Microsoft Surface Pro 3 users can buy Microsoft’s expensive $200 docking station designed for the 2-in-1 tablet and turn the Surface Pro 3 into a desktop computer, but it’s not as convenient as the eTauro USB Charger DUC that adds much of the same functionality, but will travel thanks to a small form factor.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Docking Station intends for users to hook up an external monitor, wired network connection via Ethernet, USB peripherals like a keyboard and/or mouse and it holds and charges the Surface Pro 3 while it’s docked. However, Microsoft also intends for users to keep it at home or the office instead of taking it mobile. Since we’re all about the mobile here at GottaBeMobile, when we found the eTauro USB Charger DUC docking system ($84.95 without the power brick or car charger which cost $9.95 each) for the Surface Pro 3, it made sense to check it out.
Can this lightweight and less expensive dock replace the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 dock, while also providing a more convenient docking system on the go?
eTauro USB Charger DUC More Convenient on the Go
The eTuaro USB Charger DUC dock’s size means it’s a more convenient docking system to take with you. The actual dock takes up less space in a user’s computer bag than the power brick that also comes with the solution.
The small eTauro USB Charger DUC dock plugs into the right side of the Surface Pro 3. Take care to make sure it’s fully plugged into all of the ports on the side. It doesn’t connect easily. On our first attempt it wouldn’t recognize any USB devices plugged into the dock. If that happens, just unplug it and plug it back in again. Then plug in the power brick to both the dock and an AC outlet to test it again.
eTauro makes a big deal of the “sign of life” LED that shows when the dock has power and when it’s connected to the Surface Pro 3. The Microsoft Dock sometimes looks like it’s connected when it’s not properly connected. The eTauro’s LEDs let the user know for sure.
The Microsoft Surface Docking Station holds the Surface Pro 3 at one angle. If that’s not the right angle for the user, too bad. The eTauro only connects to the side and the user props up the Surface Pro 3 using the built-in kickstand. This way the Surface Pro 3 can sit at any angle while docked.
Thanks to a small footprint, the eTauro dock weighs only 3 ounces and measures just 200mm x 14mm x 47mm.
Ports on the eTauro USB Charger DUC
The eTauro USB Charger DUC comes with the following ports:
- 1 DisplayPort for connecting to an external monitor/display
- 4 USB 3.0 ports for connecting to fast peripherals like a USB 3 hard drive or to a mouse, keyboard or printer
- 1 Charging port that matches the Surface Pro 3 magnetic connector
Conclusion and Recommendation
The eTuaro USB Charger DUC dock does a nice job of bringing docking capabilities on the go. It’s also functional as a dock for the home or for work. Hook up peripherals and leave it on the desk. Then connect one device to hook up to a display, a mouse, keyboard, printer and backup hard drive. Instead of plugging in five connections, just plug in one.
Sometimes we go on the road and want to set up a mobile office in a hotel room or a temporary office in a trade show booth, or while making a presentation in a client office or a school. Take the eTauro and the peripherals. Connect the dock and the the peripherals. Then just unplug the Surface Pro 3 to get away from the desk for awhile.
The device could use a couple of improvements. First, the power brick weighs more than the dock. We wish the designers could figure out how to use a smaller power solution. Buying the eTauro requires two purchases. They don’t ship the charging brick with the dock. That’s probably because some may want to use the car charger only while others will only want the AC charger. So, eTauro sells the dock for $84.95 and the AC power brick for $9.95 and the DC car charger for $9.95. Buyers can also get both chargers for $19.95. They should sell the dock in three options – one with the AC charger, one with the car charger and one with both. It makes no sense to sell the dock alone.
The Surface Pro 3 docking station costs more than twice as much as the eTauro and one charger. It’s not as convenient as Microsoft’s dock since it’s not as mobile and holds the Surface Pro 3 at one viewing angle, while the eTauro lets the user prop the Surface Pro 3 up at any angle using the excellent kickstand built into the Surface Pro 3.
There’s only one complaint with the dock itself. The build quality feels like it’s not as nice as the Microsoft dock. It will probably not fall apart soon and the company does offer a warranty, plus, the personnel at eTauro seem responsive.