Ports, Portability and Charging — Problems Solved

Isn’t the whole point of a Chromebook that you can take your work anywhere — including all the peripherals you rely on? That’s where docking stations for Chromebooks come in.

No outlets? No problem.  Short on USB ports? A docking station has you covered. Whether you’re using your Chromebook for education, business or personal use, chances are you’ll need to connect something to it at some point.   And with thumb drives, webcam set-ups, SD cards, your mouse, a keyboard and dual monitor set-ups — you’re going to run out of USB ports, guaranteed.

Here’s a run-down of what works, and how:

Types of Docking Stations for Chromebook

  1. Replicators – These allow you to focus purely on adding extra ports to your Chromebook and are a slimline version if you only want an extra port for your mouse or external hard drive.
  2. Desk Docks – These are usually all-inclusive options that provide everything you need and allow you to physically “dock” your Chromebook for charging.
  3. Portable Stations – These are more mobile and are travel friendly, offering a slimline alternative but with a few restrictive features.

Let’s look at three types of docking stations to complement your Chromebook as well as some things to consider before buying.

1. Wavlink USB 3.1 Universal Docking Station

The “Wavlink USB 3.1 Type C Display Universal Docking Station” with power delivery is a popular docking station for Chromebooks. It has 4K video support as well as an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports and a USB-C downstream port. It also offers high-speed connectivity that allows you to transfer data up to 10Gbps and a Gigabit Ethernet port providing up to 1000Mbps network speeds.

For business use, this docking station comes with a power port that is compatible with the Chromebook Pixel, meaning you can sync and charge your laptop at once, getting more done in less time.  It’s an easily portable model with a shockproof pad and aluminum foldable cover making it sturdy and long-lasting.

Compatibility: Your device should have a USB C Gen2 port and be VEST ALT Mode compatible. Always check your specific model before ordering.

2. Plugable UD-CA1 USB-C Docking Station

The “Plugable UD-CA1 is a universal USB 3.1 Type-C docking station” and also comes with delivery options and a 4K capable HDMI display output. It boasts audio input/output, ethernet port and 5 USB ports to easily cover your peripherals or other devices, and it allows you to charge at the same time, maintaining battery life.

Compatibility: You need to have a standard USD-IF for charging, and video output requires “VESA DisplayPort Alternate mode over Type-C” (“Alt mode”). Note, the Chromebook Pixel 2015 is not compatible with this dock. Always check your specific model before ordering.

3. Plugable UD-ULTCDL USB-C Triple Display Docking Station

Plugable UD-ULTCDL USB-C Triple Display Docking Station
Another Plugable entry is their flagship “Triple Display Docking Station,” intended for power users. When attached to a system that is compatible, it has the following features: 2 HMDI slots (including one with 4K capabilities), DVI/VGA output, USB-C port with Power Delivery functionality, USB-C port on the front (no power delivery on this one), 4x USB 3.0 (Type-A) ports and headphone and microphone jacks. It also has a Gigabit ethernet slot and thanks to the Alt Mode Connection, the docking station can use the host GPU, so the connected monitor will have the same performance as if it were attached to the Chromebook directly.

Compatibility: To use the HDMI function, ensure that your Chromebook supports “Alt Mode” and always check your specific model before ordering.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Docking Station for the Chromebook

Investing in technology can be scary, but here are some of the things to consider before you do:

  • First and foremost, compatibility. None of the other functions matter if they aren’t compatible with your Chromebook!
  • Your usage. Are you looking to plug a device in, use a different or dual screen or play games? What you are going to use your Chromebook for heavily influences the type you should buy. For example, looking at screen output you want to consider a 4K HMDI port on the station so that you can get clear quality.
  • Nearby outlets. If you are someone who travels a lot, you’ll need to make sure you purchase a docking station with power charging built in. Otherwise, the extra drain of devices on your Chromebook is going to suck the battery life unnecessarily.

Docking stations are a viable way to turn your Chromebook into a desktop — getting the best of both worlds with a system you love.