CES 2018 | ThinkPad Ultra dock: New docking-stations for the ThinkPad T480, ThinkPad X280 & X1 Carbon 6
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Mechanical docks once were a mainstay in the accessory-portfolio of every serious business laptop. However, since the release of USB C and Thunderbolt 3 (and universal docking solutions using both) as well as the trend to ever thinner Ultrabooks, the situation changed.
Dell as one of the biggest manufacturers of business laptops has completely dropped its proprietary E-docking-port in the last year already – its Latitude notebooks now depend 100 % on USB C and Thunderbolt 3 docks. By removing the bottom docking connector, the laptop can be build a few mm thinner. For this reason, HP uses a proprietary docking-port on the side since a few years.
The third big manufacturer of business laptops, Lenovo, used a proprietary bottom-docking port until the generation T470. The new ThinkPads that Lenovo announced at CES a few days ago (like the T480, X280 or T480s) drop the bottom docking port. As an alternative, Lenovo chose a different path from HP & Dell: The new ThinkPads have a mechanical docking-port on the side. This port combines two USB type C ports with an additional proprietary port. This is necessary, because USB C / Thunderbolt does not carry native Ethernet – a problem for the admins of big companies, who depend on network-management features like PXE-boot.
The following ThinkPad models have the new docking connector (including the X1 Carbon 2018 – the first X1 Carbon with a mechanical docking-connector):
- X1 Carbon 6
Of course, Lenovo also announced new docks that fit the new connector. The most expensive dock with the most ports is the ThinkPad Ultra Dock (CS18). This dock has two DisplayPort connectors, HDMI, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, audio as well as six USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (10 Gb/s), four of which are USB type A and two of which are USB type C. Because it is a mechanical dock, the user has the option to lock the laptop in place. According to the Lenovo, the dock is compatible with Windows and Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Aside from the Ultra dock, Lenovo will also release new ThinkPad Basic and ThinkPad Pro docks. Those naturally have less features and they are less expensive. All three new docks should be available in January in the USA. The ThinkPad Basic dock will cost 199 US-Dollar, while the Pro and Ultra dock will start at 249 and 299 US-Dollars respectively.