With all the notebook accessories on the market today, a docking station is pretty much a necessity. The only problem is choosing which one best suits your needs. Targus just released their ExpressCard Notebook Docking Station with Digital Video and Audio. This dock has everything a user could ask for.
The Targus ExpressCard Docking Station. (view large image)
The ExpressCard docking station helps keep you organized and keeps everything you need in one place. Not only is it lightweight, but it is portable and great for traveling. You won’t even know it’s in your bag. This dock is definitely rich in features, like I said before, it has everything you could want. You can attach external speakers, a keyboard, a mouse or even charge your cell phone.
The ExpressCard Docking Station features:
- 4x High speed USB 2.0 (Type A) downstream ports
- 1x Serial (RS232)
- 1x Ethernet (10 base-T/100Base-T/1000Base-T)
- 1x ExpressCard Cable and Card Assembly
- 1x 15 pin D-Sub VGA connector
- 1x 24 pin DVI Connector (DVI-D)
- 1x Front speaker out (Left and right channels)
- 1x Rear speaker out (left and right channels)
- 1x Center speaker out (subwoofer)
- 1x Microphone In
- 1x S/PDIF (Toslink Optical connector)
- 1x Securelock slot
- 1x Targus Cable Lock
- 34/54 mm Spacer adapter
- Weight: 14 oz
- Dimensions: 11.96" x 3.66" x 1.04"
- Limited One Year Warranty
Back view of the Targus ExpressCard Docking Station. (view large image)
This is one of the first universal ExpressCard docking stations with digital video output capabilities, digital and analog audio out, Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000), serial port and four Hi-Speed USB ports, two of which are “always on” USB. The “always on” feature is unique in that it allows users to power and charge devices such as mice, cell phones and MP3 players while the notebook is in standby or shut-down mode.
Two of the USB ports provide twice as much power as traditional ports, allowing them to support any product that draws its power through a USB “Y” or “Upstream” cable with only one USB port. All four USB ports are spaced apart nicely and easy to access. There are two on each side, so you don’t have to struggle plugging everything in the back. Along with the USB ports are two security locks, one on each side.
Two Hi-Speed USB ports on one side and a standard lock. (view large image)
The other two Hi-Speed USB ports and the Targus lock slot. (view large image)
The universal ExpressCard docking station provides a single “one-touch” high-speed interface and has the capability to transfer data rates four times faster than USB, according to Targus. The faster the better, especially with video. Performance is actually quite impressive and I had no problem with lag time while using the dock. Everything worked as if it were connected directly to my notebook.
My Asus R1 sitting on the docking station with the ExpressCard inserted. (view large image)
The docking station and the ExpressCard, waiting for a notebook. (view large image)
The design of the dock is standard, except it has a curved front, which is nice because it’s not square like its predecessors. On the top there are rubber feet on each side, which prevent your notebook from sliding. Even when you move the dock, the notebook stays in its place. I am not saying you can pick up the dock and move it without your notebook moving, but it is secure. Another feature is the sloping front of the dock, which allows the notebook to sit at a comfortable angel for typing and it allows more air ventilation. Since the dock allows for more air flow to the bottom of your notebook it helps keep the temperature down.
Top view of the docking station, as you can see there are rubber feet on both sides. (view large image)
The true video output capability of the docking station with video allows users to connect a CRT monitor or LCD screen directly to the docking station via a DVI or VGA port without any additional cable connections, which is nice because all those cables are a hassle. Once connected to a monitor, the docking station allows for three viewing modes: Primary Video Mode uses an external monitor or LCD as a primary display; Extended Video Mode allows both the notebook screen and external monitor to be used for combined viewing and a larger overall desktop area; and Mirror Video Mode replicates the notebook screen onto an external monitor or LCD. Its video resolution is flawless and supports up to 1600 x 1200.
Serial port, DVI-D port (view large image)
VGA port, ExpressCard upstream cable connection, Ethernet port (view large image)
Microphone (in), Speaker (out), Rear and center audio (surround sound), S/PDIF (view large image)
Power supply and Lock slot (view large image)
Where to Buy
The best place to check for the Targus ExpressCard Docking Station with Digital Video and Audio is on their website, www.targus.com. Targus sells their products directly from their website, but if you don’t want to wait on shipping, you can type your zip code in the find a retail store box for stores near you.
At the time of this writing the suggested retail price of the ExpressCard Notebook Docking Station is $189.99 and I have been told that it will be available around the first week of April.
The dock is powered by an AC adapter so it can constantly charge USB attached devices. It also offers the typical plug and play connectivity you’re used to having with USB devices — no having to reboot when you plug new stuff in. It is compatible with all notebooks with ExpressCard slots, which is a large majority now a days. The docking station has many unique features for its $189.99 asking price, which isn’t too bad. The USB ports work great, there is no lag in response and the ExpressCard connection is much faster than your standard USB type of external docking station. On the whole I had few issues with the docking station, the only problem I had with it was related to installing the required driver — the required driver came on a mini installation CD that got stuck in my Asus R1 drive, it wasn’t a problem with the driver itself. Overall a thumbs up and nice docking station solution from Targus.
- ExpressCard has 34 and 54 mm adapter, so fits most notebooks
- ExpressCard gives faster data transfer rate than USB docks
- Lightweight universal design
- Power cord that connects to your wall outlet is too short.
- Requires driver install