Review




@summerson





| 4 min read



Rating:
6/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $139.99

The CA DS-2000 Essential Dock on a desk
Cameron Summerson

Earlier this year, I transitioned from being a desktop user to a full-time laptop user. A good dock is an essential tool for laptop users, and there’s no shortage of choices out there. Here’s the weird thing, though: It’s tough to find a good one.

Here’s What We Like

  • Good design that props the laptop up
  • Built-in cooling fan
  • Super reliable and consistent

And What We Don’t

  • No USB-C ports
  • Proprietary charging brick
  • No audio out
  • No SD card reader
  • Pricey

I’ve been testing the Cyber Acoustics Essential Docking Station (DS-2000) for several weeks to see if it meets the “good one” criteria. And it’s almost there. It has most of the ports you need and a neat trick up its sleeve, but it’s also missing some modern ports that I think would put it over the top. Pair that with the price, and I’m pretty torn on how to feel about this one.

To start, it’s a pretty big dock—bigger than I’m used to anyway. But it sits under my laptop and props it in a way that I like, so it gets a pass. You’ll find an arrangement of ports around the sides and back:

  • 1x USB-A Gen 1; 3x USB-A Gen 2
  • 1x HDMI Port; 1x DisplayPort
    • Single 4k @ 60Hz or Dual 4k @ 30 Hz
  • 1x Ethernet
  • Security lock
  • Embedded USB-C connection
The button to activate the fan on the DS-2000
This button toggles the fan. Cameron Summerson

It also has a built-in cooling fan, which you can use to give your laptop a little extra airflow during intense activities. It’s not always on—there’s a little button on the back to turn it on—so you don’t have to use it if you don’t want. I’m skeptical on how much it actually helps, but I’m certain it doesn’t hurt anything, so whatever. It’s fine. And while it has enough USB-A ports, you probably noticed a distinct lack of USB-C ports. In 2021, that’s a huge oversight to me—everything is moving to USB-C, so I would like to have seen at least one dedicated USB-C port here.

If you want to get technical, the DS-2000 does have USB-C—it’s just a hardwired connection. This is the input from the dock to your laptop, so you don’t have to bring your own cable. That sort of adds insult to injury for me because it clearly supports USB-C. Why not just throw a port on there?

The USB-A ports on the Cyber Acoustics DS-2000 Essential Dock
Cameron Summerson

Speaking of, it also doesn’t charge over USB-C. Again, in the year 2021, this is an oversight. It uses a generic barrel port with a charging brick. I guess that’s fine once you set the dock up; this one isn’t meant for travel, so it’s a set-and-forget sort of thing. But again, USB-C would’ve been an improvement.

Now that we’ve covered that it doesn’t have USB-C, I want to talk about a few other oversights. For one, it doesn’t have an audio out. I can understand that omission on more compact, travel-friendly docks, but for a full-size dock that’s going to stay on your desk, an audio out would’ve been great to have. As it stands, I’m using USB for audio, which requires an adapter because my speakers are USB-C. Everything comes full circle.

Secondly, there’s no SD card slot. Considering that even most small docks I’ve looked at see the value in an SD card slot, there should’ve been one here. You know what I’ve been doing to supplement this? Using my older (smaller) dock as a hub connected to the DS-2000. So, I technically have two docks connected.

The DS-2000 at a desk with things plugged into it
Connected: HDMI monitor, power cable, USB cable to another dock (for SD card reader), and a USB Cable to a USB-C dock for other accessories. Cameron Summerson

All that said, this isn’t a bad dock. I’ve had approximately zero issues with it since I started testing it, which is more than I can say for other docks. So what it lacks in ports, it makes up for in consistency. It just works. I keep my laptop plugged into it most of the time, and I never have to worry about it flaking out on me. I haven’t yet, anyway.

And when I reconnect my laptop after disconnecting it, everything just works. Again, I’ve used some finicky docks over the last year, so that’s refreshing.

Ultimately, I feel like there’s a specific crown this dock is for: If you don’t use USB, SD cards, or need an audio out, but do want something that can help keep your laptop a little cooler, then maybe you consider this dock. If you need those things, then obviously, this might not be the one for you, unless you don’t mind adding a secondary dock/hub to supplement those issues.

The dock hooked to a 13-inch Surface Laptop 3
That’s a 13-inc Surface Laptop 3 for reference. Cameron Summerson

But that makes the high cost even higher. At $139.99, this dock is far from what I’d call “affordable.” It’s $40 more than the Satechi On-the-Go dock I reviewed earlier this year, and while it has an extra USB-A port and DisplayPort, it’s inferior in other ways since it lacks USB-C ports and an SD card reader. Pair that with the fact that the Satechi (and many others) is portable, and well, you can see the issue.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a rock solid dock and don’t mind the missing ports or high price, you’ll be happy with the DS-2000. You’ll likely never have to think about it because it just works. However, If you need USB-C ports, an SD card reader, or portability, you should look elsewhere.

Rating: 6/10

Price: $139.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Good design that props the laptop up
  • Built-in cooling fan
  • Super reliable and consistent

And What We Don’t

  • No USB-C ports
  • Proprietary charging brick
  • No audio out
  • No SD card reader
  • Pricey