More than a charging dock, StudioDock is a true workstation for the iPad.
When I started working from home exclusively last fall, I found myself reaching for my iPad more and more. It has become an essential part of my workday because I can easily take notes or make some scribbles in various programs. This cuts down on the need for me to have physical files in my home office, which is great because frankly, I don’t have the space for them. I have an iPad Pro (11-inch, 2018) and it works great with Kensington’s StudioDock to provide a full-service workstation-based with the iPad. It’s a beast and while it’s a lofty investment for a dock (~$400), it really expands what the iPad – especially the iPad with M1 chips – can do.
The Kensington StudioDock is an award-winning product (CES 2021 Innovations Award Honoree, recipient of 8 CES best-of awards). It was designed to provide a docking solution for the iPad that increased the functionality and usability of the iPad. It is compatible with both 12.9 and 11-inch models (two different sizes are available) of iPad with a USB-C charging port (2018 or later; not compatible with the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9”). The dock is powered by a 20V DC power cable/adapter and provides rapid charging that is compatible with Apple’s charging ecosystem. The iPad charges at 37.5W (through USB-C), the Qi wireless iPhone pad charges up to 7.5W and the AirPod charging pad charges up to 5W. The dock features a single HDMI port that supports 4K HDMI 2.0 video. There is a single SD card reader (UHS-II SD 4.0), four USB ports (1 USB-C port that supports 5V/3A & 9V/2A charging, and 3 USB 3.0 ports), one 3.5mm audio jack, and a Gigabit Ethernet jack.
- Best For: Creative professionals who want to get the most from their 2018/2020 iPad Pro
- Connection Technology: USB-C Alt Mode
- Power Delivery: Yes, docking and charging via USB-C at 37.5W rapid-charging for iPad Pro
- Compatibility: iPad Pro 12.9″ (2018/2020) running iPadOS 13.5+. *Not compatible with the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9″.
- # of Monitors Supported: 1
- Video Ports: 1 x HDMI 2.0
- Maximum Resolution Supported: 3840 x 2160 @ 60Hz
- Plug & Play: Yes. No drivers or downloads necessary.
- System Requirements: iPad Pro 12.9″ (2018/2020) running iPadOS 13.5+
- Warranty: 3 Years
The StudioDock comes in a very large box that is branded with Kensington’s logo. There is a very nice image of the dock on the front of the box and some details about the product on the back. I was actually shocked at how large the was and how heavy the product was. The dock is a substantial piece of equipment, but I am not sure why it does requires such a large package. It does come with several power cable options for different regions and a user manual.
The installation process is very simple. The iPad slides onto the USB-C plug that is sticking out from the rotating magnetic iPad holder. This connection provides a link to any other device that is plugged into the dock. A plug icon appears on the iPad when it’s connected properly and you have lots of options as far as device connections go. I love how easily the iPad swivels from portrait to landscape mode. The iPad mount locks into place and unless you physically move it, the iPad isn’t going anywhere. The bottom of the dock is rubberized, which is great for me because I have a smooth desktop and things slide around constantly. Thanks to the nonstick bottom and the weighted base, the dock doesn’t move. It stays firmly in place – even when mounting or removing an iPad.
The iPad mount is not compatible with cases. For me, that means I have to remove it from my Smart Keyboard Folio (Apple’s version) before mounting the iPad on the stand. Since that is my keyboard/case of choice, it’s not a huge hassle. The case is attached via magnets and simply peels away from the iPad. That said, I could see some people who have larger, more ballistic-style cases having a bit more trouble getting their iPad in and out of the case just to mount it on the stand. My workflow looks like this. In the morning, my iPad moves from its case onto the dock. There is stays until the evening when I remove it and place it back in its Keyboard Folio case so I can step away from my desk to work. Then, the next morning, I peel the iPad out of the case and continue the process.
Kensington did a great job with the design of this dock. The iPad is the central figurehead of the station and none of its functionality is affected by being connected to the dock. The Apple Pencil can still be attached on the side for charging/connection and the power/volume buttons are fully accessible. I even used the iPad as my music player while working and the speakers sounded great. Nothing essential for the iPad to function is covered and that’s a huge plus in my book. The iPad is securely mounted and I’ve not had any concerns that it might fall off the mount.
The StudioDock does provide a full-featured interface thanks to its numerous I/O ports. With this dock, users can connect to an external display as well as multiple external devices. Thanks to the new M1 chips that are available in the latest models of iPad Pros, the StudioDock could make an iPad more like a desktop workstation than a portable tablet. From where I sit, my current workstation consists of a MacBook Pro (2016), iPad Pro (2018), a Bluetooth keyboard, Bluetooth mouse, and an external monitor. The MacBook Pro is connected to the monitor, keyboard, and mouse and unfortunately, my iPad just isn’t enough of a workhorse to run my entire workstation. If I upgraded to a newer model, I could totally see there is a possibility of running most of my daily work tasks through it with the help of StudioDock. That said, I can see StudioDock making it possible to turn an iPad into more of a stationary workstation and have a similar workflow to a traditional laptop.
The StudioDock is an impressive device. It’s more than an accessory. It really does accentuate the best functions of the iPad and turn it into a versatile workstation instead of just a portable tablet.