Enhance your mobile computing repertoire with a multifunctional docking station

Even though I love my MacBook Pro, I often struggle with the lack of ports; the four Thunderbolt 3 ports and single 3.5mm output port do not seem to support all of my needs.  For example, I often need USB-A ports for jump drives or for external peripherals.  As another example, I have wanted to utilize an external monitor but did not have the USB-C Multimedia adapter.  For yet another example, I have needed to connect via ethernet and did not have a USB-C to Ethernet adapter.  Luckily, devices like the Kensington SD4700P provide a variety of additional ports for accessibility and productivity.  In light of the modern dongle fad, shirk the bandwagon and opt for a docking station instead.

The Kensington SD4700P Universal USB-C and USB-3.0 Docking Station arrived in an 8 3/4 inches long by 4 1/8 thick by4 1/2 inches tall tan cardboard box.  Other than the 6 5/16 inches wide by 3 5/16 inches tall white label sticker, the remainder of the outer packaging was left unadorned.  The sticker listed the company name along the top left, and the product name was written in three languages just below the company name.  You will find a large SKU barcode, product manufacturing labels along the left and a small drawing of product inclusions, and company address along the right/bottom.  When I lifted the front flap, I was greeted by the matte-black 9.02-ounce Kensington device.  The front panel had a small LED light along the bottom left, a 3.5mm headphone out jack, USB-A/USB3.0, and PD USB-C port.  The side panel closest to the USB-C port had a grey “Display Link Plug and Display” image, while the opposite side panel had a computer lock port.  The back panel provided four USB-A/USB 3.0 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port toward your right and a DC 20V Power input port, PD USB-port, an HDMI port, and Display Port along the left.  The top panel had “Kensington” etched into the surface, and the bottom panel had two 1/16 inches diameter mounting screw ports and a product label sticker with the company name, product name, serial number, and product manufacturing labels. 

Beneath the Kensington device, you will find the two-part power bank, a 39 1/4 inches long USB-C to USB-C cable with 1 7/8 inches USB-C to USB-A adapter, and the Kensington Quickstart guide.  The heavy 17.07-ounce power brick had a detachable three-prong power cable on one side and an approximately 62 1/2 inches long attached AC cable. The cable attached to the brick via a 90-degree connector and provided a velcro strap for convenient cable management. It was a bit difficult to measure the cable’s length due to the fold/coil memory of the cable.  Regardless, the cable length was more than satisfactory.  The 73 1/2 inches long detached charging cable had a three-prong end and a Type A wall prong.  To use the device, I plugged the three-prong plug into the power brick, the Type A prong into a Type A wall outlet, and then the USB-C end into my MacBook Pro 15”.  As an aside, the instruction manual showed Australian and European prongs available for the device. The third panel showed the front panel’s output options in thirteen different languages: 3.5mm headphone port, phone/tablet USB-A output port for power and data, and a USB-C/USB-3.1 5Gbps output port.  The fourth panel showed the power input port, 60W USB-C output port, HDMI output port, Display Port, the 10/100/1000M Ethernet port, and the four USB-A peripheral ports.  The instruction manual suggested that these ports could be used for a keyboard, mouse, camera, printer, or USB Thumb Drive. The fifth panel may have been the most elementary, showing where you plug the HDMI and Display cables into the dock. Similarly, the sixth cable showed how to plug in the USB-C and USB-A cables.  The seventh panel of the manual listed the Windows 10/7 and macOSX 10.13 or later OS recommendations and how to download the needed drivers. If desired, you can purchase the K33959WW mounting plate separately and attach the Kensington hub via the two 1/16 screw ports and then to the computer monitor mounting screws or your wall. Additionally, you can purchase the K65020WW Microsaver 2.0 Keyed lock to secure your Kensington device.

With portability at a premium, I like to carry my MacBook Pro in a Timbuk2 Command Messenger bag. In addition to the MacBook Pro, I will typically have my USB-C charging brick and cable and the Kensington hub, which adds nearly two pounds to my bag. For short jaunts, this extra weight is not noticeable. However, when carrying the bag over time, that extra two pounds can become significant. In those instances, I found that the docking station could serve as my power supply, and I left the Apple USB C charger at home. To test the output of the charger, I plugged my Drok USB-C Multimeter into my Thunderbolt 3 port and the USB-C cable from the device between the docking station and the multimeter. The Multimeter showed 20V and anywhere from 1-3A throughout the charging process. I plugged a DROK USB-A multimeter into the USB-A/3.0 port and then my iPhone 11 Pro Max into the multimeter via USB-A to Lightning cable. The multimeter read 4.90V/1.04 Aa, while the Macbook was at 20V/2.8Aa. Similar to my previous Kensington SD2400T THUNDERBOLT 3 NANO DOCK WITH POWER DELIVERY Review, this device lived up to my every expectation yet lacked a cool catchy name. I loved the ability to charge my iPhone at 1% per minute while simultaneously charging my Macbook Pro. I plugged an HDMI to the Dataport adapter into the Data Port and found that I was able to output to my monitor. Additionally, I was able to plug a Toshiba 1TB USB portable hard drive into one of the USB-A Ports. I tested the data transfer with the BlackMagic Design Disk Speed test and found the device write speed to be 105.8 MB/s and the read speed to be 104.6 MB/s. I transferred a 46GB file to the Toshiba HD in 9:30. Despite the max transfer speed of USB-3.0 to be 5Gb/s (625MB/s), most modern portable hard drives peak at about 100 MB/s. For additional information, you can visit Macworld.com and learn more about “How Fast is USB 3.0 Really?” Overall, I was pleased with the data transfer rates and found the tests to be reproducible. I was able to plug in several drives and was able to swap files back and forth.

The ability to output to my monitor while plugged into ethernet, while charging my iPhone, and having portable backup hard drive space proved quite convenient. Each of the ports snuggly accommodated their respective cables and did not have much wiggle room. The docking station kept my MacBook Pro charged while simultaneously charging my iPhone 11 Pro Max. Thanks to the multi-port Kensington setup, I was left with three additional Thunderbolt 3 ports for extra customization. As a bonus (review to follow in the next few days), if you have a computer that uses a proprietary power adapter, you can use the Kensington 60W USB 3.0 Power Splitter SD4700P to output power to the dock and the computer (Dell, Lenovo, HP, Acer, ASUS). I was pleased with the ability to output to a single or dual screens (Single Monitor 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz and dual monitors – 2048 x 1152 @ 60Hz) and the overall output. The front USB-A and USB-C output ports have more power support than the back USB-A ports, but they were designed more for data and peripherals than for power. Similar to my experience with the Kensington SD2400T, the Kensington SD4700P truly enhanced my MacBook user experience. I loved the black coloring, the ability to mount the device to the back of a monitor, and the ports’ layout. I was very excited about the power splitter as well (SD4700P). If I had a chance to share my desires for an upgrade, I would like a small carry bag that could accommodate the charger and cables. I would request that you consider what this device can do before experiencing sticker shock at the price. Even though you could find cheaper alternatives, you get what you pay for. At just under $200, the SD4700P will feel like a bargain. After all, the device will add a significant number of ports to your setup.

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