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Laptop with docking station or Desktop

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April 19, 2009 9:47:15 PM

Hi All,

I am helping someone with their business computing needs (i.e., no video games here). They own a Lenovo T61 laptop (not sure what specs, but it was purchased probably about 1.5-2 yrs ago, and it's meant for business, so no discrete graphics card). This person would like to use a full-sized monitor and keyboard for their computing needs. A few questions:

(1) What's the advantage of a dock? Is it just the DVI hookup? I know the laptop can handle keyboards and mice galore through USB. Why do people buy laptop docking stations (I am not being facetious; I really have no idea)?

(2) What's the best way to buy a dock? Should she just visit Lenovo's site? I noted that they sell docks for about $200. Is there a cheaper alternative. Are there any other considerations?

(3) At what point is it better to just buy/build a desktop instead? If the dock costs $200, for another $100, she could probably get a barebones PC that at least equals, if not exceeds, the performance of the laptop.

Does anyone have any experience with laptop docking stations? What are the considerations? Does it sound like a simple desktop would be the best solution here?

Thank you!
April 19, 2009 9:58:12 PM

1. The advantage is so that you never have to hook up/unhook cables -- you just drop your laptop on the docking station and power it up, then power it down and pop it off the docking station to leave. I love my docking station at the office but I work from home over VPN and take my laptop home every day so it's very convenient as I have dual 22"s at work with a keyboard and mouse.

2. With a new laptop at the same time. You could check to see if a docking station is available for that laptop through the manufacturer though.

3. If this person is going to be docking/undocking the laptop to take back and forth between work and home every day then a docking station is worth it, but if it's just for occasional convenience then it's a personal choice i guess.

April 19, 2009 10:04:25 PM

Thanks for the quick reply, boonality. I am guessing your laptop has a powerful discrete graphics card if it can handle dual 22"s. Assuming she has an integrated graphics card, would she even be able to use one 22" at full resolution? I don't want to recommend a docking station if her screen will look atrocious...

But basically, it sounds like for $219 at Lenovo all you get is a standing set of connections and a dvi port. Right?

Thanks!
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April 19, 2009 10:32:05 PM

I see no reason not to go for a cheap desktop. It will be much cheaper and more powerful. Obviously it's not portable, but if they are using a full sized monitor, a laptop wont be either. What's the budget on this machine?
April 19, 2009 11:00:00 PM

Is there any leeway in purchasing laptop docking stations or do I absolutely have to get the manufacturer's laptop dock? (http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/Len...) Does Targus or any other laptop accessory brand make a laptop docking station substitute for half the price? If so, is there a trade off with functionality? What are the considerations here? It goes against every grain in my body recommending dropping $219 for a DVI port.

Thanks again!
April 20, 2009 7:18:42 PM

ExistNY said:
Thanks for the quick reply, boonality. I am guessing your laptop has a powerful discrete graphics card if it can handle dual 22"s. Assuming she has an integrated graphics card, would she even be able to use one 22" at full resolution? I don't want to recommend a docking station if her screen will look atrocious...

But basically, it sounds like for $219 at Lenovo all you get is a standing set of connections and a dvi port. Right?

Thanks!


Ya I have an HP desktop replacement basically, my work spent good money on it and I have an nVidia Quadro mobile video card in it. But if your just doing office work then the onboard video should be able to run all the way up to 1900x1200 (or whatever it is) just fine.

And the DVI port will really depend on if it's on the docking station or not, it may only provide for a VGA, I would check.

But like others have said the desktop is a better option if the docking station is only going to be used seldomly.
!