A base station attaches to AC power and to desktop peripherals. When you plug the laptop into the base station, you have access to power and the attached peripherals as well as an increased number of ports.
There are two types of base stations that are used for the same purpose: docking stations and port replicators. A port replicator may contain a SCSI port, a networking port, PS/2 ports, USB ports, and a game port. A docking station has the same ports as a port replicator, but adds the ability to connect to PCI cards, additional hard drives, optical drives, and floppy drives. A laptop connected to a docking station has the same functionalities as a desktop computer.
Docking stations and port replicators use a variety of connection types:
- Manufacturer- and model-specific
- USB and FireWire
- PC-Card or ExpressCard
Some base stations connect to a laptop using a port that is located on the top of the docking station, as shown in Figure 1. Other base stations are designed to plug directly into a USB port of the laptop. Most laptops can be docked when in use or while shut off. Adding devices when docking can be handled with plug-and-play technology or by having a separate hardware profile for the docked and undocked state.
NOTE: Many base stations are proprietary and only work with particular laptops. Before buying a base station, check the laptop documentation or the website of the manufacturer to determine the appropriate make and model for the laptop.
For more information about components on the top of the docking station, click the highlighted areas in Figure 1.
For more information about the components located on the rear of the docking station, click the highlighted areas in Figure 2.
For more information about components on the right side of the docking station, click the highlighted areas in Figure 3.