Laptop Docking Station – Introduction
For individuals who prefer to carry their laptops along in the cafe, library, park, workplace or home. It can be a bit troublesome to carry the laptop everywhere despite its portable design. Laptops are designed to be portable and used when away from a desktop. However, when you only own a desktop, you’re unable to take your work with you to more easily collaborate with others. The docking station is a device in which a laptop computer can be placed for charging, providing access to a power supply and to peripheral devices or auxiliary features to bridge the void between portability and having a firm place to work comfortably.
Journey of Docking Stations
How do docking stations come into being? What is the thought process behind them? The first-gen docking stations are usually called “port replicators” for the only purpose they fulfill. Until the birth of the USB-C interface, laptops were heavier and bulkier. For broader casing, they could be able to support a multitude of conventional ports like VGA or HDMI for an external screen, USB ports, an Ethernet cable, and audio inputs. Port replicators were introduced to serve as extension cables for such ports or interfaces and made them more feasible to handle without any desktop mess. The next-gen models of docking stations added a few additional ports for the same purpose. For insurance, USB for connecting more multiple devices. Usually, these docking stations incorporate a dedicated connector that could only be used with certain laptops.
In the late 2000s, the USB 3.0 protocol was launched, which increased the USB port’s bandwidth from 480 Mbps to 5Gbps (10x faster). It gave rise to the generation of docks that no longer have dedicated ports but rather link to the USB 3.0 port available on most laptop PCs. At that time many laptops had a video port (VGA or HDMI) and it allowed a secondary screen to be plugged in easily. The limitation was that USB ports didn’t support plug n play support for monitor screes, so USB 3.0 needs internal conversion chipsets along with software tools or drivers, such as DisplayLink, to support this.
Docking stations were made available in their best-evolved form by the end of 2014 when USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 made their debut. For the first time, LCD or LED screens were made compatible (along with data and charging on the same port) with plug n play support without any need to install drivers etc. Before the advent of USB-C, most docking stations were self-powered as they required a separate power adapter. USB-C made it possible for some portable docking stations to be powered by a USB port itself. Another significant benefit of USB-C docking stations is that they offer compatibility with more devices than their ancestor models.
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Docking Stations – Salient Features
The certain docking station you opt for depends on the type of laptop you have, the functions you want to enjoy, and whether you want some additional utilities or not.
The docking station itself is much portable and doesn’t occupy much space, which can be beneficial if you compromised space on your desk. Even, some of the most fundamental docking stations feature a power supply and ports for plugging into other devices.
Latest and high-end docking stations possess space for additional LED/LCD screens, keyboards, and speakers. It can also have additional USB-C ports to add projectors, scanners, printers, or external hard drives.
Docking Stations – Reasons to buy
If you like to acquire some add-on utilities that your laptop lacks, then a good docking station can spare you a lot of effort in connecting and disconnecting additional devices to your laptop. They can be pretty convenient if you carry your laptop back home and need to carry it to the workplace every day.
Instead of wasting few minutes reconnecting your necessary peripherals and additional devices to your laptop, you can just put your laptop on the docking station and enjoy the experience of a desktop.
For individuals who use their laptops for office work, a docking station can be your true partner by ensuring a desktop experience without investing more money and compromising more desk space for a larger desktop PC. With multiple peripherals intact, a docking station reduces the number of cables you use to connect and provides you an organized work desk.
Types of Dell Docking Stations
Docking stations are available with a variety of docking interfaces. It is mandatory to identify the differences between different types of docking interfaces. Below are the different types of docking interfaces available for Dell laptops.
- Dell E-port or D-port – Provide dedicated interfaces for Dell Latitude and Dell Precision E-series, these docking stations ensure fast connectivity to all desktop devices with a just simple click. Available usually for Dell Latitude laptops and specific portable workstations.
- Thunderbolt 3 – Thunderbolt 3 docking station allows a variety of devices to be plugged into the laptop via a single USB-C cable. Improving the mainstream USB capabilities with multiple display screens, audio devices, and power delivery ports to charge the laptop with a single USB-C cable. The next-gen Thunderbolt 4 is backward compatible with Thunderbolt 3 without any need to install additional software or driver.
- DisplayPort over USB-C – This docking station allows a multitude of devices to connect to the laptop via a single USB-C extension. Improving the mainstream USB capabilities with multiple display screens, audio devices, and power delivery ports to charge the laptop with a single USB-C cable.
- USB 3.0 – This latest docking interface is universal when it comes to compatibility. It incorporates DisplayLink technology that enables docking features over USB. The universal docking solution allows multiple display screens, audio systems, printers, scanners, and other USB peripherals to be connected to laptops via USB. It shows better performance t with USB 3.0 ports on the laptop.
Dell E-family Docking Stations – Available Options
The Dell E-family lineup of docking stations available in the market includes.
- Dell E/Port Docking Station
- Dell E/Port II Docking Station
- Dell E/Port Plus Docking Station
- Dell E/Port Plus II Docking Station
- Dell E/Monitor Docking Station
- Dell E/View Docking Station