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.
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.
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.
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 :-)
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.
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* :-)