Modern laptops are great, in principle. Not only do you have a ton of options to get a device that does everything you need, but you get the added benefit of having a portable workstation. That being said, working on a laptop all the time isn’t exactly the most comfortable way to get things done. Fortunately, most modern laptops can easily be used like a desktop PC with just a few components.
Forget about what you need to invest in to make a laptop a dockable device, let’s talk about some of the benefits you can gain.
Sure, you can just plug any USB keyboard or USB mouse into your laptop, or pair a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and get to work with no problem. When I travel, I always carry a little Bluetooth travel mouse (I really like the Microsoft Surface Arc mouse, especially the way it folds and fits in my laptop bag, but you should find something that you are comfortable using). When traveling, I don’t tend to connect a keyboard to my laptop, because that just seems silly when on the road, but I also base a little bit of my laptop buying decision on the quality of the keyboard on the laptop itself.
Still, a decent ergonomic keyboard is always going to feel better on the wrists and digits than even the best laptop keyboard, so for long-term, all-day use cases, it makes a big difference when you can get something more comfortable.
You can get huge 17-inch laptops with gorgeous 4k screens, but you are still forced to hunch down a little to see it. Plus, you are more or less confined to the one screen, unless you carry around a portable monitor.
If you’ve already got a decent set of monitors at your desk, there’s no reason you shouldn’t make use of them with your laptop. Having a second monitor has proven to increase productivity and it makes it much easier to keep the important stuff in focus without burying the work you have to keep an eye on.
I know, an IT guru is the last person you’d expect to give you fitness and health advice, but this is definitely important. If you can’t get comfortable while you work, you are likely doing harm to yourself. Hunching over, squinting, or awkwardly positioning your wrists and elbows will eventually catch up to you. It’s fine when it comes to taking some notes in a meeting or sending a few emails at the coffee shop, but when it comes to sitting at a computer for hours and hours several days a week, you owe it to yourself to put forth an effort to make yourself comfortable.
If you upgrade your laptop, you can easily drop the new laptop into the mix and it should still work just fine with the same keyboard, mouse, and monitors. Modern laptops are getting more and more capable, so the future of desktop docks is looking very good.
Plus, let’s say you have a home office and use your work laptop—if you have a personal laptop, or get a new desktop, mini PC, or even a device like the Steam Deck, you can usually dock it into the same configuration and utilize all those comfortable peripherals without disconnecting and reconnecting much.
You are going to need one basic device to get this done, and that’s going to be a USB-C Hub.
These come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes with different capabilities, and they can be as cheap as $15 and as expensive as several hundred dollars. If you splurge and get the most capable device out there, it will likely be overkill, although you’ll probably be able to throw virtually anything at it.
That being said, most of the time, the price difference changes based on how much stuff you are plugging into the hub. If you are connecting two monitors to your laptop, for instance, you’ll want to make sure the hub supports that many monitors, and that it outputs at a resolution that your laptop is capable of and your monitors are native to. Generally, most monitors are natively 1080, or Full HD. Most laptops should have no problem pushing out a signal through the hub for that, so you should be golden. If you want to use 2k resolution (QHD) or 4k resolution (UHD) monitors, then you’ll need to make sure your laptop can handle that kind of output, and that your USB-C Hub can do the same. You can also downscale—for instance, most 2k monitors should be able to display a Full HD signal just fine, but don’t splurge on $900 4k monitors if you aren’t going to connect them to an ultrabook that can’t do them justice.
Beyond that, you can simply plug your keyboard, mouse, webcam, microphone or headset, and any other peripherals into the USB-C hub, connect the USB-C hub to power, and plug your laptop in. Some USB-C hubs will also slowly charge the laptop, but that depends on your laptop and the hub. Some hubs will let you connect more than one computer or laptop, but it’s generally easy to just swap the single cable out when you want to dock a different device or laptop.
If you need help, definitely give us a call at (509) 534-1530 and we can help you sort through the options.
If your business offers remote or hybrid, supplying your staff with laptops and docking stations can make a huge difference in productivity. It gives you control over the devices and the data, but gives your workers the ability to be comfortable without sacrificing mobility. Plus, if your business wants to explore hot desking or hotelling, where you have a handful of seats in-house for your remote workforce to come in and work, letting them drop in their device makes everything all that much easier.
Want to discuss this, or other ways we can help streamline your workforce and make your office a more productive environment? Give us a call at (509) 534-1530.