June 5, 2020 – Computer makers have created thin and light laptops. How? One way was by removing internal CD/DVD drives and eliminating ports.

Not every user needs or wants these. Consequences of these design decisions include a robust aftermarket that return externally what was eliminated, and more.

Ports, ports, & more ports


Recover eliminated ports and add others with a docking station. So many choices and opportunities to get an incompatible product! Here is a learning aid from Kensington to help identify what will work for you. After the link above, look here for more. There are many flavors of the USB type-C connector that appear identical, but they are not.

Identify not only your needs, but your wants, keeping future-forward in your decisions.

Kensington SD5300T Thunderbolt 3 Dock is a (currently) $240 example of compatibility with the latest high-end standard found in increasing numbers of the newest laptops. This is NOT backwards compatible with laptops lacking Thunderbolt 3 technology, so please do your homework before purchase!

Connectivity galore

Now that you have seen all the ports and capabilities, it’s easy to see why you would also want a compatible dock. Don’t forget the little things, too. Gigabit Ethernet? Check. Your cordless mouse or trackball, and wireless keyboard require a port for the USB dongle. How about transferring data between internal and external drives? Sometimes I connect two external drives and one or more USB thumb drives in the mix for data transfer, and I want data to transfer as quickly as possible. A total of five assorted USB ports. Few external drives are Thunderbolt 3-specific and are more expensive, but they are quick to transfer data. On my Mac laptop I usually leave the Time Machine backup drive connected. Dual monitor capability? Yes! My Kensington dock includes a USB-3 to HDMI adapter for connecting a second HDMI display. SD card slot? Yes! Standard 3.5mm headphone/headset with mic jack? Yes! Again, do your homework to determine which dock best satisfies your requirements.

USB-3 to HDMI adapter

Not only does the power supply keep the laptop battery charged, but the ports support power and charging of connected peripheral devices connected to USB A as well as USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. What a relief. I love having all the ports I need and want and being able to transfer data as fast as the connected technology allows.

Still want an external CD/DVD drive?


Still need or want an external CD/DVD drive? They are easily found for under $30 to handle all your audio and video playing and burning needs, with the exception of Blu-ray (BD). Blu-ray burners cost more and are not as useful as once hoped because relatively few of us have a BD player. With this lack of players and the added expense of movies in this format, the need to create BD discs is diminished except for their data storage capacity, but why create a BD data disk when thumb drives are so cheap and can hold so much more? What’s more, most of us have moved on to streaming content instead of watching movies on disc. ­­That is why the well-reviewed linked drive above is what I bought. Equipped with both USB-C and standard USB, it is universally compatible.

Anything missing?


NO! Covered by Kensington’s three-year warranty and lifetime product support.

For those who may want a clean-looking installation that conceals the dock behind a connected monitor, here is an inexpensive Kensington VESA-compatible monitor mounting plate with standard hole configuration compatible with many monitors.

This Kensington SD5300T Thunderbolt 3 Dock is currently here from Amazon.

Technology marches on. So do Kensington product developers. What is reviewed here may well be different from what is available when you read this review. I see this as opportunity. Consider the  current Thunderbolt dock technology compatible with your laptop for maximum long term enjoyment.

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