Bring your own device or BYOD; policies are fast becoming a trend in most workspaces. Employees like the idea of using their preferred gadgets because of comfort and familiarity, so companies provide technical support to accommodate this growing influx and diversity of tech in the workplace.
Docking stations are one way to do this, but choosing the right one can be a struggle. These five categories might help you narrow down the list.
The first thing to consider in choosing a docking station is how you work. Different work environments require specific needs that certain types of docks may not be suited for. You have to assess the kind of user you are, where you will be using the dock, and how many peripherals you will have to support.
If you are in a shared workspace, your dock should be able to connect with different varieties of laptops and accessories. Meanwhile, a mobile workplace requires that you use a dock that is fairly compact to be carried around by an employee while being able to host a range of devices.
Additional ports are the main reason why you invest in a docking station because it provides a convenient way to connect your main device to all necessary peripherals.
Ports can come in the form of USB 3.0, USB-C, or the Thunderbolt 3. Docks generally support one kind of port or all three of them. Buying a dock that isn’t compatible with your device will render it useless unless you buy an adapter, which is an added cost and inconvenience on your part.
The most common is USB 3.0, which can transfer data at 5 Gbps. A USB-C, on the other hand, is just a physical port. It could sport a USB 3.0 under the hood or the newer Thunderbolt 3. Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 has transfer speeds that can reach up to 40 Gbps.
Just imagine the amount of data you can transmit with that speed. It was rolled out only in 2011 but can already be found in other PCs like HP and Dell.
4K and External Screen Support
The 4K resolution (or Ultra HD) is basically four times that of the 1080p HD resolution. That’s slightly more than four thousand pixels on a horizontal screen, thus the name. With screens getting bigger, 4K is a significant development for a truly immersive experience.
Most especially for people in the creative industries, devices that support 4K are more than welcome. If you are gunning for Ultra HD, make sure that your dock does not have restrictive video-connection settings.
Support for multiple monitors is also a good feature to look for in choosing docking stations. This allows you to connect an additional screen or two to accomplish your tasks. Most docks have ports that are only for accessories like speakers or printers. A monitor screen cannot be plugged in unless it’s through an adapter.
In terms of charging capability, there are two types of docking stations—powered and unpowered. The former has its own AC adapter and is plugged directly to an outlet, while the latter draws power from the computer’s battery when it’s connected through USB. Knowing the difference is crucial because certain accessories require more power than some.
You use a powered dock if you are running multiple peripherals at once or when you are using devices that have higher voltages such as printers, scanners, or big external hard drives. Since these devices don’t have to compete with your laptop, you won’t see a dip in power or performance.
Unpowered docks are used for devices that operate on low voltages like your mouse and keyboard, flash drives, and game controllers.
Some docking stations are slimmed-down versions that are designed to be compact and mobile. They are primarily marketed to the most serious of business travelers who need an extra dose of functionality and computing power while on the road (or air).
These portable docks are certainly not meant to sit on your desks all day, but they are not necessities as well, especially if your work does not require you to be constantly on the move. Portability comes with its own trade-offs, most notably fewer port options. But regular docking stations have been getting slimmer in design. That’s a silver lining there.