DockCase USB-C dock with display smartens up connectivity [Review] | Cult of Mac

DockCase USB-C dock with display smartens up connectivity [Review]

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The display isn't life-changing, but it can be useful and it's kind of cool.★★★
The display isn't life-changing, but it can be useful and it's kind of cool.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

After trending toward fewer and fewer ports for a while, Macs have added some back lately, offering better connectivity for the latest laptops and desktops. But it never hurts to have a dock to connect additional devices, share files and distribute power — and now you can get one with an informative display.

DockCase has shaken up the fairly boring world of USB-C docks with its new series. The company sent me its 7-in-1 USB-C Smart HD Display Dock Pro to take for a spin. DockCase said it’s the first to offer such a dock with an HD display.

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DockCase 7-in-1 USB-C Smart HD Display Dock Pro

Depending on your nerd-level, you probably consider docks and hubs pretty boring. Other hardware gets the heart racing a bit more. But a dock with a display suddenly becomes a little more interesting.

DockCase’s 7-in-1 USB-C display dock has a built-in HD display. It shows which connections are active, what type of connections they are and how fast they move data. The display also shows how much power is in use.

First, I plugged the dock into my MacBook Pro using the included 100W USB 3.1 Gen. 2 USB-C to USB-C cable. Then the display welcome screen came on. And as soon as I plugged something into the dock, that device’s information appeared.

Reasonably broad connectivity

The dock has a USB-C port on one end to connect a laptop and a 100W PD USB-C port on one side to receive power. The screen notes how much power is received and how much is transferred.

The compact device features three USB-A (3.0) ports with 5Gbps data transfer speeds, two on one side and one on the other.

And you get one HDMI2.0 port supporting up to 4K displays at 60Hz refresh rates, an SD slot and a TF/Micro SD slot for graphics cards, which are handy if you need to transfer loads of photos, for example (which I don’t, so I didn’t actually test those slots).

Display information types:

  • 100W PD 3.0: power delivery voltage, current and temperature
  • 4K@60Hz HDMI: monitor’s brand, size, current and max resolution, manufacturing date and temperature
  • USB-A 3.0 Ports: USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 and temperature
  • SD/TF Card Reader (UHS-I): card type and temperature

 

Here's the dock fully deployed as a 7-in-1.
Here’s the dock fully deployed as a 7-in-1, showing some data for each of its connections.
Photo: DockCase

Solid functionality with minor frustrations

In my use, the ports worked as advertised, though not without hiccups. After my laptop was connected, the dock recognized my 27-inch Dell U2720Q display via HDMI connection.

But then it seemed to drop the connection after I started plugging peripherals into USB-A ports. I had to keep plugging and unplugging items. I found it frustrating having to fuss that much to get the display back.

I wasn’t thrilled with the length of the included 100W USB-C 3.1 cable. It’s just under 9 inches long. That obligated me to take my MacBook off its stand so the hub could lay flat on the desktop rather than dangle. However, you can provide your own longer cable if desired.

Because my setup is on the spare side, I find it quite convenient to simply run a USB-C cable from my monitor, which functions as a hub and powers my MacBook while it received the visual data for the display. But for those running more hardware for various reasons, a separate hub can be crucial.

And the DockCase is a good choice for many users, particularly if you run an external hard drive and transfer different types of files a lot.

Impressive build quality

The device itself has impressive build-quality. It’s made from zinc alloy and tempered glass. The glass seems like a bit of a smudge-magnet, but it’s easily cleaned with a soft cloth like you would use on your laptop screen.

For many users, the 7-in-1 version, in addition to your computer’s ports (or lack thereof) will do the job. But if you need more connections, DockCase makes the same device with up to nine ports, including Ethernet. (See the options, from four to nine ports onboard.)

Note that the different dock versions provide a way to enter the control panel, which is handy if you want to rotate the display’s orientation. Depending on how you have the dock set up, you may want to do that so you can see the data right-side-up.

On my version, that requires inserting a paperclip or SIM eject tool into a pin hole under one of the USB-A ports, which is a bit clunky. Some versions of the port have a button for that procedure.

Hardware support

And if you want to make sure your equipment works with the hub, here that information from DockCase:

This hub can support 4K@60Hz display with 11″ iPad Pro, 12.9″ iPad Pro with Type-C port, 13.3″ MacBook Air (2020 models), 13.3″ MacBook Pro (2018 and subsequent models), 15.4″ MacBook Pro (2017 and subsequent models), 16″ MacBook Pro (2019 and subsequent models), 21.5″ iMac Retina 4K Display (2017 and subsequent models), 27″ iMac Retina 5K Display (2017 and subsequent models), iMac Pro (2018 models) and Most Windows computers with GTX1060 or higher graphics card and supporting Display-Port 1.4.

You can pick up the DockCase 7-in-1 USB-C Smart HD Display Dock Pro at Amazon. Click the box to apply a $5 off coupon on the product page.

Where to buy: Amazon

DockCase provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.

★★★