Chromebooks are versatile machines in nature, designed for you to carry them along and continue your work wherever there’s an Internet connection available. Even though they’re traditionally renowned for education and personal use, more and more types of users are considering Chromebooks nowadays, mainly because of their price. And while they are still limited in terms of what the Chrome OS can do, many users also feel limited by the number of ports and connectivity. Most Chromebooks come with 1 or 2 USB ports, and maybe an HDMI ports, and that’s all. It’s actually impossible to find a Chromebook with and Ethernet ports for example. That’s why many users like to use a Chromebook with a Docking Station or a port replicator, in order to connect an external mouse, or display for example.
Can you use a Docking Station with a Chromebook?
The short answer is Yes, but not all Chromebooks work well with docking stations. You should always make sure that the dock you’re buying is compatible with the Chrome OS.
If you’re wondering why a docking station is one of the best accessories for your Chromebooks; you should first understand why docking station were invented in the first place. Docking stations are designed to give a desktop feel to your laptop. Ever wanted to plug your portable computer into several monitors? Ever felt the need for more ports to plug your peripherals, like mice, external hard drives, card readers and other devices? That’s where docking stations come in handy. If your work or lifestyle requires you to travel a lot, you can totally avoid purchasing a desktop computer on top of your laptop or, the other way, restraining your productivity and creative outputs. Docking stations come in different styles, here are the main ones:
- These are the cheapest, and the slimmest too. They just serve the purpose of adding other ports, mainly USB ones, for you to plug your peripherals. Being so tiny, you can easily fit them in any bag of yours and keep your workflow wherever you might be, either a business trip or a vacation. Unlike other docking stations, they have no power charging. They drain your laptop’s battery instead, so keep that in mind.
- Desk docks. Some laptops come with a built-in commodity for plugging it into desk docks, without using USB cables. Desk docks serve all the purposes of a premium docking station, up to the point of having an elevated platform to make your laptop more comfortable.
- Portable stations. A balanced solution between replicators and desk docks, often offering built-in power charging and multiple ports for your monitors and peripherals. Being so versatile, they usually make for the most popular docking stations in the market, including the Chromebook niche.
A few considerations before purchasing your docking station. Always double check for compatibility to your laptop model. Keep in mind that the best purchase is going to depend on your typical use. Are you going to plug in 4K monitors? How many ports do you need?
Now, let’s have a look at some of the best Chromebooks with docking stations available right now.
Best Chromebooks with Docking Station
The HP Chromebook 14-ca070nr and the HP USB-C G4 Docking Station
The HP Chromebook 14-ca070nr is a 14” HD Chromebook, featuring an Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 32 GB SSD. It has a 180 degrees hinge and a touchscreen display, that’s going to come in handy for easily navigating through the Android apps.
The size of this Chromebook is excellent for professional on the go use, neither too small or too heavy. If you’ve come the way of considering purchasing a Chromebook, you already know you’re not going to use offline storage that much. Otherwise, you’ll always have a microSD slot at hand. A stunning feature of this model is the battery life, reaching 11 hours and 30 minutes on average use.
The HP USB-C Dock G4 portable station is the best companion to your Chromebook 14, coming from the same manufacturer. Your device will be charging while plugged in through a USB Type-C cable, having the commodity of two additional USB 2.0 ports and other two USB 3.0 ports. With this docking station, you can connect your Chromebook to either one 4K monitor or up to three WSXGA+ displays through the display ports. This little device can easily fit into your hand, so there’s no concern about travelling!
The Acer Chromebook R 13 CB5-312T-K5X4 and the Plugable USB C Dock
Next, the Acer Chromebook R 13 CB5-312T-K5X4 is a 13.3” Full HD convertible Chromebook, that you can easily use in different modes like the popular tent one. The mandatory touchscreen display adds another layer of functionality to this portable device. It features a MediaTek MT8173C processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 32 GB SSD.
The budget price of the Chromebook R 13 is nothing compared to all the work you can get done through this laptop. Like other competitors running Chrome OS, the battery life is so amazing it will have your back for the whole workday, with 12 hours on a single charge. You’ll get all the perks of a Chromebook, like fast loading time and a secure environment. When the included connectivity options are not enough, you can rely on your next docking station.
The Plugable USB C Dock is a portable station that you can either place horizontally, or vertically through an included stand. It’s such a popular product, thanks to the amazing array of ports it comes with. We’re talking about five USB 1.0 ports, two USB 2.0 and three USB 3.0. You’ll get an HDMI port that you can use for a 4K monitor, an Ethernet port and a headphone and microphone jack. All of these perks for the cost of one USB Type-C connection to your Chromebook. Haven’t I talked already about the built-in power charging?
The Lenovo Chromebook C330 and the Anker USB C Hub
If you’re looking for a cheap Chromebook with a docking station, then consider the Lenovo Chromebook C330, which is another convertible and touchscreen compact Chromebook. Featuring a 11.6” HD display, it’s packed with a MediaTek MT8173C processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 64 GB SSD. This device is a marvel for the travelling type, being thinner than one inch and weighting only 2.6 lbs. It resembles the looks and functionality of a tablet, without renouncing the comfort of having a keyboard to comfortably type your way.
Like other Chromebooks in this range, the value you get for the price is simply amazing. Having a processor optimized for Android apps, this model is easily one of the best Chromebooks under 300$. It comes with an HDMI port, a microSD slot, and a couple USB Type-C ports that you can use for charging it. Now, how would it feel to get all your work done through a device as little as this?
Couple it with the Anker USB C Hub, a tiny replicator that transforms one USB Type-C port to three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and an Ethernet, for plugging your laptop to the wired connection. It doesn’t offer power charging, but that’s up to your needs. If you just want a few ports to plug in your peripherals, without adding any burden to your setup, the USB C Hub is going to work wonders. Surprisingly, you can use the HDMI port to stream to a 4K monitor. Which is so good for a device you could confuse with a simple cable!