The not-so-hyper Hyperdrive

I don’t write a lot of negative reviews—if something doesn’t work for me then I refrain from mentioning it altogether, because I’d much rather highlight gear I use and enjoy. Positive energy and all that. Not today.

There was quite a bit of online hoopla in the past couple of months about the Hyperdrive, a USB-C hub from a company called Sanho (which already specializes in hubs of all kinds). It was hailed as the first one specifically designed for the new 2018 iPad Pro, adding multiport capabilities to the device: HDMI, USB-A, SD, MicroSD and USB-C PD. The “PD” stands for “power delivery”, meaning the port could be used to charge the iPad, essentially providing a pass through for the charger. At least that’s what the company led backers to believe. Yes, backers—because part of the hoopla came from the Kickstarter campaign Sanho launched to fund this product. I’m very leery of crowdfunding, especially when it involves established companies simply launching another similar gadget to their line. In this case however, I decided to jump in out of pure necessity: there was nothing else out there to fill my needs.

I won’t get into all the details of the process but let’s just say there were hiccups along the way: the January promise turned into a February promise, the shipping went through a much cheaper company than what was initially advertised in the brief, communications were few and far between...and although many still haven’t even received a shipping notice, the product did reach me on Monday.

***”Requires at least 30W. The included 18W charger isn’t sufficient and will not charge the device.” There, I fixed it for them. 

***”Requires at least 30W. The included 18W charger isn’t sufficient and will not charge the device.” There, I fixed it for them. 

So far, all the ports work the way they should —which is good news considering others haven’t been so lucky apparently, hinting at quality control issues. It all works, except for this bold and explicit claim: “Simultaneously connect HDMI, USB-C, microSD, SD, USB-A and 3.5mm audio . All while charging at full speed through HyperDrive.” Emphasis mine btw.

The point of this hub is to keep it plugged-in. But within 10 minutes I noticed my iPad’s power was draining. The charger was connected, the light was on, no other ports were in use and I was just writing and browsing. Nothing power intensive. And yet the battery percentage kept falling. Not only was the iPad NOT “charging at full speed”...it was losing its charge. I thought I might have a defective unit so I quickly headed to the comment section of the campaign—only to realize everyone who’d received the hub was facing the same issue.

Sanho first responded by saying they were investigating; then they simply said the included 18W charger wasn't powerful enough for the Hyperdrive and that this was “a known fact”. So much for investigating. When I personally pressed them on the issue they finally admitted that their statement was “ambiguous” and that they “should’ve pointed out that fact with the above statement”. I don’t think it was ambiguous at all...misleading seems more appropriate.

Now here’s my problem and the point of this post: for one thing, how stupid of them. They obviously knew about this but chose not to mention it AND to boast about capabilities that actually required additional gear. Had I known about it beforehand I likely would’ve accepted the fact without batting an eye. I would’ve made a much more informed purchasing decision and appreciated their honesty. But much more importantly: despite their meager mea culpa, several days later THEY HAVE NOT ADDED OR CHANGED A SINGLE WORD IN THAT STATEMENT. Obviously the argument could be made that the Kickstarter campaign is over, so there’s no point anymore. But Sanho is now running a pre-order campaign though Indiegogo and guess what? Yes indeed: same tag line, same promise, same marketing spin. I call it willful deception at this point and it’s incredibly jarring to witness first hand. I can’t even begin to understand how a supposedly established brand can act this way. Hopefully it comes back to bite them in the you-know-what. Hopefully this helps get the word out.

For what it’s worth the hub does in fact charge correctly with the 30W MacBook Pro charger I borrowed from Cynthia; some users have reported continuing problems but I haven’t seen any on my end.

As far as I’m concerned however: Sanho Corporation will never see another single dime.

Patrick La Roque

laROQUE, 311 Lorncliff, Otterburn Park, Canada