Learn more about what is a docking station and how it contributes to worker efficiency.
26 Aug 2022

What is a Docking Station, its Purpose, and Why You Need Them

Rugged mobile PCs exist primarily to enhance mobile worker productivity and efficiency while on foot. Docking stations take these benefits a step further by improving productivity and efficiency while using such a device while seated, or at least generally stationary, whether in a vehicle, a workshop, or your office.

What is a Docking Station?

A docking station is an apparatus that fixes a portable device, such as a notebook or tablet, in a single location. This is done by sliding the device vertically and immobilizing it with a sliding lock mechanism. They fall into two general categories: vehicle docks/cradles and office docks. Both types enable easy one-step device docking and undocking without the need to connect or remove wires.    

Vehicle Docks & Cradles: Productivity on Wheels

Workers use vehicle docks and cradles in various industries and sectors. These include transportation, logistics, shipping, law enforcement, emergency response, field services, utilities, and defense. Standard installations see a rugged laptop or tablet mounted in a vehicle’s cabin. This enables the driver/operator (or a passenger) to view and operate the device without holding it. This is a significant safety benefit while a vehicle is moving.

What separates a vehicle dock from a vehicle cradle is connectivity. When locked in place, a vehicle dock provides charging for your rugged device.

Vehicle docks offer connectivity to the vehicle’s radio antennas (i.e., RF passthrough). It likewise enables seamless interoperability with other in-vehicle communications you use. Vehicle docks also give various other (simulated via port replication) capabilities such as audio out, USB-C, HDMI, etc.

On the other hand, a vehicle cradle is purely a mounting apparatus, lacking any connectivity or interactivity.

Office Docks: Productivity in House

At first glance, the utility of an office dock might not seem as apparent as that of a vehicle dock for a mobile worker. An office dock provides four primary benefits for users spending their day working at a fixed location.

Desktop Convenience

Office docking stations expand the number of ports on a mobile device. This lets you connect more devices or peripherals, extending the mobile device’s capabilities without sacrificing mobility.

One-Step Plug/Unplug

Office docks eliminate the need to disconnect and reconnect individual wires whenever you take your device from a desk or return to it. This is all thanks to their single general-purpose connector that handles everything, including charging. Office docks save time and effort, reducing the risk of your various cords and wires becoming frayed, damaged, or cumbersome.

Hybrid Work Convenience

Hot desk arrangements have become the norm in many workplaces. Office docks greatly facilitate this while eliminating the need in some hybrid scenarios to carry around certain mobile device accessories, such as the AC adapter (i.e., the power cord).

Workshop Suitability

Despite their name, office docks aren’t just for offices. They’re also handy in environments like labs, workshops, and auto repair garages. The dock is often attached to a swivel arm, holding the device in a convenient orientation. At the same time, you do your work, with another benefit being that an office dock reduces the likelihood of you misplacing your device while doing your various tasks around the room.

What You Want in A Docking Solution

For office docks beyond your port/connectivity requirements, you’ll want an intuitive dock so that users can understand how to dock and undock without instruction. You’ll also want a dock that takes up less space and a one-handed device release so your other hand can guide the device free without scratches, scrapes, or drops.  

In a vehicle, first, you’ll want to make sure whether you need a dock that offers charging and connectivity or the pure mounting capabilities of a cradle. You’ll also want a solution that’s both easy to install and easily serviced, with a one-handed device release, so the device doesn’t put any strain on the mount, and isn’t dropped, as it’s unlocked. And most importantly, you’ll want a rigid solution that can handle the pressure of bumps or sharp vehicle turns, or of the user grabbing the device while locked in place, that also offers stability so that the device doesn’t shake to excess at high speeds.   

What Getac Offers

Getac offers various office and vehicle dock solutions under the Getac brand. These are 100% designed and manufactured by us (and optimized for use with our devices). Many of these docks are flexible and adjustable in multi-model deployments.

Havis and Gamber-Johnson are our partners of choice if you have a third-party preference. Most of our current laptop and tablet model offerings are compatible vehicle models from one or both partners.

For vehicle docking scenarios, our Getac Driving Safety Utility is also available. This software-based solution minimizes distracted driving risk. This is done by blanking the device’s screen and locking the input mechanisms for a docked Getac device while the vehicle is in motion.

As one of the leading rugged computer providers, Getac offers extensive rugged computing product lines and serves a wide range of vertical markets.

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