As part of my ongoing downsizing, I sent both my 2008 MacBook Pro and my 2006 Mac Pro to the great used computer yard in the sky and consolidated to a single 2011 MBP. After years of using ThinkPads with docking stations (and being well pleased therewith), I went looking for a Mac equivalent. When I’m home, most of the time I’ll be working at my desk, but when I’m not home the MBP needs to go with me, and I didn’t want to mess with endless plugging and unplugging of cables.
A friend at Microsoft mentioned the Henge line of docks, so I ordered one to try it out. I liked their look, and I liked the fact that there are no mechanical parts (like the old NewerTech claw-style dock I had back in the day.)
When the dock arrived (promptly, I might add), I immediately got to setting it up. Here’s what it looks like with the cables installed:
Each cable is installed in a slot cut into the dock. You fasten the cable connector into the slot with a setscrew. Henge includes extension cables that fit into the slots; the idea is that you put in the extension cables you want connected, fasten their setscrews, and dock your laptop. I quickly assembled everything and docked my laptop. Although it fit, it wouldn’t wake up from sleep. The MacBook Pro requires 3 things to wake with the lid closed: the power adapter, a keyboard or mouse, and a video display must all be connected. I quickly determined that this wasn’t happening, but I couldn’t tell which because the shape of the dock prevents you from seeing the plugs. I put it aside for another day, then last night, I decided to experiment some more to try to get the dock working.
I pulled the cables through the dock openings so there was enough slack to plug everything in without fully docking the laptop. This let me verify that everything was plugged in. I have the MagSafe, 2 USB, DisplayPort, and audio out cables in place. This took me a while because I accidentally pushed the head of the video cable all the way through the dock opening and then couldn’t get it back through! After a bunch of fiddling, I finally got the connector back where it belonged.
Flushed with success, once that was done, I was able to ease the plugs back into the dock openings and screw them into place. I docked the laptop, woke it up, and enjoyed working with it for a couple of hours.
Unfortunately, the video adapter (I’m using Apple’s DisplayPort-to-VGA) wouldn’t seat until I manually jiggled it. The plug fits in the opening in the dock, but in its default position it’s ever-so-slightly misaligned with the opening in the MBP case, so it won’t seat unless I rock the MBP back and forth.
After some jiggling and rocking (boy, that sounds wrong), I got it to seat and worked with my machine docked all last night. This morning, I undocked it and tried to redock it, and the same problem– the USB plugs engaged (so the external keyboard was active) but the video plug didn’t seat properly.
When I e-mailed them, Henge told me that some Apple VGA adapters are sized funny and that I could either try another adapter or trim the one I had to remove some of the excess plastic. They kindly offered me a discount coupon for their brand of adapter, which is basically an extension cable that simplifies the routing quite a bit. I have a Monoprice DVI adapter that I’m going to test tonight. I like the industrial design of the dock, but if I can’t make it work reliably, back it goes.