Review: Bookendz Docking Station for 13" MacBook

No more jiggling cords and ports with the BookEndz. (March 20th, 2008)

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Product Manufacturer: BookEndz Inc.

Price: $159.00 US

The Good

  • Powered usb 2.0 hub. DVI and VGA ports. Good port layout. Easy to dock and undock. Available in black and white.

The Bad

  • Hard to get headphone in and out. No FireWire hub. Lacks composite and S-video. Ports not mounted behind plastic.

The notion of a dock makes good sense if you have some accessories and devices that you leave at a desk consistently. A dock provides you with one place in which to plug your laptop and all your peripherals. This alleviates clutter and the multiple cord wrestle each time you use the portable as a desktop machine. For example, I have a DVI equipped monitor and a series of USB devices that I only use at my desk. It makes sense to leave these connected to a Bookendz Docking Station and connect your laptop to one large dock, rather than numerous cables.

The Fitted Dock

The Bookendz Docking Station replicates all the ports on your MacBook and adds a hub for the USB devices, which gives you five USB 2.0 ports. The hub has its own power supply to add power to the extra USB ports and a green LED on the top of the dock indicates the power is working properly. You do not have to use the power supply, if your peripherals do not require power.

To use the Bookendz Docking Station you must power down your MacBook, plug in your peripherals and slide the MacBook into the ports. Each of the nine ports fit perfectly into the docking station. To remove the MacBook, simply shut it down, close the lid (to prevent any display disasters), and pull the MacBook away from the dock

 BookEndz screen


MacBook BookEndz Docking Station Close Up


The dock has a cut out area next to the Ethernet port that allows the Apple MagSafe power adapter to connect to the computer. The dock does not replicate the MagSafe, but requires the use of your own power adapter.

It has a sliding connector for the headphone output connector, so that you can use the internal speakers if you haven't got external speakers connected to the dock. This is a nice touch, except that the slider was very stiff and difficult to move the connector properly.

No FireWire Hub

One downside is, if you have multiple FireWire devices, such as hard drive, scanner, and video camera, the dock has only one FireWire port, just like the MacBook itself. There is no FireWire hub, just an USB hub. This isn't an unreasonable design choice, but I do prefer FireWire for the many benefits it provides.

Convenient

The Bookendz Docking Station is a great example of a product that does almost everything you want it to do. It has the full complement of ports, including full-size DVI and VGA video connectors. It lacks composite and S-video ports though. While I like the product and the convenience it provides, it does have some minor cosmetic problems.

Minor Cosmetic Issues

It has a full range of ports, but they're mounted flush with the face of the plastic, showing ugly little tangs that are supposed to touch metal on the inside of a metal case to provide a ground, like you might see on the back plate of a desktop PC. The ports ought to have been recessed 2mm back, so that the plastic covers these metal bits, as Apple has done on the MacBook laptop. At a distance, the MacBook Bookendz Docking Station is a beautiful and functional resident on my work desk. Up close, there are details that I hope BookEndz engineers will refine.

Available for most Mac Portables

This Bookendz Docking Station is made for specifically for the MacBook, and it was supplied to MacNN for review by Dr. Bott LLC, but Bookendz makes docking stations for most of the Apple laptops. Each Docking Station must be used with the correct laptop. The docking stations for PowerBooks made before 2003 are presently on sale.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Victor Marks


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