A docking station is a device that is usually hooked up to a laptop or notebook computer so as to provide expandability for just about any types of computer peripherals such as larger monitors, keyboards, a mouse, printers or speakers. Docking stations are mostly proprietary. This essentially means that your brand and model of laptop may only be compatible for use with a specific type of manufacturer recommended docking station. However, there are generic kinds of docking stations that are mostly equipped with USB ports so they can be connected to any laptop or desktop PC so long as it has the said type of port. Docking stations can be powered through the laptop or desktop PC it is hooked up to. Some docking stations, on the other hand, have stand alone power sources such as rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
Most consumers mistake a docking station for a port replicator. While they may serve the same purpose for the user, there is a very huge difference between the two devices. A docking station is one that can be installed with supplementary interface cards and additional memory cards. A port replicator, on the other hand, does not have this feature and only provides additional ports for any computer peripheral the user may wish to hook up to his machine. This being said, a docking station is definitely bigger in size compared to a port replicator.
A docking station is very useful, especially if you are the type who is constantly on the go and requires lugging around a laptop all day. Laptops have very limited ports and so limit the number of peripheral devices that can be connected to them. With a docking station, you can come home and link your laptop to a wider image display screen or maybe a more comfortable and bigger generic keyboard. So if you are a video game nut who constantly wants that large gaming screen and surround sound speaker experience, then a docking station may just be the answer to your needs. And what's best, since a docking station can be installed with additional memory sticks, it can also serve as a sort of external hard disk for you.
However, there are some downsides to using a docking station. The very first and most noticeable would be its price. Computer savvy people find docking stations a complete waste of money as the laptop can be readily hooked up to a network and thus be able to share a lot of devices such as printers that are configured within it. Secondly, most operating systems are unable to readily detect if a machine is hooked up to a docking station. This is why it is very important that laptop docking settings are laid out to avoid this issue.
It is worth browsing through the Internet to gain more knowledge about the advantages and disadvantages of using a docking station. This way, you avoid unnecessarily spending money on something that might not be really relevant to your computing needs.