Ports: 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen1, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x VGA Full HD, 1 x RJ45 Ethernet
Supports: Devices running Windows, macOS, ChromeOS, iPadOS or Android
From docking stations to USB-C hubs, these portable accessories have one goal in mind: versatility. If a dock can add enough ports to transform your laptop into a desktop replacement, it’s doing a great job, but if it can also provide support for tablets and smartphones, it’s doing something more.
The Kensington SD1650P USB-C Single 4K Portable Docking Station is the “something more” owners of multiple devices should be interested in. Not only does the hybrid dock charge your Windows laptop with impressive 100W pass-through power while adding several ports, but it can also do the same for a Chromebook, MacBook, iPad, Android tablet and even smartphone. If it supports USB-C connectivity, Kensington’s dock will, more likely than not, work like a charm.
Despite its excellent versatility, power, and ability to support 4K monitors and projectors, this portable docking station only adds two USB-A ports and an Ethernet port at the end of the day. This seems limited for a compact hub with a $109.99 price tag slapped on it, especially when there are 7-in-1 USB-C hubs on the market priced well below $40. For some, the few extra ports, speedy charging and platform adaptability are all they need. But is it worth your hard-earned cash? Read on to find out.
Kensington SD1650P USB-C Single 4K Portable Docking Station price and configurations
The Kensington SD1650P Portable Docking Station is a hefty purchase by any means, priced at $109.99 on Kensington’s listing page and at multiple retailers (opens in new tab). This can be seen as a hard sell since one of the best USB-C hubs, the Plugable USB-C 7-in-1 Hub, offers the same portability, 4K HDMI support, pass-through power, and variety of ports for around $30.
With that said, consider the variety of platforms this Kensington is compatible with. As you’ll read, I tested Kensington’s portable dock on a laptop, iPad Air (2020), an Android tablet (Xiaomi Pad 5), and an Android smartphone, and they were all connected with the hub. The ability to charge other devices, use PC peripherals on them, and connect them to an external monitor on the fly, makes this portable docking station valuable to those with multiple gadgets. Still, it would be nice to see an SD card reader thrown in at a price over $100.
Kensington SD1650P USB-C Single 4K Portable Docking Station design
Kensington keeps its SD1650P Portable Docking Station lightweight and travel-friendly, all while adding a touch of finesse. However, it does leave enough space to wonder where an extra port would have fit.
The portable dock is made of black ABS plastic, with a thin layer of grey fabric on the top — something of a signature design touch from Kensington. Much like the Kensington StudioDock iPad docking station, it adds a subtle visual appeal to a device that would otherwise be an afterthought in your workspace.
Port placement is always important in a docking station, and Kensington’s portable hybrid dock delivers. Despite its limited ports, it places the more permanent connections on the rear of the device, such as the HDMI output, VGA port, and Ethernet, while leaving temporary connections for USB-A and USB-C-supported peripherals and devices up front so users can easily swap them out. Plus, the dock itself is lightweight enough to manoeuvre around your workspace to reach cables that have already stretched to their limits.
Speaking of manoeuvrability, the SD1650P Portable Docking Station can easily slip into any laptop backpack and bag. The attached 11-inch USB-C cable to plug into USB-C devices has a handy storage clip to tuck the cable away so it isn’t left dangling around.
Coming in at 2.8 ounces (80 grams) with dimensions of 5.0 x 2.1 x 0.6 inches (127 x 54 x 16 millimeters), Kensington’s portable dock isn’t far off Plugable’s 7-in-1 USB-C Hub (2.4 ounces, 9.5 x 1.9 x 0.5 inches). It’s slightly heavier yet smaller, but not by much. It appears Plugable has a better idea of managing its space on hubs.
Kensington SD1650P USB-C Single 4K Portable Docking Station ports
On the front, you’ll find two USB-A 3.2 Gen1 ports and one USB-C 3.2 Gen1, with the latter mainly being used to deliver 100W pass-through power to a connected device. This means the USB-C port will rarely be used for anything other than connecting to and charging your device, so it would have been nice to see an extra one for other connections. At least the USB-A port duo offers 5Gbps transfer speeds.
Along the rear, there’s an HDMI 2.0 output, one VGA Full HD port and one RJ45 Ethernet port. The first two are superb for connecting external displays, especially if you sport a 4K monitor. The HDMI output offers 4K resolution at 30Hz, while the VGA brings 1080p at 60Hz. A DisplayPort would offer users more choice, but having VGA means those with a projector can use the portable dock as a convenient medium to project their device’s screen.
Kensington SD1650P USB-C Single 4K Portable Docking Station performance
The SD1650P Portable Docking Station’s biggest selling point is its compatibility with multiple systems, and it works like a charm.
The portable dock works on Windows 7 or above, macOS 10.13 or above, Chrome OS 44 or above, iPadOS 13.4 or above, and Android 9 or later. If it has a USB-C port, this dock will more than likely give it a boost in ports and power. When I first tested the portable dock on my Dell Latitude 5410, however, it could only charge the device and extend the laptop’s screen to an external monitor. Kensington does state that a host device must support Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alt mode over USB-C, which this Latitude laptop doesn’t.
When I tested it on an Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (2021) and a Lenovo ThinkPad, the portable dock worked efficiently. I then connected my wireless Razer Naga Pro mouse and Corsair K65 RGB Mini keyboard and both worked seamlessly, all while the laptops were charging and connected to an external monitor. I noticed that having no SD card reader in sight is a missed opportunity, especially for creative professionals who need to transfer videos of images.
So Windows laptops work, but what about tablets? I connected the portable dock to my iPad Air (2020) and Xiaomi Pad 5, and used a mouse and keyboard on the tablets thanks to the dual USB-A ports. I could also connect them to external monitors via HDMI, all while the device was charging.
This is incredibly handy for those who need to get work done on a tablet while travelling, and even better if they need to transfer files via USB-A storage devices. It was even charged my Vivo V19 Android smartphone, and would work even better with a Samsung smartphone, like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, seeing as it supports Samsung DeX. It’s important to note that the portable dock can only support a single monitor, as you can only use one video port at a time; this is hardly an issue for MacBook users.
The SD1650P Portable Docking Station’s compatibility is hard to beat, and since it can work off a devices’ power supply without needing a power adapter (you’ll lose the 100W power pass through), the device is a fantastic choice for travelling professionals. The ability to immediately give virtually all your devices extra ports, video output options, and a power supply using one USB-C port makes this hybrid portable dock one of the best USB-C hubs on the market, especially for MacBook users.
It’s a shame the price and limited selection of ports lets the SD1650P Portable Docking Station down, especially when other hubs are significantly more affordable. For those in need of a highly-versatile device, the dock is worth your hard-earned cash, especially with its 100W pass-through power, which rivals even pricier docking stations. Still, if you require dual monitor support and many more ports that support Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, check out our list of best docking stations for other options.