Julie’s Gadget Diary – BookEndz Docks and USB Monitors

If you read my gadget diary post from last week, you’ll remember that I sent my 3yr old 27″ iMac to Powermax to get credit for a future purchase. They’ve already received the computer, so I’m just waiting for them to complete the review process before they deposit the credit into my account. I don’t plan to buy a new computer for awhile. Instead I’m using my 2yr old 13″ Macbook Air.

Last week I was going back and forth about buying a powered USB hub or a dedicated dock for the various peripherals I use while working at my desk. I ended up ordering a BookEndz and after a slight adjustment period, I’m loving it.

Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.

BookEndz offers docking stations for Macbook Pros, Macbook Airs and even the older White Macbook. The dock has an aluminum base that slightly elevates the back end of the laptop to put it in a very comfortable typing angle.

There are connections on both sides that mate with the existing ports on the sides of the laptop. To dock, you place the laptop on the base and line up the ports. Then you rotate the lever (you can just see it poking out at the back of laptop in the image above. As you rotate that lever, the sides will move inwards to make the connections. I had trouble lining everything up right the first few times I docked and almost decided to return the BookEndz. But after a little more practice, I’m now able to quickly dock and undock. The only thing that would make it easier is if the lever was longer. It’s a little awkward to rotate.

While the Macbook Air is docked in the BookEndz dock, the display port and USB ports are blocked by the built in connections. The SD card slot and MagSafe connector are still accessible. The BookEndz doesn’t come with a power adapter. You have to use your existing adapter.

The benefits of the BookEndz are that it gives you 5 powered USB ports, an Ethernet port, front earphone jack, back speaker jack and a display port connector. The majority of the connections are on the back to keep your desk neater. The image above looks a bit messy right now, but all the cords are routed behind the laptop to keep them out of sight.

The Ethernet port requires the installation of a driver which comes on a USB drive included with the dock. I’ve been using it instead of wireless while dock and haven’t had any issues with speed.

So far I’m pretty happy with my purchase of this dock. If you’re interested in buying one, check Amazon, they have them for almost $50 less than buying them directly through BookEndz.

After a week without the iMac, there’s one thing that I’m really missing… it’s the iMac’s gorgeous 27″ inch display. The 13″ display on this MBA is ok, but it’s no where near as nice as the iMac. If Apple comes out with an MBA with a retina display anytime soon, I’ll probably buy one. Right now I’m getting by with using the Lenovo USB monitor plugged into the BookEndz. When I used it with the iMac, it only required one USB connection. For some reason, it requires 2 connections with my MBA. I’m also noticing that sometimes the monitor isn’t recognized if I undock and then redock, or even if I close the laptop cover and reopen it. Even unplugging the 2 connections and plugging them back in doesn’t help. Restarting is the only way to get the external display back. I’m using the latest DisplayLink driver, so I’m not sure what the deal is. It’s getting a little annoying though, so if I don’t find a solution soon, I’ll probably unplug it. Unfortunately the AOC USB monitor wasn’t any better. It also required 2 USB connectors, but it had a very noticeable continuous humming noise, which was a deal breaker. I didn’t hear this noise while using it with the iMac.

All in all, I’m happy with my move from desktop to laptop. My next project is to setup a time capsule / router with a large USB drive that will hold my iTunes library and other media (ebooks, video, etc), that I can access when I’m not docked.

Posted in: Articles, Laptops and Gear

5 comments… add one

  • Doc August 26, 2012, 11:57 pm

    I just set up Time Machine with a media share using a 2 TB My Book Live I got from Costco for $130. It was pretty much plug in and go for setting up Time Machine on the Air and Pro.

    • Julie August 27, 2012, 7:33 am

      @Doc My setup is a little more complex than the average person because I have a T1 line with a managed Cisco router from AT&T with a dedicated IP. After trying various settings, Rob helped me and it’s now working great.

  • Jake August 29, 2012, 7:53 am

    @Julie A T1 like? Wow, you must be getting super fas speeds! Better than my Three because I live in the sticks…

    • Julie August 29, 2012, 8:40 am

      @Jake Actually, a T1 is only 1.544 Mbps. But that’s up and down and never wavers. If I had the option for a cable modem, I’d jump on it, but we don’t have cable or DSL where I live.

  • Jake August 29, 2012, 8:55 am

    @Julie Oh jeepers… I have a Business line so I get a more reliable connection but Cable doesn’t exist where I live… Nor 3G…

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