How much can you connect in a single click? About everything - if you have HP's clever Thunderbolt docking station.
In the past, I always thought of a docking station as a large sleigh that I could slide my mobile workstation into. Maybe it was tailored to my particular workstation model. Convenient and functional, but over-sized and useful only for this one system. Or I would just use a basic dongle that plugged into my workstation and connected me to an office monitor and some storage - maybe to the network, too.
HP's Thunderbolt Dock G2 changed my mind. While it is small and compact, it is feature-rich. It's simple to use - just one click of the cable to my Thunderbolt port. Then it's off to the races.
Small, with plenty of features and functionality
The first impression: the Thunderbolt Dock is smooth and compact. It's cube shape is soften with curved, rounded corners.
Simply connect using one Thunderbolt connection or USB-C port on you mobile workstation. It could be any workstation, any brand.
Once you connect, you have power-charging, access to two desktop monitors (DisplayPort), wired networking (RJ-45), three additional USB ports. One of the ports is USB-C and two of them are USB 3.0. There is a one additional Thunderbolt port, audio-out, and a Kensington security slot.
Smooth, rounded, and well-connected. The HP Thunderbolt Dock is intelligent, too.
The Thunderbolt Dock supports an optional audio module (image: HP)
The dock has integrated networking features. These include wake-on LAN, PXE boot, and MAC address pass-through. The networking features are supported in all power modes.
The dual display support is via displayPort connectors. This allows you to connect instantly to two external 4K monitors. It also has a VGA port for compatibility.
The Thunderbolt Dock supports multiple operating systems This includes Windows 7, Windows 10, Chrome, and MacOS.
The Dock supports power up to 200W.
The test unit did not include it, but the Thunderbolt Dock has an optional audio module. The purpose is to provide one-click conferencing support.
The audio module has a Bang & Olufson echo-cancelling speakerphone which is designed to function well in a small conference room or office. The second sound option is the integrated audio jack in the base unit.
The audio module attaches seamlessly to the top of the Dock. It has a full set of LEDs to indicate different states for calls and audio. HP supports Skype for Business with the audio module.
It is an HP product, so of course, the dock supports high levels of security. The user has the option to set various security levels as needed or desired.
You can find the HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 including the audio module at a cost of 200€ in Europe and around $250 in the USA.
A Final Perspective
The HP Thunderbolt Dock connects to your mobile workstation with a single cable. One connection gives you dual 4K displays, LAN connectivity, Fast Thunderbolt and USB ports. and a simple teleconferencing system. And while it is an HP product, it supports multiple operating systems and gives you the flexibility to use it with workstations from other vendors - unlike a custom, proprietary docking solution.
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