In Village Tronic’s documentation, they claim that their goal with the ViDock is to “create an affordable, reliable device that would empower notebook users by allowing them to connect more and bigger displays to their computers, as if they were desktop systems.”
The ViDock is much more than this simple goal would suggest. While Village Tronic focuses on the ViDock’s multiple display functionality, its hardware might be considered a little overkill for this task. While it does offer support for a lot of displays, the ViDock offers a great deal of 3D graphics acceleration for laptops with slower integrated chipsets, allowing for much faster performance in professional 3D applications, games, and HD 1080p video playback. In addition, the ViDock includes a USB port in addition to its display outputs, which makes it a very attractive docking station for users on the go who want to use a better display, keyboard, and mouse when they get home: with the ViDock, all of that can be quickly attached with a single ExpressCard cable.
Since driving multiple displays is Village Tronic’s core focus for the ViDock, let’s look at that functionality first. Village Tronic claims that the ViDock supports the highest resolutions available to an external graphics card solution, with the ability to drive two analog or two digital displays at 2560x1600 each. Here is a breakdown of some competing external display solutions and their specifications compared to the ViDock Gfx:
As you can see from the chart, the ViDock does seem to offer the most feature-rich display solution available. I would note that Village Tronic’s chart would suggest that all versions of the ViDock Gfx will accelerate HD Video playback, but as far as I know, the base model ViDock ‘Business Edition’ models—sporting Radeon X1550 or GeForce 7200 GS graphics—probably won’t sufficiently accelerate high-definition1080p video from a Blu-ray source in a satisfactory manner. Without this version of the ViDock to test, though, we can’t say for sure.
Speaking of the different versions of the ViDock, let’s consider the different models, the hardware each model sports, and the suggested retail prices:
|ATI Version: GPU X1550, 128MB DDR2|
|NVidia Version: GPU GF7200GS, 128MB DDR2|
|ATI Version: GPU HD2600Pro, 512MB DDR2|
|NVidia Version: GPU GF8600GT, 512MB DDR2|
|GPU: GPU X1550, 128MB DDR2|
As you can see, the $100 price spread between the Business and Pro versions of the ViDock will upgrade the user from a low-end 128MB DirectX 9 graphics chipset to a more respectable 512MB DirectX 10 graphics chipset. However, we should point out that the street price difference between, say, a, X1550 and a 2600 PRO 512MB is only in the neighborhood of $40. And it’s also notable that the Mac version is considerably more expensive than the PC version of the ViDock.
Village Tronic anticipates the ViDock’s retail availability by the end of the second quarter of 2008. This means that we were given an early pre-release version of the ViDock Gfx Pro for testing, so bear in mind that the company has some time to iron out any problems we might encounter.
Now that we know what to expect, let’s dig in to the hardware!
- Upgrading your Laptop
- ViDock Gfx PRO: Features and Specifications
- ViDock Gfx PRO: First impressions and examination
- Operating System Factors and Workarounds
- Limitations, Installation, Usability
- Test System and Configuration
- Game Benchmarks
- 3D Application and HD Video Playback Benchmarks
- Modifying the ViDock for use with other graphics cards: the Radeon 2600 XT and 3870