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A USB docking station is a useful accessory for any laptop owner, whether you're working from home or have braved the daily commute to return to your normal office routine.
We've previously covered USB docking stations, ranging from pocket-sized portable docks to large and expensive desktop units designed to support multiple displays for professional graphics and video work.
The latest USB-C Dock G5 from HP sits somewhere in the middle of that range: it's not particularly portable, but it is more affordable than many desktop docks, while still providing an impressive set of connectivity features.
HP also goes out of its way to emphasise the fact that the USB-C Dock G5 is compatible with both Windows and macOS, so it clearly has its eye on all those MacBook owners who struggle with just a pair of USB-C ports.
The USB-Dock G5 is neatly designed, shaped like a matte-black lozenge with smoothly rounded corners. It measures just 122mm wide and deep, and 45mm tall, while its 0.7kg weight makes it just about light enough to slip into a backpack or briefcase to carry along with your laptop if the need should arise.
However, the dock also requires a separate external power supply -- HP conveniently omits this from its publicity photos – so it's unlikely to stray from your home or office desktop very often. It's competitively priced, though -- especially in the UK, where it costs £130.80 (inc. VAT; £109 ex. VAT) compared to $189 in the US -- and its plethora of ports and connectors will prove useful if you need to hook your laptop up to an external display, a backup drive and other accessories.
The front panel is something of an oddity, as the fixed USB-C cable that connects the Dock G5 to your laptop protrudes straight out of the front. That single cable provides power, data and video connections for your laptop and it's a full metre long, so you've got plenty of room to move it freely around your desk while setting up all your devices. However, the front-mounted cable means that it ends up trailing rather untidily across your desk. There's an additional USB-C port on the front, which can be used for USB-C accessories such as a backup drive or memory stick.
The right-hand side of the dock provides two conventional USB 3.0 ports, along with a 3.5mm audio port that can be used for either audio input or output. You'll find another two USB 3.0 ports on the back, along with two DisplayPort interfaces and one HDMI, allowing you to connect up to two external displays. There's even an RJ-45 Ethernet port -- often missing from other docks -- for a wired network connection.
If you're lucky enough to own a brand-new monitor and other accessories that use USB-C, then you might prefer a dock that provides additional USB-C ports. However, the extensive collection of ports and connectors provided by the USB-C Dock G5 will be ideal for anyone wanting to connect an older display or other accessories to their laptop.