Connect all your laptop peripherals with one USB connection


laptop-dockMy three year old 24″ iMac is starting to act a little flaky, which is prompting me to think about upgrade options. I have been considering not getting another desktop and just going with a laptop as my main computer. If I do decide to go that way, I found a cool looking docking station that connects to a laptop with just one USB cable and provides connectivity for an additional monitor, multiple USB peripherals (such as a printer, scanner, external hard drive, etc.), an Ethernet network, speaker and microphone.

Posted in: Laptops and Gear
{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Ekstor July 20, 2009, 11:05 am

    I would just wonder about throughput capacity of USB. Most external Hard Drives area already constrained in speed by the USB connection, then if you were to add the Ethernet and monitor connection… I’d be curious to see if users notice any degradations of performance or visuals.

  • Louis July 20, 2009, 11:55 am

    I use the targus model with no problems, besides, with the exception of the monitor, all the usb devices are not running at the same time, my ext harddrive does just fine, you could always connect it to another USB Bus if you’re worried about it, but I guess if you get a MacBook Air, you only have one usb port.

  • Rick Grago July 20, 2009, 1:17 pm

    Perhaps if they upgraded this further to the new release of USB 3.0, then maybe the speed issue would no longer be an issue for other devices to connect and respond more quickly….

  • Ben S July 20, 2009, 2:08 pm

    The linked product description doesn’t explicitly mention whether or not the video is based on DisplayLink or not, but I’m guessing it is. I have a third monitor hooked up to my iMac via DisplayLink and it’s pretty cool. You can’t use it for anything 3D (even full-screen DVD playback isn’t likely to work), but it’s good for basic desktop use (email, word processing, etc).

    But given the option between a DisplayLink-connected monitor and one using the MacBook’s built-in Mini-DisplayPort, I’d take the MDP any day.

  • Joe July 21, 2009, 12:24 am

    According to the product page this only works on Windows.
    Is there one for a MAC notebook?

  • Jak July 21, 2009, 4:28 am

    I have the Toshiba DynaDock which also uses USB to connect several USB ports, a serial port, video, audio and ethernet. It uses DisplayLink also. Unfortunately, I had BSOD problems with hibernating or sleeping and then restoring, caused by both the LAN and video connections, so I stopped using it. This was with a Toshiba laptop running Vista Home Premium. I suppose if I had shut down and started up each time, I might not have had BSOD issues. It was very annoying.

  • DisplayLink July 21, 2009, 6:25 am

    Disclosure: I work for DisplayLink

    This is a DisplayLink-powered product (it’s a Goodway ODM reference design), and it uses a DL-160 chip inside.

    @Ekstor: there is limited bandwidth on USB 2.0 but the DisplayLink device uses “adaptive” compression that changes based on the available CPU and USB throughput. Also, USB in general deals pretty well with device contention – I think you’d be surprised at how well it works. Of course I could be a little biased 😉

    @Joe: this product almost certainly works on the Mac too. Mac drivers are available for the DisplayLink portion here: . The audio and Ethernet drivers are usually “built in” to Mac OS X.

    @Jak: the DisplayLink drivers shouldn’t have been causing those kinds of problems with your Dynadock, but if you ever have any issues we regularly update our drivers. You can always get the latest drivers at As for the LAN drivers, we have seen these cause hibernate problems in very old versions of the driver. The particular chip used in the Dynadock is made by ASIX, and you can get their latest drivers here:

  • BecFG July 22, 2009, 6:50 pm

    i like this, i only have a laptop, and this would greatly reduce the number of cables lying around my desk and poking out of my laptop (which is very annoying when you need to move and then you have to unplug them all and re plug them if you want something…not to mention you have to toss up which pulg to unplug becuase you’re one short or because the wireless net USB thingy is too wide to have another next to it…)

    not to mention the cable diving once you start unplugging. This solves a few problems at once, extra USB/s handy, no cable diving, no unplugging and replugging multiple cables, no messy cables!

    perhaps there is a way to integrate a power in/out so that when you go to plug in your laptop you dont have to drop the power cable behind the desk and re-plug it into the power board and bang your head on your way back up…

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