UGREEN is one of the more recognised brands among tech aficionados on account of making quality gear at reasonable prices. They offered me an opportunity to take an early crack at their new UGREEN X-Kit, a combination of a USB hub and a laptop stand for a whirl and we’ve been putting it through its paces ahead of their IndieGogo funding run which you can check out here. Here’s our review…
UGREEN X-Kit – What’s in the Box
The X-Kit comes in a rather long box that’s about three quarters the length of a sheet of A4 paper. Inside the box, you get the following items:
1 x UGREEN X-Kit
1 x UGREEN issued USB-C to USB-C cable
1 x Felt carrying bag
1 x Instruction manual
UGREEN X-Kit – Design
The X-Kit is essentially a combination of a USB hub and a laptop stand, giving you the ergonomic benefits of using a stand while adding more ports to your laptop.
The X-Kit is primarily made of aerospace grade aluminium, weighs in at 282g and is finished in a matte black, fingerprint resistant finish. One end of the stand curves around into a semi-hooked shape in order to cradle a laptop when fully deployed. A pair of rubber feet on the inner section help to protect any mounted laptop from scratches and prevent it from sliding.
The underside of the stand is lined with a quartet of rubber feet to prevent it slipping.
On the left side of the hub is where UGREEN has elected to emplace all their ports. You get a micro SD card reader, a full sized SD card reader, a HDMI port, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-C port. The premise here is that you can use the bundled USB-C cable to hook up to the hub via your laptop’s USB port and through that extend the array of ports available.
The array of ports on offer is ideal for ultraportables which typically lack full sized USB Type-A ports and SD card readers. The provision of SD card slots makes the X-Kit ideal for photographers and videographers as they can immediately output their shots straight to a laptop rather than having to tote around a separate card reader.
The two USB-A ports allow users to plug in additional gear like keyboards, mice, USB drives and the like while the HDMI port allows users to output their laptop display to a larger 4K monitor, assuming you have the appropriate cable of course.
While it does look a bit like an art deco sculpture, the X-Kit is remarkably easy to deploy.
The heart of the design is revealed when you hold both ends lengthwise and pull it open. You hear a satisfying click and a series of sliders help maneuver an x-shaped armature into the middle as a scaffold able to prop up a laptop..
Each half of the stand then splits open to reveal a series of pegs that allow you to position the angle of the stand as you see fit at 15, 20, 30 and 33 degree angles.
Overall build quality is excellent with the aerospace grade aluminium offering it lightness and durability in equal measure. The sliding mechanism in the X-Kit opens in an extremely smooth fashion which speaks volumes of the level of craftsmanship they’ve put into the hub.
According to UGREEN, the X-Kit is able to support almost any laptop, including massive 17-inch gaming laptops. It does however function best with 13-inch, 14-inch and 15.6-inch ultraportables on account of its mission profile.
UGREEN X-Kit Performance
The light and portable nature of the UGREEN X-Kit makes it ideal for mobile workers who do a great deal of work on laptops. While the pandemic has nixed travel and mobile working for the foreseeable future, the X-Kit features make it equally ideal for a static work-from-home scenario.
I initially tested it with a15.6-inch ASUS VivoBook S15 laptop and it easily handled the 1.8kg weight without issue even at the steepest 33-degree angle of incline.
As I’m a fairly vigorous typist, I wanted to see what the typing experience was on the X-Kit and I’m glad to say that it’s sturdy enough to take a hammering. I’m a fairly fast typist and with a familiar keyboard setup, i’m able to average a decent 110 words per minute though i tend to hammer my keys pretty hard. The X-Kit didn’t so much as wobble over the course of writing this review.
Seeing how effective it was, I decided to up the ante with a full-fledged gaming laptop – an older generation Acer Predator Helios 300 that easily weighs a good 2.7kg on its own.
The X-Kit didn’t so much as move an inch or wobble even in the middle of an intensive gaming excursion though you need a bit of care in making sure that something as large as a Predator Helios is placed right in the middle of the stand to ensure that the weight is properly balanced.
I also tested it with a 13.3-inch XPS 13 laptop of recent vintage. The compact dimensions of an ultraportable were ideal for the X-Kit , allowing for full access to the ports on the left part of the stand.
The provided ports also proved equally effective. I didn’t have a 4K display on hand but I effectively ported the feed over to a 1080P display of recent vintage without problems and I managed to hook up an external Razer Basilisk and Ornata V2 to the X-Kit so that I didn’t have to take up valuable ports on my laptop.
The microSD and SD card readers also worked as it says on the tin, allowing for relatively fast file transfers. Your mileage may vary depending on the type of SD card you use but we averaged the transfer of a 1GB file in about 15 seconds.
One thing to note from an ergonomic standpoint is that the ports aren’t very accessible if you’re using the X-Kit with a laptop larger than 15.6-inches so you’ll have to reach around and under to gain access to them.
In terms of a sweet spot, the X-Kit works best with 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch laptops where you still retain easy access to the provided ports while retaining the full ergonomic benefits of the stand.
The UGREEN X-Kit is a very well designed and constructed hybrid stand that blends the benefits of a USB hub with a laptop stand in a highly portable and compact form factor.
It can take the weight of any laptop available in the market and enables you to comfortably angle a laptop for easier viewing and typing – critical issues to factor in the new normal where you’re likely working extended hours on a laptop.
When travel eventually opens up in the future, the X-Kit will be an ideal travel accessory that lets you work effectively wherever you go, be it in a hotel room desk, on a coffee table or in an airport lounge. It isn’t the cheapest hybrid laptop stand on offer at US$59 but it’s well worth every cent.
Review unit courtesy of UGREEN. The X-Kit is currently on IndieGogo priced at US$59 for early backers. You can check it out and get your own X-Kit here.
Much like peanut butter and jelly, the X-Kit is a wonderful amalgam of both a laptop stand and a USB hub with the best features of both in a highly portable form factor. It doesn’t come cheap but the UGREEN X-Kit proves its worth and will quickly become one of the most essential accessories for anyone who uses a laptop for extended lengths of time.
Excellent build quality
Smooth opening mechanism
Light and highly portable
Can support large and heavy gaming laptops
A bit difficult to open one-handed
Ports are hard to reach when used with large laptops