I’ve seen a few people over social network and in forums wonder why Microsoft’s latest “dock” for Surface devices has taken a severely different form factor than introduced with the Surface Pro 3.
If you’re a Surface Pro 3 user, you’re familiar with the current docking station. The unit has a full base, allowing you to slip your Surface Pro 3 snuggly into the protective dock. On the back, it provides an Ethernet port, Mini DisplayPort and five USB ports (three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports).
The Surface Pro 3 dock is a fantastic option for those wanting to turn their tablet in a full-fledged desktop system. As most of you know from reading my articles, I use this combination daily and have been extremely happy with it. This option is still available from Amazon for around $190.
However, with the release of the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft has changed up the dock. No longer a solid, stand-alone docking station, the new dock is a small brick. Not a true station, but a puck-like device that fits in your hand and is more portable.
The new dock comes with two high-definition video ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, four high-speed USB 3.0 ports, and an audio output and is compatible with Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book.
Obviously, the new design lends itself to better portability. You can travel with the new dock and build a desktop environment wherever you land – just grab a wired network connection, and a couple monitors. But, there’s also another reason for the footprint change. Microsoft sort of dug itself into a hole when it promised customers that the Surface Pro 4 would work with the Surface Pro 3 accessories – including the docking station. Except for being thinner, the Surface Pro 4 is the same dimensions as the Surface Pro 3 so that it will work with the Surface Pro 3 docking station. It needs a special spacer to fit completely (available from the Microsoft Store), but the Surface Pro 3 docking station does still fit the Surface Pro 4.
Availability and acceptance of the new dock form factor gives Microsoft the ability to transform the next Surface Pro and helps it dig out of the hole of customer promise. Surface Pro 4 Plus, or Surface Pro 5 (or whatever naming iteration Microsoft decides for the next Surface device launch), allows the company to innovate its Surface line even further, offering new sizes and dimensions.
The new Microsoft Surface Dock is available from Amazon.com for around $190 (not surprisingly, the same price as the Surface Pro 3 docking station):
If you're going to continue down the Surface path this new dock is a must-have option as its a sure bet that the next version of the Surface Pro will take on a much different form factor.