The portability and convenience afforded by laptop computers make them valuable tools. However, laptops have some significant drawbacks. They can lack connectivity options, and the screens are often way too small.
Fortunately, laptop docking stations can turn your laptop into a fully functional desktop computer. A docking station can increase the number of connections and ports and output your display to external monitors, greatly impacting productivity. If that sounds like something you need, then you’re in luck. Continue reading to see our picks for the best laptop docking stations available.
1. Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station
The Universal Docking Station from Plugable is one of the highest-rated docking stations on Amazon. Furthermore, it is also one of the most affordable, coming in at less than $100. For that you get a dock that connects to your laptop via USB 3.0. It gives users dual video output in the form of HDMI and DVI, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports and wired gigabit Ethernet.
Unfortunately, the biggest downside to the Universal Docking Station from Plugable is that it isn’t really “universal.” While it works with all versions of Windows stretching back to XP, it is not compatible with macOS or Linux.
2. J5Create Ultra Station
If you’re after a docking station that’s a little more discrete, the Ultra Docking Station from J5Create is for you. The Ultra Station boasts a unique cylindrical design that attaches to the back of your laptop. As far as connections are concerned, you get a VGA and HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, Ethernet and audio outputs.
One of the more intriguing features of the Ultra Station is the “wormhole” function. This allows users to connect two laptops together and transfer files back and forth between them. Furthermore, the wormhole function is cross-platform. This means you can connect a Windows-based PC to a Mac and transfer files between them on the fly.
3. Kensington SD1500 Mobile
Do you travel a lot? Are you constantly on the move? If you answered yes, then you’re probably looking for a docking station that you can grab and take with you virtually anywhere. Luckily, the SD1500 Mobile Docking Station from Kensington ticks that box.
The SD1500 connects to your laptop via USB-C, so if your laptop doesn’t have a qualified USB-C port, you’ll have to look elsewhere. At only 4.5 x 3 x 0.6 inches and a little over three ounces, the SD1500 is super portable. Of course, this small size means that the SD1500 sacrifices some of the connectivity options found on larger models. What you do get is an HDMI and VGA display out, a single USB 3.0 port and Ethernet.
4. Wavlink Universal Docking Station
The Wavlink Universal Docking Station is one of the most affordable laptop docking stations on the market. In addition, it boasts a dizzying amount of connectivity options. In fact, the Universal Docking Station by Wavlink is very similar to the one made by Plugable.
The Wavlink gives you dual video output via HDMI and DVI, Ethernet, and six USB ports, two of which are 3.0. Aside from being slightly cheaper, the only real difference to the Universal Docking Station made by Plugable is the design. The Wavlink has a horizontal orientation compared to the Plugable’s vertical orientation. Regrettably, like the Plugable docking station, the Wavlink does not support macOS or Linux.
5. Henge Vertical Docking Station
Part of the appeal of owning an Apple device is the stellar product design. Apple Macbooks are sleek and attractive, so the last thing you want to do is tarnish that with ugly cables and hunks of plastic strewn all over the desk. Fortunately, Henge makes a vertical docking station made of metal that really shows off the beauty of Apple’s design. Furthermore, its compact footprint keeps everything neat and tidy, and it’s slip-in connection requires minimal setup.
The Henge Vertical Dock is available for both the 13-inch and 15-inch variant Macbook. Unfortunately, these docks are not compatible with the newest Macbook Pro with USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. The Henge vertical docks are only compatible with the Macbook Pro with Retina display.
Do you use a laptop docking station? Have we forgotten to mention your favorite? Let us know in the comments!