Toshiba Dynadock U10 - USB Video Docking Station - Toshiba Dynadock U10

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Drivers for Windows XP and Windows Vista are provided on a disk in the box, but you're better off downloading the latest drivers from the website if possible. A beta Windows 7 driver is also available, which we can confirm works just fine - albeit with very occasional and minor quirks.

You need to install the software before connecting the dock for the first time. When you do connect the dock it'll install the device drivers for video, audio and networking, a process made slightly disconcerting by the display occasionally blanking out and it not always being obvious what exactly is going on. Still, disconcerting or not, everything worked fine after a restart and the whole process (including assembly and cable routing) takes around 10 minutes from start to finish.

Once installed the Dynadock U10 works very smoothly. It'll only kick-in once Windows has booted and loaded the device drivers, so you can't use your keyboard to enter the BIOS, but the basics of the Dynadock work flawlessly. One minor gripe is the lack of Gigabit Ethernet, with just 10/100 'Fast' Ethernet on offer, but chances are you'll stick to using your laptop's Wi-Fi connection anyway.

Of greater concern is the video performance and it's where the Dynadock does fall down just a little bit. It's great to see the resolution support has increased to 1,920 x 1,200, but the video output from the Dynadock is still left wanting somewhat. Moving windows around is just a little bit laggy, something that's most noticeable in Vista and Windows 7 where the effects are more advanced than XP. This is annoying but largely harmless when performing productivity tasks, but quickly becomes more of an issue with multimedia.

Standard definition video plays okay, but anything high-definition (720p upwards) is still produced with noticeable jitter and 1080p video isn't at all watchable. Perhaps acknowledging this weakness there's a mysteriously undocumented 'Video Mode' that can be activated, but it doesn't appear to have an effect - not a measurable one, anyway.

This is disappointing as we'd like nothing better than the Dynadock to be a one-stop shop for all your needs, but ultimately the compression and decompression of the video signal required to make DisplayLink work is the limiting factor. Until the next generation of USB comes along to provide more bandwidth, thus requiring less or perhaps no compression, it's an unavoidable facet of the technology.

Verdict

As a way of converting your regular, consumer laptop into a home workstation, the Dynadock U10 is a cracking product. However it is one with limitations you have to work round. If you intend to use it as it was intended, for working, it's just fine, but its less than perfectly smooth video performance precludes it from the award it otherwise deserves.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Performance 7
  • Value 8
  • Features 9
  • Design 8

Tim Rice

October 30, 2009, 3:19 pm

Hmm, if this device is just a USB hub ‘plus video’, then if the ‘plus video’ part doesn’t work very well, should it be getting 8/10 overall?





I’d rather just use a standard USB hub (smaller, cheaper, more choice of models), and put up with having to also manually attach / detach the DVI cable from laptop to monitor. I guess others may place convenience as a higher priority.

xenos

October 31, 2009, 12:33 am

I don't understand why run all that crap off a USB port? I thought the whole point was you connected it with a single DisplayPort lead and then the extra bandwidth drove the extra stuff, hanging it all off a single USB port is so dumb!

halesy

November 17, 2009, 1:55 pm

Glad I read the comments here as it made me think a bit more about buying this. As Tim suggests above, do I really want to spend £100 for the convenience of not having to plug in my video cable. I've already got a 7 port powered USB hub that I could use for a lot of connectivity...

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