Laptop Docking Station Reviews
Laptop docking stations are designed to give you the portability of a laptop when away from your office or home. You can plug a keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, scanner, external drive, etc. into the docking station and then plug in the laptop into the dock. Instead of having to hassle and connect/disconnect a dozen things each time you want to take the laptop somewhere, just remove it from its docking station and have the tools needed to get the job done. We have reviewed the best docking stations on the market. As with new technology the variety of quality ranges widely along with the features that are important to consumers. We have selected the best docking stations for both quality and features to meet all your computing needs.
Laptop Docking Station Buying Guide
Technological developments have revolutionized mobile computing in only a few years, giving rise to even more products that make working with a computer more portable. This development has also enabled people to work almost anywhere they choose to.
Why there is a need for Laptop Docking Station
While advancements in technology have made mobile solutions more efficient, portable, and more comfortable to use, there’s still nothing that can beat a stationary computer workspace setup when it comes to features. A stationary computer workspace setup provides a person with all the tools that are needed for work, as well as ergonomic comfort and stability that just cannot be duplicated by portable computing solutions.
While more and more people choose the benefit of mobility from laptops, there are many who find themselves striving for a happy medium, a solution that can give them the best of both worlds. This is where a laptop docking station comes in.
There are tools that are meant only for a stationary computer workspace setup, such as a 27-inch LCD display monitor, a 3-in-1 printer/scanner/copier, stereo speakers, a wired internet connection, and a full-sized keyboard. While it’s not difficult to connect a laptop to all these devices, it gets tedious after a while at the very least. It gets frustrating and downright annoying when there are connectivity issues upon reconnecting.
A laptop docking station is meant to provide efficiency and connection stability. It aims to eliminate the repetitiveness of reconnecting numerous devices and minimizes instances of connectivity issues. Of course, there is no solution that works perfectly out of the box for all kinds of devices. One must still practice being a discerning buyer.
Things to Note Before Buying
To get the most out of a laptop docking station, the first thing to do is take note of the devices to be connected. Questions to consider are:
- How many devices will be connected?
- What kinds of ports do they require?
- Do their current positions allow them to be within working proximity of the docking station?
The second thing to consider is the current workspace.
- Is there enough space for a docking station that can accommodate all the devices that will be connected?
- Will there be enough power sockets for all devices including the docking station?
- Is there a need to move some of the devices so that they will be close enough to connect to the docking station?
- Is there ample surface for all devices in case they need to be moved closer to each other?
- Will there be a need for longer cables or a cable management system?
Once all the requirements are figured out, it’s easier to shop for a docking station that works best with the current setup.
When shopping for a docking station, one must consider the following:
- It should, first and foremost, be compatible with the operating system of the laptop being used.
- It must also be compatible with the other devices so that problems with connectivity are avoided.
It should have all the ports that are required by the current workspace setup, and all the ports must work with all current devices. One way to make sure that all ports work with at least some of the devices is to bring the portable gadgets to the store, or have the sales assistant plug in similar devices.
After Sales Support
There should be product and service warranties for the docking station. In case of physical malfunction, the retailer or manufacturer must be able to replace the item within a reasonable period of time. If it cannot be replaced – and this is in cases when the product has been in use for a year – then the manufacturer must be able to repair the item at minimal cost and return it without delay.
The manufacturer also has to be able to provide support upgrades to maintain compatibility with future updates of the laptop’s operating system. For example, the laptop runs on Windows 8 and there’s a major update. If the update affects the docking station’s connectivity, then the manufacturer must make update patches available for download.
Space and Ergonomics
After qualifying a few brands that are compatible and offer good after sales support, the next thing to consider is how much space it takes up.
There are different designs of docking stations – upright, horizontal, and those created for a specific laptop.
The upright design takes the least space, and this design is used mostly for universal docking stations.
The horizontal design takes the most space. Though at first glance it might look awkward as part of a workspace, many horizontal docking stations can be positioned underneath a laptop. If the available choices include a horizontal docking station, it’s better if the laptop is fitted first before buying. This will ensure that working with the docking station underneath the laptop is as stable and as ergonomic as possible.
Docking stations designed for a specific laptop are made to look like the docking station and laptop are seamlessly merged. Another advantage for this type is that it recharges the laptop, while universal docking stations do not. There won’t be much problem with software updates with this design; however, only a handful of laptops have custom-made docking stations created by the same manufacturer.
Though it seems like a minor detail, another feature to consider is if a docking station has rubber skids. This feature helps avoid scratching a laptop or furniture.
A docking station is a laptop’s “landing pad” whether it is in a home or office workspace. It is conceptualized to provide better comfort for laptop users. While there are universal docking stations, none of them can claim to work for all devices and all kinds of workspace setups.
How a docking station works still depends on the buyer. Strategic planning and choosing will go a long way in giving the best possible workspace experience. Not only will it allow for eliminating the tedious process of reconnecting cables time and again, but it will also reduce discomfort and frustrations from connectivity problems. With a carefully designed workspace and the right docking station, computing is made more streamlined and efficient.