Docking Station

What Does Docking Station Mean?

A docking station is a unit for encasing a portable computer that expands into the equivalent of a desktop computer. A small notebook or laptop can be attached to the unit by using a connector for external peripheral devices. The docking station is usually equipped with expansion slots, drive bays, ports and AC power.


Some docking stations also have a wide network port, a USB port and a network interface card (NIC).

Techopedia Explains Docking Station

Docking stations are not standardized but have a specialized design for specific device models. This is because most devices that can be docked vary not only in their design but also in the size of their connectors and output signals. Because of the wide array of devices that can be docked, there are a variety of docking statio:s.

Docking stations are roughly divided into four basic varieties:

  • Converter Dock: Similar to a hub that has various converters plugged into it. It uses an internal USB hub with USB port converters for display adapters, modems, audio chip sets, and memory card readers. These docking stations use nonproprietary connections that are supplied by third-party vendors.
  • Breakout Dock: An electrical connector separated into component connectors. It has duplicate existing ports plus additional external ports. Some of the ports use electrical splitters and adaptors on a standard port. Many breakout dock vendors have adapters with access to one or two buses with consolidated signals, which allow an additional number of ports than what is physically present. These docking stations use propriterary connections.
  • Hybrid Dock: Directly connected to the motherboard’s chipset using a proprietary connection. It converts into a desktop by communicating with internal devices. Most models include additional ports and drives. Some hybrid docks have expansion cards, RAM, VRAM, CPU cache, and coprocessors.
  • Port Replicator: Similar to a bundle of extension cables that expand the number of ports the computer can use. Each device is attached to the port replicator, allowing several devices to be simultaneously connected.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…