NPD Group: Top 10 Docking Stations You Wish You Were Docking With

Prepare To Dock

Docking stations will never inspire die-hard techies to camp outside Best Buy vying to be first to get their hands on the latest docking-station release. Face it, these laptop workplace essentials are about as exciting as the charging base for your cordless kitchen phone.

But don't take these underappreciated PC essentials for granted. Without one, working on your laptop in your office would be as much of a hassle as working from the local Starbucks.

Follow along as we look back at the 10 best-selling docking-station models and brands within the U.S. for the third quarter of 2014, as ranked by NPD.

HP: UltraSlim Docking Station For HP EliteBook Notebook

Hewlett-Packard is king of the docking-station market, according to NPD. The leading PC maker dominates the docking-station top 10 list, claiming five of the 10 docking-station models.

The No. 1 HP seller is the UltraSlim Docking Station for HP EliteBook Notebook (model D9Y32AAABA) with a list price of $209. Standout features include four USB 3.0 ports, two DisplayPort ports and one VGA port, and line-in and line-out support for audio.

Lenovo: Pro Dock For ThinkPad T440s/20AQ

No. 1 worldwide PC maker Lenovo ranks No. 2 when it comes to docking stations with its Pro Dock for ThinkPad T440s/20AQ (model 40A10090). The list price is $250 and includes a prerequisite AC adapter, along with accessories, such as two external display ports and dockside USB ports to charge the mobile devices even when away from a notebook.

Microsoft: Docking Station For Surface Pro 3 Black

When you think of alternative platform support for a docking station, you're probably thinking iOS, Android or Linux. This time around, the alternative is Windows and Microsoft's tablet, the Surface Pro 3.

This Surface Pro 3 Docking Station (model 3QM00001), selling for $200, puts the "P" into productivity when it comes to tablets in the workplace. The unit comes with everything you expect in a traditional docking station and a little more. Specs include charging port for accessories, four USB ports, Ethernet support and two minidisplay ports for driving two monitors.

Lenovo: ThinkPad Ultra Dock-90W

This ThinkPad Ultra Dock-90W docking station (model 40A20090) comes with some impressive brags from Lenovo. The company promises the docking station will make "mincemeat out of your workload" with specs that include an HDMI 1.4 video port, support for multiple external monitors (VGA, HDMI, DVI-D) and three USB 2.0 ports that include one always-on USB charging port. Price for the ThinkPad Ultra Dock starts at $270.

HP: UltraSlim Docking Station For HP EliteBook Notebook

NPD ranks HP's UltraSlim Docking Station for HP EliteBook Notebook as the fifth top-selling docking station. The docking station (model D9Y32UTABA) has a lot in common with the No.1-selling HP docking station that goes by the same name. The key differentiator is the smaller price tag of $160 (compared to $209 for model D9Y32AAABA), and a different lineup of supported laptops.

Lenovo: Ultra Dock For ThinkPad

Lenovo's Ultra Dock for ThinkPad docking station comes in at No. 7 on NPD's top-selling docking-station list. Bragging rights for this docking station (model 40A20170US), according to Lenovo, is that the docking solution is a complete redesign of the ThinkPad Ultra Dock that "grows capability without growing in size."

Priced at $300, the Ultra Dock includes video outputs HDMI and VGA, and support for multiple external monitors as well as three USB 2.0 ports with an extra always-on USB port for charging.

HP: 90W Docking Station For HP EliteBook/ProBook Series

The hulking 90W Docking Station for HP EliteBook/ProBook Series is another popular docking station from HP priced at $215. This 2.36-pound massive piece of matted black plastic (model A7E32AAABA) is NPD's largest docking station to make its top 10 list. This workhorse sports everything plus the kitchen sink, from a mouse connector, a parallel port, a DVI-D port, 4 USB 3.0 ports (3 Always-On, 1 powered), a network jack, a DisplayPort connector, VGA port, serial port, a keyboard connector, audio in and out jacks, plus a monitor-stand port.

HP: UltraSlim Docking Station For HP EliteBook Folio

For many, there is no such thing as too slim when it comes to HDTVs, notebooks and smartphones. For that crowd, there is HP's UltraSlim Docking Station (model B9C87UTABA) priced at $150. At 1.7 inches thin, this svelte docking station packs no-compromise features, such as four USB 3.0 ports (one dedicated for charging), a network jack, and multiple monitor support with one DisplayPort and one VGA port.

Not too shabby, but noticeably missing is a HDMI port.

HP: 90W Docking Station For HP EliteBook/ProBook Series

Like many HP docking stations that differentiate themselves by just a few model letters, the 90W Docking Station for HP EliteBook/ProBook Series (model A7E32UTABA) fits the pattern. This docking station is nearly identical to HP's docking station that goes by the same name (model A7E32AAABA). Also priced at the identical $150 price point, this big and beefy docking station looks as if it took its design cue from HP's printer design team. That said, what may may be lost in physical desktop space, will be gained in ample features and functions with this docking station.

Targus: Docking Station USB 3.0 For Notebook

Targus may rank No. 10 on NPD's top-selling docking-station list, but it leads the pack when it comes to breaking the mold in the design department. Priced at $210, the Docking Station USB 3.0 for Notebook (model ACP71USZ) is the only dock here compatible with Apple notebooks and Windows devices. The wedge-shaped design has a top that opens up, revealing a wide array of universal power tips for charging different brand laptops.

Targus packs dual video ports (DVI-I & HDMI), supporting HD video and graphics up to 2,048-x-1,152 resolution. In addition, it includes a DVI to VGA adapter, one HDMI to DVI adapter, two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports.

Love this dock for its support for Windows 8 tablets and Gigabit Ethernet, but its lack of support of having no DisplayPort or Thunderbolt is the downside.