For mobile users who have a home base with loads of peripherals; USB hubs, a monitor, printer, Skype headset, external hard drives etc, a dock is a must have notebook accessory. Docks have been commonplace in work environments for many years, but most of the time they were tied to a specific line connecting through proprietary ports. Thankfully in the past few years we have seen a surge of new USB powered docks that run everything, including your monitor, over one USB cable.
We have been able to review the HP USB Docking Station for the past month and have found that it is a great way to connect the most common accessories to a notebook or netbook. Additionally, when my daily use HP tx2000 bit the dust; the HP USB dock came to the rescue by connecting all of my normal work tools to my HP Mini 1000 including a 19â€ monitor so I could keep working.
As you can see in the images below the HP USB Docking station has ports and connections, all running over USB 2.0.
USB B connection to your computer
Left to right: Kensington Lock, Audio In, Audio Out, RJ45 (network), DVI-D, VGA, (4) USB ports, Power connection.
Side and Top
LED power indicator on Top
The HP USB Dock is a pretty small, taking up only 3.2â€ by 8.66â€ of desk space and measuring just over an inch tall, which allows it to live out of site and keep your wires hidden. If you do decide to leave it on the desk the dock will fit right in with a matte black case.
What I have connected:
During my testing of the HP USB Dock I have had the following connected to it, which is only a small sampling of the number of devices that you could hook up.
- 19â€ Widescreen Acer Monitor powered at 1440 x 900 over VGA
- Microsoft Wireless Keyboard and Mouse adapter
- Skype Everyman Headset (Review)
- Droid via USB
- Misc .MP3 Players
- Various USB thumbdrives
In addition to these items you can also attach speakers, external hard drives, additional USB to DVI display adapters to add additional displays, printers, optical drives or pretty much anything with a USB plug.
It is important to note that while the dock has a DVI-D and a VGA port they can only output the same image and will not allow you to attach 2 monitors without mirroring the same display.
Installing and setting up the HP USB dock is easy, just plug in the power and connect it to your computer via USB and it will install the needed drivers. The DisplayLink software that powers the monitor connection is stored on a small bit of flash memory inside the dock so you don’t need to download anything, just install from the dock and you are good to go.
I didn’t experience any lag or ghosting issues while using the device and was pleased to see that the extra monitor shows up directly in the Windows display preferences page for resolution and placement control. The DisplayLink powered monitor even worked perfectly with my favorite Multi-Monitor tool UltraMon; which puts a taskbar on your second display.
I was able to play most video on the attached monitor without any trouble including any Flash based content I came across such as full screen YouTube and Hulu videos as well as local DVD quality videos from my hard disk. The dock is not meant to handle 1080P HD content or Blu-Ray playback as the USB bandwidth is too constrained with USB 2.0. We saw a demo of HD content working over USB 3.0 at the DisplayLink booth at CES and expect to see this in next generation docks.
When I plugged in any USB device the dock worked just as if I plugged it into the USB port of my notebook, searching for drivers and working as advertised.
The HP USB dock supports the following resolutions and refresh rates:
|Resolution||Refresh rates available at 16 bit color quality||Refresh rates available at 32 bit color quality|
|640×480||60 72 75||60 72 75|
|800×600||56 60 72 75 85||56 60 72 75 85|
|1024×768||60 70 75 85||60 70 75 85|
|1280×768||60 75 85||60 75 85|
|1280×960||60 85||60 85|
|1280×1024||60 75 85||60 75|
|1400×1050||60 75 85||60 75 85|
Note that interlaced modes are not supported.
I found that the HP USB dock does exactly what it advertises and with the ability to connect a monitor to the dock and run it all over USB makes it well worth the $99 price for business use or for individuals who want a one plug connection for connecting when they get home. On top of the convenience and de-cluttering I found with the device it is also a huge bonus to be able to use it with any computer instead of being tied to a specific model.
From now until April 30th you can get $15 to $25 off the purchase of the HP USB Dock from HP with a coupon code.