Ideal for compact desk set-ups.
For quite some time I’ve been working with a compact desk set-up. My main computer is a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro and I have a 24-inch external HP monitor. In addition to that, I have a set of AudioEngine A2+ speakers, a mechanical keyboard, and wireless mouse all connected to my laptop. Since it’s a MacBook Pro that only utilizes USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, I had to be creative in how I connected all the external devices to the laptop. I’ve tried out several different hubs, but finally landed on the USB-C Mini Docking Station from Plugable as my permanent solution.
The Plugable UD-CAM dock is a mini docking station that features USB-C and power delivery. It’s designed to bring ultimate functionality to systems like 2015 and later MacBook laptops, Dell XPS, Precision, and Latitude Systems. With the Plugable dock users can connect external monitors through a single HDMI port and provide up to 85W of power to your computer.
The UD-CAM features support for Alternate Modes and Power Delivery, which are defined below.
- Alternate Mode allows certain non-USB data and protocols (such as native video) to be sent over a USB-C cable
- Power Delivery enables you to power and charge a supported system without the need for a traditional proprietary OEM charger
- Support resolutions: Maximum possible resolution is 3840×2160@30Hz (4K@30Hz) as outlined in the HDMI 1.4 specification. 2560×1600, 1920×1080 (1080p) and lower resolutions will display at 60Hz
- Compatibility: Windows 10, 8.1 and MacOS 10.12.6+ (full compatibility chart available on plugable.com)
- HDMI 1.4 output for mirroring or extending your desktop to an external monitor
- USB-C port with 85W Power Delivery functionality to charge compatible host computers (not all USB-C computers are able to charge through their USB-C port; see additional compatibility details below)
- Gigabit Ethernet port – The UD-CAM has a dedicated Realtek RTL8153 Ethernet controller
- 3.5mm TRRS Headphone/Mic Combo Jack
- Four total USB (Type-A) ports; One USB 3.0 ports on the front and three USB 3.0 ports on the rear
- Included VESA Mount enables dock to be mounted behind compatible monitors, or with compatible VESA Mounting stations
Getting the dock set up is very easy. Plugable made this docking station a plug-n-play solution for workstations. One of my favorite features of this dock is that the majority of the connection ports are located on the back of the unit with only a USB-A and headphone jack available on the front. These are what I typically refer to as ‘easy access’ ports. I have actually worked with docks in the past that don’t include these as an option. With the compact nature of the Plugable dock, I was surprised to see these ports available. There is also a power button on the front that makes it easy to kill the connection from your laptop to the external devices. I’ve really not had any issues with the dock getting too hot while in use. I have noticed a bit of warmth, but it’s not what I would refer to as ‘hot’.
Another feature I was surprised about was the amount of ports available. Aside from the two on the front, there are three (3) USB-A 3.0 ports, one (1) HDMI port, one (1) ethernet port, and one USB-C port. A few month ago, I tested out a different compact dock from Kensington. That dock did a nice job, but had its shortcomings. One of those flaws was the fact that it only had two (2) USB-A ports. Even though the other options for connection were there, I find myself needing as many USB-A ports as possible because as far as connection goes, that seems to still be the ‘gold standard’ especially when it comes to external keyboards and microphones.
I’ve had a lot of success using this dock. In addition to having a solid connection to the monitor — which has been a problem with other docking stations — I don’t believe I’ve ever had an issue with my computer being recognized right away when plugged in — even when closed up.
By the time I started reviewing the Plugable USB-C Docking Station, I was honestly sort of fed up with docking stations for my particular purpose. Many of them are just too large for my needs and were just too much for my compact set-up. The Plugable dock has been perfect for me. Aside from the one little hitch (no backward compatibility with USB 2.0/3.0), I’ve found it to be a welcome companion on my desk.