Editorial

Microsoft misses the mark with the new Surface Docking Station

When I heard the announcement for the original Surface Pro, I was skeptical. Why would I want something that wasn't quite a tablet and wasn't quite a laptop as well? Our review of the Pro vetted out my same concerns: It's a jack of all trades, but master of none. I figured there was no chance I'd ever buy one of these devices, so stopped paying attention.

Then, at TechEd in New Orleans, Microsoft released a bombshell: Attendees would be able to buy the Surface Pro 128G for a mere $399. For that price, I was willing to try out the Surface Pro and see if it could replace my normal day-to-day laptop at work. So I put my laptop away and vowed to only use the new Surface Pro, although I was skeptical of its use.

Before I could start the experiment, I had to find a way to connect all of my desktop peripherals, including hardwired Ethernet, a USB keyboard I've been using the Surface Pro as my main work machine for three months now, and it works greatand mouse, and two 24" monitors. I purchased an HP port replicator that does a well enough job. I have to connect the Surface Pro to the replicator every morning via the USB3 cable and then connect the power cable, so it's a little clunky, but gets the job done. I've been using the Surface Pro as my main work machine for three months now, and it works great, but I've always wanted the extra convenience of a docking station, similar to the one I used to use with my Dell laptop.

When I heard that Microsoft was releasing a docking station for the Surface Pro, I was excited. I'd finally be able to avoid plugging in a couple of connectors every morning and removing them every evening. Then I saw the spec sheet: A single Mini DisplayPort connector, the same as what's on the device itself.

Microsoft has, in essence, killed off the usefulness of the docking station before it has even been released.While many may be happy with a single display, there's still a large number of people who use two or more monitors to do their work, and for them, this will be a deal-breaker. Sure, they could buy the docking station and a port replicator and probably get similar results, but that adds a lot of extra cost for very little benefit. Although it's true you can daisy-chain devices with DisplayPort, the majority of monitors out in the wild right now do not have this port, with most currently being DVI or HDMI. For those people, it makes more sense to go with the port replicator. Microsoft has, in essence, killed off the usefulness of the docking station before it has even been released.

Why would most people choose the new docking station over a standard port replicator? I'll probably still upgrade to the Surface Pro 2 because the extra battery life and video power will be helpful, but the one accessory that everyone was clamoring for is practically dead on arrival for a large segment of Microsoft's customers.

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123 Comments

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I use 3 monitors myself. You can't have enough screen space when working as far as I am concerned. It's nice for gaming and every day things like browsing and watching tv(if you have a tuner) along with other things.

Working on sites it's a big help and really speeds things along when you can have several different browsers open as you debug style coding. Being able to do the same with the new dock would be a big plus and Microsoft dropped the ball on that one. Two would be much better than just the one as most of who do serious work are accustomed to working on multiple monitor setups.

The nice thing with MS is I'm sure they will correct the over site with the next dock they put out for it. Not realizing their error leaves things open for an aftermarket product that has a better set up for cheaper. time will tell.

I do find articles like these a bit amusing though. There seem to be a lot of them putting down Microsoft with any tidbit they can find front and center, yet touting how they like the Surface pro and are happy with it subtly in the background.

billstelling said,
yet touting how they like the Surface pro and are happy with it subtly in the background.

I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to be subtle... I find the Surface Pro to be the best laptop I've ever owned.

Pouring more good money after bad. When is Microsoft going to kill the Surface program and stop the bleeding? The longer it goes on, the more expensive it gets and the harder to stop. Look to government programs as excellent illustrations.

This editorial wins for feedback, that's for sure.

I agree, not sure where any of you are from but I've worked in IT for many years and dual monitors is not niche. While I like having a dock for the tablet I'm on, it only has a single output too. While DP supports multi monitors, the benefit of that doesn't outweigh the fact you still need to spend more on an adapter, hub, or new monitors, where the port replicator does just fine. The whole point of an editorial is to get people involved to discuss, to give an opinion which is valid and have others chime in with ideas or feedback. Since when did this community degenerate so far as to calling that whole premise stupid, add in a few boo hoos, and rip into Neowin? Chris, hats off for showing us that people need to think before they comment.

koppit said,
This editorial wins for feedback, that's for sure.

I agree, not sure where any of you are from but I've worked in IT for many years and dual monitors is not niche. While I like having a dock for the tablet I'm on, it only has a single output too. While DP supports multi monitors, the benefit of that doesn't outweigh the fact you still need to spend more on an adapter, hub, or new monitors, where the port replicator does just fine. The whole point of an editorial is to get people involved to discuss, to give an opinion which is valid and have others chime in with ideas or feedback. Since when did this community degenerate so far as to calling that whole premise stupid, add in a few boo hoos, and rip into Neowin? Chris, hats off for showing us that people need to think before they comment.


Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated!

If the Surface team are planning ahead like they should be that'd be a "feature based on feedback" for version 2 along with a 2-stage rotation for the angle

I've never had two monitors, and while I may have two or even three somewhere down the road I can't imagine why I would want to hook a tablet up to them; I'd want to use the monitors on my desktop. One monitor is fine by me for a tablet, and if I can ever afford a Surface Pro and a docking station I think I'd be pretty happy with it.

Darrian said,
I've never had two monitors, and while I may have two or even three somewhere down the road I can't imagine why I would want to hook a tablet up to them; I'd want to use the monitors on my desktop. One monitor is fine by me for a tablet, and if I can ever afford a Surface Pro and a docking station I think I'd be pretty happy with it.

You may be missing the point with the Surface Pro 2 then... It's not "a tablet" -- it's a desktop/laptop replacement. Nobody would spend $1200 on just a tablet.

You're right. It's essentially a laptop/ultrabook with a detachable keyboard. How many laptops do you know run 2 monitors?

Darrian said,
You're right. It's essentially a laptop/ultrabook with a detachable keyboard. How many laptops do you know run 2 monitors?

Roughly 80% of the people in my office (everyone has a laptop so they can bring it with them and work from home if needed). They dock when they get into the office so they can have multiple screens. It also appears that 77% of Neowin readers use multiple monitors: http://www.neowin.net/news/poll-do-you-use-multiple-monitors

Regardless, it was never my point that "nobody" uses multiple monitors, only that claiming that the dock will be "DOA" because it only supports one monitor is about the most ignorant thing I've read in a while. Assuming that this generation of Surface does better than the last and enough people own them that there might actually be a market for the dock I think it has the potential to sell really well.

I think this was way too harshly judged. Having three monitors (the Surface one + two more) is a) a niche scenario and b) a problem that has solutions. Sure, not integrated in the dock itself, but this is often what you get for specialized use cases.

We regularly use dual monitors at work, but I don't really think a single person here would even expect a laptop dock to support three monitors (including the laptop's itself) out of the box. If we connect laptops, we really only use the laptop display and the connected one and don't expect more than this.

This is the most stupid "editorial" I have ever read. This is not a common usage scenario - and it can still be achieved with an inexpensive dp hub.

Hold up... So now "Boo hoo I am one of the minority (yes it is a minority) who runs 2 monitors. I want 2 monitors off my tablet" is now a piece of editorial?

Here's what I don't understand. This guy is blogging and whining without doing any research. Unless Panay is wrong, you can power two monitors off of the docking station.

Here is Panay saying so in the Microsoft Press release for a few days ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uePlQUh5d0&t=14m0s

Perhaps MS has a Mini Display splitter that comes with the dock, the does MD to HDMI, MD to DVI, etc. (something similar to this but for display port) http://www.amazon.com/2-Port-2...ywords=displayport+splitter

But, to just spread FUD without doing any research is just irresponsible of the writer here. His own doubt and caused him to jump to conclusions.

Edited by uxo22, Sep 26 2013, 5:10pm :

bunch of crybabies... :-P

People complain about the features aren't 'high-tech' enough (USB2 ports), and also complain if the monitor output is too 'high-tech'.

At some point we moved from CRT to LCD, with the connectors changing from VGA to HDMI/DP along the way.
That's progress, get over it.

Keep giving suggestion. Microsoft might make it on Surface 3.
surface 2 maybe still not great success. but microsoft improve it.
But the price is too high

The only dead horse I see is your repetitive comments. The same thing, over and over again, offering nothing new, nothing of value, nothing with content. Just "I hate Microsoft and therefore I hate everything they do" - the same s***, different comment. That complaint is dead, and there is no bringing it back to life. So try something new, for a change.

TsarNikky is a anti-MS troll that spits his venom on many, many forums over the Internet.

I often think he's just being paid to do this, as no normal person wouldn't have the time to browse all those forums and post on them several times a day.

I understand everyone has their opinion but the real reason the docking station has only Mini DisplayPort is because it is new technology. If you want to live in the past with DVI (really???) and HDMI then buy a port replicator. That's how you push technology forward. While I do agree more ports would help appeal to a larger audience it's just the wrong way to go. Should we add a serial, parallel and PS/2 port as well? It is a docking station not a port replicator. I also agree the article and Editorial tag are not very thought out in this case. And the article sure does not warrant a tile at the top of the page. Yikes!

The author isn't too smart. There are mini-DP to dual DVI adapters. It's a perfect solution for a problem like this. I'm not sure what you'd do if you want a 3rd monitor, however. After all, the Surface acts as a monitor in & of itself. In addition, I don't know how this dock sits on the Surface, I fail to see why the DisplayPort would be blocked or an issue on the device itself.

Neowin Editorial Formula:

1. Produce editorial dismissing Microsoft's latest efforts.
2. Make sure its full of factual errors and blind speculation.
3. Wait for the click-storm.
4. Profit!

Leopard Seal said,
Neowin Editorial Formula:

1. Produce editorial dismissing Microsoft's latest efforts.
2. Make sure its full of factual errors and blind speculation.
3. Wait for the click-storm.
4. Profit!


Where are the factual errors and blind speculation?

I wish there was a way to DOWN VOTE articles... these articles and editorials lately have been so stupid.

If you think simply not having 2 display ports is missing the mark, you obviously know nothing about the dock. I did quite some research on it, and it's really sweet and well designed.

Most people will use the Surface screen as the 2nd or main screen. If you need more screens, simply get an adapter. That's what most people do and the new Surface Pro will be able to handle that quite well. geez.

As if at this point we don't have enough inflammatory headlines scaring folks away from all things Microsoft, Neowin of all blogs feels the need to pick on a silly aspect of a perfectly good product. Useless headline, sorry.

Most folks don't have multiple displays due to cost and lack of desk room - those that do tend to be, by and large, outliers. The gripage over lack of support for this outlier feature therefore makes no sense at all - it would make as little sense to criticize Windows RT for not supporting Hyper-V. Besides, how many portable computers (of any size) support multiple external displays, even as an option? And no - multiple-monitor support is NOT a standard feature in enterprise-targeting portables except at the high end; if you look at the Dell Vostro line of business PCs (desktops and portables alike), how common is multidisplay support? Surface Pro is not a high-end portable in the enterprise space - it costs too little. Look at those high-end enterprise portables from Dell and Lenovo (especially Lenovo) that have the feature you are demanding - and compare them to the Surface Pro in terms of price. What I think you are REALLY mad at is that Microsoft is not using Surface Pro to drive high-end features into the mainstream. That's not the reason for Surface Pro - or any part of Microsoft's entire hardware business.

I see what you're saying but they shouldn't be trying to push it so hard for business use and omit such a desirable feature. At the company that I work at there isn't a single person with only one display. Most people have 2, some even 3. I was too looking at a Surface Pro briefly after my old laptop decided to commit suicide and overheated but went for a Lenovo X1 - for serious work it is much better than a surface. With Lenovo's USB 3.0 dock (which only cost $149) I am able to connect 2 additional displays, wired Ethernet and have 4 + 2 USB ports. Combined with the laptop's built-in 14" touch screen display I have a total of 3 which works ideal for me. The Surface has an even bigger problem with it's 10.6" display which is just too small for many people (especially when docked to the side at a distance longer than arm's reach) so it needs the ability to hook up 2 full size displays even more. On the Lenovo I can have Skype and Outlook running on it's display and I can see just fine, on a Surface I do not think it will work so well.

As a purchaser for my company, I have already made the transition to DP for all new monitors. About a year ago Dell started shipping OptiPlex PC's with Dual DisplayPorts and a single VGA output. That meant DP to DVI dongles and/or one monitor on VGA. It wasn't much more to transition to a series of monitors that allowed for DP. DP is the future.

Another trend is larger monitors at a reasonable price. We currently took most Executives in the company from Dual monitors to a single Dell U2913WM (double-wide 2560x1080). Cleaned up their desks quite a bit while allowing them to view spreadsheets across a 2560 wide monitor and view two items side by side easily with the Windows snap feature. We also purchased a couple of 30" monitors that are 2560x1600 which really could replace dual monitors on other desktops, but the price is still too high.

We plan to deploy Surface tablets to more users next year when the dock is available. They will replace laptops in most cases, and the single DP 1.2 port will not be a problems since we have already begun the transition to that technology. The $999 model matches the specs of the laptops we currently purchase and eliminates the need for additional tablets, the dock just makes it easier to implement.

The article has a very valid point that a lot of people are missing. This dock is made for enterprise, that's who buys the majority of all docks for notebooks. Almost all enterprise level laptops have an optional docking station, most come in a bundle when you order it. If you go look at any one of those docks from Dell, Lenovo or HP, they all have at least 2 video outputs. Dual monitor support is a standard for enterprise, it's a missing feature when you don't support it. Not including it, is missing the mark. When I heard about the dock, we thought we might be deploying these across our company. Now that the dock has only one display port, we won't be deploying any of these.

If I understand it correctly, the HP port replicator has an external GPU in it. I'm guessing it's not very powerful, and probably doesn't match what's built in to the Surface Pro 2. That would be the main advantage, other than that it's first party, and a lot of people will pick it over a 3rd party replicator just because of that.

DisplayPort 1.2 is the new standard. By the time the Surface dock ships any decent monitor on the market will support it. Sure Microsoft could have added legacy support built in to the dock, but it would have added to the cost, and in a few years people would wonder why Microsoft put 2 ports on when you can just chain them...

If a port replicator does what you need and is cheaper, great, use it. Doesn't mean the dock won't work for others just as well or better.

+1, but The new Surface Pro 2 is a good desktop replacement so even then you can just get an displayport adapter which isn't expensive.

OMG, it is almost like it is a TABLET... How silly of MS to make a Tablet like a Tablet.

The sad thing is every 'argument' in this article, can be either refuted or bypassed with a simple adapter.

Heck, the author could even consider using USB 3.0 for additional monitors, so if 3 or four monitors are not enough for their TABLET, they still have options.

Mobius Enigma said,
OMG, it is almost like it is a TABLET... How silly of MS to make a Tablet like a Tablet.

The sad thing is every 'argument' in this article, can be either refuted or bypassed with a simple adapter.

Heck, the author could even consider using USB 3.0 for additional monitors, so if 3 or four monitors are not enough for their TABLET, they still have options.


Surface is more than a tablet.

That said, you're making my point for me. Why would I buy this docking station from Microsoft when I can just use the port replicator I linked to from HP at a fraction of the cost? Where's the benefit to the dock if it basically has the same connectors as the Surface itself?

Fezmid said,

Surface is more than a tablet.

That said, you're making my point for me. Why would I buy this docking station from Microsoft when I can just use the port replicator I linked to from HP at a fraction of the cost? Where's the benefit to the dock if it basically has the same connectors as the Surface itself?

There probably isn't, at least not for YOUR needs. This doesn't mean that having several devices instantly connect via USB and Ethernet by clicking into the dock would not be a benefit to other users. Just the fact they aren't hanging off the same port/hub would be a important benefit, let alone considering the usability.

Microsoft even offering a makeshift dock was probably a bad idea, as it breaks the illusion that the primary usability of this device is its form factor away from the desk.

If enterprise customers or you need features more in line with a ultrabook w/Touch, then that is what they/you should buy. There are enough hardware options for Windows 8 out there that singling out why YOU hate the Surface dock is inane.

It would be different if there was not ways to accomplish what you want to do exactly or there were some limitation in the entire 'Surface' ecosystem, but there isn't.

If a company or user has the need of several monitors that can seamlessly be plugged in, they can afford to replace their current monitors. If not, they can push in a few more plugs each time they want to 'dock' their device.

The crazy thing is that with all the limitations of other 'tablets' like iPad and Android devices, you will NEVER find an 'angered' review that it is too hard to plug in 5 monitors, or even an angry review that their proprietary connections or lack of device support prevent them from doing 99% of the things the Surface can out of the box.

So you think the dock sucks, good, but that is missing the entire point of the Surface and missing the entire point of why and how 'other' people do and would use the dock.

Mobius Enigma said,

The crazy thing is that with all the limitations of other 'tablets' like iPad and Android devices, you will NEVER find an 'angered' review that it is too hard to plug in 5 monitors, or even an angry review that their proprietary connections or lack of device support prevent them from doing 99% of the things the Surface can out of the box.

I guess that's the million dollar question though -- is the Surface Pro really a tablet? Or is it an ultra compact computer/laptop replacement? I see it more as the latter, but it appears a lot of Neowin readers see it as the former.

First how how many laptop docks have 2 of the same video output to begin with, I haven't seen many. Secondly, I will agree that they should have at least included hdmi as well, or what about thunderbolt, doesn't that support daisy chaining?

wv@gt said,
First how how many laptop docks have 2 of the same video output to begin with, I haven't seen many. Secondly, I will agree that they should have at least included hdmi as well, or what about thunderbolt, doesn't that support daisy chaining?

DisplayPort 1.2 - included on the Surface dock - supports daisy chaining.

I think you very much overestimate the amount of people that will.care that it only supports one monitor. Yeah it kinda sucks for a handful of people, but most users use one monitor.

I am not very interested in Surface & anything Metro in particular... but honestly, just because it doesn't have 2 display ports "Microsoft misses the mark?"..... you can't be serious. WTF? This is STILL a damn tablet, it is not meant for professionals who need two monitors or so. It's not like you're doing CAD or stuff like that... come on. If you have anything else to criticize... feel free to do it. But otherwise.. this is a rather childish attitude.

Mortis said,
I am not very interested in Surface & anything Metro in particular... but honestly, just because it doesn't have 2 display ports "Microsoft misses the mark?"..... you can't be serious. WTF? This is STILL a damn tablet, it is not meant for professionals who need two monitors or so. It's not like you're doing CAD or stuff like that... come on. If you have anything else to criticize... feel free to do it. But otherwise.. this is a rather childish attitude.

You really think that Microsoft is making a $1200+ "tablet?" No, this is definitely made for professionals.

Fezmid said,

You really think that Microsoft is making a $1200+ "tablet?" No, this is definitely made for professionals.

This is for the docking station. Not having 2 display ports is not 'missing the mark'. Most devices these days only have 1, because most people only need one.

Seems like a stupid reason imo when there are options besides owning a 1.2 dp screen. Just buy a 3rd party splitter. If they hadn't provided dp 1.2 at all, ok...but they did. Get over it.

I am going to have to disagree with the Author here While I agree with his points, he also made a point for DisplayPort.

Microsoft is Trying to Push a better technology. DisplayPort is better then HDMI, and it would be Great to start seeing more Monitors out there that support it.

Microsoft started supporting touch back in 2002, it was not till, the ithing came out that it went cazy. By end of 2014 I see less then 10% of computers sold without Touch.

While US First adopters are not Happy, the MASSES of the user will not be effected. That Fruit company already supports DisplayPort, with Microsoft on Board, hopefully we will see more sooner, then later.

DisplayPort-capable monitors are sub-$200 on Newegg, so I don't think this is quite as big of a problem as portrayed in this article. The tricky part, however, is identifying DP 1.1 and 1.2 monitors to make this set up work. (The last monitor in the chain can be DP 1.1.)

Rafael said,
DisplayPort-capable monitors are sub-$200 on Newegg, so I don't think this is quite as big of a problem as portrayed in this article. The tricky part, however, is identifying DP 1.1 and 1.2 monitors to make this set up work. (The last monitor in the chain can be DP 1.1.)

An enterprise isn't going to throw away all of their DVI/HDMI monitors and replace them with DisplayPort monitors overnight. The docking station should've been a bridge, like Dell does with theirs:
http://accessories.us.dell.com...1&acd=12309152537461010

Fezmid said,

An enterprise isn't going to throw away all of their DVI/HDMI monitors and replace them with DisplayPort monitors overnight. The docking station should've been a bridge, like Dell does with theirs:
http://accessories.us.dell.com...1&acd=12309152537461010

An enterprise isn't going to throw away all of their old laptops/desktops and replace them with Surfaces overnight.

If they're purchasing them as new units they will be purchasing the necessary peripherals as new units as well and any educated IT employee would be able to recommend a compliant monitor. Dell, at least differentiates DP 1.2 capable monitors in their product descriptions.

I very much doubt that "a large segment of Microsoft's customers" who have or want a Surface will use it with two monitors.

ZipZapRap said,
These editorials are getting worse

I wish there was a way to DOWN VOTE articles on here. Some of these articles/editorials are just getting ridiculous.

You might want to check out this fancy feature of DisplayPort... You can actually daisy chain multiple monitors on one cable... And that means that on a standard DisplayPort 1.2 port you can connect up to 4 1080p screens... So there should be no reason to have 2 or more displayports on a dock... Whn your monitors don't (yet) support this feature, you can add a displayport 'splitter' like the matrox rippleHeadToGo (http://www.matrox.com/graphics...ayport/?productTabs=1#close) to resolve that.

bushbrother said,
surely use the surface as one monitor and the displayport for the other? or do you need 2 massive screens?

Yes, I use two 24" monitors and that's not uncommon in the enterprise. While some people say to just alt-tab, they're missing the point that two monitors can display a LOT more information. Large Visio diagrams, long spreadsheets, REALLY make use of the extra real estate. I am currently writing this on two 24" monitors and the Surface screen itself (although I rarely use the Surface screen in this setup.)

For me the biggest issue is that from what I understand it won't be released until sometime in early 2014. Consequently, as I absolutely want to use a Surface as my everyday workstation capable computing environment, I will be deferring my purchase.

I cannot for the life of me fathom why they would choose to delay the launch. They are now down a pre-order for not meeting a reasonable expectation of making all accessories available at launch. Utterly ridiculous if you ask me.

spc1972 said,
For me the biggest issue is that from what I understand it won't be released until sometime in early 2014. Consequently, as I absolutely want to use a Surface as my everyday workstation capable computing environment, I will be deferring my purchase.

I cannot for the life of me fathom why they would choose to delay the launch. They are now down a pre-order for not meeting a reasonable expectation of making all accessories available at launch. Utterly ridiculous if you ask me.

Agree entirely. The dock is essential for corporate use. Especially for those of us salary sacrificing for it and taking it home every night.

From the reading I've done, in order to continue using your existing monitors that don't support DisplayPort 1.2, I am wondering if you could connect the mini Display Port on the dock to a Display Port Hub and then let that communicate with your existing monitors. Perhaps someone can confirm if a 1.2 capable DP hub would present multiple monitors (perhaps connected via DVI/HDMI) as 2 different monitors?

I am also lead to believe that if the first monitor is DisplayPort 1.2 then it can daisy-chain to another monitor even if that is DisplayPort 1.1. Not sure if that would apply if you used a DisplayPort to HDMI cable though.

I get your frustration but as the Surface Pro is very much a forward thinking piece of hardware then it may mean you need to make additional investments to bring your whole set-up up to spec. Not ideal, I know, but far from "missing the mark" in my view.

spc1972 said,
From the reading I've done, in order to continue using your existing monitors that don't support DisplayPort 1.2, I am wondering if you could connect the mini Display Port on the dock to a Display Port Hub and then let that communicate with your existing monitors. Perhaps someone can confirm if a 1.2 capable DP hub would present multiple monitors (perhaps connected via DVI/HDMI) as 2 different monitors?

I am also lead to believe that if the first monitor is DisplayPort 1.2 then it can daisy-chain to another monitor even if that is DisplayPort 1.1. Not sure if that would apply if you used a DisplayPort to HDMI cable though.

I get your frustration but as the Surface Pro is very much a forward thinking piece of hardware then it may mean you need to make additional investments to bring your whole set-up up to spec. Not ideal, I know, but far from "missing the mark" in my view.


I still believe it's missing the mark. The point of the docking station is try bringing the Surface Pro into the enterprise. I'm perfectly content with having only DisplayPort on the device itself, but the docking station was the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between old and new devices, making it easier for companies to buy them. At this point, what does the docking station give me that the HP port replicator doesn't? (and the docking station is more expensive to boot!).

Fezmid said,

I still believe it's missing the mark. The point of the docking station is try bringing the Surface Pro into the enterprise. I'm perfectly content with having only DisplayPort on the device itself, but the docking station was the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between old and new devices, making it easier for companies to buy them. At this point, what does the docking station give me that the HP port replicator doesn't? (and the docking station is more expensive to boot!).


are you serious? how can you be writing for neowin and not realize you get more than just a port replicator? Every dock I had for a laptop doesn't add anything the device doesn't already do. It saves hassle of a dozen wires hanging out and you can just undock and go. this is huge.

also what about the Ethernet port? without this dock you have to use your only USB port for it.

you're missing the ENTIRE point of a dock and that is to plug and play. Whatever mess of wires and hubs stay behind your screens and greatly enhances the capability of this tablet. Hardly "missing the mark" for most people.

neonspark said,
are you serious? how can you be writing for neowin and not realize you get more than just a port replicator? Every dock I had for a laptop doesn't add anything the device doesn't already do. It saves hassle of a dozen wires hanging out and you can just undock and go. this is huge.

also what about the Ethernet port? without this dock you have to use your only USB port for it.

you're missing the ENTIRE point of a dock and that is to plug and play. Whatever mess of wires and hubs stay behind your screens and greatly enhances the capability of this tablet. Hardly "missing the mark" for most people.


Ok, answer me this. Why would I buy the official MS dock instead of this? http://www.amazon.com/HP-3005p...keywords=hp+port+replicator

Fezmid said,

Ok, answer me this. Why would I buy the official MS dock instead of this? http://www.amazon.com/HP-3005p...keywords=hp+port+replicator

gladly. first of all, the MSFT dock allows you to charge the surface and use it as an input screen as it is angled and holds the device firmly without a mess of dangling cables (which if you used a pro beyond a review unit, you know the DP cable falls off easily). With the HP apparatus, you have to manually hook up the device to the power supply instead of just dropping it in, then you additionally have to hook the USB hub, and lastly hook display cable and hope it stays there in case you bump the device just a bit. The reason dock stations exists is so you don't have to hook up Neo to the matrix every time you get back to your desk.

Contrast the experience you're selling me to the surface dock. you do one thing:
dock it. Does this hold no value to you? I have a hard time buying that.

Your ONLY concern is that somebody MAY have to buy a DP splitter for legacy screens that don't support DP at all or DP 1.2. I agree 100% that owners of old displays will have to jump one extra hoop. Yeah, it sucks. Life sometimes do. But you just bought a 900 dollar super tablet. You're better than a lot of people. Does this ONE scenario neglect all the benefits and practicality of the product? I don't think so.

The fact remains that their dock is FAR more practical than just hooking up to every port the device has against hubs every time you are back at your desk.

neonspark said,

gladly. first of all, the MSFT dock allows you to charge the surface and use it as an input screen as it is angled and holds the device firmly without a mess of dangling cables (which if you used a pro beyond a review unit, you know the DP cable falls off easily). With the HP apparatus, you have to manually hook up the device to the power supply instead of just dropping it in, then you additionally have to hook the USB hub, and lastly hook display cable and hope it stays there in case you bump the device just a bit. The reason dock stations exists is so you don't have to hook up Neo to the matrix every time you get back to your desk.


With the HP port replicator, I just plug in the USB cable to the Surface Pro, and the port replicator then displays on my two monitors, no need for the DP port. I also attach the magnet to the power connector on the side if I need to keep it charged. The Surface Pro is used as a third monitor just fine with the kickstand, no need for a docking station. Not much different than Microsoft's dock, except I don't have to buy a bunch of dongles/converters to use current monitors.

Edited by Fezmid, Sep 26 2013, 4:34pm :

Fezmid said,

With the HP port replicator, I just plug in the USB cable to the Surface Pro, and the port replicator then displays on my two monitors, no need for the DP port. I also attach the magnet to the power connector on the side if I need to keep it charged. The Surface Pro is used as a third monitor just fine with the kickstand, no need for a docking station. Not much different than Microsoft's dock, except I don't have to buy a bunch of dongles/converters to use current monitors.

Eugh.
Your opinion is just that; yours. There are many people that disagree with it and there's no point arguing with you.

Personally, I use my Dell XPS 15 with two extra monitors at work. Originally this laptop was purchased so I could use it at home and at work, however, due to the annoyance of plugging in a USB cable (USB hub), power cable, DisplayPort, HDMI and Ethernet EVERY time I removed the laptop I've stopped taking it home.

The Surface Pro 2 is PERFECT for my needs with the dock. Currently neither of my monitors support DP 1.2 so I will be ditching the older 20" I have set up in portrait and purchase either a 24 or 27" with DP 1.2 support that I can use alongside my other 24".

I'm very excited about only having to pop my future Surface Pro 2 down onto the dock at work the simply lift it out to take it home - and only needing the charging cable at home without having to unplug it and have to reroute it through the desk's cable-management holes every time I plug in.

Regarding USB docks we have a couple we use with users of XPS 12s (or 13s?) as they have no docking compatibilities either. They've been a nightmare, especially with the Ethernet capabilities...
Wonder how many people (apart from programmers) actually use three screens at work? I know I'm the only one in our company :-/

I think the only way Microsoft missed the mark with the docking station is not releasing it on the same day as Surface Pro 2.

ByyeLuke said,
Just tried hooking up that very product to the Surface Pro 2 and it doesn't work. Latest drivers etc. Going to work with Club3D to see if there is a solution but likely there isn't.

Does the SP2 have a DP1.2 port or just the dock?

I think you need a bit more research. The docking station comes with a DisplayPort if I am not mistaken which allows more than one monitor to be connected.

Riva said,
I think you need a bit more research. The docking station comes with a DisplayPort if I am not mistaken which allows more than one monitor to be connected.

I guess you missed this part:

Although it's true you can daisy-chain devices with DisplayPort, the majority of monitors out in the wild right now do not have this port, with most currently being DVI or HDMI. For those people, it makes more sense to go with the port replicator.

He mentions in the article that (some?) display port monitors can be daisy chained, but the're not very common. If they'd put two ports, or put two HDMI ports on it instead, you wouldn't have to worry about what kind of ports your monitor has, or buying additional adapters.

glen8 said,

I guess you missed this part:

Although it's true you can daisy-chain devices with DisplayPort, the majority of monitors out in the wild right now do not have this port, with most currently being DVI or HDMI. For those people, it makes more sense to go with the port replicator.


Yeah. We should have stayed with VGA. Nobody had HDMI in the beginning anyway. /s

Edit: DisplayPort is quite future-safe.

ffMathy said,

Yeah. We should have stayed with VGA. Nobody had HDMI in the beginning anyway. /s

The docking station for my Dell laptop has DisplayPort, VGA, and DVI. Why didn't Microsoft put multiple outputs on their docking station? The only thing this thing gives you us 3 USB ports and an Ethernet jack.

Fezmid said,

The docking station for my Dell laptop has DisplayPort, VGA, and DVI. Why didn't Microsoft put multiple outputs on their docking station? The only thing this thing gives you us 3 USB ports and an Ethernet jack.

you can argue that they should have, but they effectively gave you the same option (dual screens). Yes the implementation would have been easier if it was two simple outputs but at least you CAN do it given it is DP 1.2 and not 1.1 like the original surface pro.

so if you REALLY are going to spend over 1K for the suface+dock, why are you skimping on a splitter if you don't have modern monitors and that is such a big deal for you? yeah, it could have been easier. but it remains possible.

I still don't understand what's the point of having multiple monitors, it takes me far less time to alt-tab than moving the cursor to another monitor.

francescob said,
I still don't understand what's the point of having multiple monitors, it takes me far less time to alt-tab than moving the cursor to another monitor.

If you worked in IT, you'd understand

Jarrichvdv said,
I sometimes use 3 monitors at once. It's just convenient... I don't like constant alt-tabbing.

Maybe it's because I use keyboard shortcuts for everything when available, having to move from the keyboard to the mouse just for changing monitor is far more annoying for me, once you learn how windows in alt+tab are ordered and how to use shift+alt+tab as well it all becomes intuitive and instantaneous.

glen8 said,

If you worked in IT, you'd understand


Not at all, the only proper use for additional monitors I've seen was for separated specialized tasks, like monitoring servers/hardware/etc., basically just to avoid requiring another workstation. It doesn't seem of any help to me for programming or other tasks if it forces you to grab the mouse and move your head every time when you could just alt+tab, not to mention having multiple monitors without additional software gets in the way of alt-tab cycling, is annoying for launching applications, etc.

Amazed to see how many people don't realise the benefits of multiple monitors. Maybe it's one of those things you need to try before you appreciate it. It gives massive productivity benefits. If you are buying big screens or alt-tabbing all the time you are really missing out.

francescob said,

Not at all, the only proper use for additional monitors I've seen was for separated specialized tasks, like monitoring servers/hardware/etc., basically just to avoid requiring another workstation. It doesn't seem of any help to me for programming or other tasks if it forces you to grab the mouse and move your head every time when you could just alt+tab, not to mention having multiple monitors without additional software gets in the way of alt-tab cycling, is annoying for launching applications, etc.

What absolute nonsense. Alt+Tabbing is a poor man's solution, not at all one that's productive. Your justification for a multi-monitor setup is also well off the mark. There are plenty of use cases where it's a significant productivity boost, but I'm not going to waste my time listing them all. Feel free to continue operating at a limited potential.

Ideas Man said,

What absolute nonsense. Alt+Tabbing is a poor man's solution, not at all one that's productive.

Because having to grab the mouse and moving the cursor to the other window to interact with what's on the secondary monitor adds to productivity? I can do the same instantly without having to turn my head or even moving a finger out of the keyboard, you can't deny that it's much, much faster.

Ideas Man said,

Your justification for a multi-monitor setup is also well off the mark. There are plenty of use cases where it's a significant productivity boost, but I'm not going to waste my time listing them all. Feel free to continue operating at a limited potential.

Don't worry, I don't, unlike most people with multiple monitors I see that basically only use them as gimmicks, wasting time switching from one to the other for the most mundane tasks. Even more cringeful when they're mac users, with that unbelievably because-steve-jobs-liked-it slow cursor that takes longer to move from one side to the screen to the other than crossing a busy street. I switch from visual studio to browser or virtual machines instances without wasting a second and always had people complimenting for how fast I was. This said I perfectly understand that there are cases when having multiple monitors could be mandatory, but certainly nowhere as many as this editorial implies and I also understand that for users who like me aren't used to using the keyboard as much as possible the mileage can certainly vary: in my case the drawbacks are way too many to be of any use.

Edited by francescob, Sep 26 2013, 12:51pm :

it's not just about having to interact with the 2nd, or in my case, 3rd monitor. it's that they are always visible and there is no need to alt-tab, you see everything at once. you're switching back and forth and seeing only one at a time. there's not always a need to interact with the other monitor, just being able to see it is a benefit.

I use my second monitor to watch TV or follow IRC/Messenger/Email chats while working on something else (mainly Neowin) on my main monitor. No need to switch at all

Or even open up some server monitoring tools on my second screen so I can keep an eye on the servers while working on my main screen

gkeramidas said,
it's not just about having to interact with the 2nd, or in my case, 3rd monitor. it's that they are always visible and there is no need to alt-tab, you see everything at once. you're switching back and forth and seeing only one at a time. there's not always a need to interact with the other monitor, just being able to see it is a benefit.

I understand that but I still don't see all those benefits, having to move the head and find again what you were previously looking at takes its time and as I was saying having multiple monitors also has its drawbacks, like getting indirectly in the way of task switching if you don't use additional software, though Windows 7 certainly helped with the shortcuts they added for moving from one screen to the other.

Windows 7/8 started sorting the alt-tab windows by the order they were activated and that was an huge improvement since you can always know that the last thing you were doing is always just one alt-tab away, also with nowadays 16:9 monitors if you really need to have documentation or something else quickly available you can snap two windows on the sides (winkey+left or right) and still be able to work on both (with 4:3 monitors having multiple windows was practically impossible) so it's already like having an additional monitor in most cases.

Redmak said,
I use my second monitor to watch TV or follow IRC/Messenger/Email chats while working on something else (mainly Neowin) on my main monitor. No need to switch at all

Redmak said,
Or even open up some server monitoring tools on my second screen so I can keep an eye on the servers while working on my main screen

Indeed as I said they are certainly useful when you use them for unrelated tasks, since they save you from having to buy another computer but if you need to work on 'just one thing' using multiple monitors couldn't really speed things up that much.

Edited by francescob, Sep 26 2013, 1:20pm :

francescob said,
I still don't understand what's the point of having multiple monitors, it takes me far less time to alt-tab than moving the cursor to another monitor.

It seem that you have not given it a chance or have tried it. I have a dual 24" screen, and I barely move my head when looking at different monitors. It is the same with the mouse movement. Do I still use keyboard shortcuts and alt-tab, yes I do, but that doesn't limit me with using a dual screen.

In addition, if you do have dual screen, you will realized that majority of the work you are doing will be on a single screen, and the second one will be for references only or for checking email. \

francescob said,

Not at all, the only proper use for additional monitors I've seen was for separated specialized tasks, like monitoring servers/hardware/etc., basically just to avoid requiring another workstation. It doesn't seem of any help to me for programming or other tasks if it forces you to grab the mouse and move your head every time when you could just alt+tab, not to mention having multiple monitors without additional software gets in the way of alt-tab cycling, is annoying for launching applications, etc.

So you see no use in having a maximized Visual Studio (since the IDE is kind of crowded) to follow the debugger while you're watching the sequence of events happen in an application? Just wondering since you brought up the development aspect. I personally would be very hampered by a single display at work. Alt-Tabbing would feel like a band aid for what I really needed, like having another person moving into a small apartment instead of just getting a larger one.

RommelS said,

It seem that you have not given it a chance or have tried it. I have a dual 24" screen, and I barely move my head when looking at different monitors. It is the same with the mouse movement. Do I still use keyboard shortcuts and alt-tab, yes I do, but that doesn't limit me with using a dual screen.


You must have a field vision better than an eagle or keep the monitors pretty far, using a single 30'' is already enough annoying for me, I do leave DPI settings to minimum though since the screen space is still a necessity.

RommelS said,

In addition, if you do have dual screen, you will realized that majority of the work you are doing will be on a single screen, and the second one will be for references only or for checking email. \

Indeed as I said they're useful if you need to monitor stuff or have unrelated tasks on them, but using them for the main work can become annoying.

Northgrove said,

So you see no use in having a maximized Visual Studio (since the IDE is kind of crowded) to follow the debugger while you're watching the sequence of events happen in an application? Just wondering since you brought up the development aspect. I personally would be very hampered by a single display at work. Alt-Tabbing would feel like a band aid for what I really needed, like having another person moving into a small apartment instead of just getting a larger one.

I usually simply leave the application on top of visual studio (moved to the side) so I can see all the events behind. With 2560x1440 or even just 1980x1080 visual studio usually has already a lot of free space to use. It all depends on the application though, if it must be maximized in order to be usable then it can certainly become a problem.

francescob said,

You must have a field vision better than an eagle or keep the monitors pretty far, using a single 30'' is already enough annoying for me, I do leave DPI settings to minimum though since the screen space is still a necessity.


Indeed as I said they're useful if you need to monitor stuff or have unrelated tasks on them, but using them for the main work can become annoying.


I usually simply leave the application on top of visual studio (moved to the side) so I can see all the events behind. With 2560x1440 or even just 1980x1080 visual studio usually has already a lot of free space to use. It all depends on the application though, if it must be maximized in order to be usable then it can certainly become a problem.

Nope. I wear awesome prescription specs, and everyone in our department uses dual 24" monitors. Now we do have a few dual 30", that I could understand, and you do have to put distance between you and the monitors.

francescob said,
I still don't understand what's the point of having multiple monitors, it takes me far less time to alt-tab than moving the cursor to another monitor.

I keep seeing this alt-tab argument, every time I hear from someone who doesn't see the point of having multiple monitors. It's like there's this misconception--somehow--that it means having to choose one over the other, but you can't have both...I have many monitors, and still alt-tab all the time between applications that are running side-by-side.

To me, that's the key--having things run side-by-side, visible at a glance without having to touch either the mouse or keyboard, or worse, stopping what I'm doing to alt-tab to another application to see whether something got updated in another window or something like that.

Edited by _dandy_, Sep 27 2013, 7:14pm :

Just tried hooking up that very product to the Surface Pro 2 and it doesn't work. Latest drivers etc. Going to work with Club3D to see if there is a solution but likely there isn't.

Just a heads up for people who were considering this solution.

fluidman said,
just use something like this with it, i know it should be integrated into the dock, but still a good option: http://club-3d.com/index.php/p...en/product/mst-hub-1-3.html

I don't know anyone who uses 2 monitors to be honest, but then again, i don't know anyone that uses a Surface either, ha.

Uplift said,
I don't know anyone who uses 2 monitors to be honest, but then again, i don't know anyone that uses a Surface either, ha.

Your kidding me right....everyone at work has dual monitors. I don't think I could go back to one now.

glen8 said,

Your kidding me right....everyone at work has dual monitors. I don't think I could go back to one now.

Nope.. everyone in my work place who needs a large workspace has one large display.

I always use two monitors. One regular one, and one portrait orientation (coding is so much nicer with a portrait monitor!).

At home, I actually have 3 displays connected - my main one, my portrait one, and I have my TV at the side dedicated to email (it's far more productive to not have email on your main display!).

Brian M said,
I always use two monitors. One regular one, and one portrait orientation (coding is so much nicer with a portrait monitor!).

At home, I actually have 3 displays connected - my main one, my portrait one, and I have my TV at the side dedicated to email (it's far more productive to not have email on your main display!).

Yeah, in all seriousness i would use 2 monitors if i could. I struggle in photoshop when i need to reference 2 files, and i'd love to code on a separate monitor and maybe have a live updating browser on another so that i don't need to keep switching to it to see any update.. unfortunately i work in several locations and at home i work in the living room otherwise i'd never see my family.. so mobility is essential for me, which 2 monitors aren't

glen8 said,

Your kidding me right....everyone at work has dual monitors. I don't think I could go back to one now.

Not everyone. My co-workers have dual but they're small. I had dual for a couple of days but it drove me crazy. I prefer one huge monitor over two but that's just me. I also don't have much real estate for two.

Uplift said,
I don't know anyone who uses 2 monitors to be honest, but then again, i don't know anyone that uses a Surface either, ha.

Most of the people i work with or know wouldn't dream of only running one display.
I guess it depends on what you use a computer for but i'd so dual screens is pretty damn common these days.

Uplift said,
I don't know anyone who uses 2 monitors to be honest, but then again, i don't know anyone that uses a Surface either, ha.

In that case, let me introduce myself and kill two birds with one stone. Not only does the machine on my desk have three 24" monitors hooked up to it, but that machine is...a Surface Pro. So strictly speaking, I use 4 displays for my day-to-day work.

At home I only use a single monitor (space constraints) but at my old job, I used a dual monitor setup. When you got alot going on/need to monitor alot of things at once you suddenly see how useful having more then one monitor is.

Uplift said,
I don't know anyone who uses 2 monitors to be honest, but then again, i don't know anyone that uses a Surface either, ha.

To be honest,
I don't know a single person that uses multiple monitors or even owns a Surface Pro either!!

Actually, have yet to figure out what they're good for if some one already has any other kind of computer/laptop, except for people to play keep up with the Jones's on!!

kinpin said,
What the f**k did I just read? I'm can't to make heads or tails of what the "writer" is trying to say.

He wants two monitors

Basically yeah.

TL;DR - Doesn't have 2 Mini Display Ports

So - missed the mark.

Actually Neobond, it is an hard article to wrap your head around. Too confusing with all the old surface, docking stations and some HP crap around.

Neobond said,
Sometimes it's better not to say anything at all if you have trouble understanding an otherwise clear opinion..

Not everything is worthy of an "editorial" . Sometimes I get the impression you permit articles just to get the page views rather than sharing insightful opinions.

When I say the title of the article, I've realized that dual monitors was his issue. Why? Because I felt the same way. Granted Surface Pro is not the type of system that you will you in an enterprise environment for application that uses extensive graphics, but having the convenience of having two monitors can allow you to multitask easily.

Fret not Christopher White, There are USB adapter that could allow you to connect an additional monitor for dual monitor support. You just have to do your research to find out which one will work best with the Surface Pro 2 docking station. Then again, if you connect a bigger monitor, you can have multiple app running in front of you in Windows 8.1.

I know the convenience of having a dock with dual monitor input is still better.

kinpin said,

Not everything is worthy of an "editorial" . Sometimes I get the impression you permit articles just to get the page views rather than sharing insightful opinions.


THIS.

what I don't understand is why a person can't buy the cable for his monitors according to his needs? there are mini displayport to dual any outputs adapters on sale.

x.iso said,
what I don't understand is why a person can't buy the cable for his monitors according to his needs? there are mini displayport to dual any outputs adapters on sale.

It is not that the solution is not out there, but majority of docking stations and port replicators comes with dual monitor inputs. Hopefully MS might releases a docking Pro version with dual HDMI, DisplayPort, or DVI-I.

Pssst ...MS, are you reading this?

kinpin said,

Not everything is worthy of an "editorial" . Sometimes I get the impression you permit articles just to get the page views rather than sharing insightful opinions.

By definition it is an editorial since it's an opinion and not a reporting. Whether it's good editorial not is a different question.

kinpin said,

Sometimes I get the impression you permit articles just to get the page views rather than sharing insightful opinions.

lol is that how techblogs work?!