If you want a bunch of cables poking out of the side of your iPad just like they do with your laptop, good news: accessory maker Sanho has a dock that adds a bunch of potentially useful ports to Apple's new USB-C-enabled iPad Pro tablets.
The iPad Pro models, the first Apple mobile devices to come with industry-standard USB-C ports instead of Apple's proprietary Lightning, take a big step toward the versatility of laptops with the ability to connect to peripherals. Sanho's $99 HyperDrive for iPad Pro dock -- $49 for early customers -- means you can connect a lot of things at the same time to the iPad: an HDMI monitor, SD and microSD memory cards from your camera, devices using old-school USB-A ports still common on laptops, and headphones with the 3.5mm jack Apple just removed from iPads.
It's even got a USB-C port, so you can continue charging the iPad at the same time you've got other stuff plugged in. It also works when Apple's iPad keyboard is attached, Sanho said.
It sounds useful, and Sanho's Hyper brand has a good track record with useful Apple accessories. But before you get too excited, be warned that Apple's iOS software itself comes with plenty of limitations that keep iPads from truly acting like laptops. The iPad-as-a-PC revolution remains a work in progress.
For example, you can't just plug a USB hard drive or memory stick into an iPad Pro to back up data or transfer files like you would with a regular Windows or MacOS laptop. And external monitors can only mirror what you see on the iPad unless apps are specifically written to take advantage of the second screen.
As with using the USB-C port directly, the dock doesn't enable the use of mice, either, though you can plug in USB keyboards with USB-A connectors, Sanho Chief Executive Daniel Chin said. "Our USB-C hub won't do anything that Apple's own USB dongle will not do.
The HyperDrive for iPad Pro comes with a plastic brace that fits over the side of the iPad to protect it and stabilize the dock. It comes in gray and space gray colors to match the new iPads. It'll be available in late December or early January, Chin said.
First published Nov. 5, 8 a.m. PT.
Update, 8:55 a.m. PT: Adds further comment from Sanho.