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I’m taking a break from the online ESL update series this week to bring you a product review. I was recently gifted a Kensington docking station for review (While I have used affiliate links previously, this is actually my first sponsored post, however, you can be assured that the opinions are 100 percent my own, and all you’re getting here is my honest review of my experience with the product).
When I first started researching this dock in preparation for my review, I pretty quickly found a few relatively recent, detailed, and very positive reviews online. These reviews delved deep into the technical specs of the docking station, and were clearly written by ‘techies’. It’s awesome that those types of reviews are out there, and I’d definitely recommend looking into them in addition to my review here if you’re looking at purchasing this product. I’m not giving you a full technical break-down here however, as that’s not my area of expertise. I use a lot of tech to DO my job (and live my life, just like pretty much everyone else these days), but tech in and of itself is not what my job IS. So, my review is about my experience as a user, and without further ado, here it is:
The dock came well packaged, and is a compact, sleek, and relatively robust looking unit. After unboxing it, I set about switching it out with my 7-port USB hub. As everyone knows (and I’ve complained about previously here), slimline laptops tend to have precious few USB ports, and that’s often a problem for home-based workers like me. I currently require 4 USB ports (2 for my DAS mechanical keyboard, one for my wireless mouse, and one for my transcription foot-pedal), and until recently when I upgraded to a Sony wireless headset, I also required a USB port for my old corded headset. Basically, my desk is always a mess of cords. I was initially concerned that the dock wouldn’t provide me with enough USB ports for all my equipment, but it turned out to be perfectly suitable for my current needs. As the dock connects to your laptop via the USB-C port (I had to look that name up. For non tech-heads, it’s basically a tiny little USB connection, maybe one third of the size of a regular USB port), it means the other two ‘regular’ USB ports on the dock are free for you to connect your equipment to, and those, along with the two USB ports on my laptop itself, meant that I could connect everything I need to. While I’ll certainly be keeping my old USB hub for back-up in the event that another damn device requiring a USB connection makes its way into my life, and I do personally wish that the docking station had one or two more USB ports (you know, for ‘just in case’), I do have to acknowledge that a) the dock is perfectly adequate as is for my current needs, b) there’s only so much you can reasonably expect to be packed into a compact nano dock, and c) the specific type of home-based work I do simply means I use way more USB ports that the average person, so my needs in that sense are different to the ‘typical’ person.
I did have one brief moment of concern after connecting everything and powering my computer up, when a pink screen popped up advising that my computer had run into a problem and needed to restart. Anyway, restart it did, and everything was fine. Computer running normally, dock functioning perfectly, all attached equipment working. While I think it’s most reasonable to expect that this isn’t a negative reflection on the dock at all, but probably more likely a reflection on my old-ish (purchased in 2017) laptop taking a moment to cope with the dock being connected with all my various equipment attached, in the spirit of full disclosure I thought I should mention it. Just to be thorough, I played around a bit, disconnecting and reconnecting everything, and turning the computer on and off a few times, and everything was running like clockwork – no issues at all (and it’s continued to work perfectly since).
As the product name implies, this dock provides power delivery, and can be used in place of your laptop charger. This is a feature I really appreciate. While the power delivery cord for the dock is essentially the same as a laptop charger (it’s actually a bit larger than my current laptop charger), so it’s not really that different to just using your laptop charger itself, what I like about it is simply the fact that it gives you a back-up charger option. As someone who has had their laptop charger die an unexpected early death previously (back in my bricks-and-mortar teaching days), and had to bug colleagues to borrow theirs for about a week while my replacement one was ordered and arrived, I definitely feel that having the back-up option of charging off your docking station is handy to have. I also imagine it’d be super handy for people who work in multiple locations, such as splitting work time between the office and home, or travelling a lot for work. I think pretty much everyone has had that super annoying moment of being all set up to work from home for the day and then realizing that you’ve left your laptop charger at the office. Having the option of charging off your home docking station would mean that forgetting your charger at work would no longer be a drama, or you could keep your charger tucked in your travel bag for out of office days so you never forget it, and use your docking station at your base office.
Another feature that I want to highlight for you is that the dock has an Ethernet port, should you wish for/need a wired internet connection. As my long-term readers will know, the fact that slimline laptops don’t have Ethernet ports was actually a big problem for me back in my online ESL teaching days, as the company I worked for required a wired internet connection, and I had to go out and purchase a D-Link Ethernet adapter to achieve this. While the D-Link adapter did the job just fine, it required a USB port (and we all know my USB port angst and issues are well documented above, and at various other points throughout this blog). Having a dock like this when I was online teaching would have been so handy. (And, as a side note for my readers who are here because of their interest in online ESL teaching, even if you end up working for a company that doesn’t specifically require a wired connection, you’re quite possibly going to want/need one anyway, given how woeful peak hour download and upload speeds can be on the NBN in Australia.)
So, my final verdict on the Kensington Nano Dock is a big thumbs-up. Having a charging station, Ethernet connection, and USB ports all rolled into one compact little dock addresses a lot of needs for me, and I’m finding the dock to be useful and user friendly. As a final note, it’s important to mention here that I have only outlined the features that are relevant to me and my work, there are also other ways in which the dock can be used, such as charging other devices, or connecting your laptop to larger monitors, which I haven’t reviewed as they are not features I’m currently using. (There is also the option of obtaining additional accessories to either mount the dock to the back of your desktop computer screen, or secure it to a table leg to deter any would-be thieves, but again (given I’m working from home on a laptop), these aren’t options I currently require. If you’re interested in purchasing one, as I mentioned earlier, I’d definitely recommend you also read some of the more ‘techie’ reviews out there, and of course further research the exact product specifications to make sure it’s suitable for your personal needs.