Use USB-C hub for connecting multiple accessories + Cintiq?

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by Steve B, Nov 10, 2021.

  1. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    Hi,
    So, I've got my new (used) Cintiq 22hd set up, and it runs well off my Samsung Galaxy Flex. I've also got a new Thinkpad Bluetooth keyboard (which I absolutely love typing on), but it's bluetooth connections is very spotty. I've been using their USB dongle connector for a direct connection too. It's much more consistent (it's actually perfect now), but.... BUT I now don't have enough connections on my laptop now, and need advice for this sort of setup, as I've never actually owned or used a 2nd monitor (by which I mean the Cintiq).

    So, my Samsung Flex has 2 thunderbolt usb-c ports, and the power port (on the left) is a normal usb-c connection. I'm currently trying to connect-
    -my cintiq (which uses two ports)
    -the dongle for my Thinkpad keyboard
    -the charging cable for my laptop
    -occasionally, the charging cable for my iphone

    Is a hub going to do what I need? I'm assuming I could plug in the dongle for my keyboard, plus an iphone charger into the hub, and they could directly connect to the laptop through a single port. But what about my Cintiq? 2 of my usb-c ports are thunderbolt, and when I had the Huion tablet, I was able to use just usb-c to usb-c for both display input and pen input. Can I plug one (or both?) cables from the cintiq into a hub and have the signal for both cables be routed to my laptop through a single usb-c thunderbolt port? Is there a way to use three ports on my laptop to be able to connect to all the things I want at the same time?

    Any help would be appreciated. I've searched on google, and not been able to find anyone doing what I'm pondering, specifically with the Cintiq (which is to feed the DVI and usb-a inputs through a single usb-c thunderbolt connection), but I'm also curious how many other things I can run off a hub at once. An elegant solution would be nice (everything through a single Thunderbolt port that goes to a hub), but I'll take a little bit messy if I can just get everything connected in some way.

    Thanks!
     
  2. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    For me, I keep my mobile and studio computers separate. They communicate by me sharing files with a USB stick. The stick is the common unit between me and whatever computer I'm working on, carrying all relevant files.

    If I had to perform minor mechanical surgery on my studio setup every time I wanted to go from portable to desktop mode, I'd probably feel reluctant to pack up or deploy.

    One nice thing about a dedicated desktop computer is that it can be (and in my case, is), cheap and ugly without sacrificing power or port options. Only svelte mobile gear needs to cost more than a couple hundred dollars these days. Plus, I fully appreciate and make use of the redundancy factor. (Having two computers just makes sense, allowing for the DIY tech nerd in me to pull one apart as needed while the other can serve as diagnostic tool and internet look-up guide.)

    However, I am perfectly willing to admit that this is probably old-school thinking. Some of those USB hubs look like quite sensible solutions, so long as you get one which does HDMI switching correctly. (Getting multiple screens to work right appears to be a common complaint among Amazon reviews). And the more robust hubs look kind of expensive. You could buy a third of (what I consider) a decent studio computer for the cost of one of those good hubs.
     
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  3. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    This has sparked an interesting idea to me.

    I generally keep an old laptop around. I use it as a backup, but I also use it when I want to focus. What I do is I deliberately don't install any browsers and I don't connect it to the wifi at all. It's literally there just to focus and work "deep". It's a lovely yet limited experience. I move content back and forth to my primary laptop with usb. I type articles and blog posts, write poetry, etc. All without distractions.

    The idea of perhaps doing something similar, but on an expanded level with this Cintiq as my primary monitor and this new Thinkpad keyboard I've got (which I adore) is really intriguing. With my standing desk, pullout keyboard drawer, and my new chair, it's much more ergonomic. If, on a desktop setup, I could do all the writing tasks I normally do on my "reserve" laptop, and throw in art and design, that could be really compelling. It would be a big part of my digitally focused time of a daily basis. Then I could put away my Samsung laptop and use it when I deliberately want to go online, check email, putz, stream zoom with clients, work on designs remotely, etc.

    A big goal of mine the last 6 months or so has been to streamline the different kinds of input I'm receiving, so I can focus more on things that are important to me. This has included dramatically reducing the kinds of notifications I get on my phone, removing my browser on my phone, etc. The idea that an old school desktop setup could allow more of this but with expanded functionality, given the fact that I've now got the Cintiq to do graphic-driven work distraction-free too, is really intriguing...

    How much does a simple (very small) desktop cost, in the opinion of members here? Could I put something together that was sufficient for 200-300$? Or would it need to be more like 500$?
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2021
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  4. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yeah. Taking control of our pesky monkey impulses (by controlling our work space) seems like a healthy choice these days.

    How old is that old laptop? If it can output HDMI and has enough memory to fuel something like Photoshop, then you might not even need a new computer. For basic 2D drawing programs, unless you're pushing huge brushes and animation software and stuff like that, then old computers are surprisingly capable.

    For reference, my current studio is running on an old 4th gen Dell Latitude e6440. There's tons of them on eBay for around $150-$200 USD. Off-lease corporate laptops are cheap and reliable. -I went the used laptop route because they're not as loud as a tower, (I hate hair drier noises when I'm working), plus the onboard battery serves as a built-in surge protector and UPS. Unreliable power was a problem in one of my previous apartments. I also have a $20 standard Dell dock, so I can plug in all kinds of extra gear. I've got two screens, an XLR mic, a mirrorless camera and a couple of external hard drives... It's proven to be a very reliable workhorse for several years.

    -Though, I did in the last couple of weeks upgrade to a 7th gen Latitude 5470 with the 4 core option. Now I can do speedier video editing and podcasting while drawing without experiencing hiccups. Running all that gear and Clip Studio Paint at the same time was just a little too much for the old 2 core laptop; I was getting a bit of cursor lag while recording video. The new (old) Dell only cost me $370 CAD, including the beefy RAM stick I also bought to put in it. It's now got 24 Gigs. That seems audacious to me.

    We're currently experiencing a golden age of readily available computing power. -I'm running a full graphic arts suite and TV production studio at the same time on a corporate hand-me-down nobody would give a second look to. That's nuts.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2021
  5. jedah

    jedah Scribbler - Standard Member

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    It sounds like a usb-c hub would work. I think there are some w/ two HDMI inputs, but I've never tested them. You can probably use one of them for your Cintiq (but through an DVI -> HDMI converter), and the other one for your other monitor. Alot of usb-c hubs also have charging pass through if you plug your charging cable into the hub.

    2.4Gz usb receivers can be touchy w/ USB3. So, I have an additional USB 2.0 hub that connects to my USB-c hub to create some distance from the USB 3 ports.

    I've used the below 2 cable set-up before, and it worked just fine on a 2017 HP Spectre x360.
    1. Dedicated connection to my primary monitor through hdmi (w/ additional hdmi -> usb-c dongle for my personal laptop, and no donble for my work laptop)
    2. Vava 9-in-1 hub that connects to my 2nd monitor, ethernet, external HD, speakers, USB 2.0 hub for all my wireless receivers (keyboard, mouse, XP-Pen Deco), charging pass through. I got this during Black Friday a year or two ago for about $50 I think.
    My current set-up is a bit more messy, but I offloaded some connections to a usb 3.0 displaylink dock connected to the hub for a 1-cable solution. The benefit hear is that ethernet ports and external HD seemed to have a more reliable connection b/c the dock was powered. Additional bonus is this should be one of the few ways to get an M1 Macbook (non-pro) to support two monitors in case my wife wanted to dock in.
     
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