Why no docking architecture in laptops?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by janstett, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. janstett macrumors 65816

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    #1
    This one has bothered me for quite some time. One gaping hole in Apple's laptop design (iBook/PowerBook/MacBook) is the lack of a docking architecture.

    Every other laptop on the planet has some kind of quick-connect dock connector, for connecting to expansion options or at bare minimum port replication. It makes life easier, just to start off with it's one snap-in connection instead of having to reconnect everything manually (power, video, network, mouse, etc).

    Why has Apple forsaken this obvious need?
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #2
    It adds weight, complexity and a potential for another thing to break as well as breaking the seamless design of the bottom/back of Apple's current laptops for a feature that would be used by a relatively small number of Apple's clients?

    With so many periphals being USB these days it fairly simply to connect them all to a hub and just plug that in...

    p.s. Any chance of making your signature a bit less offensive. It's longer than most posts...
     
  3. Le Big Mac macrumors 68020

    Le Big Mac

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    #3
    The real shame is that Apple introduced the concept in the early 90s. I had a Duo laptop (although never got around to buying the dock). It's a great concept. I don't think ease of connection replicates it. At a minimum you have to connect a keyboard/mouse and monitor, and possibly also an ethernet cable. I suppose with wireless and bluetooth it might be only a monitor, but still a dock would be a nice idea.
     
  4. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #5
    I do appreciate the benefits of a dock - especially for professionals who use the laptop as their primary system and transport it from home to office and want quick and easy setup.

    To me, as cool as the Bookendz are, they're not all that easy to use - it's not a piece of cake to attach so many ports at once without hurting something.

    However, part of the joy of Apple is the design, and port replicators are ugly. So it's something we live without.

    Now, if I were Jonathan Ive (as if...), I'd look into something like an internal version of the Bookendz, where the laptops would look the same from the outside, but the ports could all "pop out" as a block to reveal a composite port inside to be used for a dock. For people who never dock, the laptops would have the same clean lines. For those who do, docking would be easy without compromising appearance.

    Of course, if I really were Jonathan Ive, I'd already know why that's a dumb idea. ;)
     
  5. janstett thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #6
    Ewww... My boss had a similar one and stopped using it after two weeks. No power, no video, and you stand a good chance of breaking something.

    Robbie Duncan, some designers have done a good job of hiding the dock connectors. For example on IBM Thinkpads they are on the bottom under a spring loaded trap door and use a cartridge-style connector, no pins to break. And I'd say manually plugging and unplugging power, DVI, network, etc. are more likely to break than a single dock interface. If you've ever bent a pin on a VGA or DVI cable you know what I mean. Also most docks come with power supplies so you don't have to keep unplugging your only power supply to take it with you.

    Oh well, it won't kill me, but I'd like to have a dock in the future.
     
  6. jacobj macrumors 65816

    jacobj

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    #7
    I disagree that it would have to be done in an ugly way... most Apple designs are only obvious once we've seen them and I think a discreet dock is not beyond the realms of possibility and I for one would like it.
     
  7. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #8
    Those were exactly what I was thinking of when I stated the that they would break the smooth design. Look at the bottom of a Thinkpad. It's a mess of spring loaded doors, screws etc. Look at the bottom of a Powerbook. It has the battery and a single screwed door for RAM. That's it.

    In addition those sort of things do add weight and complexity to the design. You need additional logic chips to control the dock function. You need to split the external monitor port out to the dock when it's in use and the DVI port when it's not (and the same for other ports)...

    Personally I like the way it is now. I accept for people using their laptops in an office docking stations can make a lot of sense but that's not really a market that tends to by Apple (although I suppose this could be true because of a lack of office oriented functionality like docks).
     
  8. mpw Guest

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    Jun 18, 2004
    #9
    I don't see why Apple couldn't add a single neat port to their machines that ran a cable to a desktop hub, home to your iPod dock and full array of USB/FW/DVI/audio/mic etc. it wouldn't take up that much room although it might need a chunky cable.
     
  9. budugu macrumors 6502

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    Boston, MA
    #10
    Look at HP laptops (consumer versions) they have it on the side and a single cable attaches it to the dock. Ofcourse their business versions have it on the bottom. I would really love to have a docking station (with a internal HD etc - quickbackups and more..). With the advent of Dual Core the performance diff between a desktop and a laptop is not that much any more. So it will be nice if one could use the notebook as a desktop (and just have one system!).
     
  10. nylon macrumors 6502a

    nylon

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    Oct 26, 2004
    #11
    Look at the variety of IBM Thinkpad docks. They are seemless work well and add expansion ports such as DVI connectors and extra USB ports. Then you just pop the notebook in the dock and you are ready to go. No need to connect every cable to the notebook individually. It would be nice to add a dock for Apple professional notebooks.
     
  11. tdhurst macrumors 68040

    tdhurst

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    #12
    No Dock Connectors, please!

    When most if not all ports were on the back of laptop, docks made sense. But I really don't see the point now as a single powered USB hub, power cable and external monitor cable can be attached to an Apple laptop in a matter of seconds (theses connections obviously cover most connection needs).

    Adding a docking mechanism just adds more crap to laptops that most of us do not need.
     
  12. jacobj macrumors 65816

    jacobj

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    #13
    I can't be bothered to use my peripherals all the time because I don't have the space. A modular based dock with HD and DVD would be a real benefit for the pro user.

    I have suggested that Apple may have 3 notebooks in their range.. maybe this will happen for the travelling pro...:rolleyes:
     
  13. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #14

    the fact that people never actually bought the dock may well be the reason that Apple dropped the idea
     
  14. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

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    #15
    Oh man, I would kill for a dock or a single cable type thing. Let's count what I have to plug/unplug everytime I want to bring my PB outside:



    DVI (Occasionally with those stupid screws too)
    Ethernet
    USB
    Audio
    Firewire 400
    USB (X2)
    Power

    I would KILL to have only one connection to make.
     
  15. plinkoman macrumors 65816

    plinkoman

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    New York
    #16
    man i can't tell you how much i'd love a dock. as it stands now, i have so much stuff to unplug every time i want to go somewhere(and no, it's not all usb, so a hub wont work :rolleyes: ) that sometimes i just forget about i and leave it. i can't even pick it up and use it in bed without having to jump through hoops, maybe with a dock i could actually use this as a laptop.

    i would seriously pay hundreds of dollars extra for a feature like this, it would be so worth it.
     
  16. danny_w macrumors 601

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    Mar 8, 2005
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    Austin, TX
    #17
    The company that I work for wouldn't even consider a laptop that didn't come with a dock (of course, they also wouldn't consider an Apple either...). We use laptops in development so that we can easily pop the laptop out of the dock and take it to meetings or on the road to a customer site. Docks add functionality and save time in a business environment. However, Macs in general are not business machines, so I guess it makes some sense not to have the added weight and cost of a dock, but in the business world Apple would have no choice but to add one.
     
  17. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #18
    Windows laptops have turned me off from docks alltogether. In a computer lab here on campus, we have some Dell laptops that are docked. Half of the time when you dock/undock them, Windows locks up. Granted, I'm sure OSX would never have this problem, but it's just turned me off of the dock idea alltogether.

    I have no need for one. Nine times out of 10, my Powerbook is somewhere with WiFi so my only connection is power, and if I have it with me, my mouse. (and both of those 2 are optional if my battery is full and I don't mind the trackpad)
     
  18. janstett thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #19
    OK, I have two Thinkpads. Turning over my X40 now... I see -- a single access door for RAM and miniPCI access, and the docking interface hidden underneath a springloaded trap door. The battery takes some real estate but it interfaces from the back not the bottom. The only other things on the bottom are locking releases for the battery, screws to remove the keyboard, rubber feet, and the required FCC labels. Oh, and some venting holes.

    Frankly, I don't care how much stuff is on the bottom. I don't spend much time looking at the bottom of my laptops. Maybe if I had a highly elevated glass table I would worry about it? My concerns with the bottom are over intake/exhaust for the CPU, making sure they don't get clogged when used on a soft surface such as pants, a tablecloth, carpeting, a bedspread, etc... and that if some water spills nearby it has enough elevation to avoid damage.

    The X40 I have weighs a mere 2.7 pounds (with the small 4 cell battery) and is 0.8 inches thick. By contrast, the 12" Powerbook weighs 4.7 pounds and is 1.18 inches thick. The Powerbook is already an obese porker WITHOUT docking hardware, the Thinkpad a svelte greyhound in comparison WITH a dock connector. I can cede the point that it adds cost; but then again, so does the glowing Apple on the lid of the Powerbook, which is completely a vanity thing with zero functionality.

    If a computer is stationary, I'd agree you can get by without a dock. And I'll also agree Dell laptops are terrible in general, but especially with hot undocking. Others aren't so bad. My thinkpad has a soft eject to undock, and never locks up. Worst case it will auto-hibernate to prevent damage. The worst I can say is that when I use the serial port in the dock it won't let me eject, so I have to force the undock with a lever, and then it just complains about it and goes on. My HP laptop has no problem docking/undocking at all, but it uses the single wired connector mentioned above.

    But the way I use my laptops for work is this: I have a machine I use as a desktop, basically, it sits in the dock and I use it for office tasks and development. But then I have meetings several times a week where I take the laptop into a conference room for notes and presentations. Also I make trips to offsite locations every few months where I need my development environment with me, including plugfests hosted overseas. My laptop has to fill the role of a desktop but still be a laptop. When it's docked, I use my 20" flat panel, serial port for debugging embedded applications, ethernet, etc. But it has to be ready to hit the road on a minute's notice.

    Anyway, I'm glad that there are other people out there who agree with me that a dock would be useful. Perhaps we should start a petition :)
     
  19. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    Pa
    #20
    I had a Dell CPi and bought the dock for it.
    I replaced it with a Gateway 200arc series laptop. it didn't have a dock, and I was bummed about it.

    Then, I jumped onto the OS X bandwagon, and I realized...If Apple sold a dock, I would get a great laptop, and never need a desktop again!

    Apple just wants us to buy 2 computers when we could get away with one.

    And if apple made a laptop with a docking port, I would be one of the first to sell my soul to afford it!
     
  20. ryannel2003 macrumors 68000

    ryannel2003

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    Jan 30, 2005
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    Greenville, NC
    #21
    It would be so awesome if Apple did a Dock! All of HP's latest models have them, and it makes it so much easier to hook up everything with plugging in one cable. So much easier than unplugging everything individually; maybe Apple will come out with something similar one day. :)
     
  21. chaos86 macrumors 65816

    chaos86

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    #22
    good god people, take the extra 5 seconds to plug everything in!


    every day i come home and put my powerbook on my desk and it takes a few seconds to plug in power, 2 usb (hub and ipod), 2 firewire (2 HDs), ethernet, audio out, and dvi. I dont need a $100-$275 dock to save me 4 seconds.
     
  22. jacobj macrumors 65816

    jacobj

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    #23
    You've got 4 seconds spare in a single day? Are you sure you don't mean a week? God, you're lucky ;)

    PS. I sort of agree with you, but a dock is just tidier.
     
  23. chaos86 macrumors 65816

    chaos86

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    #24
    yes, i am blessed with 4 seconds extra each day. sometimes I even have 8 seconds and i can do it twice.

    $100-$275 worth of tidyness?
     
  24. jacobj macrumors 65816

    jacobj

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    #25
    I am not disagreeing with you, just stating a fact. If money is not an object then tidiness has that value.
     

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