Product Review: StarTech.com 3-in1 Thunderbolt Adapter

startech-1014Right up front I’m going to admit that I have a soft spot for widgets and dongles. I blame it on my borderline-obsessive fascination with troubleshooting and problem-solving. If there’s a problem, there needs to be a solution. This is where various widgets and adapters come into play, specifically adapters.

StarTech.com’s new 3-in-1 Adapter lets users connect their Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt-equipped Mac to a VGA, DVI or HDMI, display or projector. The 3-in-1 Adapter supports video resolutions up to 1920×1200/1080p, and comes in Mac-white, if you want to call it that.

This isn’t my first experience with a novel-yet-handy adapter from Lockbourne, Ohio-based Startech.com. It’s a manufacturer of often-unique connectivity parts. Last year when the hard drive in one of my laptops croaked I made use of the company’s USB 2.0 to 2.5/3.5 in SATA/IDE Converter to copy files from the old, failing hard drive to a new drive. When it comes to adapters and converters, it’s often the case that you may not need one every day, but when you need one, you REALLY need one!

That brings us to StarTech’s new Mini DisplayPort to VGA, DVI or HDMI adapter (SKU: MDP2VGDVHDW). With support for three of the most common display device technologies, the adapter enables Mac users to connect their mDP or Thunderbolt-equipped laptop to virtually any display or projector.

startech2-1014For not only end-users, but also the AV Pros themselves, the catchphrase right now is Bring Your Own Devices. Especially in the space of conference presentations and boardroom AV systems, it’s typical for users to find themselves in need of the correct AV interface.

That’s something I encountered in my own way by agreeing to do this review. When I received the review unit, I opened up the box and immediately thought, “Oh, right, I don’t own a Mac!”

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So in order to complete the assignment I recruited one of my dealers, a large retail and corporate Apple reseller, who made a Mac Mini and an HP Pavilion 25xi monitor available for me to test connectivity.

startech3-1014The phrase “plug-and-play” gets thrown around a lot these days, and from my own experience I can tell you that it’s not always 100 percent true.

In this case, however, it was. Connecting the 3-in-1 adaptor to the Mac Mini’s Thunderbolt port, and connecting and HDMI cable between the adapter and the monitor, connectivity was immediate, and the display was crisp and vibrant.

It’s challenging to do an in-depth review of something so simple. As Karishma Punwani, product manager for StarTech.com’s line of DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort products said in the press materials for it: “This adapter is about worry-free connections. With this single, compact adapter, you’ll never need to panic about whether or not you have the right adapter on-hand to connect to displays you may encounter in BYOD environments or while traveling.”

In that context, I’d have to concur, and suggest that StarTech.com’s 3-in-1 Adapter is a very handy widget to keep on hand not only for Mac users who expect to give presentations on someone else’s system, but also for AV pros to keep in their bag of tricks to keep their clients happy.

MSRP for StarTech.com’s Mini DisplayPort to VGA, DVI or HDMI adapter is $39.99. It’s available from StarTech’s distributors Ingram Micro, SYNNEX, Tech Data, D&H and ASI.