Surface Pro 2 Docking Station - 1st Impressions

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Accessories' started by Knuck111, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. Knuck111

    Knuck111 New Member

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    I was able to find the docking station at Frys in Seattle. Odd because Microsoft told me they had none in store or in warehouse but Frys just got them in.

    For those unfamiliar with the docking station, it has 1 USB 3.0 port, 3 USB 2.0 ports a mini display port, an Ethernet port and 3.5 mm. outputs for headphones and audio. The DS seems to be well built. The SP2 plugs in easily by pulling the sides apart, placing the SP2 into the DS and then sliding the sides closed, thereby engaging the USB 3.0 port, mini display port and power connection. The process is extremely quick and the connection feels solid.

    Before buying the DS, I plugged the SP2's USB 3.0 port into a USB 3.0 powered hub which was daisy chained to a 2nd USB 3.0 powered hub and the monitor's built-in USB 2.0 hub. 4 USB 3.0 drives, a photo scanner, document scanner, monitor and USB audio device were plugged into the USB 3.0 hubs. A USB keyboard and an external DVD drive were plugged into the monitors built-in USB 2.0 hub. An NEC PA272W monitor at 2056 x 1440 resolution was plugged into the mini display port. I connected to the internet through Wifi getting download speeds of approximately 23 mb/s according to speedtest.net.

    Now I plug one of the USB 3.0 powered hubs into the DS's 3.0 port (where the 4 drives are connected), the other USB 3.0 hub into one of the DS's USB 2 ports (where the keyboard, speakers and DVD are connected) and the two scanners into the remaining USB 2.0 ports. I also take advantage of the LAN port on the DS which results is significantly improved download speeds as noted below.

    I noticed three significant improvements with the DS over my previous desktop configuration:
    1. Hard drive transfer speeds have improved;
    2. Wifi download speeds have improved, 53 mb/s according to speedtest.net vs 23 mb/s previously; and
    3. Consistent on/off response. Previously occasionally the monitor or keyboard wouldn't power on properly. The USB and/or display port cable would have to be cycled. Now everything turns on properly from sleep, hibernation or restart.

    The only issue I discovered was for some reason the DS didn't like my monitor's USB 2.0 hub. When I plugged the monitor's USB 2.0 output into one of the DS's USB 2.0 inputs I was only able to power 5 of the 7 USB devices regardless of configuration. I would receive a USB resource error message. Unplugging the monitor and using the 2nd USB 3.0 hub fixed the problem.

    So far I am very happy with it. IMO the improved performance, cleaner installation and ease of connectivity (not that the previous connectivity was onerous) justifies the $199.00 cost.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014
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  2. DragonGamer

    DragonGamer New Member

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    How the heck can the dock improve WIFI connection speed? o_O
    Are you using an external wlan-dongle?

    Or are you talking about LAN-cable connection? Then don't call it WiFi (wireless fidelity), lol xD
     
  3. Knuck111

    Knuck111 New Member

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    Sorry Dragon. Should have been more clear. Of course the DS can't improve Wifi speeds. I connected the DS through LAN which is included with the DS and is, therefore, an advantage. I will edit the post.
     
  4. MickeyLittle

    MickeyLittle Active Member

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    Nice review Knuck. If I wasn't so sold on getting the Plugable UD-3900 I sure might go this route.
     
  5. Knuck111

    Knuck111 New Member

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    Looks like a great option at a great price. Let us know how it works out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
  6. Garfield

    Garfield New Member

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    I've read several descriptions of the docking station - esp. in the German Microsoft Store.

    Sometime it's described with a LAN port of 10/100 MBit/s and sometimes of 1 GBit/s.

    What connection speed has your docking station? I can't really believe that Microsoft offers a docking station with a slow LAN connection of only 100 MBit/s.

    Kind regards,
    Robert.
     
  7. Knuck111

    Knuck111 New Member

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    Unfortunately its only 100Mbps.

    DS LAN Speed.jpg
     
  8. wseverino

    wseverino Member

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    The LAN speed is the only draw back I see to the docking station. I think MS cheaped out with not going Gigabit.
     
  9. jefhart

    jefhart Member

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    You can do what I do and just use wifi. Not sure what the advantage of using a LAN line is.
     
  10. WoRie

    WoRie New Member

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    I've got one for two weeks now and almost returned it upon reception after discovering the 100mbit connection speed. Even my 15 € USB 3.0 adapter manages 1gbit connections, at a price of 200 € here in Germany I would have expected Gbit. Otherwise, it's a nice gimmick with some flaws:

    - The USB connections are sometimes not correctly returning from sleep, so my Logitech Mouse is stuttering and I have to unplug/plug the receiver.
    - When connecting the external monitor which is full HD everything on the desktop is scaled too large and I have to reboot or reconnect the monitor to fix this.
    - I only manage 43 MB/s down with my gbit adapter connected on a 1gbit network that is well capable of transfer speeds over 115 MB/s otherwise from my server.
    - There is no place to attach the pen to so its still flying around on my desk or bag. Hopefully the SP3 will have a place to put it somewhere.
    - You cannot register it with MS Support, so there are no exchanges through MS directly as with the SP2 itself or the type covers.

    After shelling out 200 € for something made of plastic that is just a glorified port replicator I would have expected something more, especially in terms of gibt connection. If you don't see the advantages of a stable, fast LAN connection you are one of the few that MS targeted when opting for the 100 mbit chip that most likely cost them 0,50 € less than the gBit chip...
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  11. Knuck111

    Knuck111 New Member

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    WoRie, I have not experienced the issues you have. I agree that the LAN transfer rate is not acceptable for a device at this price point. I did not buy the DS for its LAN speed. I only use my LAN connection on this computer for internet access as I am not transferring data over my local network so for me it is not an issue. I guess one could get a USB to Gigabit adapter and plug it into one of the ports if they needed it, albeit at an added cost. As far as the monitor goes I have a 2560 x 1440 monitor plugged not the display port without any scaling issues. The only limitation I have discovered is with USB bandwidth and this is caused by the SP2 only having one USB port. I have alot of devices hooked up with no wakeup issues.
     
  12. MickeyLittle

    MickeyLittle Active Member

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    Knuck, when you first plug in your Surface and turn it on does the Surface screen flicker on and off like it is adjusting to the fact that an extra monitor is hooked up to it? I went ahead and got the Plugable UD-3900 and really like it for the most part except that I do have 2 23'' monitors hooked up to it and every time that I hook the Surface up to the Docking Station and even right after I unhook from the docking station the screen on the Surface does this terrible flicker/roll thing and it makes me wonder about long term effects after this has happened 500-1000 times!
     

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