Thoughts for the next generation dock

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro 3' started by zhenya, Dec 30, 2014.

  1. zhenya

    zhenya Active Member

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    I'm just getting settled in with my docking station here at work, and it occurs to me what I would really like to see in a future docking station (or at least as an option) is a dock that allows me to adjust the Surface to near horizontal to use it as an accessory writing pad when docked to my main monitors. The screen is a little bit too small to serve a lot of use in the upright position when I have two other large monitors right next to it, but if I could angle it down, I'd love to keep OneNote open there for quickly jotting things down.

    Other wishes (since I'm already being greedy)
    - More USB Ports
    - Second mini-displayport
    - A keyed lock to secure the Surface to the dock would likely be appreciated by the Enterprise
     
  2. bluegrass

    bluegrass Well-Known Member

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    I agree on the tilt. That would be a nice option but probably expensive to pull off but I'm sure somebody will come up with a slim buss cable design that will allow the Surface to sit outside of the dock. I would like to see the mini display port go away and be replace by two HDMI ports. I've been installing these docks in the Enterprise where I work with no concern for a lock and key. To me they're a waste. If someone is going to steal the dock or Surface they could whether it was locked or not .
     
  3. hughlle

    hughlle Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't have a requirement for a dock yet, however the time will come, and at present, the main issues i see in the dock is the reliance on the devices mDP port, it starts to contradict the purpose of a dock, convenience. The other would be as you've stated, find a way to make the angle of the dock adjustable. People still want the pen capabilities while docked! Maybe just have a cable that allows the surface to be used on the desk but connected to the dock should the situation arise.

    And @bluegrass I agree, from my experience, there are a lot more situations where HDMI would be more useful than DP
     
  4. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes Well-Known Member

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    DisplayPort 1.2 can be daisy chained. So you only need 1 to drive 4x 1080p monitors.
    So, you don't really need a second one per se, assuming you have decent somewhat new monitors.
     
  5. jnjroach

    jnjroach Administrator Staff Member

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    The current dock will be used for the SP4 so they will be no changes in design until the SP5 era, there as long as Intel has there technology fleshed out we may see HDMI 2.0 for 4K 60Hz support, but currently the best way to get high resolution monitors is through Display Port....and HDMI doesn't support daisy chaining.
     
  6. tuchas

    tuchas Active Member

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    Considering the growth of Surface Pro sales, I'd bet you'll start to see more 3rd party accessories, including a dock that is an improvement over the MS docking station.
     
  7. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes Well-Known Member

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    HDMI port? HDMI is the worst connector ever made:

    -> SUPER high royalty fees on the last versions
    -> Sony used bulling tactics to push it's HDMI connector onto consumers (join us, to get special price, else your TV and devices will cost too much over the competitor, and it won't sell well)
    -> HDMI has piss poor communication system between graphics card and display, resulting in the consumer headaches to get it working. You have to lucky for everything to work in one shot. It is not plug and play. On tech forums, HDMI connectivity issue with monitors is a hot topic, people have problems getting it to work right. And the different version of HDMI between devices due to the royalty fee, doesn't help anything.
    -> Current version of HDMI only support 4K at 30Hz.
    -> HDMI doesn't support daisy chaining
    -> HDMI is limited to 8-bit colors. (although it doesn't really mater as all consumer grade graphics card only outputs maximum 8-bit per channel, but regardless, if 10bit is common, it will come.)
    -> HDMI doesn't have a good error correction system ensuring the best visuals on every frame and accurate colors. DVI has, why those this old standard has it, and not HDMI?
    -> No latch system on the connector

    If I had to organize from best to worst video connectors, it would be:
    VGA < HDMI < DVI < Dual-Link DVI < DisplayPort

    DisplayPort is the way of the future, its free, cable is cheap, easy to manufacture, easy to implement, allows got technologies like G-Sync and FreeSync to be implemented (variable refresh rate that matches the graphics card output, resulting in smoother, more responsive experience, and no visual tearing), supports DockPort standard, works for 8K display support is already on the way, can be implemented in other connectors (Thunderbolt and the coming up USB 3.1 Type C connector), and it always works.

    I wish people would push companies to drop HDMI, and use DisplayPort. No more "Spend 100$ more on this TV for that extra HDMI port" crap. It will be like the good old CRT days where you had jam pack number of connectors on any decent CRT tube TV, all because it cost virtually nothing to implement.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
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  8. zhenya

    zhenya Active Member

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    It seems like the current implementation could very nearly support an adjustable angle because the dock connector is already on the side. Just make the existing setup have adjustment by sliding the bottom forward. Not trivial, but worth paying for IMO. The Surface dock is already cheap compared to what we are used to spending on Thinkpad docks.

    I'm fine with displayport. There are the advantages that GoodBytes lists above, and it has been the standard on business-class laptops for a couple years now anyhow. I really appreciate the ability to daisy chain, but old monitors don't support it, so you have to spend $100 on an extra hub. Many people upgrade monitors slowly and then one at a time, so it will be years before the current inventory is changed out for ones that support daisy-chaining.

    Regarding locking, it's not something I need, but since they have a Kensington lock on the dock, why not have a way to secure the Surface to the dock as well? I can think of many potential uses where we'd like to be able to lock the thing together.
     
  9. jnjroach

    jnjroach Administrator Staff Member

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    The only real blockage to Display Port is HDCP Encryption which costs big bucks and the DP Working Group has refused to include in the costs... this is why HDMI is expensive to implement.

    If DP incorporates HDCP then the cables and ports will be quite comparable to HDMI.
     
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  10. surfdock

    surfdock Active Member

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    Jeff, DP works with older 1.x HDCP protocol. DP 1.3 is also supposed to be compatible with HDMI 2.0 and the new HDCP 2.2 protocol as well.

    HDCP 2.2 is only relevant for 4K content; it is unlikely that any new restrictions will be put in place on HD (720p/180p) content than what is already in place today so there really isn't any blocking issue for DisplayPort.


    BTW here are the costs to license HDMI: http://www.hdmi.org/manufacturer/terms.aspx
    - annual fee $10,000
    - $0.15 per unit (discounted to $0.05 if using HDMI logo per guidelines, and $0.04 if also implementing HDCP)

    And HDCP requires separate license payments to Intel Corporation: http://www.digital-cp.com/licensing
    - annual fee $15,000
    - $0.10 per unit for key sets (discounted to $0.005 per unit if purchasing 1,000,000 key sets)

    Clearly this scheme can keep smaller players out of the market.


    DisplayPort, on the other hand charges no per-unit fees and just charges for membership fees based on actual corporate revenue: http://www.vesa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/memapp-2015.pdf
    - up to $5,000,000 - $3500 fee
    - up to 50,000,000 - $5000 fee
    - $50,000,000+ - $8000 fee

    Developers that don't want to become members may also purchase individual specification documents for a few hundred dollars.


    All of the these fees pale in comparison to the development, testing, and certification costs associated with bringing a product to market though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
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  11. malberttoo

    malberttoo Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with you completely. If someone does the research, they'll discover that DisplayPort is by far the superior protocol. As you said, it has no licensing or royalty costs, and supports vastly higher resolutions than HDMI.
     
  12. markusbeutel

    markusbeutel Member

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    What would be nice, is that if the new dock was actually a quality keyboard that had all the bells and whistles of the current dock. Can keep selling the mediocre typecovers that way, while offering less clutter and more functionality in a legitimate, laptop keyboard typing experience.
     

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