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I've read a few posts on here, but not seem to answer my question.

I'm a musician with a MacBook Pro and a 2016 model iPad, these are connected via a Hub. The Hub is a Amker mains powered which has 7 data ports and 3 separate charging ports.

When I'm recording etc, I plug the iPad into one of the 7 data ports and I can stream audio and Midi between Mac Book and iPad both ways, works really well. But the iPad loses charge as some of the audio apps hit the cpu really hard. So I plug the iPad into one of the charging ports, and it charges.

But, I can't then stream audio/Midi, which is what I'd expect, as a charging port is exactly that !

So my question is , is there a Hub on the market that allows charging and data on the same port ?

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It sounds like you need a Thunderbolt dock, not a USB hub. Maybe one like this: https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/TB3PRODCK/

The reason I suggest a Thunderbolt dock is because I have yet to see a USB hub or dock that provides more than 15 watts to a downstream data port. I assume you are using a Lightning to USB-A cable to plug in the iPad, that's going to limit power to the iPad to 12 watts, maybe 15 watts. Even if you are using a USB-C cable I have yet to see a USB hub with a charge and data port that provides more than 15 watts. I suspect that the iPad is charging fine, it's just that by streaming music constantly it is consuming more than the 12 watts provided.

You'll need a quality Lightning to USB-C cable to get more than 12 watts into the iPad. I emphasize "quality cable" because I bought a non-Apple brand Lightning to USB-C cable only to find that it did not support USB-PD and therefore was limited to 12 watts to my iPhone. Apple's USB-C cables will pass more power, as I assume would a better built cable from someone else. I suspect your iPad came with a Lightning to USB-C cable, use that. I will assume and suspect a lot here, you didn't specify everything I need to know in your question.

Even if your MacBook Pro doesn't have Thunderbolt/USB-C ports you can still use a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) dock on a Thunderbolt 1 or 2 (mini-DP) port. A Thunderbolt/Mini-DP to Thunderbolt/USB-C adapter will allow you to plug in the dock and still get the full Thunderbolt and USB 3.x bandwidth. The reason you want the Thunderbolt dock is to get a more powerful USB-C port (as in more than 15 watts), and is still full bandwidth, for your iPad and all other devices.

Assuming you get a Thunderbolt dock like that I linked to above you will find two Thunderbolt/USB-C ports, one of which will be labeled for connecting to the laptop. Don't connect the MacBook Pro to the laptop port, that's for the iPad. The goal is to get most power to the iPad, and that will be on the port labeled to the computer. Connect the MacBook Pro to the low power Thunderbolt/USB-C port, leaving the laptop to run from it's bigger battery or from a power brick plugged in directly. Thunderbolt is not like USB, Thunderbolt is peer to peer and so "upstream" and "downstream" lose some of it's meaning, connecting the Macbook to either Thunderbolt port will give full function and bandwidth.

Now my disclaimer. I have not tried this myself. I'm taking educated guesses based on my experience with Apple hardware. There may be a cheaper non-Thunderbolt hub or dock that can provide both power and data, I simply have not seen one in my own searching for my own needs.

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  • You make a very good point about the effect of load here. I imagine that's going to be pretty diffcult to measure/quantify, but it's certainly important to bear the effect of that in mind, relative to a scenario where the device is idling on charge. Even when that charge is at "Apple spec", if it is consuming more power than it's receiving, the net effect is surely a gradual reduction in charge. Jun 19 '20 at 11:21
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In order to achieve this you will need a hub which contains both a USB C port for power delivery, as well as a USB C port for data delivery. If you want to stick with Anker (which is a pretty high quality company from my experience), you can go with this hub: Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB C Hub.

Note the distinct power delivery (pd) and data throughput ports in the hub from the image below. This will allow you to connect your iPad to your MacBook (via a USB C cable) while simultaneously allowing your iPad to be charged (via another USB C cable plugged into the wall, via a USB C wall adapter).

enter image description here

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  • Thanks for your suggestion - the information on Amazon for this suggests you cannot charge and provide data to an iPad simultaneously: "2. Does the USB-C PD port support charging tablets (including iPad Pro) or phones? No, due to the power input limitations of mobile devices, this hub is not suitable for pass-through charging tablets (including iPad Pro) or phones. Also, only the USB-C PD port supports charging. The USB-A ports and USB-C data port do not support charging." Jun 17 '20 at 17:36
  • That's quite strange. I was under the impression that it would work. At the moment the wording is very vague—I'm not sure if it's talking about charging the tablet by a laptop. What's even stranger is that I have a cheaper hub that passes through power to the iPad Jun 17 '20 at 18:00
  • @rogersillito How about taking a look at this? The seller seems to say all ports will work simultaneously. I'm thinking of getting a hub with PD and data from the same company so I hopefully should be able to give an empirical answer. Jun 17 '20 at 18:10
  • Confusing wording with regard to charge and sync seems to be a pretty common theme unfortunately for a lot of suppliers: I'm ruling out anything that doesn't explicitly claim to charge and sync simultaneously. Although the question here didn't specify a USB plug type, my requirement is for a USB-A socket type. Jun 18 '20 at 19:16
  • You're absolutely right, and it's hard to get certain specs for some hubs. But if you're looking for USB A (!), then I'm sure any hub would be fine! I just tried my $25 VAVA 7-in-1 hub and it seems to charge my iPad and lets be copy files to/from a flash drive just fine. Is that what you meant by "sync," or do you mean something like backup syncing? It would be way cheaper than the $100 option you're currently looking at, so I can test that out for you. Jun 18 '20 at 22:52
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The StarTech HB30A3A1CST 3-Port USB-A/1-Port USB-C Hub includes a single charge & sync port - which matches the 2.4 amp power output supplied by a standard 12W iPad Pro 2017 (10.5") power supply (I believe this would work equally for the earlier generation iPad Pro which ships in some countries with a lower-output power supply):

Charge-and-sync your mobile devices

With the available fast-charge port, the hub helps to ensure that your tablet or smartphone are charged and ready to use when you need them. You can also sync and access your device while it is charging. The USB-A charge port supports USB Battery Charging Specification 1.2 and delivers up to 2.4 amps of power, so you can charge your mobile device faster than traditional USB ports allow.

Using this hub, I can confirm I get simultaneous charging and data/sync as follows:

  • The hub's USB input is plugged into a USB output on my Mid 2014 MacBook Pro
  • I have a lightning cable plugged into the hub's USB 3.0 (Type-A) Charging Port
  • The lightning connector is attached to my My iPad Pro (2017/10.5")
  • The iPad battery indicator shows the "charging" indicator
  • I am able to access files etc on the iPad from the MacBook

(This also works equally connected to my Windows PC).

I also came across a UK Company called Cambrionix which appears to specialize in industrial-grade, multi-output charge & sync hubs. They have some useful information on different device charging profiles, and a range of products that offer simultaneous charge and sync for a lot of devices simultaneously (spoiler: they are not cheap)

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  • My StartTech hub turned up today and I am happy to report that my 2017 iPad Pro (10.5") reports it is charging while I have it plugged into the computer via the USB charging port. I shall update my answer accordingly. Jun 22 '20 at 12:54

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