Philips USB dock and stand 

The Philips USB Docking Stand provides a quick and easy means of connecting a laptop to a large external monitor, external peripherals and the network. It will be especially useful to those who use their laptop both at the home and in the office and need a wide range of facilities.

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At first glance the Philips SB4B1928UB USB Docking Stand just appears to be a stand for monitors equipped with the standard VESA 100 x 100mm mount. It is only when one looks more closely that one realises that the base incorporates a docking station with full connectivity.

Overall the stand which matt black cm with the mounting post, located near its rear, is in matt silver. The base has curved sides so that it has a less clinical look. Its flat surface forms a convenient shelf on which to place regularly used items such as Post-It notes and a pen tray. The VESA plate is at the top of the post and is spring-counterbalanced so that the screen can be raised and lowered easily and locked at the most suitable height. It is designed to suit monitors from 19 to 28 inches and has a height adjustment range of 120mm (4.7 inches). One useful feature is that the screen can be set very low to ensure the reading comfort of those who wear bifocals or similar types of spectacles.

The screen can be swivelled through a range of 130 degrees as well as tilting through -5 to 20 degrees. It can also be rotated to portrait mode, rather than the normal landscape. However, the vertical movement will probably be limited with a larger screen.

In addition to the power and power on/off switch the majority of connections are on the rear of the stand’s base. There is the USB 3.0 upstream port for connection to one’s laptop and then two USB3.0 ports, one of which also provides fast charging, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and the two monitor connectors: HDMI and Displayport. There is also a DC output connection for the laptop so avoiding the need for the laptop’s “power brick” and separate mains socket. On the right hand side are two more USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks plus a media card slot. The User Manual, provided on disc as a PDF alongside the drivers, says that it will support SDXC/MSXC cards of up to 2TB.

Mounting the monitor was straightforward. The User Guide shows how to lay the monitor on its face and then bring the VESA mount on the stand down onto it and then fasten the four captive screws. A central boss on the VESA plate stood proud but it did not seem to damage the attached monitor. Making all the connections was also straightforward. One gripe was that it would have been more convenient to have the fast-charging USB port more conveniently located on the side rather than being on the rear as, after all, it is a temporary connection that one would use for charging one’s phone or tablet rather than a permanent one.

One extremely useful feature is the built-in 19V DC supply for powering one’s laptop. A cable and a range of “tips” are provided for notebooks made by Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo. They are not marked so the user has to find one the appropriate one. However, it is only when one refers to the manual that one finds that while the Docking Station supports the charging function for most Asus and Acer notebooks, “it provides power to most Dell, HP & Lenovo notebooks BUT WITHOUT CHARGING.” (My capitals.) This is possibly due to the fact that the 19V DC output is less than the latter group need for charging.

Once mounted it is a quick and simple task to get up and running. It is only necessary to connect the power and USB cables to the laptop and switch on. I did, however, find that when using the HDMI it was necessary to go to the Display Settings/Magnifier in order to get a full screen image rather than a partial one.

Despite some minor documentation shortcomings this docking stand is well thought out and designed and will not be unsightly in a home environment and it does what it is required of it. £128 does not seem an unreasonable price for a stand and docking station especially in view of the added convenience of it providing DC for one’s laptop and the fact that it should not need to be replaced when you get a new laptop.

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OverallPhilips USB dock and stand rated 88 out of 100

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