Dynadock U3.0 in Use
I spent a solid three days testing the Toshiba Dynadock U3.0 in both my gaming / power user rig and a Lenovo notebook. This system is a little bit higher spec that what most users are going to have at home, but well let's be honest, I'm a reviewer and it's my job to make sure parts work as they should... someone has to do it right?
I would love to be able to report that everything worked absolutely perfect every time. It would make this review shorter and we could just finish this article right now. That wasn't the case, though.
In my desktop configuration we ran into some issues right from the start. The main issue was boot time. This is something you notice every time you turn the computer on. The system takes much longer to boot with the Dynadock U3.0 attached than it does without. The difference is a solid 45 to 60 seconds.
The next issue has to do with how the host computer behaves once you get to the Windows 7 login screen. Our USB devices attached to the computer do not show up right away so you can't use them... that includes the keyboard and mouse. These devices were attached to the host computer and NOT the Dynadock U3.0. Our Corsair keyboard wouldn't even light up for at least 60 seconds after getting to the Windows login page. The Razer mouse also had issues and wouldn't start tracking for at least 15 seconds after hitting the Windows login page. After the 15 seconds has past and we had full use of our mouse we started to use the On-Screen Keyboard to type in the password so we didn't have to wait for the keyboard to communicate with the host computer. When you are using 8 SSDs in a RAID configuration, you've already paid for instant boot times, but the U3.0 erodes your several thousand dollar investment rapidly.
Once inside Windows with all of the accessories working properly you would expect the Dynadock U3.0 to just work as it should... but it doesn't. Every time we booted into Windows with the dock installed we had the issues above and still didn't get video out on our second and third monitors which are attached to the dock. Each time we had to unplug the USB 3.0 connection back to the host computer, then reattach it for the device to work. The whole process was a real pain in the butt since we first installed the dock behind our attached monitors to keep the desk space as empty as possible. Within a few restarts we realized that a position change was needed to keep our sanity so we could detach and reattach the connection to the host when needed.
After we played cable shuffle at every reboot, the Dynadock U3.0 worked very well. The secondary monitors run at 1080p HD resolutions and we enjoyed movies and other videos at that native resolution without issue. Text scrolling, usually an issue with low cost video cards, proved to be problem free and without texture tearing.
The USB 3.0 ports when used for transferring data from a ultra high speed thumb drive were much slower than when plugged directly into the host machine. This was to be expected though because you are taking a single USB 3.0 port, passing through two video signals, running four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports and a number of other connections. There is only so much bandwidth to go around, but the Dynadock U3.0 manages the bandwidth wisely so your one high-speed device doesn't kill off the other connections.
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