Hi, my name is Timo Ernst and I am a web expert.

Me, my NEW Hengedock and why it’s better now

Posted on: December 10th, 2010 by Timo
Hengedock comparison 1st vs 2nd generation

In my previous review on the Hengedock for the 13″ Apple Macbook Pro, I wrote that I couldn’t recommend it due to some problems with cables and scuffs on the surface. Hengedock now sent me the new, 2nd generation of the dock, which comes with some improvements. The package arrived today after only 3 days from the US here to Germany (Wow, that was fast! I had to pay 35 EUR toll fee though – ouch!), so let’s have a look at the new, upgraded version.

As a reminder, the following points were criticized by me for the 1st generation of the dock:

  • Ethernet cable clip issue.
  • The screws that hold the cables leave a mark on the heads.
  • Power supply cable of the Apple 27″ Cinema Display won’t fit.
  • Audio-extension lets the Macbook think that headphones are plugged in.
  • You cannot turn on the Macbook while it’s in the dock.
  • All cables are fixed through screws. No way to easily (un-)plug them.
  • Plugging the Macbook in and out will leave scuffs on the its surface.

Package content

So, before I go into detail on these points, let’s have a look at the packaging, where almost nothing has changed. The wrapping looks the same. The inside consists of the dock, the manual, screws as well as a screwdriver and extension cables (2x usb, fire-wire, ethernet and audio).

Two new surprises are part of the improvements made to this version of the dock. One is a special ethernet cable, which has the usual clip on one side, and none on the other side (see picture below). If you can, you should use this extension in order to connect your Macbook to the network. If you don’t and use an ordinary cable, you’ll run in danger of your laptop getting stuck. The cable is not very short, but your ethernet port definitely shouldn’t be to far away from your desk. I had to break off a clip at the head of one of my 10m ethernet cables in order to reach my desk – and no, I don’t like wi-fi ;-) . However, it’s quite nice that this special ethernet cable is included to the package now.

Besides the ethernet cable, there was another interesting accessory in the package: Three adapters (called “MagSafe Adapter Tools“) which finally make it possible that Apple Cinema Display users can attach their power supply cables to the dock, so you can leave your original power supply adapter in your bag. Pretty nice. However, it took me quite some minutes in order to understand how to use these adapters since the manual is not very precise here. You’ll have to first plug the power supply adapter into the Hengedock adapter tool from the side and then attach it directly to the dock by fixing it with a screw. You might have to try a few times in order to get the right position for it so that the Macbook’s power supply port perfectly connects to the adapter. Attaching the adapter tool first to the Macbook and then sliding the whole thing into the dock will not work.

What’s really sad about these MagSafe Adapter Tools is that you cannot purchase these alone without buying a whole new 2nd-gen dock:

“Currently the MagSafe Adapter tool is not available to purchase separately – it comes included with all of the new generation docks with which it is compatible.”

For 1st-gen owners, this is really bad news.

Installation

All “ordinary” cables can be attached to the dock as usual: First you connect a cable to the Macbook, then you slide it back into the dock. Finally, fix the cable head with a screw. Then, redo the same again for all other cables one-by-one. This way you can be sure that all the cables are correctly in touch with the Macbook ports. However, the issue with the (circular) marks on the cable heads still exists, as you can see on the picture below. The mark isn’t bad. It’s just cosmetic, but still, I’d prefer screws with some rubber on their tip so none of the cable heads get “damaged”.

Regarding the issue on the audio extension I wrote about in my last post, it came to my mind that you can easily choose the source and output of all audio signals through the Mac OS system preferences. Thus, you could simply attach the audio extension cable, which is delivered together with the Hengedock, to the Macbook and then choose in software where your sound signal should be delivered to.

One thing I forgot to mention in my last post was that if you often use the SD card slot, you’ll have a problem. As far as I can see, there is no easy way of getting a SD card into the Macbook while it’s in the dock (or am I missing something here?). You’d have to slide the laptop out, push in the SD card, use the Macbook with the built-in display and then put it back to the dock when you’re done. Alternatively, you could also lift the whole thing, push in the SD card though a slit on the bottom and then gently put it back on the desk. However, both solutions aren’t optimal I think. Some kind of SD extension would be really useful at this point since I don’t like moving the Macbook while it’s turned on (not good for the harddrive).

With this setup, all cables are fixed into the dock. If you want to remove any of them now, you must loose the according screw and then unplug the cable. Reverse the procedure to put the cable back in. This concept annoys me sometimes a bit. A smarter solution where I can more easily unplug cables without having to touch a screwdriver would be welcome here. However, since I don’t move the cables to often any more (thanks to the spare MagSafe adapter that I have now), this is no big deal.

The dock

Having a look at the dock itself, I can say that not much has changed. The upper, front and back is the same as the 1st generation version. Only the bottom part got a slight modification. Instead of 4 single rubber feet, the new dock has 2 slim rubber lines. I don’t know why Hengedock changed this. Personally, I think that the 4 single stands give the whole dock more stability. The new solution tends to be a little more “shaky” but it’s no big deal as long as you don’t live in a zone under earthquake danger.

Does the dock scratch the Macbook’s surface?

Well, as I mentioned in my previous post, the dock leaves some scuffs on the Macbook’s surface which can be easily removed with a damp cloth. That’s what I observed after using the 1st-gen dock for almost a month.
Now, with the new 2nd-gen version, I don’t see any scuffs after about 1 week of usage. Ok, I didn’t remove the Macbook very often the last days, but there is not the slightest bit of scuffs so far. I can’t exactly explain why though. The material the dock’s made of seems to be the same. Maybe I learned to (un-)plug the Macbook a little more gently? I don’t know.

Does the Macbook overheat while it’s in the dock?

I once read in a forum that some people are concerned that the Macbook could overheat since it’s closed all the time while in use. At this point, I can definitely say: No, it will not. Using the Macbook in close state is part of Apple’s design. The laptop sucks in air from the keyboard area and blows it out on the back. There is no need to be worried. So far I didn’t have any overheating issues with my Macbook/Hengedock combo and I often push the poor device’s CPU to the limit :-)

Conclusion

So, with the new 2nd generation of Hengedock, would I recommend it?

Well, it depends. If you already own a 1st generation dock, the upgrade probably isn’t worth it. The most important changes are the new accessories (e.g. MagSafe Adapter Tool) and that’s it.

If you don’t own one yet, go and get it as long as:

  • you get the 2nd generation version.
  • you can live with cleaning the scuffs from time to time (if they occur at all!).
  • you don’t mind pulling the Macbook out of the dock in order to turn it on (that’s in the nature of a vertical docking solution).
  • you don’t need the SD card slot on a regular basis.
  • you won’t have to remove and attach the cables very often.

Besides these points I can recommend the dock now if you need a solid docking solution for your Macbook. The changes to the prior version are marginal but they totally make sense.

Wishlist

For the future, there are some points that I would like to see for Hengedocks:

  • The MagSafe adapter tool should be available for purchase separately.
  • The inner part of the dock should be covered with some soft texture so no scuffs occur.
  • The screws should have a small piece of rubber at their tip. That way, no marks will occur on the cable heads. Or even better: No screws at all so the cables can be attached and removed more easily and faster.
  • Some kind of extension for the SD card slot would be great so I won’t have to lift the whole dock whenever I need to put in a memory card in there.
  • A dock completely made of aluminium would be nifty :-) .
  • A horizontal docking solution so I can use the Macbook in “open” state. That way I can use its internal display as an addition to my external monitor and I can reach the power on/off button without removing it from the dock (similar to the Thinkpad docking solutions (see picture below)).

Finally, I show you a picture of my desk. Looks quite tidy now… besides the 5472456 cables… *sigh* :-)

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30 Responses

  1. Tom says:

    Excellent,informative review. Thanks for getting nit picky…without those type of comments how are they ever going to fix em? Thanks

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  2. Max says:

    I have one and i’m happy with it!
    but i have the audio problem you pointed out in your first review.
    Audio on cinema display/Headphones
    and i cannot swith it by software

    it’s a known mac os problem called headphones redirection…
    http://support.apple.com/kb/TS3538

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  3. Timo says:

    Hi, Max.
    Yeah, I’m quite happy with my new dock too :-)

    Regarding the headphone issue:
    What you say is correct, but I use a simple trick to work around that:

    Just go to your Mac OS preferences and select audio.
    Then on the first tab “audio effects”, there should be a drop-down box at the bottom, where you can choose if you want to use the audio port for audio input or output.
    Choose input.
    Now, go to the 2nd tab, which says “output”. Here, you should be able to select the Cinema Display’s speakers now.

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  4. Chris says:

    Where did you purchase the dock? I´m from austria, but i cant find it on amazon.de

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  5. Superpendolare says:

    Hi,
    I bought one of this and I tried co link my MacBook Pro 13″ to my 27″ iMac. On my iMAc I can switch the video in with CMD+F2 but in this way I need two mouses and two keyboards (one for iMac and one the macbook pro). So I tried to share the MacBook Pro screen on my iMac in order to use only the iMac’s mouse and keyboard… but I could not!!

    This is because when I switch the iMac video input to iMac the MacBook Pro falls asleep and it desapears from the network!!!

    I setting on the MAcBook Pro the option “wake on if requested by the network” (I don’t know how it’s named in English), but it doesn’t work neither for file sharing!!

    Can you help me? Thanks!

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  6. Timo says:

    Hey,
    your Macbook goes into standby mode because, if you switch your monitor to the iMac, the Macbook thinks that you want it to sleep (because the Macbook itself is closed while it’s standing in the dock).

    So, basically, if you hit the switch, it’s the same as if you had only your Macbook (without dock and iMac) open in front of you and you’d close it. Then it goes into sleep.

    What you need is a tool that prevents your Macbook from going to standby mode.

    Try one of the programs below:

    InsomniaX http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/22211/insomniax
    Sleepless http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/10564/sleepless

    One important thing: Remember that if you use that program, your Macbook won’t go into sleep mode when you close it. That can cause damage to your harddisk when you carry it around (unless you have a solid state disk). Besides that it will drain your battery.
    So, always remember to either turn the Macbook off or put it into sleep mode manually (Apple menu -> Standby mode) before you carry it around.

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  7. Superpendolare says:

    Thanks, I’ll try it!!!

    Fortunately I have an SSD.. So, just in case of mistakes, I won’t ignite my bag ;)

    Pietro

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  8. Tom Waynewright says:

    I have heard of a new dock coming out something like byte-dock. Before I get ones of these I think it could be worth waiting. I have heard that it comes with everything you need already plugged in etc.

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  9. Tom Waynewright says:

    Anyone heard about the dock I spoek about in my previous post?

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  10. Timo says:

    Nope, did you try this already?

    https://encrypted.google.com/search?hl=de&q=site://forums.macrumors.com+macbook+dock&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=

    I’d suggest to post to http://forums.macrumors.com – They always got the latest news on this kind of stuff.

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  11. Mark says:

    I tried for hours and can’t get the cables installed such that I can re-insert the MBP. I do them one at a time, carefully following instructions, and after the second or third attempt to inert the MBP, it just won’t go in. Even with minimal cables (power adapter, display adapter, and one USB) it still happens. The MBP ports seem properly aligned in teh case, and the dock cables don’t appear to be shifting position.

    Anyone have similar troubles? Any ideas of what to try before I return the dock for a refund?

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  12. Timo says:

    Hey Mark,

    I first had a similar problem with the 2nd gen dock. I had to play around a while until I found out the “right” way to insert the Macbook into the dock.
    I usually try to first carefully press down the side where the power supply adapter is connected to the dock. If that works, the rest of the Macbook also slides down.
    If not, it won’t go in.
    However, whatever you do: Don’t use force.
    I noticed that, the more gentle I put it in, the bigger the chance that it works.

    If my advice didn’t help you, I suggest that you contact Hengedock support.

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  13. Mark says:

    Timo,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I applied your advice as well as further suggestions HengeDocks sent me. I thought for a while it was going to work. I was able to get the MBP to dock repeatedly, but the display connection was still loose, as it was missing the red color on the display. I could make the red appear and disappear by applying slight pressure to the connector from underneath the dock, but I could never get it stable enough to make it work properly when the dock was upright.

    After adjusting the position of the display adapter connector in the dock several times, to no avail with respect to the missing red color, I eventually got to the point where I could no longer insert the MBP into the dock again, and concluded at that point there is no way to get it working. I’m going to return it to HengeDocks for a refund.

    HengeDocks acknowledged to me that a small percentage of users are unable to make the dock work with the 15″ MBP. They have a document which describes the known issues (installation issues and MBP manufacturing defects) and offers suggestions for mitigating them.

    My conclusion after all this is that HengeDocks is a solid company and their product appears to be well-made, though in need of some improvements, which you’ve documented nicely. However, the tolerances of the MBP ports are so tight that HengeDock’s product is not going to work reliably for everyone. The mini-display port seems to be the main source of trouble, with the mag-safe power adapter running a close second.

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  14. Timo says:

    Very interesting, Mark.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    On my 13″ Macbook none of the problems you mentioned occurred so far using the dock.

    As you already mentioned, I guess it seems to be a 15″-only issue.

    However, when I read that your mini display port connector seems to have problems (missing red color), did you consider that either the port, the cable or the Macbook itself (graphic chip) is broken?
    I’m just asking because if the cable head is properly connected to the Macbook, there is no way that the dock could somehow interfere with the signal going through the port.

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  15. Mark says:

    It must be either the cable or the port, since it came and went with light pressure on the connector. I may have damaged the connector by tightening the set screw too much (there is a pronounced divot in the side of it).

    I picked up a display adapter cable from the local apple store and will try it tonight. If the cable was the problem, I’ll try the dock one more time. I’ll report back here what i find.

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  16. Mark says:

    The problem was with the display adapter cable. With the new cable from the Apple store, I can dock and un-dock the MBP easily enough, and there is no problem induced by jiggling the display adapter cable.

    The document which HengeDocks sent me when I reported the trouble suggests a different way of installing the cables into the dock, one which seems to me preferable to the method suggested in the installation guide. The alternative method is to insert the MBP into the dock with no cables installed, turn the dock and MBP over on your lap, insert each connector directly into the MBP through the dock from the under-side of the dock, and tighten each set screw.

    Clearly I over-tightened the set screw for the display connector. I don’t think this was the original problem, as there was only a very minor impression in it while I was having the original troubles, but it was certainly a factor alter on.

    The manual cautions against over-tightening of the set screws, but some specific guidance on what that means would be helpful. My suggestion is that as soon as you feel that the set screw has made contact with the connector, you’re pretty much done tightening- maybe another quarter or half turn at most.

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  17. Timo says:

    Hey,
    glad to hear that you found the source of your problem!

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  18. James says:

    Hi Timo,

    Quick question: Should I remove the battery when my MBP is docked? Because if I don’t remove it, and then my MBP is docked all day, the battery would be overcharged, right?

    Appreciate your advise on this.

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    James

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  19. Timo says:

    Uh, that depends on your Macbook I’d say.
    Newer models have litium-ion batteries which aren’t removable at all.
    These Macbooks are designed to be able to be charged 24/7 without any problems.

    If you have an older Macbook you might have to consider to remove the battery.

    However, since this is not a Hengedock issue, I’d recommend to google on the problem for your specific Macbook model.

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  20. Dave says:

    Has anyone had any problems using a MBP 17″ with a Henge Dock? Is the Henge Dock stable enough for the larger MBP.

    Thanks
    Dave

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  21. James says:

    Great review, I hope to have a similar setup in the future to replace my aging iMac + Macbook combo. I didn’t even realize there was a product out here like that, makes the hassle of plugging in all the crap to turn it into a “Desktop” a lot easier.

    About the SD card issue, are you using the Apple wired keyboard? If so you could get a cheap USB reader and plug it into the hub there.

    If not you could always just have a USB hub in the back of the dock or have it wired so it sits to the side of the dock. That way you can have easy access to plug any USB thing you need quickly.

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  22. Timo says:

    Hey, the USB-to-SDcard adapater is a good idea!
    I use the wired apple keyboard so that really could be a neat workaround.

    Thanks!

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  23. Jack Brickey says:

    I just received my dock and below are the comments I sent to HD. Note I am using with a 15″ MB-Pro. I’m sure that next generation products will only get better. At the moment I remain skeptical that the dock will hold up to heavy usage.

    —— snip ——

    I wanted to provide some feedback. I worked on setting up my dock off and on for two days (seriously). Unfortunately, i started with the included instructions which I just saw that you have updated. The procedure of feeding the cable thru the hole, attaching to the laptop, inserting into dock and tightening the set screw is bizarre at best. Interestingly after a couple of hours fiddling with this and trying to adjust the settings i discovered on my own what your new instructions convey – plug in laptop, invert, insert all cables and tighten. This worked MUCH better.

    With that said the jury is still out for me on this. I’m not confident they the mechanical design w/ hold up to my multiple times per day docking and undocking. Hopefully i can determine this before my 30 days is up. However, i lost a couple weeks since the dock arrived while on vacation.

    I really want this to work as it is a cool concept but i think ultimately some mechanical refactoring would be in order. Consider next gen solution that has fixed/locking connections in the housing at the point of contact and then plug in cable underneath. This would be relatively easy. I think customers would pay the extra cost. I know I would. A cheaper short term solution would be set screws on both sides. If you are concerned with esthetics you could have a removable label. In fact having that for the back would be nice now to conceal the set screws.

    Hope this help and best of luck w/ your future designs.

    Cheers,
    jack

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  24. Henge Docks says:

    Thank you for your fair and honest review of Henge Docks. We appreciate all feedback and are glad that the new generation Henge Docks we sent to you has worked out well. If you ever have an issue, please contact us at info@hengedocks.com, as we are here to help. We are always looking for ways to improve the current model of Henge Docks, so thanks for your comments. On another note, your set up looks great! We are going to be having a Henge Docks photo contest starting very soon, so make sure you enter! Thank you for supporting Henge Docks.

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  25. g3 says:

    I don’t get the ethernet cable issue. I don’t own one (though I am considering getting one), but how difficult is it to have a port to plug in to that has some sort of adapter that has no clip???

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  26. John Hay says:

    Also, for audio connections, use Griffin’s iMic via one of your USB ports if you need both specific input and output lines. Work’s great.

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  27. Avery says:

    Seems like an older thread, but a great review, and I’m considering buying a Henge dock so hopefully someone will see this soon. Question though… Is it possible to power up or wake up the MacBook Pro from a wireless keyboard/mouse/trackpad without ever having to take it out of the dock? Since I’ll be connecting the dock to living room tv, I’m already planning to pick these up anyway if it’ll work. Having to pull the MacBook out of the dock, open it, turn it on, quickly close it, and carefully place it back into the dock seems to give up too much of the benefit of having a dock. I’m also hesitant to disable sleep mode entirely for any reason because I know I’ll close the lid and forget it’s awake. Thanks!

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