already a long list of established accessory makers and upstart Kickstarters all cooking up ideas to take advantage of this new port. 

One of the first arrivals in my bag is the Inateck Unibody USB Hub (Product Page) (Amazon). This travel-friendly device features three bus powered USB 3.0 ports and an Gigabit Ethernet port. This is all in a small package less than 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. It has a 1 foot USB-C cable attached for plugging into your MacBook. I’ve been testing the Inatech against the Apple USB to USB-C adapter and find no discernable difference in data transfer speeds. While about $10 more than the Apple adapter, I think the Inatech’s two additional USB ports and Gigabit Ethernet make it the better value.

I like this device because it has a nice aluminum design that is befitting the new MacBook and gives me a lot of flexibility for just a little room in my bag.