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Reviews

Logi Dock review: A flawed first attempt

An expensive and chunky docking station that could do with an Ethernet port

The Logi Dock docking station
Price
£333 exc VAT
  • Great for video conferencing
  • Too much echo from the speakers

If ever there is a product for our times, surely this is the Logi Dock. A docking station that doesn't merely provide a bunch of handy ports, power to your laptop and dual monitor outputs, but also integrates a microphone and speakers for the endless series of audio and video calls that now mark our working lives. 

It will be particularly useful to users of Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom: as soon as a call starts you can jump in by pressing the button that sits in prime position above the fabric fascia. This button has a Teams icon on it, but it works equally well with Google and Zoom. This assumes you have downloaded Logi Tune, which then connects with your calendar.

It uses ambient lights under the unit to signal that a call is happening – that's the point at which you press the button to join. When you tap on the mic button to mute yourself, a red light appears to make it obvious that people can't hear your mutterings. There's also a video on/off button, with its own coloured light, that you tap when you want to disappear from view.

There's no camera built into the unit. What you do get is six beamforming mics to cancel out background noise from the speaker and reduce echoes. Sadly, it doesn't work anywhere near as well as it should. A software update may solve this, but right now it's a poor relation to a dedicated mic or headset, with too much echo. "Like you're talking to me from a wheelie bin," said one harsh correspondent.

That's a huge shame, as the speaker is excellent for voice calls; voices sound natural, almost as if the caller is in the same room. And they're good enough for music, too. Yes, a first-gen Amazon Echo delivers a more detailed and resonant sound than the Dock, but we'd happily use this for background music during the working day.

Our only issue with the Logi Dock as a music player is that, unlike the Echo, the sound is unidirectional, so it's obviously coming from the box in front of you. Logitech could have avoided this by widening the unit, to provide clearer stereo separation, but it would then have lost the Dock's compactness – one of its finest features. After all, with this device you can theoretically rid yourself of speakers, headsets and power supplies. With careful cable management, you can even hide the connection to your monitor, leaving only one visible wire: the USB-C cable that powers your laptop.

The Logi Dock connected to a desktop computer

Logitech sensibly supports outputs up to 100W, which is enough to feed 90% of laptops; only gaming machines are likely to want more. The downside is that the Dock itself needs a chunky power supply, which you will definitely want to hide away.

Perhaps we're nitpicking, but it is surprising to discover no Ethernet port on the rear of the unit and that there are only two USB-A ports. At least Logitech provides three spare USB-C ports; two at the rear, one on the left-hand side. Anyone hoping to connect their monitor over USB-C, however, will be disappointed. The only way to hook up a display is via the HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, with support for dual-monitor setups at up to 5,120 x 2,880. Caveats apply, with Mac users probably needing to connect the second monitor via their computer's HDMI port rather than the Dock.

We think Logitech missed a trick by not including wireless charging. Flatten out the top (at the moment, it slants gently downwards from the front) and you have a natural home for a smartphone. Naturally, you can pair your phone with the Dock, too: it flashes white when a call comes through, and you press the middle button to answer.

The biggest hurdle between you reading this and the Logi Dock landing on your desk is the price. At £399 (including VAT), it's chunky. Even more so if you're a business looking to equip multiple meeting rooms with this device, although I'm sure that Logitech's sales team would be willing to negotiate.

Logitech shouldn't give up on the Logi Dock idea. If the next version is cheaper, solves the echo problem and includes an Ethernet port then it will probably earn an IT Pro Recommended award. But this first attempt is flawed.

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