Smartphones, laptops, tablets have become an integral part of our lives. We no longer notice how small devices with a bunch of useful functions in the blink of an eye are at hand, wherever we are: at home or at work, in the city or hundreds of kilometers from civilization. Nevertheless, the modest dimensions of smartphones or tablets do not allow to fully demonstrate the excellent quality of music, video and data transfer, and there are often no necessary connectors on the case. A useful addition to portable electronics in this case is the docking station. In the question of what a docking station is, and what exactly it is intended for, we will understand a little lower.
What is a docking station
A docking station is a stationary device that allows you to expand the functionality of mobile equipment (phone, laptop). In particular, this device becomes an intermediary for connecting acoustics, printing and other peripheral devices. After the gadget is connected to the docking station, together they make up a single media device.
«Docking station» in English means «docking station». Imagine the docking of spacecraft for further flight in the vastness of our Universe. This is being done for longer orbital work, increasing the life support resources of spacecraft, and facilitating further flight and piloting. In a narrow sense, the docking station for devices does the same — it allows you to recharge the gadget and make it more functional.
The docking station has many functions from simple charging to complex programming.
The simplest and most popular option is charger. More interesting models have several connectors for connecting two or more rechargeable devices at the same time. Food can be from a network or from the built-in accumulator block. There are 2 in 1 models.
The ability to charge from the battery is an indisputable plus, making the docking station suitable for mobile use (for example, in tourism).
Some docking station models have built-in acoustics. A simple option — only columns. Advanced — speakers and even a subwoofer. Such a device allows you to play music from your phone in decent quality. For musical gourmets, a station with separate speakers and a bass-reflex subwoofer is the best choice.
There are docking stations with which you can display video or picture on the big screen (TV, computer monitor). For this, the device has a special port, more often HDMI. A more interesting option is a station equipped with a wireless data transmission device (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi). To display images on a large screen, you don’t even need to connect gadgets in hardware.
One of the dock’s most useful options is «external storage», that is, data storage. A gadget with a built-in storage can store large quantities of documents, photos, videos and other data from the phone.
The next possible option is LAN connection. Moreover, it can be connecting to a network of gadgets. To implement this feature, the docking station has an Ethernet port for a network cable.
The docking station can expand the capabilities of, for example, a phone to a laptop. For this, the device has keyboard function. This can be a built-in element (your own keyboard) or the ability to attach an external (external) keyboard.
Some devices have remote control. This option will be especially convenient for those who use the docking station to play photos, videos or audio files. The remote control will allow you to make a choice, manage the settings (playback order, volume, etc.) from your seat, without approaching the device directly.
A docking station with extended functionality turns even a fairly simple phone into a full-fledged computer where you can work with text and graphic documents, watch photos and videos, listen to music, store large amounts of information and work with them.
Dock compatibility with other devices
Docking stations come in the following format:
- for a certain type of systems (Android, iOS);
- designed to work with a specific gadget.
Universal devices often have many different outputs, but very narrow functionality. They do not have connectors for connecting to a PC or keyboard. Basically, such stations are used as multi-row charging.
Docking stations of the second type have much more options: ports for connecting a monitor, keyboard, speaker system. They can sync the phone with the computer. There is only one question when purchasing: compatibility with the user’s phone.
Docking stations designed to work with a specific device are almost limitless possibilities for mobile devices. In addition to all the functions described above, highly specialized options are added that are compatible with a specific phone model (applications, the ability to connect more peripheral devices). An example of such docking stations are stations for smart watches or fitness bracelets.
How to choose a docking station
When buying a docking station, you should consider it in the following aspects.
- The technical parameters of the device for which the station is purchased must be compatible with it. In particular, they must match Operating Systems (iOS station is not suitable for Android smartphone)
- Type of power, for battery devices — battery capacity. Network-operated stations are less mobile, but more “nimble”, have higher power and can work with several devices at once.
- Choose a docking station based on your intended use. So, to listen to tracks in high quality, you need good acoustics, an equalizer, a subwoofer. To watch movies from your phone on a big screen, the docking station must have an HDMI connector and a cooler that will cool the phone or laptop while it is working.
- Appearance and size of the station. The miniature device is more suitable for travel.
- If the use of the docking station implies frequent access to it with control commands (for example, when listening to music, change the volume, the order in which tracks are played), then Remote Control will come in handy.
- For ease of use, the angle of inclination of the panel should be on average no more than 20 degrees.
- In order for the docking station to be “with a margin”, it must have the following connectors: a couple of USB, PS / 2 connectors for connecting VGA, HDMI, S-Video and DVI video, COM and LPT outputs, as well as PCMCIA.
- How issues are resolved in this device connection protection and uninterrupted operation.
We expand the functions of the laptop
Very often, laptop owners are faced with lack of connectors, ports, card slots. Buying a docking station solves this problem. To help the user, additional USB connectors, PS / 2, several types of video outputs (VGA, S-Video and DVI), analog and digital audio ports, PCMCIA, ExpressCard, COM slots are added to the standard set of ports in the laptop. The laptop docking station may also include a power supply, which will slightly speed up the process of charging the device.
Some models are additionally equipped with another battery and a large hard drive slot.
Depending on the laptop manufacturer, there are different types of connectors for connecting the docking station. Therefore, as in the case of smartphones, it is better to opt for a docking station from the same company as the laptop. However, there are docking stations with standard connectorsand the connection is via the USB interface.
Synchronizing a laptop, netbook or PDA with a docking station, you actually become the owner of a full-fledged computer that performs the same functions as a stationary PC. Using the station, you can connect an external monitor and keyboard, optical mouse, network cable, modem, office equipment — scanner, printer, etc. Thus, if you are in doubt what to choose: a stationary PC with all its accessories or a mobile and compact laptop, you can come to a compromise and use the docking station. It is not necessary to purchase a laptop with a wide diagonal and a full-fledged keyboard, it is much more profitable to connect a monitor, mouse and keyboards, if necessary, using the Docking station. The laptop will remain light and comfortable to use, you can take it with you on a trip and use it for everyday tasks.
If you often need to transfer data you are using a hard drive, then a portable docking station can also be useful for more comfortable and efficient work. In this case, it connects directly to the PC. You just have to insert the hard drive into a special slot on the «dock» case. The most important thing to consider when buying a drive station is the required hard drive, or form factor, as well as the interface and connection type.
There are docking stations that allow you to connect several hard drives at once. Their cost, of course, is higher, but this more than covers the convenience of transferring large amounts of information.
Tablet docking stations
For a tablet, the most convenient and popular are the “docks” in the form of a keyboard. They became widespread with the release of Windows 8, which meant comfortable work both on the tablet and on the user’s computer. At the same time, transformer computers with a keyboard stand were released. A tablet was connected to this stand, and some stands were also equipped with an additional battery.
Docking stations are very convenient when working with a tablet — they weigh much less than the same standard laptop. The tablet and docking station are convenient for people who often make business trips or just relax away from home. Entering text in the editor is not very convenient even using the virtual touch keyboard — it takes up a lot of space on the screen. A portable keyboard is indispensable here.
Apple, for example, released the iPad Pro, to which you can connect a keyboard.
The docking station for the tablet greatly expands its capabilities — it functions as speakers, a charger, a keyboard and a design with all the necessary connectors — the choice is entirely up to the user.
Thus, if you intend to improve your gadget, then feel free to go to the nearest store for a docking station. This is the best solution for extending the battery life of the device, charging the battery and disclosing all the necessary functions. Docking stations have a different price range depending on the specific manufacturer, but in any case, you will definitely not regret this purchase.