UGREEN X-Kit Hub-Stand hands-on review
UGREEN presents an innovative design in its latest product. Known as the X-Kit, it looks like a laptop stand but also offers some expansion via the USB type C port located on one side. This enables it to act as a docking station as it holds the user’s notebook at various angles. The OEM claims that it incorporates recyclable materials and, thus, adds eco-friendliness to its charms.
Unboxing & First Impressions
The UGREEN X-Kit, on first look, is a compact object that might remind some of a sled finished in deep black materials.
It arrived in a surprisingly slim box for something meant to act as a laptop stand. This is because it is collapsible, deploying via its eponymous X-shaped metallic armature that moves freely along sliders visible from its front view. This allows it to assume variable widths up to a 56 millimeter (mm) limit.
Thereafter, the uppermost portion can unfold upwards, allowing the user to choose between four different angles (15, 25, 30 or 33 degrees) at which a laptop can be retained. Hopefully, a prospective buyer enjoys typing or viewing screens at one of those angles.
The rest of the product is finished in what UGREEN claims to be “aircraft-grade aluminum”, which seems to be a help in supporting the devices it has been required to hold in my testing.
Its packaging also contains a USB type C to C cable, as well as a handy bag for the stand.
The X-Kit's First Stand
The hub-stand’s upper surface is covered with a non-slip material in a texturized pattern, which, when paired with its curving bottom edge, ensures the laptop in question goes nowhere once placed on it. This held true for a Razer Blade Stealth, which the X-Kit faultlessly and safely propped up at all its angles.
Testing with a heavier 15.6-inch ThinkPad met with similar satisfactory results, even if its display was opened to its full 180°.
In less direct applications, the UGREEN Hub-Stand could also (obviously) support any of my smartphones without issue. Therefore, I can imagine it would also be happily compatible with a tablet or a MacBook – not to mention an X1 Carbon or Yoga - in this way.
That covers its stand functions, though. What about its actual ports? The UGREEN Hub-Stand offers 1x HDMI port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, a microSD card and an SD card slot. Those relating to storage are rated to work all at once, as with this OEM’s 9-in-1 dock.
Like that product, the stand connects to a laptop via a type C port, which, unfortunately, is the only one present here. Testing its ports with the Blade Stealth revealed that two USB keys and two cards did indeed all show up as drives at the same time.
However, it also showed that the hub-stand as a whole is a USB 2.0 device. This, then, might seem to compromise its abilities to achieve high data-transfer rates. However, swapping files between the connected USB sticks or cards and the laptop revealed the ability to attain decent speeds. Folders of about 1 GB in size could be pasted at a top rate of about 150 megabytes per second (MB/s).
I then moved on to testing it as an HDMI adapter (a use-case rated for up to 4K/30 fps). It has to be said that the hub-stand’s design really kicked in to my benefit at this stage, due to the lack of space around the FHD TV I wanted to use. That issue normally makes managing cables and connecting devices awkward, but the X-Kit inarguably streamlined this process.
Once in position, it could mirror the Razer laptop just fine. Then again, its contents were slightly out of size on the bigger screen in question on the stand’s first use, which required some troubleshooting.
I also noticed the sound was out of sync in one instance, which may or may not have been due to the speed of the content stream in question. It has also started to exhibit a frame-shift that can require a connection reset, particularly since a recent Windows update.
Thanks to the prevailing shift towards remote working, there are those who could be in the market for a laptop stand and a multi-port dock. The UGREEN X-Kit may be a good way to consolidate these needs. It seems durable and robust enough to perform its stand functions, although I did not test it with anything heavier than 2.3 kg (or about 5 lb) or longer than 15 inches.
The OEM is also going for a premium appeal with this product’s design and looks. That also holds up for the most part, although the frets that maintain the stand’s angle when raised have left slight marks on the surface around their corresponding divots by now. This may be due to the “aircraft”-grade metal of which all of those parts are made.
In general, the X-Kit's abilities as a hub (while decent for its various connections) would be absolutely complete had UGREEN also been able to fit RJ-45 and 3.5 mm jacks in here, and perhaps at least one more USB type C port. On that note, it might be a slightly awkward inclusion in a home office should the laptop in question have only one of those available for data and charging.
However, for consumers in need of a multimedia-only dock with a 2-in-1 appeal, this new product is up there as a definite option. UGREEN is launching its Hub-Stand via Indiegogo, starting at a price that the OEM claims would be up to 50% off its normal retail cost while available as a reward in its new campaign.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received this item from UGREEN free of charge for the purpose of testing.