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I intend to kit my son out with a laptop for 6th form and thought a docking station would be a good idea so that he can use his keyboard, mouse and monitor. Any drawbacks to this idea and suggestions as to the best docking station would be appreciated. Haven't decided on the laptop yet. I'm assuming docking stations are universal?
There may be no need to have a docking station. Most laptops have ports for VGA, and USB or PS2 so that you can attach a monitor and keyboard and mouse to it. Unless these ports/connectors are not present in the laptop.
A docking station is useful in the fact that you do not require to remove the monitor.mouse/printers etc from teh docking station if you wish to take the laptop away from the devices.
Laptop docking stations will definitely vary from make and model. However a universal docking station connected from USB from Belkin will work with all laptops that have a USB. click here
For the price of a docking station you could simply buy him a good quality Wireless keyboard and mouse and simply plug in his monitor. Make sure the laptop has an external 15 pin VGA connector though.
I use a similar arrangement and pack my mouse in the laptop bag leaving the keyboard at home - I hate the laptop touchpads for use over any period of time.
Why a docking station?
If you buy a laptop that has at least 15.4 screen this will give him what he needs, then buy a standard usb mouse, this will save him using touchpad which I will agree that they take some getting used to and are a pain when using for long periods.
The money you save, you can get him a usb storage mp3 thingy so that he can transfer files when needed. Also I would also suggest a good make of rucksack to carry it (a well protected one doesn't come cheap)
In a laptop I would be looking for wirless conection, large harddrive and as much memeroy as poss, not less than 512mb and check weather the gaphics card takes the main memory to run itself! as a 128mb graphics card using that amount from the installes memory drops the main down somewhat.
Check the laptop specs first has things like the ability to conect to a separate screen is quiet standard now.
Thanks to all for your helpful responses. Taff your idea of wireless mouse and keyboard had occurred to me but the one I have in my office needs a receiver plugged into a USB port to work. Does your set up work without any peripherals plugged in?
No it uses a USB receiver but it is quite small and easily packs in the laptop bag. I use a Logitech which I`ve had for 4 years now - a similar model click here#
There are plenty to choose from click here and look for the cordless models.
Mice and keyboards are so much a personal choice in terms of functionality (Multimedia keys etc) and the comfort factor of the mouse. If your son is in to gaming for example he might be glad of more than the three standard mouse buttons on many of them. Mine has an additional thumb button that I programmed with the supplied software to "Go Back" to the previous web page - saves no end of mouse movements when you`re surfing and you realise the link you just clicked is no good.
You wouldn`t go far wrong having a look in PC World where you can touch and feel the products - check their website for "Collect at Store" prices click here#(any):(any):0:90:PageNo_1:SortOrder_DOWN which can save you a few quid too.
Last link was a bit "scrappy" but you`ll get the idea.
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