What is a Docking Station and How Can it Benefit You?

Laptops and cellphones have been two of the most revolutionary pieces of kit over the past 30 years and, with the ever-evolving world of tech, we have seen them replace other items as the “go-to” devices for a host of uses. Whether it be gaming or finance, shopping or streaming, both have encapsulated the need to always remain connected.

The rapid developments within the laptop world have meant that desktop computers have seen a slow but steady decline in popularity. However, sometimes a laptop just isn’t sufficient, and a desktop computer can offer much more functionality.

Desktop PCs come with a variety of ports enabling multiple devices to be connected at any time. Modern laptops with their sleek and lightweight design have started to lose many of these very same ports.

How then, when you only have a laptop, do you connect your printer, additional screen, speakers, and any other peripherals?

The answer is to invest in a docking station! It’s a simple way to connect multiple devices all at the same time.

What is a docking station?

Put simply, a docking station is an item that enables you to run a variety of devices at the same time when access points on your main unit are limited. This means that, when in use, a typically portable device can effectively be made into a desktop. Where your laptop may only have one or two accessible ports, a docking station transforms the available number of ports significantly. Where there were two, there are now four, five, six and maybe more!

All this means you can, through one device, connect your extra screen, your speakers, your printer, and anything else that may need power and to transfer data.

Why would I use a docking station?

Working from home has seen the increased use of docking stations as we replicate the workplace set-up as best we can with, in some cases, limited space. As mentioned earlier, docking stations allow us to connect our array of items to a device that doesn’t have enough ports. Many people are now undertaking hybrid working, where they split their working time between the office and home; a docking station makes the transition between the two seamless. Simply plug your laptop into the docking station and you are connected without having to connect each additional device individually.

Docking stations for work

As mentioned above, docking stations provide an easy connection to all of your necessary work-based equipment, making for an easier-to-use workspace. If working from home, you can convert your kitchen table into a replica office.

If working from the office itself, you can simply plug in to the dock and be connected to the devices immediately available to you.

Docking stations for gaming

If you like to use your laptop for gaming, you can plug all the devices that enhance your gaming experience into a docking station. This means that, when you have finished battling the bad guys or setting lap records, you will only have to disconnect the laptop when it’s game over. This will save you from having to connect and disconnect multiple items when you decide to stop or start playing.

Docking stations for your old tech

Modern laptops tend to feature the now more popular USB-C, which means you have fairly limited opportunity to make use of certain bits of kit. Perhaps you have a digital camera or a monitor that has a different connection – with a docking station it is no problem. Simply connect the items to it and your old or unused tech is bought back to life.

Are docking stations universal?

It’s a huge world of docking stations out there. Some are produced by laptop manufacturers to specifically work with their products. Others are made to be universal. What you choose is down to you, but with there being so many tech devices out there now, it is unlikely all of your gear is made by the same manufacturer. Therefore, picking a universal docking station may be a great option for you.

Universal docking stations also lend themselves to future developments. Should your preferred manufacturer change the way they connect devices to one another, a universal dock means you won’t have to spend more hard-earned cash on trying to keep connected. It is the same for businesses too. Whilst many try to be uniform in supplying similar laptops and peripherals to employees, sometimes it isn’t possible. Therefore, investing in universal docking stations will be more beneficial for productivity and be cost-effective. Much like a universal power bank, a universal docking station allows a full quota of tech devices to be connected whether they be those from the past, the present or the future.

How do I know what docking station I need?

There are so many docking stations on the market and shopping for the one that meets your needs could be confusing. To get the best for you, you’ll need to consider the devices you have and the peripherals you use.

Screen compatibility

As docking stations allow for the use of an additional monitor, you should look at the supported qualities of the docking station’s video outputs. If you work in a professional environment where detail is paramount, something that works alongside 4k resolution will be vastly more beneficial than something of lower quality. Likewise, if you are a gamer, with so many games now being created with 4k in mind, the quality of display available is very important.

Most docking stations will support 4k, but it is always worth checking. Many also offer a 4k connection alongside a few ports for lower resolution monitors too.

Audio outputs

Connecting your speakers, whether you are a gamer, a streamer or a professional, is likely to be one of your first considerations. Always look for a docking station that supports external speakers with a jack allowing you to connect a microphone.

Installation and practicality

Quite often when a new piece of equipment is linked to a laptop, it needs to be installed to ensure full compatibility. This can, but not always, be a problem when it comes to docking stations. Some will require certain specs to be met and if your laptop is not compatible then it simply won’t work. Luckily the market for both laptops and docking stations has evolved enough to mean that a huge number now operate via USB-C, making it easy for you just to connect your dock and benefit from it right away.

Vertical or horizontal

Space can sometimes be a huge consideration, especially when there isn’t a lot of it. Workplaces or small desks can benefit from either type of docking station. Horizontal docks tend to be preferred; however, a vertical dock fills up less desk space. When it comes to the actual size of the dock, it will depend on how many devices are connected to it. If you are frequently working from home, a smaller dock is probably the best option for you. Employers would be best off looking into bigger docking stations, as there will likely be more units to connect.

Number of ports on a docking station

As we mentioned above, the size of the dock needed will vary depending on what it is needed for. The key to this is the number of ports available. Some may only contain two ports whereas others can have six or more. When looking for a docking station you should be looking for what items need to be connected. Most of your items will be a variation of USB and some will have HDMI connectors. The main ports to consider are.

  • USB-A
  • USB-C
  • HDMI
  • Ethernet
  • Headphone/microphone

Can a docking station charge your laptop or phone?

Sometimes it isn’t that you even need the docking station to use a device – you may just need to charge it. Luckily, docking stations, once connected to the mains, allow you to connect a host of devices to them, as long as you have the cable available. This means that a phone, a laptop or any other USB-compatible device can be powered back up ready for you to use.

The only downsides are speed and that you will not be able to take the docking station with you and keep your devices powered up when you are on the go. Docking stations charge relatively slowly when compared to power banks like MAGFAST Extreme. So, if you are using your dock to help prepare devices for when you are out of the office or house, you cannot be guaranteed sufficient power to see you through the day.

In addition, should you not have a cable to connect your device to the dock, you will not be able to charge it. They don’t work wirelessly!

Power banks have evolved rapidly over the past few years and with the different types of charging ports that they embrace, all your tech can be powered up. This means that, whilst a dock is great to keep you connected whilst stationary and plugged into the mains, nothing beats a fast charging power bank.

MAGFAST is the new and revolutionary face of charging. With power banks available for all eventualities, we are changing charging for good. A collection of power banks that embrace Qi wireless charging, as well as all your USB connections, means you are never without power, no matter what device you have. With MAGFAST Extreme, you can even jump start your car! Such is the ingenious tech behind our devices – we have full faith that you will love them. Check out our demobi to see how easy they are to use, how amazing they look and, most importantly, how much power they pump into your kit! You might even win $1,000 worth of high-quality tech gear.

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