My computers these days are all Macs. That is a somewhat misleading statement because currently my work is Windows-based. Using a Mac doesn’t limit me to what operating system I can use. Don’t get me wrong – I love and prefer Mac OSX. I admit, though, that Microsoft Windows 7 has taken a “Titanic” operating system and righted the ship. Windows 7 is clean, nice looking, and safe. My software investments, however, have gone the direction of Mac OSX for the last ten years though I still do have a significant investment in Windows software. In fact I have a current Tech Net Pro subscription which allows me to use most Microsoft software. It is a wonderful tool for developers!
That is all introduction. This post is a short first-look review of the Henge Dock.
My main computer is a Macbook Pro which runs both Mac OSX and serveral different flavors of Windows and Windows Server via VMWare Fusion,. There are times when I take it with me to work away from my office as a mobile computer and there are times when I use it as a desktop replacement connected to an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor. The Henge Dock offers the convenience of simply sliding your Macbook or Macbook Pro into the dock which then automatically connects it to all of your external devices. “Simply” is the word on trial here.
I heard a pre-release review of the Henge Dock by Tim Verpoorten on the MacReviewCast podcast. In my book, Tim’s opinions carry a lot of weight. He gave a positive opinion of the Henge Dock and I immediately checked out their website. Unfortunately, Henge Docks were only available for pre-order – that was May. I finally received notice on September 11 that mine was available to purchase online. I quickly ordered it and received shipment on Wednesday of this week. I assumed that the setup of the dock would take a few minutes and that I would then be up and running. The way the ports and cables work with the Henge Dock is stated on their website:
Each Henge Dock model is designed for a specific type of MacBook computer. Click your style of MacBook above to select the Henge Dock that is right for you. Included with each dock are a full compliment of custom USB, Ethernet, Audio cables and in some models Firewire cables, designed to work with the Henge Dock system.
Our MacBook docking system reuses a customer’s existing Apple supplied MagSafe power source and Mini-DisplayPort to DVI adapter. If you choose to purchase a spare MagSafe Power Adapter or Apple Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter adapter we recommend you buy only original Apple accessories to guarantee compatibility.
Setting up a Henge Docks unit is straight forward, allowing you to select only the cables you need making docking and undocking the computer as easy as possible. For more information visit the Support Page, watch the Henge Docks Demo Video, or download the User Guide.
My problems began when I tried to connect the Magsafe power connector through the appropriate port hole. It was so snug and tight that I had difficulty poking it through and when I finally did, it was nearly impossible to get it to go back. According to the instructions, you push the cable through and then connect it to the Macbook Pro. Finally, you are suppose to set the Macbook Pro into the dock and finish by tightening a set screw. Fine in theory, but my Magsafe power tip was not going to go back into its port hole by setting my Macbook Pro into the dock without a struggle. My only solution was to very carefully whittle away at the plastic on my Magsafe power tip so that it would fit in the port hole.
My second issue was that the Mini-DisplayPort to DVI adapter did not fit under the dock after connected like the instructions said it should. It was clear that the instructions assumed a longer amount of cable on the Mini-DisplayPort to DVI adapter then what there actually was. The trade off was that I could not install the audio out/mic cable (not a big deal for me because I use a Griffin Technology iMic USB audio adapter) in order to make it all fit. Later I notice on the Henge Dock website a note that identified that issue and suggested routing the video adapter and cable the other direction noting that it would fit fine with the other cables. Sorry to report that’s not the case – I tried it already and it doesn’t.
I had some other issues including the difficulty of pulling my Macbook Pro out of the dock, my Macbook Pro consistently not connecting cleanly with all of the ports, and the dock leaving white residue on my Macbook Pro when I undocked it.
I know this company is trying to make a great product at a good price, but my experience with the Henge Dock left me wanting something better. I previously used a BookEndz dock with my Mac Powerbook 12 inch notebook. It was a nice dock but the hefty price seemed a little bit on the steep end. On a positive note, The Henge Dock is attractively priced. Unfortunately, my first experience with it was akin to a mediocre first date!