Bookendz Docking Station for 13” MacBook
Back on Podcast 153, Tim and Owen reminisced about the Apple PowerBook Duo line of computers. These machines were available from 1994-1996, and were very small laptop computers without the usual collection of ports and built-in drives. They could be placed in a separately available DuoDock, that added all the missing ports and devices, as well as a larger hard drive, and of course a fixed power supply and a proper monitor. As such, the concept was a full desktop Mac that allowed the most important parts to be removed and used as a laptop.
Wind forward twelve years, and technological development has certainly caught up with the concept! Today’s portable Macs are as fully featured and functional as any desktop machine – in fact, parts of the Mac desktop line-up have embraced the design and implementation of the portable systems – the Mac Mini is a MacBook in a desktop case! Accordingly, many people have a MacBook or a MacBook Pro as their only Mac.
Now, today’s portables have a pretty full complement of ports compared to those old Duos, so when on a desktop you can add a full-size keyboard and mouse, an extra monitor, and connect to a USB hub with a host of devices. But particularly if you add some speakers, a microphone and perhaps a network connection as well, you end up with a tangle of cables and finger fatigue connecting and disconnecting everything!
Enter BookEndz, who have been making docks for the PowerBook line for nearly a decade. They now have a full line that supports the Intel Macs, and I got a look at a white dock for the 13” MacBook. The BookEndz device looks deceptively simple – a plastic box with plugs that match all of the sockets on the side of the MacBook. Corresponding sockets are found around the edges, allowing permanent connection of your peripherals. Simple slide your MacBook up to the dock and press it home.
BookEndz have really thought about what the user needs, though. Firstly, as the MagSafe power connector is proprietary to Apple, they can’t provide a connector – but a cleverly designed channel allows the MacBook’s own adapter to be used. Next, the Mini-DVI connector is turned into full size DVI and VGA sockets on the dock, and most of the ports are available facing backwards rather than sideways. Then there is an additional pair of USB ports on the side, and a tiny power supply is included to provide full hub power to the USB ports. Finally, the headphone connector can be retracted with a lever, ensuring that your internal MacBook speakers remain live if you wish.
As a docking solution, BookEndz have done a fine job, bearing in mind that they are not party to Apple’s design process. I suppose that their is a risk that Apple could change the MacBook port arrangement, so I would suggest you bear that in mind of you like to change your machine more frequently than every couple of years. Cost-wise, I think the price is fair, given the extra facilities that dock gives you over the bare ports on the MacBook. Certainly a MacBook and a BookEndz dock compares favorably on price to having both a desktop And a laptop Mac. If you want to embrace the docking concept, this is definitely the right product to get.