Why is it so few manufactures offer a docking port on laptops?

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Original poster
Oct 9, 2006
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Something that seems to bother me in looking at laptops is so few manufactures offer true docking ports on laptops now days. More and more people are completely dumping the desktop computer and going laptop only.

Now people going laptop only do run into some problems not related to the less powerful hardware for the money.

These problems that people often want to get around is the very limited ports on a laptop and all the wires they have to disconnect if they want to move the laptop. I find it annoying that they seem to limited the docking ports to business computers only. A true docking port should be able to power/ charge the computer, connect directly to the graphic card, directly to the other ports and so on. Right now the only real choices out there are USB port replicators but those just do not have the memory bandwidth to handle a computer monitor very well nor power the computer.

To me it seems logical since more and more people are moving laptop only that manufacture like Apple should started offering a docking port so people can quickly plug in their computer to everything with just 1 wire max. HP seems to be the only manufacture that I have found that even offers something like that to there non business computers.

It would be really nice if apple started putting that on their laptops. Or at least on the pro models. Hell I would like to see it across the board.
 

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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I'd go with the old supply and demand philosophy. If there's not too much demand for one, then there isn't going be much of a supply.

I think most laptop users are content to use it w/o a port replicator or docking station
 

rdowns

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Jul 11, 2003
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If users wanted docking ports, manufacturers would be offering them.
 

belvdr

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Every business-grade laptop I have used has docking capability. The consumer level laptops, though, tend to not have this as (I guess) many home users wouldn't have a place to dock anyway. Home users want to wander the house and not be tied down.

In fact, I know the Dell Latitude D600-D620 and HP 6510b, 6910p, and EliteBooks have docking ports.
 

RITZFit

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Sep 16, 2007
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In my Corner
lets just say, typically, most external devices a laptop user would connect include an external monitor and probably several usb driven devices. A good hub can narrow the usb devices to one plug. Now your down to two plugs tops (three including power)? on top of that, more devices are going wireless (bluetooth). I'm sure soon you won't need to plug-in...anything :D
 

Eidorian

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Mar 23, 2005
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Indianapolis
Every business-grade laptop I have used has docking capability. The consumer level laptops, though, tend to not have this as (I guess) many home users wouldn't have a place to dock anyway. Home users want to wander the house and not be tied down.

In fact, I know the Dell Latitude D600-D620 and HP 6510b, 6910p, and EliteBooks have docking ports.
I've only seen it on business notebooks as well.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Original poster
Oct 9, 2006
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I've only seen it on business notebooks as well.
I think it would sell fairly well if it was pushed. Just it would take them being offered to the consumers. HP seems to be the only one trying it right now and the people I have talk with that used them really like them.

It seems no one is willing to take the chance in the consumer world on it. A group of consumers that I think would really like docking port would be a student as they are very often wanting to take their computers off to class or to a study group but when at home/dorm rooms it would be nice to work on a larger screen with all the other goodies attached.
 

anjinha

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Oct 21, 2006
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San Francisco, CA
I think it would sell fairly well if it was pushed. Just it would take them being offered to the consumers. HP seems to be the only one trying it right now and the people I have talk with that used them really like them.

It seems no one is willing to take the chance in the consumer world on it. A group of consumers that I think would really like docking port would be a student as they are very often wanting to take their computers off to class or to a study group but when at home/dorm rooms it would be nice to work on a larger screen with all the other goodies attached.
As a student I don't feel the need to dock my laptop.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Original poster
Oct 9, 2006
10,132
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As a student I don't feel the need to dock my laptop.
It was something that really annoyed me doing my first year at college when I was laptop only. It was a huge pain to disconnected and reconnect everything when I went to and from class.

The list I had was
Printer, Ethernet, power, and keyboard/mouse, and speakers. It was a rather annoying pain if I wanted to take my laptop somewhere. Now if I had a monitor hook up that would of been one more annoying thing to deal with and a lot o wires to mess with. Wireless was not an option there.

I know one thing from those days I remember when working at my laptop was the smaller screen size that I was limited to work with so yeah and external monitor would of been great.
That is why I think for students a docking port would really catch on. Yes I know it would take a little time to really catch on but I think it really would if they would market it at people going off to college.

Now a docking port to people who are running a desktop and a laptop they are not as much use for since the laptop would function as a mobile computer. That was something I learned my 2nd year at college after I had built my desktop. My laptop was relegated to mobile computer only. Not to say there were times I had it on my desk with my desktop and was working on both at the same time.
 

lionheartednyhc

macrumors 65816
Jul 13, 2009
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It was something that really annoyed me doing my first year at college when I was laptop only. It was a huge pain to disconnected and reconnect everything when I went to and from class.

The list I had was
Printer, Ethernet, power, and keyboard/mouse, and speakers. It was a rather annoying pain if I wanted to take my laptop somewhere. Now if I had a monitor hook up that would of been one more annoying thing to deal with and a lot o wires to mess with. Wireless was not an option there.

I know one thing from those days I remember when working at my laptop was the smaller screen size that I was limited to work with so yeah and external monitor would of been great.
That is why I think for students a docking port would really catch on. Yes I know it would take a little time to really catch on but I think it really would if they would market it at people going off to college.

Now a docking port to people who are running a desktop and a laptop they are not as much use for since the laptop would function as a mobile computer. That was something I learned my 2nd year at college after I had built my desktop. My laptop was relegated to mobile computer only. Not to say there were times I had it on my desk with my desktop and was working on both at the same time.

I think another reason is the fact that pretty much everything is wireless now. My first laptop was the only one that had a docking station and that was back when EVERYTHING was wired. It was super useful.

Now the only things I plug in is my Cinema Display or speakers (or once a week external hard drive, since I also have a time capsule).

The more advanced everything gets, the less there is a need for docking.
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
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The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
I'd guess the vast majority of users these days make constant use out of two (or maybe three) ports: Power and USB (the third being ethernet, which is less utilized on laptops). If you need more USB ports you can buy a $10 USB hub. I don't know why anyone would buy a $50+ docking station for more USB ports.
 

Tomorrow

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Mar 2, 2008
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lets just say, typically, most external devices a laptop user would connect include an external monitor and probably several usb driven devices. A good hub can narrow the usb devices to one plug. Now your down to two plugs tops (three including power)? on top of that, more devices are going wireless (bluetooth). I'm sure soon you won't need to plug-in...anything :D
I'd guess the vast majority of users these days make constant use out of two (or maybe three) ports: Power and USB (the third being ethernet, which is less utilized on laptops). If you need more USB ports you can buy a $10 USB hub. I don't know why anyone would buy a $50+ docking station for more USB ports.
Businesses still rely heavily on good ol' ethernet for connectivity. Not that you can't manually plug in, but it does add an additional wrinkle to the puzzle.

My Dell Latitude D630 (issued to me by my employer) uses a docking station. I have connected an external monitor, parallel-port printer, speakers, keyboard, ethernet, and a USB hub. Oh, and don't forget the power adapter. My mouse is a Logitech VX Nano, and the tiny dongle is plugged directly into the laptop instead of the docking station.
 

steve2112

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Feb 20, 2009
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My Dell Latitude D630 has a neat docking station/monitor stand combo. I haven't seen too many of them around. Our supply guy just had it sitting in the back corner somewhere. I spotted it and asked if I could have it. It's a handy space saver.

Here's an example.
 

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steve2112

macrumors 68040
Feb 20, 2009
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East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
Belkin actually offers a universal docking station. The only problem is that it requires an ExpressCard slot. So, if you have one of the newer unibody models, you're out of luck. Check it out here.

Kensington also offers one that is a stand/docking station type thing. Targus used to offer one that connected via USB, I believe. I've read video can be a problem with those, though.
 

sysiphus

macrumors 6502a
May 7, 2006
815
1
Really, the business world is the only place where there is any demand--this way, laptops can be issued to employees, allowing for portable/take-home ability while still providing a simple, standardized workstation array for the office desk. The business-class Dells and Thinkpads are the only ones you'll likely find en masse. The really interesting case (to me) is the Thinkpads, though--the advanced docking station with a PCI-Express slot is a fantastic way to allow for high-end graphics for CAD use, but still provide a thin/light machine.

Unsurprisingly, you'll likely find much better build quality on those machines than on the average consumer computer, as well. There are an awful lot of older Thinkpads still floating around, and I can tell you from experience that Boeing has tons of Dell Latitudes in service that have stood up well to long/hard use. This also plays out in resale value, too.
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors 604
May 28, 2005
7,986
535
Pennsylvania
My Dell Latitude D630 has a neat docking station/monitor stand combo. I haven't seen too many of them around. Our supply guy just had it sitting in the back corner somewhere. I spotted it and asked if I could have it. It's a handy space saver.

Here's an example.
I used one of those back when I had a CPi... it was my best friend, and it took me about a year to get used to not having a docking station.
 

tshort

macrumors regular
Jul 20, 2007
151
6
All available via USB

With the exception of external monitor and power, all the devices mentioned below can be accessed via USB, and hooked into a single USB hub:

  • Printer
  • Ethernet
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Speakers

So you are talking 3 cables all close together.
 

Gav2k

macrumors G3
Jul 24, 2009
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As above with the right combination of stuff you could plug it all into a USB hub and just connect one USB lead. IBM, dell and hp all offer docks there still out there just most end users work around them.
 

sysiphus

macrumors 6502a
May 7, 2006
815
1
With the exception of external monitor and power, all the devices mentioned below can be accessed via USB, and hooked into a single USB hub:

  • Printer
  • Ethernet
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Speakers

So you are talking 3 cables all close together.
Here's the trouble with the "all available via USB" logic--USB isn't going to give you things like an extra battery slot, an integrated optical drive (yes, many computers can boot off of external drives now, but it's still not nearly as neat/tidy), or an Expresscard slot. Heck, my ancient Thinkpad 570 (Mobile Pentium II, whee!) has a docking station that gives me a DVD-ROM, extra battery, and a floppy drive (OK, the last one isn't so exciting anymore). All the while it leaves me with an ultraportable that only weighs 4lb, yet has a fantastic keyboard and perfectly decent 13" XGA screen. Not bad for 1999 technology. Plus there's this--the docking station interfaces are specifically designed to hold up to lots of plug/unplug actions--whereas USB ports aren't. I wouldn't want to "dock" via USB 5 days a week...would you?
 

thinkdesign

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May 12, 2010
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"Demand and supply" (aka supply and demand) breaks down when each consumer is a miniscule part of a giant corporation's total sales. I mean, years ago when American cars were low quality, was that on account of customers "demand"ing that? Of course not. So there are plenty of opportunities out there for a smart computer company to add to the laptop's design quality, and feed what economists call "pent-up demand". ---- (1.) Screen quality still has a long way to go, esp. in markets where the average age of the user is increasing. (2.) Making a laptop that is complete enough that we DON'T need to add aftermarket padding (like BuiltNY) or cladding (like Speck) to it... would be a signal to buyers that "mobile" isn't just spin talk. In the 80's Sony innovated in that area with its "Outback" models of radios and cassette players. They had a maybe 1/10th or 1/12th of an inch thick layer of tough cushioning on the outside. (If it was patented, it's expired by now.) But they botched it -- with corny "Outback" graphics and kiddie-looking knobs, and by not bothering to advertise it. Some smart computer designer will revive that cushioning idea, someday.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
Not enough consumer demand. OR . . . no one's done it right yet.
That, and Apple is always shifting the ports around ... so the docking stations would likely be replaced with nearly every new Notebook.

Heck, people complained every time their iPod/iPhone docks stop working, what would they do if the spent a huge amount and had to ditch it 6 months later with the new MacBook Pro.

With 2 generations of MacBook Pro -- the Applecare on 2 notebooks, and 2 docking stations might cost a good chunk of a machine in 1 year.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Original poster
Oct 9, 2006
10,132
4
As above with the right combination of stuff you could plug it all into a USB hub and just connect one USB lead. IBM, dell and hp all offer docks there still out there just most end users work around them.
HP is the only company I have seen that is offering a true docking port in even their consumer line of laptops and even then it is what I would call just ok because of its location it can make it kind of trouble some. It is not ideal but still everything is on one port.

With the exception of external monitor and power, all the devices mentioned below can be accessed via USB, and hooked into a single USB hub:

  • Printer
  • Ethernet
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Speakers

So you are talking 3 cables all close together.
While true I would suggest using a powered USB hub as if to much is plug into the port or some devices that need more power are plug in it will exceed the power that your computer can give to the hub.

Also it just does not work as well. The monitor to me being the biggest pain in the rear to plug into a computer and still makes a slights mess of cables having to leave it off to the side.

I honestly think that we will start seeing more manufactures offer docking port just it is taking time. Right now people are really replacing their desktops with a laptop only type of view because they like to be at lets say the TV or elsewhere in the house but when they are at a desk the external monitor, keyboard and mouse are great. The monitor being the most useful because it gives some one a better neck and head position because it is closer to eye level plus it is normally larger.

When a laptop is on a desk your head is tilted down and it is bad for the neck and back to stay that way for long periods of time. The taller you are the worse it is.

I think that companies could sell a lot more monitors if they would start doing that and sell the docking station for around 70-80 bucks. If I could of gotten one for my laptop I just bought I would of done it in a heart beat but any computer with a docking station did not cover my other wants and added a lot to the price tag. Other wise I would of jump at it.
It is just such a nice thing to have.

I honestly think if apple would start adding them to their Macbook Pros people would buy them in large numbers. Put the port on the bottom of the case with flaps the fold in and out of the way when used. It would be really easy and it would look pretty good.
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
I have four of that exact dock pictured earlier! I carry a Dell Latitude for my work and I hate having to plug anything in. One click, that's all. My MacBook? Not so easy.