Trendnet TU3-DS2 USB 3.0 Docking Station
|Trendnet TU3-DS2 USB 3.0 Docking Station|
|Features and Specifications|
|Testing and Final Thoughts|
As laptops have shrunk in size, so does the number of built-in ports and expansion options. Ultrabooks are really handy in terms of size and performance, but when it comes to practical use on your desktop, often they are a little lacking. They have the power to push video to multiple monitors, but not the outputs. Many Ultrabooks don't have enough USB ports either and lack a wired network connection. I realize that wireless networking is convenient and much faster than it used to be, but wired networking is fantastic if you do a large amount of data transfers and are using a network attached storage device for most of your in-office storage.
Docking Stations have been around for many years and while the one made by your Laptop manufacturer is probably best, it probably is also a lot more expensive than some aftermarket USB 2.0 dock. I'm thinking specifically about the ThinkPad docks that cost upwards of $300 and offer you a lot of USB ports, wired networking, DVI, HDMI and more. The problem is that they are pretty specific to the laptop model and they are expensive.
Older USB docks were limited by USB 2.0 and while that worked well enough as a USB hub and for limited networking, pushing a video display as well made everything slow to a crawl. They were more affordable, but sometimes you do get what you pay for.
Trendnet has seen the need for a good USB dock and has tried to impress us with the TU3-DS2 USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station. This dock comes it at less than half-price from a proper ThinkPad dock and it offers a similar list of features. Utilizing a DisplayLink solution, the TU3-DS2 can run a couple of 1080p monitors by way of DVI-I and an HDMI connection. In addition to these, it gives you four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit network connection in addition to full microphone and speaker connections. In order to power all of these devices, the dock requires a separate power connector and an open USB 3.0 port.
Today we're going to find out if Trendnet comes anywhere close to living up to my hopes or if they are a heart-breaker and offer mediocre performance at this price.
The Trendnet TU3-DS2 is a pretty nice looking piece of kit. It comes with the basis that should get you started. It includes the dock itself, a power adapter, USB 3.0 Cable, a DVI-to-VGA adapter as well as a quick install guide and a software CD. The dock stands upright to save space on your desk and it has a great finish that fits in well with pretty much any home or office environment.
The front of the dock is pretty basic. The USB 3.0 ports are both located on the front of the device for you to access quickly with your USB 3.0 drives, cameras and phones. Also on the front are the audio jacks - both microphone and headphone/speaker. These work well and Windows sees these as "DisplayLink" audio. The rear of the device is a little busier with four USB 2.0 Ports, the Gigabit Ethernet port, DVI, HDMI and the USB 3.0 cord connection. Below those is the 5v plug that is pretty standard.
On the next page, we'll quickly take a look at the overview, features and specifications of the dock before we share our experiences using it for the past few weeks.