First look at the new Surface Connect to USB Type-C Adapter from Microsoft

It's been just over one year since the Surface Pro for 2017 was announced and with it, the eventual release of a Surface Connect to USB-C adapter.

The omission of a Type-C port – even if not full Thunderbolt 3 – has been seen as a black-eye on the Surface Pro, but that is now being partially fixed with the new $79.99 adapter, which is now available.

I've been using the adapter for the last few hours and while I'll do a full review later this week here are my initial thoughts on it.

See at Microsoft Store

More of a mini-dock than a dongle

Much has been about the size of the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter. It is rather large when compared to typical dongles or Type-C adapter, but this is more than that.

Weighing in at 91 grams this accessory is more of a mini-Surface Dock meant for a desk environment versus something you use in your lap. That's because the main idea behind the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter is to let the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro connect to Type-C hubs, displays, and power sources rather than a simple USB-C thumb drive.

The size and weight let the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter lend it to working better when stationary on an office desk, or permanent setup. Instead of sliding all around or stressing the Surface Connect port it rests on the desk without slipping.

Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter

Indeed, it does work well. So far, everything I have thrown at it has worked without issue, including:

  • External USB-C display (Asus ZenScreen)
  • USB-C docks with SD, Ethernet, USB-A, etc.
  • USB-C external drives.
  • USB-C power adapters (65W and 130W tested).
  • USB-C portable battery/AC adapter (Dell hybrid power bank).

As expected, the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter does not support Thunderbolt 3 so that pricey portable Dell SSD does not work.

This is for enterprise (not really consumers)

Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter

Another point of confusion is who should be buying the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter. While consumers are certainly welcomed to drop $80 if they need this accessory, it is positioned for businesses who have invested in the latest Surface Pro or Surface Laptop and who also converted to Type-C accessories and hubs in the office.

That price tag may seem expensive, but if a business is buying in bulk, they presumably get a discount. It's common for companies to sell PC and laptop accessories at a premium price, e.g., Lenovo's $25 RJ-45 adapter or Dell's $60 Type-C dongle.

From that perspective, the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter makes sense for companies who have invested in Surface Pro and Surface Laptop for the next few years.

As of now, the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter does not work with the Surface Pro 4 or original Surface Book, but support may come later through a firmware update if it's possible. That would make the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter an even better investment for companies who have those devices.

Update: Further testing so far has revealed that the adapter does work with Surface Pro 4.

First impressions are great

Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter

Surface Pro charging with a Dell Type-C adapter.

Putting aside some expectations that the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter would be just a small device that changes the port design the adapter does work well.

The ability to use any USB-C power source is beneficial for those who have those AC adapters laying around. Being able to leverage smaller, more affordable Type-C hubs that support Ethernet, display out, power, USB and SD cards also makes the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop much more exciting and useful in the office.

The biggest win for me is the ability to use my Asus ZenScreen with the Surface Laptop or Surface Pro — that portable second screen is great for when I travel.

We'll do a full review of the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter later this week to do some more testing. Let us know in comments below what you think and if you have any questions.

See at Microsoft Store

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.