I have previously talked about on this site about the concept of standards-common expansion modules for use with laptops, especially Ultrabooks. These devices, also known as docking stations, would have connections for peripherals that you would typically used at your desk like larger displays, Ethernet network connections or work-specific peripherals.
Infoact one of these devices was part of an ultraportable laptop that I had reviewed, namely the Sony VAIO Z Series unit; and this one included a slot-load optical-disc drive that reads Blu-Ray Discs.
Now Lenovo have presented the ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock, which connects to the host laptop using a USB 3.0 connection, already common on most laptops including higher-priced Ultrabooks. But it exploits the higher data throughput of USB 3.0 to allow for more than what one would typically expect from these devices.
For example, the expansion module is a network adaptor for Cat5 Gigabit Ethernet networks and an external sound module as well as a self-powered USB 3.0 hub for five peripherals. The self-powered USB hub also has the advantage of supplying power to USB peripherals independently of the host computer so that you could charge up smartphones and other gadgets or use it as a power supply for USB-driven gadgets.
But it uses DisplayLink technology to use the USB 3.0 connection to drive external displays while using the host computer’s graphics subsystem. This can encourage us to use the large displays with these laptops without needing to connecting them to the computer itself.
What I would like about this expansion module and any expansion modules designed along this line is that it isn’t dependent on the laptop being a Lenovo ThinkPad model at all, let alone a Lenovo unit. Compared to the Sony solution which exploited a proprietary “Light Path” setup over USB 3.0, this could be used with computers that use any USB 3.0 port.
This is more so as the next generation of Ultrabooks come with USB 3.0 ports integrated in to them but may have two or three of these ports as well as fewer connections for other wired peripherals. Infact the more of these devices that exist, the better it would be for people who use “work-home” laptops or 13” ultraportabls as travel/desk computers/