Laptop Docking Station

Category: Laptops

A laptop docking station is a powered system of ports into which a laptop computer is plugged, allowing the laptop to recharge its battery and connect to various desktop devices. A laptop docking station allows a laptop to double as a desktop computer with more resources than will fit in a shoulder bag. Learn more about connecting your laptop with a docking station...

HP Laptop Docking Stations

Does Your Laptop Need a Docking Station?

A laptop docking station is a convenient way to connect a laptop to desktop peripherals. You just plug one cable in between the laptop and the docking station instead of hooking up multiple cables to various peripherals. The laptop docking station contains processors and circuitry to split out signals for desktop monitors, scanners, printers, etc. Some laptop docking stations have ports which plug directly into a mate on the laptop, eliminating the need for even a cable.

Depending on the make and model of your laptop, you may be able to "hot plug" your laptop in and out of its docking station. That means you don't have to completely power-down the laptop before plugging it into the docking station, or wait for it to power-up again. You may have to put the laptop into "sleep" mode before plugging it into the docking station, but it awakens faster than it does from a cold start.

Which Docking Station Should You Buy?

HP laptop docking stations are popular because they offer port replication and smart cable management in a small space. An HP notebook docking station is the same thing, and they start at around $150. A Gateway docking station is a bit less at around $129. Optimally, a docking station should fit the ports of your specific machine, so you should buy one that matches your laptop's make and model. But the Kensington Universal Notebook Docking Station (around $100) offers to do the job for any laptop or netbook. The downside is that it's not as elegant, and you'll have a bit more desktop and cable clutter.

A laptop with docking station is handy for people who are in and out of their offices often and in a hurry. You can quickly switch from the luxury of a large monitor and all the appurtenances of a well-equipped desktop to the mobility of a laptop. It also eliminates cable clutter and the minor chore of bending over to plug your laptop into a wall outlet.

Laptop docking stations come in several levels of sophistication. A laptop or notebook port replicator - also called a passthrough - is simply several cables bundled into one pair of connectors. Some port replicators contain pin-out adapters so your laptop's Micro-DVI port , for example, can connect to a normal DVI port device on the desktop. The Apple Macintosh BookEndz port replicator is an example.

A breakout dock not only replicates ports on your laptop but provides additional ones. A converter dock works much like a network hub with various converters plugged into its ports, allowing different peripherals to be used at different times. A hybrid dock communicates directly with the laptop's motherboard via a "daughterboard" to provide the highest-performance emulation of a desktop system.

Docking stations are wonderful devices for consolidating cables, eliminating desktop clutter, and replacing your desktop computer with the notebook you use when on the go. Do you have something to say about docking stations for laptops, notebooks or netbooks? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Laptop Docking Station"

Posted by:

Kennan
17 May 2010

Thanks for the great idea that I was unaware of...


Posted by:

Jim Brockhaus
02 Jun 2010

I use a docking station with an external monitor. When I am using the docking station and external monitor the desktop icons are lined up in one way. When I take the laptop out of the docking station the icons are lined up in a different order. Is there some way to keep the icons lined up the same way when using the docking station or when using the laptop?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Windows must keep track of desktop settings on a per-monitor basis. Have you tried right-clicking on the desktop and then selecting the "Arrange Icons" option? It *should* stay the way you set it.


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