by Amber Barry
Kensington Dock Review
In today’s age, laptops serve both as a mobile and stationary unit. While it is nice to have this dual feature, it can be a pain sometimes. Most of us love the fact that we can take our laptop anywhere, but the idea of having to unplug and plug all of the devices to it everytime we leave can be a headache. The idea of connecting all of our devices to a docking station and using a single USB cable to connect these devices to our laptop while still having the same great experience seems too good to be true. Yet it is possible. The Kensington’s Expansion Dock with Video allows you to connect several devices including an external monitor to your laptop with a single USB cable, but without the lag or delay in response time.
- 10/100 Ethernet Port
- Monitor Port (VGA)
- 4 — USB 2.0 Ports (Powered)
- Microphone Port
- Headset/Speaker Port
Backside of docking station
There are several key features to the design of the dock. On the top is a rubber pad which prevents your laptop from slipping. Even if you move the dock, the laptop does stay in its position. Another feature is slope of the dock. This does two things. For one, it allows the laptop to still be used if you do not have an external keyboard or monitor. The dock does not cause the laptop to be at an uncomfortable angle. The second thing is the dock allows more air ventilation. Because of the design of my laptop, the bottom of it gets very hot, very quickly. With the dock, it gets enough air to allow the laptop to stay cooler and have a lower temperature.
Docking Station beside a AA battery (view large image)
Most of us know the drill with the setup of new laptop accessories. You have to insert the disc, and it installs all of the software. Then you spend time uninstalling the software that you didn’t want in the first place. Finally, you end up rebooting and are eventually able to use your new gadget.
With this accessory, you don’t have to do that. The installation disc contains only 2 files, both being drivers for the dock. There is no additional software to install, and XP does all the work by installing the drivers. In less than a minute, the dock is fully functional and ready to go.
Dell Inspiron 9300 with the docking station (view large image)
Two common questions are always asked with docking stations: (1) What devices are compatible with the dock and (2) is there a lag with any of the devices?
To answer the first question, every device I tried is compatible with this docking station. The normal setup of keyboard, mouse (wired/wireless), monitor, speakers and printer caused no problems with the docking station. Some other common accessories such as MP3 player/iPod, external CD/DVD drive, USB memory key, USB Hub, and USB numeric keypad were fully functional as you would see if they were connected directly to the laptop. The dock does have 4 powered ports which is a great feature for those of us who have several USB powered accessories. Even with the laptop turned off or disconnected from the dock, all of the devices connected to the dock still received power.
The biggest addition to this docking station is the support of Video/VGA. With this new feature, any external monitor (up to 19in screen) can be connected, and the dock will support up to 1280 by 800 native screen resolutions. As with the other accessories, there was no noticeable difference between the monitor being connected to the dock and directly to the laptop. The image is crisp and clear. The only negative to the video support is for users who have higher native screen resolutions than 1280 by 1024. I did have to change my native resolution when I connected and disconnected from the dock since I do have a higher resolution, but it is easy to do.
To answer the second question, unlike some of the other docks on the market, lag time was not detected on this dock. I made comparisons between the laptop LCD and the external monitor as well as using the external devices and response time. Throughout the comparisons, the response time was the same as if it was connected directly to my laptop.
- 4 Powered ports
- No lag
- Universal design
- Support several devices with 1 USB port
- A little expensive
- Video support supports up to 1280 by 1024 native resolution
Whether you are a gamer, enjoy watching DVDs, or the busy business woman who spends a majority of your day on a laptop, the Kensington Docking Station with Video is a great addition to any setup.