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2 USB-C adapters worth considering for your Chromebook

Got a Chromebook? These two USB-C adapters will almost certainly come in handy.

Chromebook USB-C Adapters
denvit (CC0)

Heads-up, my mobile productivity compadres: If you're using a Chromebook for work, there's a decent chance you'll need to load up your laptop bag with a few good adapters.

Increasingly, Chromebooks today — just like laptops in general — are shifting away from the ports-galore model and instead providing us with just a small number of USB-C ports to handle all of our physical connectivity needs.

That's true with the Google Pixelbook, which has a single USB-C port on either of its two sides and nothing more, save for a 3.5mm headphone jack (oh thank heavens for that). It's also true of Asus's Chromebook Flip C302CA and Samsung's Chromebook Pro and Chromebook Plus, all of which follow that same basic setup. It seems safe to say this is shaping up to be the new standard moving forward.

To be sure, USB-C has lots of advantages over its port predecessors — things like universal compatibility, superfast charging speeds, and a huge range of supported functions. The downside, of course, is that many of those functions require adapters to work. And it's up to you to make sure you have 'em.

If you're new to Chrome OS or maybe just the proud owner of a new Chromebook device, you're probably facing a dizzying array of decisions over what adapters you need and which you should buy. You can find adapters for practically any desire imaginable, after all, no matter how niche it may be.

But for most typical Chromebook users — particularly those who use their devices for productivity while traveling — I'd recommend starting with these two USB-C adapters, both of which have proven invaluable to me while working on the road:

1. A USB-C Ethernet adapter for your Chromebook

Wi-Fi is practically everywhere nowadays — except, y'know, when it isn't. And while Chromebooks are as capable as any other computer of working offline, sooner or later, you're gonna need to connect with the world.

Whether you're in an office, a hotel room, or a convention center where the Wi-Fi is lacking, a good old-fashioned hard-wired Ethernet connection will almost certainly get the job done. I can't count the number of times having such an option has saved my hide during some sort of business-related travel.

Since most Chromebooks don't have dedicated Ethernet ports, the answer is a simple little USB-C Ethernet adapter for your device. Plug it into one of your Chromebook's USB-C ports, connect an active Ethernet cable to the other end, and there ya have it: Your Chromebook will automatically sense the connection, and you'll be online at the fastest speeds the network can provide. Nothing else to it.

Chromebook USB-C Ethernet Adapter Anker

There are ample adapter options out there for this purpose, but the one I've personally traveled with and found to be an excellent Chromebook companion is Anker's USB-C Unibody Aluminum Portable 1-Gigabit Ethernet Port Network Adapter (try saying that five times fast!). It's about 23 bucks at Amazon as of this writing. Even if you end up using it once a year, that'll be a worthwhile investment.

Pick one up and throw in your bag now. You'll thank yourself later.

2. A USB-C HDMI adapter for your Chromebook

Wireless casting is fantastic. We use it in my house all the time. But when you're traveling, relying on something like a Google Chromecast to get content from your laptop to a big screen can be a risky endeavor.

Why? Well, for as great as Chromecasts are in the home, they just aren't designed to work on large public networks — like those frequently found in hotels and convention centers. Basically, if the network you're using makes you click through a "terms and conditions"-style splash screen when you first connect, you'll have to jump through all sorts of silly hoops to get wireless casting to work.

But guess what? There's an easier way! All you need is a USB-C to HDMI adapter, and then you can plug your Chromebook directly into any reasonably recent TV or projector — be it in a meeting room for your important presentation or in a hotel room for your equally important end-of-day decompression.

I've again had good luck with Anker's offering, which currently runs about $24 on Amazon. It's durable, it supports video up to 4K in resolution, and it works consistently well. (There are plenty of other similar adapters with good reviews, too, so take your pick.)

Just note that Chrome OS's current default is to treat any external display as an extension of your Chromebook's screen — not a mirror of it. So once you plug your laptop in, you can either drag whatever window you want to see on the big screen over toward the far right of your actual desktop, as if you were pulling it over onto a secondary display, or you can hit Ctrl and the full-screen button (the box-shaped icon to the right of the refresh key in the function row) to switch to mirroring mode.

Got it? Good. Now don't forget to pack a hefty snack bag while you're at it. As far as I'm concerned, that's an equally important ingredient of effective business travel.

NEXT: The essential Android apps for Chromebooks

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