HP USB 2.0 Docking Station
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 09-18-2009
Provided by: DisplayLink

The HP USB 2.0 Docking Station installation is very self-explanatory, if you can hook up a PC you can do this. Simply plug your monitor, mouse and keyboard into the back, as well as audio, network and any other USB peripherals you want to use, then connect the AC adapter and plug the supplied USB cable from the front into your laptop.

The notebook I'll be using for testing is my trusty old IBM ThinkPad T40, as recently showcased in our KingSpec SSD review. I still have the Windows 7 RC installed, which I fully expected might cause some compatibility issues, seeing as how the HP USB 2.0 Dock is only officially certified for Windows XP SP1+ or Windows Vista. Also, rather than connecting my keyboard, mouse and monitor directly to the dock, I'm plugging it into my IOGear USB KVM. A KVM, short for Keyboard, Video, Mouse, is a switch that allows you to share one set of devices among multiple computers.

Rather than needing to pop a CD in to load software drivers, the HP USB Dock has 128MB of flash memory built right in. Once you have the dock connected to your laptop, it should be recognized just like any other USB flash drive, and appear as a drive letter accessible through Windows Explorer. To install the software required for the HP USB Dock to work, just execute the HP Dock Install application and it takes care of the rest.

Unfortunately the version of software that comes pre-installed on the HP Dock does not support Windows 7. However DisplayLink does have a beta version of the software available on their website. Since there is over 100MB of the 128MB flash memory free, this updated software can be downloaded and saved right to the dock for future use!

However even the beta driver did not work for me. Everything installed successfully except for the video component of the dock. Keep in mind though this software is still beta, the Windows 7 version is a Release Candidate, and the graphics card and driver in this laptop is not Vista or 7 compliant because it does not support WDDM. A quick email to DisplayLink tech support confirmed this, the XDDM driver I'm using is the cause of the problem. Since it's an outdated graphics chipset and there's no updated driver available, this simply isn't going to work. One good thing to report however is that their tech support is great. I received a knowledgeable response within an hour or two, and even after-hours at that!

So since I would not be able to test out the HP USB Dock with Windows 7 RC installed, I reformatted and reloaded Windows XP SP3 instead. This is the original OS that came with the laptop anyway, and all the drivers for it are fully supported. With Windows XP now loaded, the HP Dock install went much more smoothly.

Continue on to testing and conclusion.

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