Are you planning to use a laptop as a glorified desktop? Then there are some points you should pay attention to. We describe these points of interest in this article and we also list the best docking stations for your laptop.
First, ask yourself whether you do need a docking station, or whether your laptop already has enough connections for what you intend to do with it. Of course, the presence of multiple USB ports is nice, so that you can connect a keyboard, mouse and speakers, for example.
Alternatively, you can also group peripheral accessories with a docking station. This requires a USB-A port or suitable USB-C connection on the laptop. We will discuss the use of a docking station in more detail shortly.
In addition to sufficient USB connections, most laptops also contain an HDMI port. Which is nice, because the integrated monitor offers (too) little workspace for hours-long computer sessions. With a second screen for your laptop, you can divide the desktop over two monitors. You can also decide to close the lid of the laptop, after which you only work on the connected screen.
In addition to HDMI, the laptop may have another video port. For example, a capable USB-C connection can transport data, power and video. Sometimes there are even multiple USB-C ports available. Check the specifications of the laptop to see how many screens you can connect.
USB-C ports on laptops may look identical, but there are differences between them. It just depends on which protocols the available USB-C connection accepts. This may have consequences for the extent to which you can use the laptop as a desktop.
Therefore, thoroughly check the specifications of the laptop. This can be done, for example, by studying the manufacturer’s product page or manual. Unfortunately, there is sometimes uncertainty about which protocols the USB-C port of the laptop in question supports exactly. In that case it is a matter of trying it out.
First of all, laptops transfer data via USB-C. There are two protocols for this, namely USB and Thunderbolt. An important difference is that thunderbolt supports a faster transfer speed. In addition, via USB-C, video output to one or even two screens is often possible. This is done via the HDMI and/or DisplayPort protocols.
Finally, the USB-C port may be able to supply power. If so, there is usually a lightning icon next to this connector. Charge the battery of the laptop via this connection.
USB-C has the advantage that it can transport data, video and power via a single cable. This comes in handy when using a docking station. If the intended docking station has USB-C as the main connection, it is sufficient to connect the laptop with a single cable. All connected peripherals then work immediately.
In addition, you are much less bothered by cable spaghetti. With almost all docking stations, the majority of the connections are located at the rear. Position the device at the back of the desk and hide the cables as much as possible. Certain models have some connections on the front. This allows you to easily connect a headset or USB storage carrier, for example.
Always check the docking station connections first. For example, there are docks that support one or two screens. Check carefully that the available video ports match those of the monitor(s). Usually HDMI and/or DisplayPort are sufficient for this.
Furthermore, the presence of multiple USB ports, Ethernet and a sound output are welcome connections. Finally, check which operating systems the docking station can work with.
Three docking stations
We list three interesting docking stations for laptops.
Extensive docking stations are quite expensive, but the price of this copy is manageable. Set the ACT AC6150 upright and connect the laptop and the desired peripheral accessories. This docking station is suitable for laptops without a USB-C port. The main connection is a USB slave port, with which you can connect the laptop via a regular USB connection.
In addition to HDMI, the back is equipped with DVI. The manufacturer also supplies a VGA adapter. This is useful when using an older laptop. Connect a microphone, headphones and two USB devices via connections on the front. The back offers space for another six USB ports and Ethernet. The price is about 130 euros.
Lenovo ThinkPad Hybrid USB-C
If you want an extensive docking station, this widely available copy may be for you. The front contains a USB-A and USB-C port. In addition, a headphone connection is available. At the back, there are another four USB-a ports.
Two HDMI ports and two DisplayPort connections are available for connecting a screen. Keep in mind that the docking station supplies a video signal to a maximum of two additional screens. The maximum resolution per monitor is 3840 × 2160 pixels. Using the available Ethernet connection, you can easily connect the laptop to a wired internet connection. The price is about 300 euros.
The recently released Logi Dock is a bit of an odd one out. The housing contains loudspeakers. Position the device under the monitor and listen to music during computer tasks. For this, the housing tilts back slightly so that the tunes reach your ears better.
Thanks to the six built-in microphones, you can make hands-free calls. It is not without reason that this product is certified for online meeting tools, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Users can connect two 4K displays via DisplayPort and HDMI. In addition, the docking station supports twice USB-A, three times USB-C and Bluetooth. The Logi Dock is available in a white and dark gray version. The price is 449 euros.