Powers most laptops; Strong performance; A ton of ports; Elevates notebook display
Expensive; Four of six USB ports are USB 2.0 only; Doesn't power Macs, some newer Lenovos
The Targus ACP71USZ Dual Video Docking Station not only gives you extra ports, but it can also power your notebook.
Your laptop may provide as much performance as a desktop, but it still leaves you staring at a single 15-inch screen. Even worse, many laptops can only output to one external display using their built-in video-out ports. Fortunately, a docking station featuring DisplayLink's USB video technology allows you to connect your notebook to two high-res displays and a slew of additional ports with just one wire. At $219, the Targus ACP71USZ is larger and more expensive than competitors such as the ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock, but provides built-in charging and the ability to elevate your laptop.
Design and Connections
Another reason for the ACP71USZ's large chassis is that it doubles as a storage chest for power plugs. Pull up on the front lip and the top of the dock folds back to reveal a hidden stash of power tips you can use to connect a laptop to the charging outlet on the dock. The eight included tips work with a variety of notebooks from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, MSI, Fujitsu and LG.ThinkPad X1 Carbon and IdeaPad Yoga, which both use a flat power plug.
The left side contains one more USB 2.0 port along with separate 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks. We appreciated having separate audio in/out jacks, because it allowed us to use a headset with separate plugs for each function. By comparison, the Lenovo ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock only offers a single, combined 3.5mm connector that wouldn't allow us to both record and listen to audio on our pair of headphones, which has discrete jacks for each function.
Not counting the upstream USB 3.0 port that attaches to the notebook, the Targus ACP71USZ has six USB ports, only two of which are USB 3.0 compatible. The USB 2.0 port on the left side and one of the USB 2.0 ports on the back supply charging power even when your computer is disconnected. All of the Lenovo ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock's ports are USB 3.0, but most users probably don't have more than a one or two USB 3.0 peripherals anyway.
Since our test monitors, like many desktop displays, support DVI but not HDMI, we had to use the included HDMI-to-DVI adapter to connect one of our screens. However, users who have TVs and other HDMI-capable screens will appreciate having that connection. Users with VGA-only monitors or projectors can connect with the included DVI-to-VGA adapter.
The dock comes with an install CD-ROM, but to get the latest version of the software, we headed to the support page on targus.com; you could also download the software directly from DisplayLink. Though Targus does not support Apple computers directly, you can use the dock with a MacBook if you download the alpha-level drivers from DisplayLink's site.
Selecting the first Targus dock entry gave us the option to activate one of the screens as a second desktop, change its resolution or set it as the main monitor. The second Targus dock offered all the same options but the second monitor instead. Most of these menu options are also available and easier to find in the Windows screen resolution panel.
The performance was so good that we were able to play two 1080p movie trailers at full screen simultaneously without either one slowing down. We were also able to play a single 4K video in a window that stretched across both screens and a 2560p video both at full screen and in a window.
We were also able to play a high-frame-rate, 1080p trailer for "The Hobbit" at 48 fps. However, we when tried to play a second video at the same time at any of the higher-than-HD or high-frame rate clips, both players slowed down.
Even though the Targus APC71USZ is made for USB 3.0-capable notebooks, it worked with an older notebook that had USB 2.0 only. With the dock hooked up to the a ThinkPad X301, which has a 2008-era 1.4-GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, we were still able to play two HD videos at the same time. However, the notebook just didn't have the power to play any of the higher-than-HD videos we tried.
On both test notebooks, audio quality coming out of the headphone jack was excellent, even when we had multiple clips running at once. Audio clips we recorded using the microphone on our headset and Windows sound recorder were completely clear.
|Accessories Type||Laptop Accessories|
|Size||16.75 x 6.69 x 3.15|