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Posts Tagged ‘docking station’


The Dock Returns: Anticipating Trends for Productivity Potential

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

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Samsung’s March 2017 announcement that their flagship smartphone would support first-party peripheral that makes the device work like a desktop computer could mean big changes for how people look at their productivity devices.

While this is not the first attempt to treat a smartphone as a computer substitute, it is the first time a market shipment leader put its weight behind the concept.

Business and IT professionals should watch these trends closely, because new ways of looking at existing technological mainstays may offer incredible opportunities to increase productivity.

A Note on Convergence

Samsung’s dock is another indication that the smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop device classes are gravitating towards convergence. Tablets and smartphones overlap each other in use and functionality: In many cases, you would not be able to tell the difference between a large smartphone and a small tablet outside of the ability to make phone calls.

Galaxy S8 Dex Dock

The Samsung Dex allows any Galaxy S8 user to connect the device to a charging dock that augments the smartphone with a desktop monitor over HDMI and USB peripherals. When connected to the dock, the Galaxy S8 display switches to a more computer-esque interface, making the phone function like a “fake desktop.” This is excellent for business continuity for three reasons:

  1. Employees can take a highly portable device with them anywhere they go, which can be plugged into a dock when available to function as a primary productivity device. It’s easier to carry a phone around than a laptop.
  2. Employees will no longer need to use a dedicated workstation. This means employees can easily relocate their main device.
  3. Sharing a desk workstation will be much simpler. Instead of requiring a centralized server and individual login credentials, employees can simply plug in their mobile device.

Similar third-party devices exist for laptop augmentation, such as the Mirabook, which works for both Android and Windows 10 devices. If these docks add support for multiple devices including multiple operating systems, this platform could be incredibly useful for businesses.

The Motorola Atrix Legacy

Businesses have been working on expanding smartphone capabilities to emulate what a traditional computer can do almost as long as the smartphone and tablet device classes have been popular. The Motorola Atrix, released in late 2011, is the first well-known example of turning a smartphone into a netbook. However, earlier takes on the convergence concept didn’t perform well because of high costs ($300-$500 for the Atrix compared to $150 for the Dex) and missing functionality.

Nintendo Switch Dock

The Nintendo Switch, released in March 2017, is a tablet-like device that connects to a dock to work like a traditional console on a TV. With the system selling well, the Switch will serve as the first tablet-like device millions of people have in their homes that works with a dock. “Living room infiltration” can make the public more comfortable with the dock concept, which could lead more people to try docks with other devices. The Nintendo Switch could do for docks what the Playstation 2 did for DVD video.

Even without the dock, the tablet and smartphone industry is pushing towards convergence. For example, Apple is selling the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement device with reasonable success. However, backup and disaster recovery will be more important than ever with docks—mostly because smartphones are easier to break and to lose than desktop computers.

Our IT consulting experts at MPA Networks are ready to help your business look into technology opportunities like the Dex dock. Contact us today.

The Benefits of Laptop Docks and At-Desk Peripherals

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

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With a little bit of effort, your staff can reap all the benefits of a laptop, and many of the perks of a desktop, with a little bit of planning and some additional hardware. It’s a common perception that laptops lead in portability, while desktops specialize in expandability. But improvements in peripheral device connection standards including USB 3.0, eSATA, and Thunderbolt have reduced (if not eliminated) the performance differences between external and internal devices. The main caveats of using external devices to enhance laptop capabilities include the need to physically haul extra pieces of hardware around, which defeats the portability perks.

If your business is looking to boost productivity and improve business continuity, it’s worth looking at configuring employee desks to work as laptop extension environments through docking stations and peripheral hubs.

Docking Stations

Docking stations are devices that connect to laptop computers to convert them (more or less) into desktop computers.

Docks feature a wide range of ports and may include built-in augmentation components like extra storage. The user can connect all their peripheral devices to the dock in advance and utilize them simultaneously just by connecting the laptop to the dock. This supports business continuity for employees who are often in and out of the office, eliminating the need to use two different devices for the same tasks.

USB and Thunderbolt Hubs

Advances in peripheral port bandwidth have made devices like USB and Thunderbolt hubs viable alternatives to docking stations that function as a “choose-your-features” option.

Hubs are essentially a collection of ports that can be used to connect several devices to computer through a single port.

This means utilizing all the hub devices is as easy as connecting a single cable to the laptop. Hubs can also be self-powered so the laptop is no longer limited by powering external devices.

Peripheral Rundown

  • External Monitors: One or more external monitors can be added to docks or hubs to suit employee needs. The worker may prefer a singular, larger monitor, using multiple external screens or using an external display as an extended desktop. Employees may find having more viewable space than a laptop offers a productivity booster.
  • Additional Storage: Attaching external storage devices to the dock or hub serves two primary purposes: It acts as a backup solution for the “three copies” strategy, and it lets employees store extra data that would be a burden on the laptop’s built-in storage. This is a big help when it comes to disaster recovery; in the event that the laptop is damaged, destroyed, or stolen, you’ll have a recent backup on hand.
  • Keyboard and Mouse: Adding a keyboard and mouse to the dock or hub not only helps boost productivity, but also improves ergonomics by allowing employees to position devices where they are most comfortable. Employees who prefer a mouse over a touchpad and want to add a number pad to a laptop that doesn’t carry one will find this solution helpful.
  • Wired Network Connection: Hubs and docks can be configured to connect to the local network via Ethernet. This is a great option for offices already wired for connections that have inconsistent Wi-Fi.
  • Speakers, Webcams, and Microphones: Docks and hubs can also connect to external versions of the laptop’s audio/video devices for an enhanced experience.

The IT and productivity assessment experts at MPA Networks are ready to help your business find a hardware configuration that works best for you. Contact us today.