Whether you're using a netbook or a notebook, it's only a matter of time before you run out of ports for your many peripherals, such as wireless mice, external speakers, USB flash drives, and even USB-powered toy rocket launchers. In addition, utilizing all of your system's ports can get messy fast; what you need is a docking solution. The Kensington Universal Docking Station with Ethernet sd120 can help you manage the clutter, and at $59.99, it's cheaper than other notebook docks on the market.
Design and Features
At 6.6 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches and 1.6 pounds, the matte black sd120 is portable and easy to tuck into the corner of a desk; it resembles a small, upright wireless router. On the front of this miniature tower you'll find headphone and mic ports, as well as an Always-On USB 2.0 port that can power devices even if your notebook is shut down. The back of the sd120 houses four more USB ports, as well as Ethernet, a speaker jack, input for the power adapter, and a port for connecting the dock to your laptop via USB cable (included). There's also a Kensington lock slot on the side for securing your investment to a desk or table, and the rubber feet on the bottom keep it from sliding around too much. Unlike the $79.99 Toshiba Dynadock V, however, the sd120 lacks a DVI video port for connecting to external displays.
Setup and Performance
Getting the sd120 to work with our HP Pavilion dv5t was a breeze. After popping in the installation CD, which set up the necessary drivers (something not required with the Apricorn Aegis Netdock), we were up and running within 2 minutes. Netbook (and ultraportable notebook) owners, not to worry: to set up the sd120 dock for the first time, you'll need an external optical drive for the included CD, or you can download drivers from Kensington's site.
Upon connecting the sd120 to our notebook, we then attached a wireless mouse, USB flash drive, and external speaker to the dock; each peripheral was recognized by the notebook immediately. The sd120 is also hot-pluggable, meaning you can connect to the dock and swap out devices without shutting your computer down. Leaving everything connected, we turned off our laptop and plugged in our LG enV3 to the front Always-On port via its USB charging cable. Sure enough, our cell phone continued to charge.
The Kensington Universal Docking Station with Ethernet sd120 is a decent option for those looking to minimize the clutter their many peripherals can cause. The Always-On USB port is also handy for charging gadgets. Overall, the sd120 is an affordable and useful accessory, but we prefer the Toshiba Dynadock V because it adds a VGA/DVI port for only $20 more.