So Many Ports! IOGEAR USB 3.0 Docking Station Review
- -- Speedy USB 3.0 connections, plethora of USB ports.
- -- Dual-monitor setup works flawlessly.
- -- Design is ideal for travel when using a tablet or laptop.
- -- Doesn't stay positioned on your desk very well.
- -- Versatility doesn't come cheap.
Designed for the mobile user in mind, IOGEAR has revised the much older USB 2.0 docking station to include faster USB ports as well as DVI and HDMI ports for advanced high definition displays. Sporting 6 USB ports, it’s easy to connect a ton of USB devices to your laptop or tablet without having to swap out cables over and over. The docking station also offers dual monitor support for your laptop or tablet, ideal if you need the flexibility of the desktop setup. Over the last month, we were able to put this handy device through a bit of testing. Here are our observations:
The device isn’t must larger than two Apple TV set-top boxes sitting side by side. Encased in a slick black plastic, the front of the device displays a single blue LED light when the power cable is connected. On the rear of the device, you will find one USB 3.0 input to attach your computer, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI output, one DVI output and one Ethernet port. Along the left side of the docking station, you will find a headphones port as well as a port to connect an external microphone. The latter can be particularly ideal for tablets, since many only come with a headphones port in order to save space.
On the bottom, you will find a soft rubber pad that’s designed to prevent the docking station from slipping around once it’s placed on a surface. While it’s decent as preventing slipping, the weight of the docking station is very light and often gets pushed around based on the flexibility of your USB 3.0 cable between the computer and docking station. If you have a thick cable, it will be more difficult to position the docking station in a specific place. That being said, the light weight makes it ideal for travelling, a must if you are packing it in your tablet or laptop bag.
Regarding additional accessories, the docking station comes with a single USB 3.0 cable, the AC adapter and two monitor adapters. The two adapters include HDMI to DVI as well as DVI to VGA. This can be ideal for older monitors or HDTV setups that don’t have a DVI connection.
After attaching the docking station to my laptop, Windows 7 immediately recognized the hardware and started installing the device. IOGEAR does include an install CD and quick start guide if needed. However, it’s probably going to be as simple as connecting up the USB 3.0 port to your computer to get started. A similar process occurs when you connect up the HDMI or DVI port to an additional monitor. It automatically detects the new connection and brings up options to extend your display across multiple monitors or mirror the display for a larger screen.
I had no issues quickly swapping out displays or connecting up multiple USB devices to the docking station. My computer recognized all devices and the USB ports all worked correctly at appropriate speeds for each. One small limitation to note, the resolution on dual monitor support is limited to 2048 by 1152. While that’s perfectly fine for anyone with a 1080p display, the resolution on displays of newer tablets are continuing to rise and desktop graphic cards are supporting higher limits. However, for the mobile user on the go, 1080p is perfectly fine. All-in-all, the IOGEAR docking station does exactly what it proclaims to do and performance is flawless.
Should You Buy It?
This really depends on what level of versatility you need when working with your current computer setup. The IOGEAR USB 3.0 Docking Station solves a tons of problems, but mostly for users that primarily work on laptops and tablets. Someone that’s already tied to a desktop setup likely already has a plethora of USB ports as well as a direct line to a router and potentially a dual monitor setup using a desktop graphics card.
However, that versatility is tough to come by if you primarily work on a tablet, like the Microsoft surface, or the majority of laptops and Chromebooks. With so many additional gadgets to attach to our computers these days combined with limited ports on thin laptops, having access to an advanced USB hub to connect your smartphone, DSLR camera, external keyboard / mouse or external hard drive is absolutely ideal. The ability to extend or mirror the monitor setup is also fantastic if you want to work on a larger screen than most laptops and tablets provide.
While the $149 MSRP seems high, you are going to be hard pressed to find similar hardware that can offer the same feature set. ASUS makes a similar docking station at a $179 MSRP, but it doesn’t include as many USB ports as the IOGEAR station. Targus also makes a docking station at a $150 MSRP, but doesn’t include as many USB ports or a HDMI output option. This is exactly why the IOGEAR USB 3.0 Docking Station is a good deal, assuming you need the functionality and versatility of a desktop setup while using your mobile setup.