Next Generation Docking

Innovation in accessories is not lost on tech enthusiasts like guest author Michael Archambault, who recently test-drove the ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock. His verdict: This is NOT your parents’ old-school docking station.

The days when laptop docking required you to snap your machine into a bulky plastic connector are behind us with the launch of the Lenovo ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock. Lenovo partnered with DisplayLink technologies to bring an innovative dock to the desks of DOers everywhere. The new ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock provides a fast and easy connection to all your laptop's accessories while keeping your desk open and neat. Let's take a dive in and see why this little beast is making such a splash.

Design: The new ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock measures in at only 6.3in tall, 4in wide, and 3.4in deep; making it small enough to almost fit in the palm of your hand. The new Dock is also light, which makes it the most portable dock ever produced for the ThinkPad line. As soon as I took the device out of the box I was truly amazed at how much time went into the external design of the unit - it roared simplicity and sophistication. The device is made of a durable material that feels sturdy to the touch with a taper design that allows all of my USB and DVI cables to fit nicely into the back connectors while making the dock appear thin in the front. You really can't appreciate how beautiful the design of this dock is until you have one in your hands. Watch a video on the designing of this product.

Port Selection: The ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock brings a wide variety of port selection to both the front and the back of the unit. The back of the unit houses two DVI ports for multiple displays, three USB 3.0 ports, one with always-on charging to charge your devices even when your laptop isn't docked, and one gigabit Ethernet port delivering a high speed wired connection. On the front of the unit are two more USB 3.0 ports and a headphone/audio jack. I do personally hope that a slightly larger version of the ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock is released, in the future, with an extra DVI port and the option to plug your headphones into the back of the unit to free wire clutter in the front. Overall, the port selection is very good and the ports in the rear don't feel cramped or tight when you need to switch anything around.

Value: The general value of the overall unit is very promising. While it doesn't provide the same amount of ports as mechanical docking stations, it provides a much cleaner package with only one USB wire required to hook it up.

Overall, the new Lenovo ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock is a highly recommended purchase. The price tag ($179.99) is justifiable and allows you to add up to two external monitors to your current laptop with the addition of five high speed USB 3.0 ports. It is recommended that you use a machine with a USB 3.0 port to hook up the dock, but in my testing the Dock worked very well on a USB 2.0 port. I was able to hook up two external monitors and watch a 1080p HD movie while working without the connection being stressed.

I recommend you change the way you work and play and invest in a ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock.

Michael Archambault (@marchas93) is a student at New York Institue of Technology and an active member of Lenovo INsiders, Lenovo’s global brand advocates program.