The entire purpose of notebook docking stations is to save you space by eliminating clutter, but some companies are taking this concept to the next level by incorporating wireless technology into their docks. One such product, the Warpia Easy Dock ($149), promises to connect your notebook wirelessly to various peripherals--including an external monitor--from anywhere in the room, thus allowing you to pick up your notebook and go without having to worry about disconnecting various gadgets. And when you return, there's a larger and more comprehensive workspace waiting for you. Is this convenience worth the premium?
The glossy Easy Dock utilizes a fairly simple design. One USB dongle plugs into your notebook, and another into the docking base. At just 3.9 x 3 x 1 inches, this base is approximately half the size of such docking solutions as the $79.99 Toshiba Dynadock V. The power adapter also plugs into the back of the base, which can sit on a desk or be mounted on a vertical surface, such as the rear side of an external monitor. The two USB 2.0 ports, DVI connection (a DVI-to VGA adapter is included), and 3.5mm headphone output are all found on the rear of the docking base. We appreciate the minimalist design, but a couple more USB ports would increase the dock's functionality.
Setup and Performance
Setting up the Easy Dock is a cinch. After popping the installation CD into our HP Pavilion dv5t, the necessary drivers installed within 5 minutes. We then plugged in the PC and device adapter dongles to our notebook and the Easy Dock, respectively. Next, to emulate the setup depicted on the Easy Dock's packaging, we connected a wired mouse, keyboard, external speakers, and a 17-inch, 1280 x 1024-pixel display (resolutions up to 1440 x 900 are supported) to the docking base, which was plugged into a nearby outlet. Each device was recognized by our dv5t in about 20 seconds. By default the Easy Dock will treat external monitors as extended desktops, but it's easy to change your notebook's settings so that it mirrors the desktop to external displays.
Once everything was properly set up, we moved our notebook approximately 5 to 7 feet away from the Easy Dock docking base. There was zero latency when using the external mouse and monitor; audio was clear and stutter-free on the external speakers when we streamed a Hulu video over the web. The only issue we had with the Easy Dock was its wireless range. While Warpia claims the receivers will function up to 30 feet away from each other, the signal between our Pavilion dv5t and the docking base conked out at about 15 feet, causing our external monitor to go blank. This may limit its functionality to a small degree, we don't think it's a deal-breaker.
Docking stations come in all shapes and sizes, but the Warpia Easy Dock is uniquely compelling. Although its $149 price tag is a little high, we like that you can stream the contents of your laptop to a larger screen and more comfortable peripherals of your choice from up to about 15 feet away. On the other hand, it's not much less convenient to plug in a single USB cable to your notebook as with the Toshiba Dynadock V, which is $30 cheaper and has even more ports for other notebook accessories. Nevertheless, if wireless is your thing, the Easy Dock is a viable option.