It is not
very often that you come across a “gadget” that does more than a
one thing well. When you find one that enhances a number of things
you do routinely, you protect it as though you’ve struck oil. The
StarTech.com Laptop Docking Station I tried recently is exactly one
of those items.
stations for laptops have been around since the early days of mobile
computing. The idea of being able to take your mobile computer and
replicate its ports so that you can use a full-size keyboard, a
mouse, a monitor, a printer and network connections gave notebooks
even more added value than just their mobility alone. Fast-forward to
today, the USB 3.0 bus standard allows 5 Gbps data transfer rates.
The StarTech.com Docking station I took through its paces takes
complete advantage of USB 3.0.
box, you get the docking station, a USB A to USB B cable, a power
supply, a driver disk and a brief setup pamphlet. Setup could not be
simpler and within a short time your operating system will have found
and installed all of the drivers and you’ll be able to use the
docking station to its full capacity. For the one USB 3.0 connection
you make to your laptop, you’re afforded three USB 3.0 ports,
microphone and headphone jacks, a gigabit LAN connection, and three
video ports (VGA, HDMI and DVI).
standout feature on the StarTech.com is the docking station’s
ability to output two HD video signals to external monitors.
Effectively, including the laptop screen, anyone could be working on
three full HD screens within minutes of plugging the docking station
to their USB 3.0 port on their computer. The included software allows
for complete control of each additional screen on the fly as well.
Adding the three USB 3.0 ports and the gigabit LAN connection just
increases the device’s versatility.
always, the “Gee, those are great features” necessitates the “but
how would we use it?” conversation. The first thing I considered
was having one of these in a production room. In the BYOD (Bring Your
Own Device) world, you have radio hosts, creative writers, sales and
producers all needing a way to hook up their devices to your
equipment to import and export audio into your automation systems.
With one USB connection, the process is made simple and complete. Now
the setup is only done one time.
the conference room? You’ve got the impressive multimedia there,
but it gets much less so when you have to spend 20 minutes each time
you use it to find the right cables and to hook everything up. If you
have guests coming in and presenting to your staff often, set-up
could be easier for them (and you). What about the remote broadcast
where you have an opportunity to project your image to listeners and
non-listeners alike? You could easily put together a top-notch booth
with a laptop and a couple of HD flat-screen displays. The only
people who wouldn’t appreciate how professional your remote looks
would be your competition.
useful gadget is one that not only saves you time (read: money), but
also performs its duties in the most practical, easy way. If it can
be used in more than one environment in your facility, it moves out
of the realm of gadgetry and into the realm of necessary equipment.
The StarTech.com laptop docking station will make you wonder what you
ever did before you had one.
www.startech.com. Price: $171.99