Many people use their laptops as their primary home computers, but unlike desktops, laptops have limited ports to connect a bunch of other hardware at the same time. Most people would like to simultaneously connect a mouse, a printer, an external USB hard drive, and speakers to their laptops, but they must settle with unplugging one to connect the other. Enter docking stations.
Docking stations were created to enhance connectivity in laptops. In other words, a dock is a hardware device that you can connect to your laptop for additional ports to plug in more peripherals to your computer. A dock is also great for keeping all your cables organized, especially when there’s a lot.
If you’re looking for a dock for your laptop, keep in mind these considerations to find one that perfectly suits your needs.
Docking Needs and Preferences
First, identify your docking needs. What peripherals do you need to connect to your laptop and how many? What connectors do you need to have? That kind of environment are you working in or using your laptop—a permanent office, mobile, or shared workplace?
Do you need a compact dock with all the basic features or something more comprehensive yet bulky? How about your display preferences? How many monitors do want to connect to your laptop? What are your video-resolution needs? What types of video connectors do you use?
If you’re sharing one dock with other users, you need to find one that works with different laptops and platforms. Also consider if you need special or additional features, such as high-speed data transfer, extra USB ports, and VESA mount. You need to think of all these to find a laptop docking station that meets all your needs and preferences.
Laptop Connectivity Requirements
Before buying a docking station, check its compatibility with the connecting ports in your laptop. Nowadays, there are three types of connecting ports (USB 3.0, USB-C, or Thunderbolt 3) that docks can connect to.
Beginning in 2008, most laptops included USB 3.0 host connectors. In 2011, the first laptops with the first Thunderbolt were released, then Thunderbolt 2 was launched in 2013. The following year, the USB-C only came into laptops. After one year, the Thunderbolt 3 was immediately launched.
Most laptops have USB 3.0 connectors. If you’re using a recent model by Apple, Dell, HP, or Lenovo, you’ll likely find a Thunderbolt 3 on it. USB-C connectors are considered “the industry-standard connector.” It’s said to be twice as fast as USB 3.0 is and is found in a range of devices, from smartphones to computers.
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When choosing a docking station, read the specifications to determine if the dock is compatible with your device. Go to forums and read reviews to learn more about the dock before purchasing it. If you don’t have any clue, ask for advice, and recommendations from your tech-savvy friends or online.
Finding the perfect docking station for your laptop is no rocket science. The key is determining your needs and preferences, as well as the connectivity requirements of your laptop and the dock. Knowing these things can help narrow down your choice, so you don’t have to be bombarded by the countless dock choices available in the market.
You can then check out listings for the best docks, browse forums and computer blogs for reviews, and check out the product page of the dock you’re interested in getting. When you have all the details you need, you can get the docking station that best suits your needs.