Docking stations have really started to become hot items over the last few months; in fact, we have had the chance to review several of these solutions from different vendors including TRENDnet and Diamond. Today, we have yet another docking solution, this time from Vantec.
Docking solutions certainly have their place in the market as they add additional features to sometimes lacking notebooks and ultrabooks. If used on a desktop PC, they also have the advantage of cleaning up cabling and moving functionality such as USB, Ethernet and often times additional video outputs to a single location right on your desk.
The Vantec Universal Docking Station or DSH-300U3 is a multifunction capable solution built on the backbone of the DisplayLink platform. This docking station features a single USB 3.0 input that in turn supports five USB 3.0 connections, along with dual display, gigabit Ethernet and a card reader.
Compatibility of this solution extends to Windows XP through 8.1 adding in OS X 10.6+ support as well. MSRP of the Vantec Universal Docking Station is listed at $99.99 with a one-year warranty.
Packaging for the DSH-300U3 carries a large image of the dock on the front. Marketing information and features are listed across the bottom of the box.
On the back of the packaging, Vantec goes into more detail on the features of this docking solution. Several languages are provided for each region.
Scope of delivery for the Vantec Universal Dock includes the power supply, USB 3.0 cable and several adapters for connecting displays.
The dock carries a piano black finish with Vantec branding in the center. Of course with this unit being glossy, it will most likely pick up fingerprints and dust quite easily.
On the front of the dock, we have several options for plugging in devices. The far left houses both the microSD and SD slots, while moving further down, we have both audio ports and two USB 3.0 ports.
The back of the unit is a little more business. As you can see, it's absolutely stuffed with USB 3.0 ports, along with DVI, HDMI and a gigabit Ethernet port.
Running the Vantec through testing, we decided to start off with the USB 3.0 performance. Seen above, we used the VisionTek USB 3.0 SSD and came up with 167 MB/s read and 157 MB/s write. Vantec does say this unit supports UASP, but judging from our performance results here, we just aren't seeing numbers to support that claim.
Moving on, we installed our 32GB SanDisk Extreme SD card in the docking station and came up with 61 MB/s read and 57 MB/s write.
Next up was the microSD slot and of course we chose to use our very quick Extreme Pro solution from SanDisk. Results for the microSD slot came in at 22.4 MB/s read and 22 MB/s write, which isn't quite what we expected, knowing our card is capable of 90 MB/s.
Solutions such as the Vantec Universal Docking Station certainly serve a great purpose in making our daily activities simpler whether you're on the go with your notebook or at the office with your workstation PC. In the case of the DSH-300U3, the ability to add additional displays is great, and in testing the functionality, we were able to power up two Gateway HD2200 displays without issue.
The USB 3.0 performance of this solution wasn't really up to expectations as our testing netted us just 167 MB/s peak with our VisionTek flash drive. With that said, the flip side is you get an additional five ports within arms reach without having to dig behind a desktop tower or worry about bending connections on the side of the notebook. Furthermore, this solution from Vantec is the first we have seen to add in micro SD and SD functionality, which is a great addition as both of those form factors are used regularly in today's world.
Build quality of the unit was rather solid, the plastic construction, although being a bit too glossy for my own liking, fit together quite well, while all the ports on the device were snug and worked without issue.
Product Summary Breakdown
|Quality including Design and Build||76%|
|Bundle and Packaging||80%|
|Value for Money||82%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||80%|
The Bottom Line: Vantec's Universal Docking Station carries an excellent amount of features ranging from USB 3.0 ports to HDMI, gigabit ethernet and even microSD capabilities, making this a great option for those in the market for a complete docking solution. It's just a shame we experienced issues with USB performance.
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