Feeds
75%
Kensington Universal Dock with Video

Kensington Universal Notebook Dock

Ports, replicated

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Review Laptops invariably lack a port you’ve been used to on a desktop. You have to buy a suitable adaptor or work around the missing connection. Kensington, maker of peripherals you never thought you’d need, has come up with a solution: a universal dock, needing just one USB connection to your portable.

Kensington Universal Dock with Video

Kensington's Universal Dock with Video: one USB in, lots of ports out

If you use a notebook or netbook in more than one place, you have the hassle of disconnecting all the peripherals you use with it: mouse, monitor, external hard drive, DVD drive and so on. By the time you’ve finished plugging them all in, your portable is a lot less portable. Fewer notebooks and netbooks these days have optional expansion docks, so a ‘universal’ dock is appealing.

Kensington has produced just that: an expansion dock with external VGA monitor link, four powered USB ports, headphone and microphone sockets, and 10/100Mb/s Ethernet. The whole thing connects through a single USB cable to any notebook with a socket to spare. It’ll work with Windows XP, Vista and with Mac OS X 10.4.11 and above, but there’s no specific support for Linux.

Built into a slightly wedge-shaped, 250mm-wide plastic case, the Notebook Expansion Dock with Video - to give its full name - has a rubberised pad on top so you can tilt up your laptop and increase the airflow around it. The tilt angle maybe OK on a larger notebook, but on an Asus Eee PC or Acer Aspire One it’s rather steep and not that comfortable to type on. Better to position it behind the computer.

The video connection uses the proprietary DisplayLink system to compress packets of video data and pass them over the USB connection. They’re then decompressed through DisplayLink hardware in the dock and sent out as a VGA signal. It's a shame there’s no DVI output to cater for modern panels, but VGA does give the widest possible compatibility.

You can run the laptop screen and an external monitor as clones, so everything on the laptop screen appears on the external monitor, or configure them as one big desktop, where you can drag objects between the two. This mode takes some getting used to, if you’re using, for example, a 10in netbook with a 19in LCD monitor. The video output supports resolutions of up to 1280 x 1024, and the external monitor resolution can be set independently from the laptop screen.

Kensington Universal Dock with Video

Doubles up a stand

In use, the external monitor was surprisingly responsive, and we had no trouble dragging objects between the two screens or in using the external screen for presentation playback with OpenOffice Impress, while controlling the slides from the laptop screen, using its touchpad or a USB mouse plugged into one of the dock’s USB sockets.

High performance access to file storage

Next page: Verdict

More from The Register

next story
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.