Working and finishing office tasks in the comfort of one's home is probably one of the greatest work innovations of today. However, one uncomfortable aspect of this setup is not having a desktop computer and enough ports for peripherals. A docking station can solve this problem just fine. But what is a docking station used for? And how does it work? What do you need to consider when buying one? In this blog, you can find out all the answers about docking stations.
What is a Docking Station
Most people only have laptops due to their portability and on-the-go convenience. Given this, connecting computer peripherals to a laptop requires a lot of accessories, which is a hassle. And this is where a docking station comes in. A docking station is an electronic device described as a "port replicator." This convenient device provides a simple, hassle-free, and convenient way to plug in common computer peripherals, thus bridging the gap between a laptop and a desktop through its multiple ports. This multiple-port device is a game changer as it expands the functionality of a laptop, allowing one to connect several devices like external monitors all while charging the laptop. If you want to learn more about the benefits of a laptop docking station, continue reading below.
How Does a Docking Station Work?
A docking station connects a laptop with many peripheral devices to create a multi-functional work center to improve work efficiency. You may think that it does the same jobs as hubs which also provide many ports to enable multiple device connections. However, they work in different ways actually.
Unlike other hubs, a laptop docking station is plugged into the wall to supply power to your laptop and peripheral devices. Through its various ports, it can support one or more monitors. However, docking stations vary; hence, the video ports they support are also different, though they typically revolve around DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort, DVI, VGA, and HDMI. It also has card readers and can even support Gigabit Ethernet and different audio connections.
What is the Purpose of a Docking Station?
A docking station was created for convenience to bridge the gap between a laptop and a desktop computer. By providing or expanding the number of ports, employees on a work-from-home setup can have the desktop experience they need while preserving their laptops' portability and on-the-go convenience. By having a docking station, a laptop becomes a desktop powerhouse: equipped with all of the ports needed to connect to monitors, LAN, internet, printer, external speakers, and more.
How to Choose a Docking Station?
Below are some things you should consider before buying your laptop docking station.
Not all laptops are compatible with a docking station because of the ports. Before buying one, you should check whether the docking station supports your laptop. For example, Anker 577 has a thunderbolt docking station compatibility (Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port), so it works perfectly with Windows laptops and non-M1 MacBooks running macOS 11 or later but not with M1 MacBooks, Linux, or Chrome OS laptops. On the other hand, USB docking stations like Anker 563 (USB-C Docking Station) are designed for connecting monitors to an M1 MacBook.
Video and Audio Output.Checking the supported qualities of the video output ports will do you good if you will buy a docking station. Why? Because of the display quality. If the station, for instance, does not support 4k resolution with 4K texture designs, you should expect a poor display. And this is a bane, especially for those who have works that require elevated video quality. The same goes for the audio output. If your work is in line with the broadcast, one that supports external speakers with a 3.5 jack for plugging will be the best.
Number of Ports
How many ports does the docking station have? You should answer this question when choosing your docking station. After all, the number of ports determines the number of peripheral devices you can plug in. You should likewise consider what kind of ports they are. Most docking stations have two to six standard USB ports. However, some newer models have more, like the Anker 577 which has 13 ports that include dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, 2 USB-C ports, 4 USB-A ports, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, an SD/microSD card slot, and a 3.5 mm AUX port.
Ease of Use
Everyone has encountered a driver problem before, which can be messy and tedious. So, always remember that you are buying a docking station for a convenience and less hassle; hence, choose one that is easy to install and use as much as possible. Fortunately, most docking stations that are USB-C enabled are driverless, which makes them functional right after connecting them to your system.
There are two kinds of docking station design: horizontal and vertical. The two are not that different from each other aside from their orientation. Choosing between them is a matter of preference. If you choose horizontal, you choose the one that fits all workplaces. On the other hand, if you choose vertical, you are freeing a large space on your worktable.
Brought by the recent trends of work-from-home setups, docking stations have proved to be reliable partners in recent years. These relatively new and beneficial devices contributed a lot to workers' productivity. With the different models available in the market, make sure you choose them based on the criteria set above. After all, a docking station is an upgrade, and nobody wants a lousy upgrade. We hope this blog will be of some help to you in choosing a docking station.
FAQ about Laptop Docking Station
Is a Laptop Docking Station Worth it?
Yes, a laptop docking station is worth it if you are always busy with different work devices. Given all the extra ports and convenience it provides, one can extend the functionality of their laptop, getting a high-efficiency work center and achieving that desktop-like experience in the office and at home. So investing in a quality and affordable docking station is well worth it.
Do You Need a Docking Station for Dual Monitors?
It depends. Those looking for increased productivity will find a dual-monitor docking station of great value. Not only does it allow two external monitors to be connected to your laptop, but it also maximizes workflow efficiency by providing other features such as fast data transfer between different types of hardware and an extra USB port.
However, if you find yourself with limited resources (especially an HDMI port), there are also other solutions available that can do the job. A switch splitter or display splitter will allow dual monitor use without investing in a more expensive docking station. Therefore, whether you choose one solution over the other depends on your needs and preferences, but either way, you're sure to experience a better workflow with the extra screen.
Can You Connect Any Laptop to a Docking Station?
No, not every laptop and docking station is compatible. Even if you plug or connect a laptop to a docking station to have extra monitors, nothing will happen if the docking station does not support the operating system of your laptop So be sure to check the compatibility before you invest in a docking station.
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