Targus Dock410 review

The latest laptops may have the best ever performance, screen quality and battery life, but they tend to be a little thin on ports and connections. It’s one thing to ditch the DVD drive, but quite another to remove the Ethernet socket. Some laptops, such as the new 13in MacBook Pro have only two ports, the new USB-C type. This is where docking stations come in, and here’s our Targus Dock410 review.

The Dock410 is a universal USB-C docking station which is designed to be used with the new generation of laptops that have USB-C ports (sometimes called Thunderbolt 3). Since the connection to the laptop must be with a USB-C cable, the Dock410 can’t be used with older laptops that don’t have USB-C.

It isn’t aimed specifically at fixed- or hot-desks: it's equally at home on both types. See also: how to connect a laptop to a TV

Targus Dock410 review: Price

The Dock410 costs $199.99 from Targus. To buy it in the UK now, call Targus on 020 7744 0330. The current price is £249.99. You'll find the details of the 410 on Targus' UK website, but you can't buy it through the site.

Targus Dock410 review: Features and design

Unlike other models, the Dock410 is much narrower which means it takes up less desk space. It has raised rubber strips to hold your laptop in place, should you want to rest the back of it on the dock to create a more comfortable typing angle.

It has the following ports for connecting all your desktop peripherals, such as a keyboard, mouse, printer, Ethernet cable, monitors and more:

  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 DisplayPort outputs
  • 1 DVI-D output
  • 1 HDMI output
  • 3 USB 3.0 ports (1 is powered for fast charging)
  • 1 minijack audio input/output

 Targus Dock410 review

It measures 214 x 167 x 102 mm (WDH) which is roughly half the size of many docks. On the left is a headset minijack connector, which supports headphones with a built-in mic (or just plain stereo headphones), and a Kensington lock slot to help protect the dock from being stolen.

On the right is a USB-C port and a standard USB 3.0 port for connecting peripherals.

Targus Dock410 review

Around the back is the USB-C port you’ll use to connect the Dock410 to your laptop, and this will also provide power alongside data to charge it – it uses the latest USB-C power delivery standard, supplying up to 60W.

We tried it with an HP Elite X2 tablet and a brand new 15in MacBook Pro and both devices were powered with no problems.

There are a further two USB 3.0 ports here, plus Ethernet and the display outputs. The Dock410 supports two monitors up to 4K, but you’ll probably want to use the DisplayPort outputs for these to ensure a 60Hz refresh rate.

In any case, you can only choose one port on each side, either DisplayPort or HDMI on the left; either DisplayPort or DVI-D on the right.

What you need to know about USB-C

USB-C connectors are reversible, which means the orientation of the cable doesn’t matter: you can plug it in either way up. Using adaptors, you can also convert USB-C to previous USB versions.

This is handy, but it’s a shame that not all USB-C ports are created equal. Although the physical connectors are the same on all laptops and tablets, they don’t necessarily support the same technologies.

For example, some only support USB 2.0 speeds, while others use USB 3.1 (5Gb/s) or the latest USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard (10Gb/s).

USB-C can also be a video output, like an HDMI or DisplayPort connector. But again, not all laptops are created equal in this respect. For example, in order to drive two external displays, a USB-C laptop must have a graphics card which supports MST (Multi-Stream Transport mode). If not, you’ll be limited to running just one external monitor.

Also, if you’re planning on using a dock with a Mac then note that dual external displays are not supported by macOS.

Right now, it’s very early days for MST and running DisplayPort over USB-C, and Targus is keen to point out that the user experience when trying to run dual displays can vary wildly depending on the laptop you use.

Obviously we were limited to running a single external display on our 15in MacBook Pro, and while we did get two displays working on the HP Elite X2, it was a process of trial and error, first attempting to enable the screens through the usual Windows 10 options, and resorting to using the Intel control panel when that didn’t work properly.

Targus suggests considering using just one external display with the Dock410 – not because of limitations with the hardware itself, but because of the variable experience you get with different USB-C laptops and tablets.

OUR VERDICT

The Dock410 is a compact docking station which will add all the ports and connections that are missing from many of today’s laptops. It’s exclusively for laptops with USB-C ports, and will charge them as well as providing video, audio and data over a single USB-C cable. It’s best to stick to a single external monitor, though, as you may run into issues driving two (and macOS is limited to a single external display anyway).