USB Type-C ports are increasingly appearing in Windows computers as the way to attach monitors and other peripherals. Many of the first generation of tablets to use this new standard have only a single USB-C port, but Dell offers an adapter that can be used with a variety of models to connect an HDMI or VGA monitor, an Ethernet network, and USB-A peripherals to one port.
This item, designated DA200, has a list price of $74.99 but is available online for around $50.
Build and Design
Dell’s adapter is relatively compact: 2.4 x 2.4 x 0.7 inches. It is somewhat pocketable, but really should be carried in a bag, purse, or briefcase. The casing is black plastic with a prominent company logo, with decent build quality.
A USB Type-C jack is on the end of a 1.9-inch flexible cable that fits into a slot around the DA200 when not in use. It would be nice if this cable was about twice as long–with some devices this accessory and anything attached to it end up hanging awkwardly down the side of the tablet.
Two edges on opposite sides of this adapter hold four ports, with the HDMI and VGA ports on one side and the Ethernet and USB 3.0 port on the other.
We tested this USB-C to HDMI/VGA/Ethernet/USB 3.0 adapter with both a Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 and a Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, two new Windows 10 tablets, each with a single USB Type-C port. Not surprisingly, there were no problems with the Dell model, and performance with the Samsung model was equally flawless. Windows took care of downloading and installing the necessary drivers.
It is important to note that although the DA200 has both an HDMI and a VGA port, just one can used at a time. Still, the tablet itself can function as a second monitor, so, for example, Word and Edge can share a larger monitor, while email is on the tablet’s LCD.
Connecting a monitor to a Windows 10 tablet through this adapter is simple. The default is for the external monitor to mirror the built-in one, but this can be changed in Settings, or the Windows Key+P shortcut. The maximum resolution with an HDMI connection is 2048 x 1152 pixels, and with VGA, it’s 1600 x 1200 pixels.
The USB 3.0 port allows peripherals like mice, keyboards, and printers to be connected directly to the computer. It also supports hubs–we had no problems using a 4-port hub with a mouse, keyboard, and flash drive.
Although Wi-Fi is widely available in offices and homes, there are still places where an Ethernet connection is preferable. Aside from security, a wired connection is often faster. When we used Speedtest.net to benchmark a Venue 8 Pro 5855 over a Wi-Fi connection, the results were 16.49 Mbps download and 6.12 Mbps upload. We used this same tool to benchmark this tablet connected via Ethernet to the same router through the DA200, and the results were 30.13 Mbps and 6.13 Mbps.
Just so there’s no question, the Dell USB-C to HDMI/VGA/Ethernet/USB 3.0 adapter can be used to simultaneously connect to an Ethernet network, USB peripherals, and an HDMI or VGA monitor, essentially turning a Windows tablet into a desktop PC.
The biggest flaw in this adapter is that there’s no way for it to route power to the tablet. On devices with a single USB-C port, plugging in the DA200 means that the tablet has to run off its internal battery. Our tests showed that the USB 3.0 port can’t be used to recharge the host computer. As many smaller Windows tablets have relatively short battery lives–the Venue 8 Pro 5855’s is just 4 hours–people trying to use this device like a PC with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse are going to run into problems after a few hours.
The Dell USB-C to HDMI/VGA/Ethernet/USB 3.0 adapter is easily portable and packs enough ports that it can turn a tablet into a desktop PC. However, the DA200 lacks a way to charge the host computer though the USB-C port.
Dell’s list price for this product is $74.99, but is available online for around $50. There are rival USB-C to HDMI/VGA/Ethernet/USB 3.0 adapters on the market, and they sell for about the same amount.
Buying several adapters to perform the same tasks would cost more, as well as being less convenient. A bit of market research shows that USB-C Ethernet adapters cost $15-$32, one for HDMI and VGA cost about $40, and a USB Type-A adapter costs about $13-$20.