Review: 5 universal docking stations make quick connections

Link your laptop to an office full of peripherals with one USB cable.

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Toshiba Dynadock U Universal USB Docking Station

Easily the most advanced dock of the bunch, Toshiba Corp. endows its Dyandock U Universal USB Connect Docking Station with more ports and abilities than the competition. It's among the largest and most expensive in our roundup.

At 8.8 in. by 3.1 in. by 1.8 in., the Dynadock U is three times the size of Vantec's dock. Its vertical orientation means that you can't use it to tilt the notebook, but there's a handy on/off switch on top. Its base is weighted to keep cables from pulling it around or tipping it over, bringing its weight to 1.1 lb.

The package includes all you'll need to get started, and the software takes five minutes to load, not including the time it takes to restart the notebook. This dock is better equipped than many desktop PCs, with:

  • Six USB 2.0 ports
  • An Ethernet port
  • VGA and DVI ports for an external monitor
  • Analog and S/PDIF digital audio connections

On top of that, two of the system's USB ports are easily reachable on the front of the dock and can be used to charge mobile devices even if the dock is turned off. On the other hand, the Dynadock lacks the flash-card readers that the iConcepts dock delivers and the RS-232 port that Targus dock has.

Toshiba Dynadock universal docking station
The Toshiba Dynadock U.

Video is where the Dynadock U shines. It maxes out at 1,920-by-1,200 resolution, 15% higher than any of the others and perfect for use with monitors ranging from 20 in. to 24 in. Like the Kensington, Targus and Vantec docks, the notebook's display can be mirrored with an external monitor or extended up, down or on either side.

The price for this level of sophistication is slow start-up and high power use, with the Dynadock U taking 51.7 seconds to get in gear and using 9 watts when connected. It passed my array of compatibility tests and worked well over a two-week workout, although it was the only one of the five docks to get warm to the touch.

If access to a multitude of USB ports as well as audio and video are your prime considerations when docking, look no further than Toshiba's Dynadock U.

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