Review: Targus USB 2.0 Docking Station with Video

Simple but effective and flexible notebook dock. (August 22nd, 2010)

The Targus name has been synonymous with notebook accessories for as long as we can remember. The popularity of docking stations has varied over time, but Targus has consistently made universal docking stations available and now has models that pipe video. Today, we're looking at the ACP51USZ USB 2.0 Docking Station from Targus and we have high expectations. Read on to see if they’re justified.

Electronista Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Targus

Price: $160

The Good

  • Simple setup.
  • DVI out.
  • Powered USB.
  • Price is right.

The Bad

  • No bundled DVI-to-VGA adapter.

Hardware

Like most notebook docks, this Targus model is designed to sit underneath a portable and expand the ports beyond what the system itself might have. Connectivity on the back of this unit is fairly rich, if straightforward: it includes DVI, audio in and out, Ethernet, and four USB ports. The dock also has a Kensington lock port for situations that call for some physical security.

Targus simply includes a power adapter and USB cable with the dock. We would have liked to see a DVI to VGA converter included, as some monitors still don't have DVI ports, but it's not a major issue. Two of the four USB ports on the dock can also provide power to devices such as cellphones or MP3 players for charging purposes, so you'll need some discretion for what you attach. These are thankfully labelled and won't involve guesswork.





User experience

Setting up the docking station only took a few short minutes. Included with the docking station was a mini CD that contained all of the necessary drivers. After a few clicks the Targus software was installed and the dock was ready to use. We setup the dock with a Dell notebook running Windows XP and connected a DVI LCD, keyboard and mouse, and some headphones. Thankfully, the dock does support Mac OS X, although we didn't have an opportunity to verify if an Apple system would handle an external display.

As soon as everything was plugged in and powered on the entire system was up and running. The Targus software immediately added the LCD as an additional display and spanned the Windows desktop across both screens. Everything on the dock functioned as it should, and we were glad to know the dock could run a 22-inch LCD at its native 1680x1050 resolution with no performance issues on a relatively older notebook.

We did notice two interesting points that we should mention about using this dock. The dock did charge our iPhone, but the dock had to be not only plugged into wall power but also connected to the notebook through USB to get full power. We also noticed that the audio output from the dock was VERY loud. Neither of these items are criticism as such, but are points worth noting.



The only interaction users need to have with the dock, other than simply plugging everything in, is found in the Targus software that runs in the Windows system tray. The tray icon expands a menu that gives users control over a variety of video settings, including screen resolution and orientation.

Wrapping up

We came into this review with high expectations and were not disappointed. Targus has built a quality product that works just as we want it to. If you're shopping for a universal laptop dock, keep this model on your short list. At $160, this docking station may not be the most trivial purchase, but it certainly doesn't break the bank for those that consider a notebook as a main base of operations.

by Kelcey Lehrich


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