Front-on view of an office worker in a darkened office looking at a computer monitor

How video output and USB-C charging pass-through can affect your working life

By Trent

Today's ultra-thin laptops are primarily designed for portability, not for working long hours or performing intensive tasks with numerous accessories connected. When using a USB-C hub to expand the functionality of your laptop for work use, video output and charging passthrough are arguably the specs which can have the most potential to affect on your productivity and well-being. 

View from behind a worker editing a video on their laptop connected to an external monitorIntensive tasks such as video editing usually require an external monitor and constand charging from a laptop's power adapter

Video

The two biggest factors affecting video quality are resolution and refresh rate, and both can affect your eyes when viewing for extended periods.

A higher resolution will result in clearer images and text on-screen, reducing the amount of effort your eyes need to exert when focusing. The result in turn will be reduced instances of eye strain because your eyes are not working as hard. For refresh rate, research suggests that although you can't discern it with the naked eye, the flickering (refreshing) of a screen causes your eyes to make constant small adjustments which can also result in eye strain. In addition, watching slow-refreshing motion such as video or scrolling can also increase the effort required to focus, further tiring eyes over long periods.

"the flickering (refreshing) of a screen causes your eyes to make constant small adjustments which can result in eye strain."

Using a USB-C hub which is capable of outputting 4K video resolutions will—when combined with the right monitor—result in cleaner, clearer graphics and text for your eyes to focus on. Similarly, support for a refresh rate of at least 60 Hz will also reduce eye strain caused by monitor flicker and rough motion.

Charging pass-through

Spending long days at your desk with a laptop likely also means that you'll need charging, especially if you're working on CPU-intensive applications like graphic design or video editing. With many modern laptops also charging by USB-C, your hub needs to 'pass-through' power from your charger to the same port. If your USB-C hub doesn't allow enough charging power through to your laptop, you could find that your laptop charges slowly or (even worse) loses charge even while plugged in. Imagine heading out after a morning working at your desk, only to find that your laptop doesn't have enough battery power left to make it through an important client meeting or an afternoon on the road.

"With many modern laptops also charging by USB-C, your hub needs to 'pass-through' power from your charger to the same port."

When shopping for a USB-C hub, higher charging pass-through is definitely better. Upwards of 60 W should be sufficient to not only power your laptop under demanding applications but also have enough juice left over to simultaneously charge up your laptop's battery so you're ready to hit the road at short notice.

Moshi's Symbus Mini 7-in-1 portable USB-C hub is the world's most powerful portable USB-C hub solution, designed to give you all the connectivity you need no matter where you are. Onboard is a HDMI 2.0 port supporting 4K at up to 60 Hz and a USB-C pass-through port providing up to 70 W. Also included is a Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and SD/microSD card readers. To keep everything neat and tidy, Moshi's SnapTo cable management system stashes the USB-C cable out of sight when not in use. 

A Moshi Symbus Mini hub connected to a laptop and a monitor on a desk

We've also combined a comprehensive list of all the other minimum specs you should look out for when considering your next USB-C hub to make sure you're not getting previous-generation technology. 

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