With the work from home climate or, for gamers and content creators, just the sheer amount of gear that a person may have, there is a need for a small and effective solution for all different types of users. The people at Plugable have released a low-profile device with a ton of power and I/O, the Plugable Triple 4K Horizontal Docking Station.
That name may be a lot to swallow, but there is a lot of device in such a small package. For people unfamiliar with what a docking station does, it is a connection hub for a number of devices and monitors, all of which connect to a computer via a single USB-C cable.
The Plugable Triple 4K Horizontal Docking Station comes with a power cable and has ports for six USB-A 3.0 connections and has space for three monitor outputs, allowing you to use either HDMI or DisplayPort (all three outputs offer 4K/60Hz resolution) for the connections and a USB-C Port with the ability to supply 60W of power to connect to your computer (and will also act as a laptop charger if you connect a USB-C to USB-C to the laptop). There is also a headphone jack to pass through your computer’s audio. Networking can even be done through the station as there is a Gigabit Ethernet port available.
Setup was simple enough. There is a requirement to download the Displaylink software to establish the connection between the computer and the Docking Station, and it took one system reboot for everything to be appropriately recognized.
When you are all set up, you can have your computer extend to up to three different monitors, run your keyboard, mouse and any other peripherals directly into it. What’s more is that if you want to switch computers (e.g. from your personal PC to your work laptop), all you need to do is plug in that one USB cable, and you’ll immediately access all the same accessories and monitors.
“The Plugable Triple 4K Horizontal Docking Station comes with a power cable and has ports for six USB-A 3.0 connections and has space for three monitor outputs”
The flexibility of the device, being able to use either HDMI or DisplayPort for your monitors is an immense help because, depending on the monitors you have, DisplayPort may not be an option or, if you are running cables into multiple inputs, you may have already taken up one or the other on your monitor.
Something I also loved about the Plugable Triple 4k Horizontal Docking Station was its small size. At a size not much bigger than an external hard drive, it tucks away nicely on your desk and keeps the clutter to a minimum, using all the ports on this device also helps with cable management, running cables from one centralized place somewhere near where all the cables need to be in the first place. My previous docking station, incidentally, was a vertical device and with cables going in all directions out of it, it was sometimes hard to keep it upright and ended up being a bigger cause for the clutter than a solution.
As someone with a need for multiple setups, including an extensive content creator’s setup, the ability to minimize the number of peripherals on my desk is huge. I can use the same keyboard and mouse for three different computers. You could also use the same cameras, controllers and anything else you can plug into the Plugable Triple 4K Horizontal Docking Station.
For its listed price of $349.99 USD (On sale right now for $249), you would be hard-pressed to find a station with as much flexibility without finding a device that just turns out to be too good to be true (see any number of cheap docking stations with two stars on Amazon).
A value that you can’t put a price on (well you can, but when you do, it gives you a headache) is the ability to hook up to multiple monitors without having multiple HDMI or DisplayPort outputs. This is commonplace for most laptops, but also exists in many PCs without a GPU to provide extra outputs. The price of a GPU in the current market instantly makes this price a steal if what you are looking for out of a GPU is its extra I/O. There are, however, cheaper options if you don’t plan to ever have 3 monitors for your setup. So make sure that you have made that decision before making this one.