Many people continue to make a big deal out of the fact that Apple began dropping ports from their notebooks to such a degree that one might think they were radioactive. The MacBook has a single USB-C port, and the rest of the line doesn’t fare much better. That’s where the Kingston Nucleum comes in. You see, connections matter.
It seems that Apple sends the tech world into a tizzy every few years by making some change that people see as radical. The routine is now clear. Apple drops something like a DVD drive, a port of some sort or a 3.5mm headphone jack. Tech writers go insane. They complain that Apple is unfriendly to consumers and will be destroyed by the poorly conceived change. Apple replies by effectively saying, “Tough luck. Suck it up.” Consumers buy the new product in huge numbers and learn how to adapt or, 3rd parties step in a create accessories that bring the “lost” functionality back. The Kingston Nucleum is one such product.
Last year I replaced my slightly aging MacBook Pro with one of the new MacBook Pros without a Touch Bar. Sure, the move meant that I went from a MacBook with a decent number of ports to one with just two USB-C ports, but that didn’t matter to me. After all, I tend to use cloud services for most of my work, and most of my computing accessories connect wirelessly. While there were times I found the lack of ports to be a challenge; I could almost always come up with a workaround. Then companies started coming out with small USB-C hubs that brought a variety of ports back to the MacBook. Suddenly, Apple’s decision to slim down wasn’t a big deal for anyone.
The Kingston Nucleum is one example of a hardware workaround for those who have not been able to adapt to Apple’s move or, more likely, for those who need the extra ports from time to time but not on a daily basis. The company explains the product this way:
Live the moment. Use the mouse, monitor, and accessories you’ve grown to love with your new notebook. With a single USB-C hub you can connect up to 7 devices at once and keep your creativity flowing. The Nucleum has you covered whether you want to connect to a larger monitor or need to offload footage from the latest photo shoot. With the Nucleum you can power up your Apple MacBook while also connecting to a USB Flash drive and charging an iPhone. The compact size and built-in cable also make the Nucleum a perfect travel companion to take with you on location.
The Nucleum is a small accessory that measures just 5″ by 1 3/4″.
It has a five-inch cable that ends with a USB-C connector so you can connect it to your laptop. (I’ve reviewed other accessories that do something similar but most of them have had two USB-C connectors. That works fine for my MacBook Pro since it has two such ports sitting side by side but makes such products useless if you have a MacBook with just a single port.)
The plastic accessory (it looks like aluminum but is made from black and silver plastic) is small but packs in a range of connectivity options.
On one end, there is an HDMI port so you can connect your laptop to a monitor or television.
HDMI output: Use the HDMI port to output to a 4K UHD or Full HD 1080p monitor or projector.
On one side, there is a USB-A port for connecting legacy devices and a USB-C port that can be used to power the laptop. Of course, you will need to supply your own cable and wall adapter.
USB-A Ports: Connect to an external mouse, keyboard, or hard-drive. These ports also provide power pass-through to charge devices like your iPhone or Bluetooth headphones.
USB-C Ports: Have a notebook with limited USB-C ports? Use the extra USB-C port on the Nucleum to connect your other devices.
On the other side, there is a second USB-A port, a USB-C port for connecting USB-C devices, a microSD card slot, and a full SD slot. Kingston had photographers in mind when designing this accessory.
Card Reader: Shoot, transfer, and edit your footage wherever you are using the SD and microSD slots.
Best of all, if the need arises, you can use all seven of the “new” ports at the very same time. In other words, for just over $70 you get a small accessory that brings all of the “missing” ports back. It is easy to carry everywhere and turns one USB-C port into seven ports. It is small. It is neat and clean. And it works.
- Seven ports of potential from one USB-C connection
- Add more pixels using the 4K HDMI output
- Power pass through to charge your connected devices
- Small and light, makes it easy to take with you
- Designed for content creators with the included SD and microSD slots
There are a number of adapters currently available to reintroduce the “missing” ports to your late model Apple laptop. The Nucleum, however, stands out in my mind for a few reasons. First, it is fairly small and extremely light. That means you won’t mind keeping it in your gear bag all the time so that, when you need it, it is there. Second, the Nucleum only requires a single USB-C port on your MacBook. That means it will work with any of Apple’s current laptops. Third, the five-inch cable between the USB-connector and the Nucleum means you have the flexibility to arrange your cables in a manner that helps keep all the cables out of the way. Fourth, the Nucleum has enough ports to connect a wide range of external devices but not so many that it becomes cumbersome and confusing. Finally, the inclusion of a USB-C for power means the Nucleum will not only keep your laptop charged but that it will also power the accessories attached to it. In short, the Nucleum is an inexpensive way to attach tons of accessories to a “port-compromised” MacBook without the need to spend a fortune or carry around something big and bulky.
If you have a current Apple laptop or plan to get one, you will want to check out this accessory from Kingston. Learn more and order yours here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the Kingston Nucleum
What I Like: Only requires a single USB-C port on the laptop; Offers a variety of connectivity options; A 5″ cable lets you create a setup that is as comfortable as it is efficient
What Needs Improvement: No protective bag included with an accessory that will likely be used during travel; No Ethernet connection (I haven’t used one in years, but I know some people still do)