Laptops are incredibly handy, portable and effective space savers, something a desktop could never be! But this does come with drawbacks, so why not try using a docking station as an easy fix to make your laptop into a fully-fledged desktop?
A dock is a hardware device that essentially acts as a ‘docking station’ for your laptop, so you use it attached to multiple devices such as a monitors (as many as you want depending on the number of ports), a keyboard, mouse and headset, which means you can use your laptop effortlessly when at home or in the practice.
Most people don’t put a huge amount of thought into their dock when choosing which to buy, but we find this often leads to incompatibility issues, frustration when attempting to plug in peripherals and additional money spent unnecessarily.
With this in mind we have written down the 4 key points vets should consider when buying the right dock for their veterinary practice.
Branded Vs Non-Branded
Whether you are a brand lover or hater, brands are everywhere and will always be in every aspect of our lives, much like the non-branded products competing with them. At times, it’s easy to be swayed to a similar alternative and it’s likely that’s because of the price difference.
But why does it matter? Let’s say your practice staff use Dell laptops, all being the same make and model and are used in the same way. This keeps it nice and easy, meaning once you have found the perfect dock to pair to your practice laptops, you can be assured it will suit all your requirements. However, if your practice has a varity of laptop brands/makes and models used by staff, it’s not a case of one size fits all. You will need to make sure that each will be compatible to the dock, making this a bit trickier.
A branded docking station gives you better functionality whilst offering distinctive features and power. Whereas a non-branded docking station may well have these features but is unable to support all of the devices you need to connect. Think about what you need to use the docking station for, and make sure that it will support your current devices, otherwise those extra pounds you saved, might be spent replacing something else just to make use of the dock.
Different docks deliver different amounts of power and the amount of power your dock needs to provide to keep your laptop fully depends on your device in the first place.
For example, a 15/16 inch MacBook Pro has a power supply starting from 87W, therefore if you pair this with a docking station that can only produce a power supply of 60W, you are most likely going to have issues, compromising the functionality you get from your docking station and your MacBook. This in turn means that your practice staff may struggle to use the software they require to carry out their role. So, when buying a dock, be sure to compare your power requirements for the laptop against the maximum power output of the docking station.
A dock that can power your laptop and other devices will ensure that everything has enough power throughout the day, making sure that you are never caught short of battery before a consultation or an important call.
You can use your dock for more than just connecting displays, although it is important to make sure that you have the correct ports (and enough ports) for doing this. You also want to consider how many ports you require from the dock, are there enough and is there enough of the right ones?
It’s likely your practice will be using a dock to connect a keyboard, mouse, headset or even to charge a mobile phone, so you will need to make sure that the dock you are buying has the correct ports and correct number of ports to get the most from your dock.
This means that as standard, the minimum your veterinary practice workstations will require from a dock is; a couple of USB ports, a HDMI port (allowing you to plug in most screens) an audio jack (to use headphones) and a network port, so you can plug it into your existing network.
A common mistake we come across when vets source their own docks, is assuming all USB-C connections are equal. Despite there being no obvious difference between a USB-C port on a laptop that supports thunderbolt and one that does not, buying a thunderbolt dock and putting this with a non-thunderbolt PC or vice versa, means you’ll be left with a dock which doesn’t deliver a fraction of the features it should.
You will also want to ensure that the docks you buy have the ability to keep up with how you will use them moving forward. So, it is always best to buy a dock that delivers more than what you currently need as a way of future proofing your investment.
One of the advantages of using a dock it that it will keep your desks and workstations neat and tidy, so you will want to make sure that you pick a lightweight, durable docking station rather than one that takes up too much desk space with awkward connection points for your existing set up.
Consider where your dock is being placed. Will you be using it at the reception desk, or in a consultation room, perhaps it will be in a back office of the practice. All veterinary practices vary, in their size and layout and therefore the positioning, desk space and size varies too, so be sure the dock will work for your space. You can do this by looking at the product specs.
Your display screen size is also a factor you should consider when buying a dock. Does your monitor run at full HD on a generic 24-inch screen, or do you intend to use a high-resolution display? The answer to this will play a big part in which dock to choose.
If you are having trouble deciding what dock will be most suitable for your practice needs feel free to get in touch, and one of our Veterinary IT Experts will happily advise you to find the tools that you need.