One of the promises of moving to interfaces like USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3 on notebooks is the idea of the "one cable future." For the most part, I think we are starting to see some of those benefits. It's nice that with USB Power Delivery, users aren't tied into buying chargers directly from their notebook manufacturer or turning to trying to find oddball third-party chargers with their exact barrel connector. Additionally, I also find it to be a great feature when laptops have USB-c charging ports on opposing sides of the notebooks, allowing me greater flexibility to plug in a charger without putting additional strain on the cable.
For years, the end-game for mobile versatility has been a powerful thin-and-light notebook which you can connect to a dock at home, and use a desktop PC. With more powerful notebook processor's like Intel's quad-core 8th generation parts coming out, we are beginning to reach a point where we have the processing power; the next step is having a quality dock with which to plug these notebooks.
While USB-C can support DisplayPort, Power Delivery, and 10 Gbit/s transfer speeds in its highest-end configuration, this would still be a bit lacking for power users. Thunderbolt 3 offering the same display and power delivery capabilities, but with its 40 Gbit/s data transfer capabilities is a more suitable option.
Today, we are taking a look at the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus, a Thunderbolt 3-enabled device that provides a plethora of connectivity options for your notebook.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Storage, Mobile | January 8, 2018 - 03:53 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, CES 2018, Elgato, dock, thunderbolt 3, adapter
Elgato is launching a smaller Thunderbolt 3 dock aptly named the Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock to its family of docks (how many times can I use dock in one sentence?). The portable dock comes with a tail Thunderbolt 3 cable that is permanently attached and stows away into a groove on the bottom of the dock when not in use.
Using the single 40 Gbps connection provided by Thunderbolt 3, the Mini Dock offers up display outputs, USB 3.1, and network ports including:
- DisplayPort 1.2 (4k60)
- HDMI 2.0 (4k60 and HDCP 2.2)
- RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps UASP and 0.9A of power).
Users will need a newer laptop or desktop with Thunderbolt running Mac OS Sierra 10.12 or Window 10 operating systems or newer. The compact dock will be available in the sping with as yet unanounced pricing. It should be cheaper than Elgatos larger docks (currently their Thunderbolt 3 Dock is $291) though since it is not powered and offers fewer ports.
As notebooks continue to get thinner, these docks (along with ones based on USB Type-C) are going to become more useful in getting the most out of our faster mobile hardware.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES news as it develops!
Subject: Mobile | December 28, 2016 - 12:01 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: usb type-c, thunderbolt 3, ThinkPad Type-C Dock, ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock, Thinkpad, notebook, Lenovo, laptop, dock, CES 2017, CES
Lenovo has teased a pair of new docks for their upcoming ThinkPad refresh at CES, with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C options. We don’t have a lot of details but the photos from Lenovo show the available ports on these two docks.
ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 (left) and USB Type-C (right) docks (Image: Lenovo)
The ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock supports up to 3 displays, with a pair of DisplayPort outputs along with a full size HDMI. The front panel offers a Thunderbolt 3 port, USB, and 3.5 mm audio, and the rear offers four more USB 3.0 ports (one charging), LAN, and a VGA output.
Back view of Thunderbolt 3 Dock (Image: Lenovo)
The Type-C dock supports up to 2 displays via DisplayPort, and has three USB 3.0 ports between the front and back panel (plus a front panel Type-C port), along with legacy USB 2.0 ports for peripherals. The smaller dock retains VGA and LAN ports as well.
Back view of USB Type-C Dock (Image: Lenovo)
Expect full specifications after the official launch of these products, presumably at CES 2017.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
You love the dock!
Today we'll take a quick look at the Inateck FD2002 USB 3.0 to dual SATA dock:
This is a UASP capable dock that should provide near full SATA 6Gb/sec throughput to each of two connected SATA SSDs or HDDs. This particular dock has no RAID capability, but exchanges that for an offline cloning / duplication mode. While the FD2002 uses ASMedia silicon to perform these tasks, similar limitations are inherent in competing hardware fron JMicron, which comes with a similar toggle of either RAID or cloning capability. Regardless, Inateck made the logical choice with the FD2002, as hot swap docks are not the best choice for hardware RAID.
The pair of ASMedia chips moving data within the FD2002. The ASM1153E on the left couples the USB 3.0 link to the ASM1091R, which multiplexes to the pair of SATA ports and apparently adds cloning functionality.
Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2014 - 11:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, Surface Pro 3, peripherals, microsoft, docking station, dock
Earlier this year, Microsoft took the wraps off of its latest Surface tablet: the Surface Pro 3. The new tablet comes with several peripherals including a keyboard, stylus, and a docking station that was recently made available for purchase from the Microsoft Store for $199.99.
The docking station measures 12.9" x 3.8" x 4.4" and weighs 1.43 pounds. It acts as a stand for the Surface tablet and adds a number of full sized ports. Specifically, the dock includes the following I/O options.
- 3 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x Mini DisplayPort
- 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
The docking station also has a security lock slot and power input port. Speaking of power, it is driven by a 48W power supply which Microsoft says provides ample power for charging the Surface Pro 3 and any USB attached devices.
With the dock in play, the Surface Pro 3 becomes much more business and productivity focused and may well replace desktops in some shops as supporting one device per worker should be bother easier and cheaper than supplying and supporting a desktop and laptop (and possibly a tablet). Users can attach up to two external displays by utilizing the daisy chaining feature and the single mini DisplayPort output. In total, users will have access to six USB ports (five on the dock and one available on the tablet itself).
The Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is available now from the Microsoft Store and retailers with a MSRP of $199.99.
The price does seem a bit steep, but is in line with other Surface accessories and is not likely to get much cheaper any time soon. Will you be picking up a dock for your Surface?
Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2013 - 07:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless dock, wigig, dock, dell, computing, 802.11ad
Dell has launched a new docking station for its laptops. In an interesting twist, the dock connects to the computer over an 802.11ad “WiGig” link to provide up to 7Gbps bandwidth between the dock and laptop. The Dell Wireless D5000 docking station supports multi-display, USB 3.0, and audio output. According to Dell, it is the worlds first commercially available wireless dock.
The Wireless D5000 dock pairs with Dell's 1601 WiGig card, which is currently only available with Dell's Latitude 6430u laptop. Pairing is a simple matter of hitting the pairing button and hitting connect in Dell's Connection Manager software. A single USB 3.0 port and headphone jack are also available on the front of the device.
Rear IO on the Dell Wireless D5000 dock includes DC power jack, Ethernet jack, two USB 3.0 ports, a single HDMI port, and one DisplayPort output. Additionally, the D5000 uses a WiGig radio to provide the connectivitiy over a wireless link. WiGig, or 802.11ad, uses the 60GHz wireless spectrum to provide high bandwidth at short distances. The chip Dell is using in the dock is capable of falling back to 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands–you can expect significantly slower speeds in that situation though. You will be able to take your computer with you, set it on the desk and have two desktop monitors, a wired network connection, and USB 3.0 ports. Not bad, though Justin Kerr over at Maximum PC notes that wireless power for charging your laptop would have really ratcheted-up the dock's usefulness.
In terms of connectivity, there is nothing especially new here that Thunderbolt docks are not already providing (aside from the wireless nature, of course). I say this because the Dell D5000 dock's pricing is in line with many of the Thunderbolt options. If you can stand a wired connection to the dock and your laptop/ultrabook has a Thunderbolt port, you could grab a dock with similar port options, higher theoretical bandwith, and a Thunderbolt passthrough. The Dell D5000 is available for $270 at Dell's online store, but it is reportedly cheaper if purchased with the Dell Latitude 6430U laptop. In that scenario, the wireless dock is only $190 (which is, admittedly, pretty good even against Thunderbolt docks).
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 3, 2012 - 11:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: computex, thunderbolt, Matrox, macbook, dock, apple
Matrox has recently launched a new Thunderbolt dock aimed at adding desktop peripherals to Apple Macbooks and Ultrabooks. The dock connects via a single Thunderbolt cable (it does require a separate power source as well) and provides one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVI video output, audio in/out jacks, and a Gigabit LAN port. It will be available for purchase in September with an MSRP of $249 USD.
Matrox has released a new laptop dock called the Matrox DS1 that is designed to pair with Thunderbolt-equipped notebooks and provide several additional connectivity options. The aluminum chassis is reminiscent of a slimmer WD My Book drive because of the book like shape. The front of the DS1 dock is a Thunderbolt input and status LED. On the back of the dock is a DVI output, three USB ports (one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0), microphone input, headphone output, and a Gigabit LAN port. To the far right is a DC power input which means that the dock is a bit less portable than I would like but it is not clear how big of a “wall wart” it will come with.
The company has stated that the aluminum case should protect the dock in just about every use case, and the additional IO certainly adds much needed connectivity to Ultrabooks where available ports are at a premium. Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for Matrox, Alberto Cieri, has been quoted by Apple Insider in stating “The new Matrox DS1 docking station easily enables the creation of an ergonomic workspace and brings much-needed expandability for printers, scanners, storage, smartphones, optical drives, cameras, flash drives, and other peripherals.”
The Matrox DS1 will be shown off at Computex 2012 this week in Taipei, Taiwan at Intel’s booth (M0410 in the Nangang Exhibition Hall). After that, it will be shown off at WWDC in San Fransico and Infocomm in Las Vegas on June 12th and June 13th to June 15th respectively. In September of this year it will be available for purchase with an MSRP of $249 USD.
Situations like this are where Thunderbolt really shines, and I would not be surprised to see companies outfitting employees with Ultrabooks for mobile use and a larger monitor and peripherals for in-office use (eschewing a separate desktop machine altogether). The price, especially considering Thunderbolt cables themselves are expensive is going to be the most limiting factor for docks like these despite their usefulness.
Editor's Note: Although Tim didn't mention it, one kind of interesting drawback is that this device does NOT include a Thunderbolt pass through, basically preventing users from taking advantage of the daisy-chain capability TB can offer via a single port / connections on the laptop or computer.
StarTech has always had a rather large line of external USB and eSATA HDD docks, but up until now most have been limited to SATA connectivity. Now they have released a dock that's able to connect to IDE hard drives as well! It pulls off this trick by including a short IDE ribbon cable that can connect to the back of the unit (see pic below).
Introduction, Design, User Interface
Late in December of 2011 we received the Transformer Prime for review. What we did not recieve, however, was the keyboard dock. High demand by journalists for a look at the company's latest and greatest Transformer had left them short of docks, in turn leaving us short of a dock.
Now we've finally had our hands on one. Since it was shipped to us several weeks after the review Prime, we were able to give it our full attention. As with the original Transformer, the dock is one of the features that help the Prime stand out from the crowd - but that doesn't mean it is automatically destined for greatness. If the Prime wants to act like a laptop, it will have to be able to compete with laptops - and that's a tall order for a system without Windows or an x86 processor.
Besides a keyboard, the dock adds a few other specifications that are worth mentioning. Let's take a look at them.
So, as with the previous dock, you’re not just buying a keyboard. You’re also receiving an extended battery with impressive capacity and some additional connectivity. Given the MSRP of $150, however, you’d kind of expect there to be more than just a keyboard.
Introduction and Design
Tablets may be the darling of the tech industry, but they’ve also received their fair share of criticism as well. One of the most consistent barbs throw towards them is the tablet’s inability to serve as a competent platform for content creature. While it’s technically possible to write a document or edit an image on a tablet, it’s certainly not enjoyable.
Part of the problem is the lack of a keyboard and mouse. Touchscreens are beautiful and intuitive, but they’re not precise. While third-party cases and docks have tried to solve this issue, they’re often both clunky and expensive.
It’s little surprise that a tablet designed specifically to work in conjunction with a keyboard dock has hit the market, but it is surprising that the first such device comes from ASUS, a company with relatively little experience building mobile products. The Eee Pad Transformer is already the second-best selling tablet on the market (after the iPad, of course) and reports indicate sales are constrained by supply rather than demand. What is it that has made the Transformer a quick success?