It’s not very surprising to see every laptop brand ditching the connectivity ports. Thanks to Apple which was the first brand to ditch ports and the rest of the brands just followed the trend blindly. Most of the laptop brands decided to remove the connectivity ports such as Ethernet, HDMI, etc. as they are slightly bulky, so fitting them into a thin laptop chassis is quite a challenging task for them.
However, a few brands actually took this step so that they can increase the sales of their own custom docking stations. That’s why docking stations are so much in demand these days. But, are they any useful? If you are curious to know, we have covered everything related to docking stations in this article for you.
- What is a Docking Station?
- How Docking Stations Operate
- What is the Purpose of a Docking Station
- Advantages of Universal Docking Station
- Uses of Docking Stations
- Computer Games
- Access to New Devices
- No Need for a Desktop
- Extra Peripherals for a Laptop and the Mobility
What is a Docking Station?
For those who don’t know what a docking station actually is, it’s simply a HUB that features multiple different connectivity ports. Just like a USB hub that connects to one single USB port on the laptop, and offers you access to multiple USB ports. A docking station is slightly different as it not only has USB ports but also offers you access to other types of ports as well such as HDMI, Ethernet, DisplayPort, etc. So, by using a docking station with your laptop, it opens up plenty of gateways for your laptop to connect with external peripherals such as monitors, TVs, printers, scanners, projectors, etc.
How Docking Stations Operate
There’s no big science or technology involved in how the docking stations actually operate. Docking stations generally come with a chip inside that takes power from a single USB Type B or Type C port and allows the data to be shared on multiple channels. This way, you can utilize a single USB port for all sorts of connections like HDMI, Ethernet, etc.
Before the USB Thunderbolt port was introduced, almost all the docking stations used to have a USB Type B connector. However, if you look at docking stations today, you will find almost all of them operate via a USB Type-C Thunderbolt port, simply because the USB thunderbolt has a better performance in terms of data transfer and almost all new laptops have it.
What is the Purpose of a Docking Station
As you know, most of the major laptop brands have removed a lot of connectivity ports from their flagship business laptops, just for the sake of making them thinner. That said, the new laptops don’t offer much flexibility when it comes to connecting external peripherals. However, if you have a docking station with you, you can simply turn your laptop into a full-fledged desktop PC by connecting all types of external peripherals and other useful hardware like printers, scanners, projectors, etc.
Let’s suppose you have a MacBook or the latest Dell XPS laptop that only features a couple of USB Type-C thunderbolt ports. With such a laptop, you can’t connect any external peripherals like keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc., unless you have a docking station. Hence, the main function of a docking station is to provide you with the availability of connectivity ports in a laptop.
A docking station can be highly beneficial to you if you mostly work on your laptop and take it to the office with you. In that case, you can keep your docking station at your office, and connect all the useful external peripherals with the laptop to use it as a desktop PC. Apart from that, when you are leaving your office, just unplug the docking station, and you will have your powerful portable machine back in your hands once again.
There are several USB hubs available in the market which just showcase them as docking stations by showing gimmicky features. However, as a customer, you should always be looking for the right product and make sure that all the required connectivity ports should be there on the docking station. To be on the safer side, stick to the well-known brands and avoid going for cheap third-party products.
Docking Stations actually come in a variety of designs, shapes, and sizes. While some docking stations attach to the back or bottom of your laptop, others might just have a much simpler and portable design. So, that’s totally your preference; you can go with any type of size and design you like.
Although docking stations are quite useful and offer huge flexibility, they are also expensive at the same time. Hence, you should consider buying them when you actually need those extra ports to connect peripherals. Otherwise, if you are an individual who just wants to connect the laptop to a TV or any other device, you can buy a simple adapter for that purpose and save your hard-earned money for the better.
Advantages of Universal Docking Station
- Allows you to use Multiple Displays
- Offers access to multiple external peripherals
- Adds Gigabit Ethernet port to your laptop
- Decreases the dependency on a desktop
- Helps you play games more conveniently
- The transition between Office work and Home eases up
Uses of Docking Stations
We have already mentioned multiple times that docking stations can be highly useful tech stuff that you can carry in your bag. But, what are its actual uses, or how can you use a docking station in the most effective way. Well, we have asked a few people who have been using docking stations for a long time, and we have surely got our answers, so we’re glad to share them with you as well.
Use of Multiple Devices
One of the best uses of a docking station is that you can use multiple devices with your laptop. In general, if you connect a mouse and a keyboard with your laptop, you are simply left with no other vacant port, so it feels quite limiting. However, with the help of a docking station, you can connect other devices like printers, scanners, monitors, keyboard, mouse, all that at the same time.
Portability Between Home and Office
When you have a docking station, the transition between office and home eases up to a large extent. You can set up your docking station at your office, so whenever you go to work, you will just need to plug in one cable, and your laptop will turn into a full-fledged desktop PC. Similarly, when leaving work, just unplug the docking station, and enjoy the advantage of having a portable laptop with you.
Several docking stations provide you with extra thunderbolt ports which can be utilized for attaching external GPUs with the laptop. Apart from that, using a keyboard and mouse always offers a better gaming experience rather than using the trackpad.
Access to New Devices
Connection to an external monitor or multiple monitors, or a router for wired ethernet connection is simply not possible if your laptop doesn’t offer you HDMI or Ethernet ports. However, since all these types of ports are generally offered by a docking station, you can enjoy a whole new experience by using your laptop on a much larger monitor and access to much better internet speeds.
No Need for a Desktop
If you ever wished to have a desktop PC but ended up buying a laptop instead. No worries, as the docking station will help you achieve a similar experience. With dozens of connectivity ports, you can almost connect everything, such as keyboard, mouse, external GPU, printer, speakers, etc., with your laptop and turn it into a PC very conveniently.
Extra Peripherals for a Laptop and the Mobility
While a docking station allows you to use dozens of external peripherals and devices with the laptop. It doesn’t snatch the portability factor from a laptop in any scenario. Whenever you need to use the external peripherals, you can have access to them by connecting one single cable. Otherwise, when you don’t need those extra peripherals, just unhook the docking station and use your laptop in whichever way you want, and carry it anywhere.
In all, we can conclude that a docking station is actually a powerful accessory that can turn your laptop into a PC quite easily. However, you should note that docking stations are generally expensive, so you should be investing in one when you actually need it. In case you just want to add specific functionality to your laptop, like you just need an HDMI port or Ethernet port, purchasing a particular adapter is a wise decision. So, what are your thoughts on using a docking station? Do let us know about them in the comments section below.