I’ve been using a HengeDock for the past two months. I bought the model matching my laptop, a late model 13" MacBook Pro. Here’s a mini-review.
The vertical design gives me a nice small footprint.
With Apple’s current laptop designs, where all of the ports are on one side and the optical drive is on the other, I can still access the optical drive while docked. It’s on the top, like a toaster, reminiscent of the ill-fated G4 Cube.
The docking and undocking process is very simple. Drop it in to dock. Hold the dock with one hand and pull the laptop out with the other. No wrangling with multiple cables, and no wacky levers or latches like I have used on other, much bulkier docks in the past.
As far as I can tell, Apple no longer sells power supplies with the square-block style MagSafe power connectors. The HengeDock is not compatible with the new barrel-style connector. If my current power supply goes kaput, I may be stuck having to buy an old one on eBay to get the older connector, or swapping power bricks with my wife (she’d get the barrel-style). (HengeDocks now claims compatibility with all three types of MagSafe connector on their new models.)
If my laptop’s battery is totally dead, I can dock it to charge. But then I am left with an expensive paperweight. I have to wait a while to get some charge in the battery, then remove the laptop and power it on after opening the lid. If I’m quick, I can then close the lid and dock it and I’m in business. Otherwise, I have to wait for it to boot up, then put it to sleep, then dock it. I could solve that with a second power supply, but that’s a hefty cost for the rare occasions when I run into this scenario.
The Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter I bought from Apple doesn’t fit very well underneath the dock case. In fact, I couldn’t get it to fit under there at all. Mine is sticking out of the rear opening, halfway in and halfway out. That works, but it’s not the best arrangement. The remaining cables have to fit around it as they emerge from the dock, and it is a little tight. (The company is now selling adapter cables for Mini DisplayPort to DVI and also HDMI, specially designed to work with the HengeDock. They are not included, so get ready to cough up another $25 if you want one of those. Unless your display directly supports Mini DisplayPort, you probably would have to buy an adapter of some type anyway.)
The initial installation process is not too rough, but it is more than a lot of people might want to deal with. You have to thread cables up into the dock body, through the proper hole, and then tighten them into position with an allen wrench (included). HengeDocks recommends doing them one at a time, by threading the cable up through the dock and plugging it into the laptop, then lowering the laptop into the dock and tightening the screw. It’s not that tough, but it’s not something I could see my mom wanting to deal with.
I’m happy with it. It gets the laptop connected and disconnected quickly, and doesn’t waste space on my desk. My main gripe is that when I get a new laptop at some point, the port configuration will probably have changed, and it will become an expensive brick of resin.