Dongles, what are they?

(Video transcript) Hi. Paul Donovan here from Thanks for watching my channel. This is the channel where we're giving tips and tricks to AV technicians and those who would like to be an AV Technician.

Today I want to talk about dongles, you say, What? Some people have different names for them, but I'm going to use the word I use which is a dongle. This is, essentially, a little device that has a plug on one end and a different kind of plug on the other end, allows you to convert from one type of plug or jack, to another kind of jack.

The most common use of dongles, where we usually see them, is in the Mac world. Mac computers tend to use an awful lot of dongles when we want to attach things to the computer. This is a trend that is moving onwards with Mac and other laptop computers. When they're trying to keep the laptop super slim and start to use new connector ports that are also super slim. Mac is one of the ones that started it out, probably in the beginning. Mostly because they needed to make a unique connector. They are famous for their firewire connector, which a lot of people remember, but it's pretty much gone away.

The Mac, one of the most common unless the Mac is really old, The Mac laptops today, up until today, the Mac laptops have the mini-display port, also known and Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt is the way to hook up external hard drives and other things to your laptop and it's also the display port. The mini display port is the most common one. There were 3 different versions of mini display ports over the years, but the most common one is the small one you see here. This mini-display port is also in use a few manufacturers who produce Windows laptops and so sometimes you'll be able to take your Mac version of a mini display port to a VGA or HDMI connector, and be able to use it on some, not all, but some of the Windows computers.

These dongles have changed recently in the Mac World because Mac is moving more towards the USB-C, which allows you to do an awful lot of things with only one jack. The new Mac Air has a single USB-C connector. You put a dongle on the end. The dongle splits off into power, splits off into external drives, VGA or HDMI connection. And all of this was done because the MacBook Air is so thin they needed to reduce the size of the jack. There's really only two jacks on the new generation MacBook Air. USB-C and the headphone jack.

Dongles are really a big thing. As an AV Technician you might want to have a couple of varieties of dongles in your bag, just in case.

In fact there's even the dongle that has the Lightening connector for iPhone that you could use to hook up your iPhone (iPad) to a VGA projector, or even an HDMI projector if you get the right kind of dongle.

This technology is not quite as solid when you're working with an Android phone. I don't know enough about it, apparently there is a connection protocol for hooking up your Android cell phone to a projector using their jack, their mini-jack connection. I don't know enough it to tell you about so unfortunately I'll have to send you off to Google research that one. Apple, in the way they always do, they come up with ways connect things up nicely.

The dongle is one of the things that I call, you can call it an adapter, but the dongle is what I call it, and a lot of my customers are getting used to saying dongle whenever I see them. When they learn it first, they look at me, and I say it's technical word, you want to remember that. And they go, ok. Then they come back to me and say "I have my dongle!" So there you have it, a little bit about dongles, in the world of AV. 

This is Paul Donovan from Please check out our website at Subscribe to this channel to keep up with what's happening in the world of AV technicians. Thank you for watching

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