Updated: May 23, 2015

Docking Station Reviews:

Finding the Best Laptop Docking Stations - The computer world moves and changes so rapidly; the technology that was cutting-edge yesterday is now standard - or obsolete - today. Laptop docking stations are one such technology that, for most people, has gone by the wayside. Many of today's consumers don't even know what a docking station or port replicator is. While unnecessary for the average user of newer laptops, a docking station can be a handy tool in the office or home office. What are these devices - and do you need one? Let's take a look.
laptop docking stations

What is a Laptop Docking Station? - Laptop or notebook docking stations were designed as home ports to increase the functionality of a mobile computer. Older laptops had a minimal number of USB ports: if you wanted to use your peripherals, you had to plug in each one separately. If you had no USB ports, as was the case with some archaic laptops, you had to use a series of bulky cables. A docking station essentially negated the need for this. You simply dock your laptop, and you could use a mouse, printer, keyboard, and other peripherals without plugging anything in. Because today's new notebooks usually have enough USB ports for the casual user: when you want to use your mp3 player or upload pictures from your camera, you just put in the USB cable, and you're ready to go. So why would you need a docking station?

*If you do not have enough USB ports for your needs. You can dock and have access to the peripherals you want.
*You use your work laptop at home, or vice versa. You can just bring it back to the office, dock it, and continue working.
*You want to use an older printer with a new laptop. The ports are different. Instead of using an adapter, you can use your docking station.
*You have great graphics on your laptop but want to play games or watch movies on a bigger screen. You can use your desktop monitor or a larger external monitor to do this via a docking station.
*If you want to cut clutter on your home or work desk.
*You hate laptop keyboards and touchpads.
*You love your speedy, compact, portable netbook but need it to do more.

Docking stations give you the portability of a laptop and the functionality of a desktop. No, not everyone needs one, but those that do find them to be indispensible.

Using a Laptop Docking Station or Port Replicator - Using a docking station is very easy. Typically, you power on your docking station and your computer - but do not port your computer yet. Before you do this, run the installation CD on your laptop, which will then recognize the docking station as a piece of hardware. From there, you may have to power down both the docking station and the laptop, but this may vary based on the model you have. Before powering up, put the laptop into the docking station. When the laptop is securely in the docking station, plug in all the peripherals you want, including keyboard, mouse, printer, scanner, speakers, and camera. Power up, and you should be good to go. You work at your docking station, which makes it great for professionals and students, and then you are free to take your laptop wherever you want. You can browse the best selling laptop docking stations here.

Best Laptop Docking Stations:

Twenty percent of people who buy laptops for home use also choose to get a port replicator. Over sixty percent of business people opt to use a docking station, as well. While they may not be as common among casual users, laptop docking stations are far from obsolete. Several leading companies, including Dell, Belkin, HP, LogiTech, and Toshiba, make high quality docking stations. Which are worth your time and money? An affordable option recommended by LaptopMag is the Kensington Universal Docking Station with Ethernet sd120. The previous Kensington universal docking station was a top pick of MobileOffice.About. The updated version is compatible with all brands of PC via USB port and features a compact mini tower design, perfect for uncluttering your desk, security slot to secure your dock and connected peripherals, front audio ports and back speaker ports, 4 USB 2.0 ports and a front USB port for external hard drives or USB charging, 10/100 ethernet, "always on" USB ports charge even when laptop is not powered up, and hot docking. Hot docking allows you to connect to your docking station and change peripherals without shutting anything down. (A cold docking station, then, would require you to power down before you do this.) LaptopMag liked the convenience, functioning, and the price. The Kensington docking station is just over $52. LaptopMag also suggests laptop users try the Toshiba Dynadock V. Toshiba manufacturers some of the most popular laptop docking stations, and the model V is an excellent choice. With just one cable connection, you can have access to all of your accessories. The Dynadock V features hot docking, built-in HD digital video card for additional monitor (up to 1920x1080 resolution), 4 USB ports including 1 in front, "sleep and charge" USB ports, compatibility with all Windows-based PCs, ethernet LAN connectivity, 3.5mm audio in/out for headphones, speakers, a headset, or a microphone, and a slim, space-efficient design. The Dynadock V comes in at $80. Toshiba released an updated version, the Dynadock U, as well as the Dyndadock Wireless U. According to a review in NotebookReview, it is "a good product for people who hate USB cables but you'll get much better performance with a traditional wired docking station." If you are fine with wired for work or home, it is better to go with the U version of the Dynadock. If you have to have wireless, or just had cable spaghetti, this will work. It features wireless connection from your laptop to the docking station, built-in video card for DVI or VGA monitor, built-in sound card for up to 7.1 surround sound digital audio, 4 plug-and-play USB ports, 2 additional USB sleep-and-charge ports in the front, compact vertical design, compatibility with any Windows-based PC, and your choice of manual docking or automatic docking (the Wireless U shuts down your peripherals and all you have to do is take your computer out of the docking station. The wireless option will cost you more than a wired version, and the Wireless U lists for $300. You can find it as low as $210. A great choice for a netbook docking station is the Apricorn Aegis Netdock USB Docking Station; recommended by LaptopMag, PCWorld, DigitalReviews.net, TestFreaks, and other consumer and tech sites, the Apricorn docking station for netbooks is a sleek little model. The candy apple red compact vertical station includes a 4-port USB hub, including to sleep-and-charge ports, high capacity hard drive enclosure for 2.5-inch SATA hard drive or SSD, DVD+/-RW DVD burner. The slim Aegis is perfect for those compact little netbooks. It is about $86. See top rated docking stations here. Not everyone needs one, but those who do find that they increase functionality of their laptops phenomenally.