- Well designed with excellent build quality
- Adds a wired Ethernet port
- Leaves room on bottom for Touch Cover or Keyboard Cover
- Limited external display support
- Lacks a pen slot
Quick TakeThe Docking Station for Surface Pro docks a tablet well enough, but it doesn't expand the Surface Pro inputs and outputs enough to justify its high price.
A docking station doesn’t have to offer much. It should simply provide a stable anchor for a laptop or tablet and add some extra ports and inputs. The Microsoft Docking Station for Surface Pro does both those things quite well. It fits the Surface Pro tablets like a glove and expands the port selection. But its premium price, coupled with some missing features, make it an overpriced accessory.
The Surface Pro Docking Station is $200, and Microsoft designed it for both the original Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 2, but not the Windows RT Surface tablets. It measures 12.4×3.6×4.2 inches (WHD), and weighs 22.9 ounces on its own, without a Surface Pro docked.
It adds a charging port, three USB 2.0 inputs, one USB 3.0 input, Ethernet, separate microphone and audio out 3.5mm jacks, and a Mini DisplayPort input. When docked, it leaves the volume rocker, 3.5mm audio jack, and microSD card slot uncovered.
The Surface Pro Docking Station secures the Surface Pro through the tablet’s USB input, magnetic charging connector, and on-board Mini DisplayPort via two sliding clasps that smoothly and securely grip the device. TabletPCReview never had an issue connecting the Surface Pro 2 to the Docking Station, and it fit together perfectly at every use. Undocking is also very easy, and TPCR was able to fluidly dislodge the Windows 8.1 tablet quickly every time.
The Docking Station leaves enough room open on the bottom for a Microsoft Keyboard Cover or Touch Cover, and sports four rubber pads on its bottom, which very securely grip table surfaces. This thing has no problem staying put, especially with a Surface Pro docked inside.
All the inputs and ports are easily accessible and work as they should. Interestingly, TPCR was only able to register a microphone with the mic input when running a sound recording app through the Windows 8.1 tiled interface. The desktop sound recording program would instead pick up sound via the Pro’s onboard mic.
That’s just a minor issue compared to its larger shortcomings, however.
By far the most glaring is the lack of display ports. The Surface Pro 2 has a Mini DisplayPort input for extending or duplicating the screen, and the Docking Station for Surface Pro does as well. Many relatively new monitors should support it, but those with old VGA monitors are out of luck. Of course, Microsoft is happy to sell you a Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter for $40, which TPCR tested. It works great with an HDTV, but again, that’s no help for the VGA-only crowd.
With the tablet, TPCR is willing to make sacrifices in the spirit of mobility, but the dock has plenty of room for additional options. VGA monitors litter cubicles in businesses large and small, and if Microsoft is serious about making a Surface Pro play for the enterprise, it should acknowledge the aging standard.
Also, where is the pen slot, Microsoft? The Surface Pro and Pro 2 both ship with a Wacom stick, which nicely clips to the tablet’s charging prongs for on-the-go inking. There is absolutely nothing on the Docking Station that suggests a home for the pen. TPCR simply stuck it behind the tablet, but that is far from a purposeful solution. Again, there should be plenty of room for a receptacle of some kind, and its absence only increases the odds of accidental pen loss.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 starts at $800. That’s not an unreasonable price for the kind of user that needs a powerful-yet-mobile machine. The Docking Station costs $200. That is an unreasonable price for an accessory that functionally only adds a few additional USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet input. A cursory search reveals users can snag an offbrand USB 3.0 splitter and USB-to-Ethernet adapter for about $50 total as of this writing. The only thing missing then is the dedicated audio input. Is that worth the extra $150?
If you have $200 to burn on Surface Pro accessories, consider a Type Cover 2 and the aforementioned USB adapters, or splurge on the $200 Power Cover. That provides a full QWERTY keyboard and up to 60% battery boost. Both options bring more added function to the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 than the Docking Station.