If you’re using a laptop that’s equipped with one or two USB-C ports and nothing else, there’s a good chance you need a dock. At one extreme, there are examples like the OWC USB-C port I reviewed last year. This dock has all the ports you could want, some of them in triplicate. While it’s ideal for creative professionals with lots of peripherals, something like this would be overkill for many people. That’s where Cyber Acoustics’ CA Essential Micro Docking Station comes in. This provides more ports than a simple dongle, but keeps the basics, the essentials. And it does so in a compact form factor at a very reasonable price of $69.99.
Basic package, integrated USB-C cable
One of the ways Cyber Acoustics keeps costs down is to ship the dock in a basic cardboard box. There are no pretty pictures or graphics. That’s fine because it’s what’s inside that counts. And regular cardboard packaging material means less waste and more recyclable material.
The spring itself is a square, 3.13 inches on a side and 0.63 inches thick. It weighs less than a third of a pound. At one end you will find its three ports and at the other an LED power indicator. There is an integrated USB-C cable to connect to a laptop or charger. It is flexible and wraps around to fit securely in the bottom of the unit. On the top surface there is a non-slip ring; more on that shortly.
I have mixed feelings about the integrated USB-C cable. For one thing, it makes sure you always have the cable with you. That’s handy, especially if you’re traveling with the microdock. However, that cable is non-removable and short: it extends only 2.25 inches when the length of the connector is taken into account. So you need to have the dock Really near your laptop or USB charger, to the point where it may be hanging in the air.
The essentials: USB-C, USB Type-A and HDMI
As its name suggests, this dock provides the essential ports that average laptop users are likely to need:
- USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 including Power Delivery and DP Alt Mode), 65W maximum upstream power when used with a charger
- USB type A (USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2)
- HDMI (HDMI 2.0 supports 4K video at 60 Hz)
Most laptop owners will find that the Cyber Acoustics CA Essential Micro Docking Station provides the ports they lack. There is USB Type A for thumb drives, mice, keyboards, and external hard drives. USB-C acts as a data pass-through from the laptop. If you plug it into a power adapter instead, the USB-C port can supply up to 65W of power for connected devices. The HDMI port supports 4K.
I used the dock with both a MacBook Pro M1 and a Google Pixelbook Go. It connected to thumb drives, wired mice, and thumb drives without a problem. 4K video output over HDMI was solid.
That USB-C port should also be able to output 4K video, but I had no luck doing so with any of the laptops when connected to my BenQ monitor. That issue may be monitor-specific, but if you intend to use USB-C video instead of HDMI, I’d suggest checking with Cyber Acoustics support to see if there are any known issues with your particular monitor.
Bonus: Qi wireless charging
Did I mention the anti-slip ring on the top of the Essential Micro Docking Station. That is a Qi wireless charging pad. As long as you can lay the base flat on a desk and have enough power flowing through the USB-C port, it can send 5W to the wireless charging pad.
Not essential, but useful.
CA Essential Micro Docking Station Recommendation
If your laptop is all-in on USB-C and you’re short on ports, the Cyber Acoustics CA Essential Micro Docking Station offers what most users will need and at a very affordable price—not much more than some dongles sell for. . Its compact form factor, integrated cable, built-in Qi wireless charging pad, and light weight also make it a great choice for travel.
Just keep in mind that the USB-C cable is very short and the USB-C port maybe it does not work with your monitor for video output.
Disclosure: Cyber Acoustics provided an Essential micro dock for evaluation purposes but was not involved in this review.