My main production system is simple — an Intel i5 NUC (New Unit of Computing).
The system is about four inches square and two inches high and doesn’t take up much space on my desk. It also doesn’t have many USB ports, and I have a lot of USB accessory devices, including an AnkerWork camera, Logi headset, Epson scanner, and, of course, a keyboard and mouse. And that’s not including the occasional USB flash drive and USB DVD drive. That’s not even considering the dearth of ports on my Lenovo laptop, which is probably true of just about every laptop on the market.
Needless to say, I frequently run out of available ports. That’s the driving need for a dock that provides extra USB ports, both USB-A and USB-C.
These docks are plentiful and range in size and complexity as well as price, depending on the need and budget. I’ve looked at a number of these and found several I feel comfortable recommending.
For a small dock that’s equally at home on your desk or laptop bag, you might consider the Satechi USB-C On-The-Go Multiport. For around $100 or so, you get a compact (2.375 x 4.75, 0.5 inches) dock that provides two USB-C ports, one of which supports charging, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and slots for SD and Micro SD cards. Two additional ports are a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a VGA port, which might be usable if you need to connect a laptop to an old VGA monitor. There’s also a USB-C cable that stores internally in the dock but slides out to connect to a USB-C port on your PC or laptop. There’s also an additional USB-C cable in the box.
If you need a hefty dock for your laptop, you might want to consider Cyber Acoustic’s Essential Universal Dock DS-6000. It’s somewhat more expensive than the Satechi at about $190, but has several features that the Satechi lacks. Among these are a fairly hefty power supply that can provide 90 watts of power delivery to charge your laptop using a USB-C port, and three 4K HDMI ports to drive several displays. There’s an attached two-foot USB-C cable, four USB-A ports, two USB-C ports and a gigabit Ethernet port. If most of your accessories are USB-A, this dock is probably a good choice. On the downside, the dock is pretty large at 9.3 x 5.0 x 4.1 inches, weighs in at 2.5 pounds and has a large power supply, so you better have a pretty large laptop bag. But if you need a dock to use with multiple displays and USB-A devices, this is a good choice.
Finally, if you need a dock that also functions well as a speakerphone, consider Logitech’s Logi Dock. It’s expensive ($320), and very large (6.3 x 5.18 x 3.34) and is targeted toward desktop users. It comes in in white or graphite, and is a combination of speakerphone, docking station and Bluetooth speaker, having a frequency response of 60Hz to 20KHz. It also has an array of six beamforming mics, so it picks up multiple speakers when you have a conference call.
As a dock, it has some nice features, including two USB-A ports that can be used for charging a smartphone or tablet, three USB-C ports which also have charging capabilities, and a USB-C upstream port which can power a laptop at up to 100 watts, an HDMI port and a DisplayPort, letting you connect up to two displays. There’s a hefty 230-watt power supply and a Kensington slot to keep it from wandering off of your desk. Not everyone needs a speakerphone, but if you’re one who would like the convenience of a speakerphone that also works as a docking station, the Logi Dock is a good bet to fill that need.