Sunday, 30 August 2015 15:04

Kensington’s USB 3.0 docking station supports 4K (review)

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Kensington’s new USB 3.0 Universal docking station is a boon for anyone with additional connectivity needs.

The Kensington SD4000 Universal Dockingt Station (K3393AM) is a great add-on to a Windows hybrid, 2-in-1 tablet, notebook or desktop where you may only have limited USB 3.0 ports and one external display port. It adds a gigabit Ethernet LAN port, three USB 3.0 ports (one with 2.1A charging), HDMI or DisplayPort, DVI, audio in and out ports – all wrapped up in a miniscule 200g rectangle that is 19.5cm x 85 cm x 2.75cm. It requires a 5V, 4A charger (supplied).

Out of the Box

Plug in the USB 3.0 cable from the computer, plug in the power, monitor, Ethernet etc., and turn on. Drivers self-load in Windows 8.x/10 but you will need to download the DisplayLink software from its web site. DisplayLink also makes drivers for OS X, Android and Ubuntu so I can only assume that these may work on a USB 3.0 equipped device if the OS has suitable drivers.

External Monitors

Perhaps the most useful feature of this device is the inbuilt 4K graphics card that will supply 3480x2160 UHD to a 4K monitor via HDMI or DisplayPort. It will also display two other monitors at up to 2K - 2048x1152 using HDMI or DisplayPort and the DVI connector. It will also support three different resolution monitors – the two external and one tablet can all have different resolutions.

I tested this using a Surface 3 (Intel Atom) and a Surface Pro 3 (Intel Core i7 Haswell) on a new ASUS 32” 4K monitor (review here) as well as two Benq, 24” 1080p monitors and an old 19” Acer at 1440x900. The Kensington video chip handled these combinations with ease.

The 2.1A USB 3.0 charging port was excellent for the Surface 3 that uses Micro-USB charging – one less charger to carry.

The inbuilt video card does not upscale content – it delivers whatever it is given - from older TV resolutions 480, 720p, 1080p, 2K and 4K video content. All were clear and stutter free. I doubt that the chip however would handle gaming.

Opinion

There are competitive products from Dell, Lenovo, HP, Belkin, Targus and more that I suspect all use the same DisplayLink DL-5500 system on a chip.

I threw every test I could think of and the Kensington performed beautifully. It is a reasonably cost effective addition at A$319.95 to your tablet, notebook or even a desktop especially if you want to get a 4K monitor and cannot change the computers video card to support that.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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