Hands-on: How Plugable’s Docking Stations help turn your iPad into a desktop computer

Hands-on: How Plugable’s Docking Stations help turn your iPad into a desktop computer

Plugable has been known to make some high-quality USB-C and Thunderbolt docking stations, ranging from smaller on-the-go solutions to more robust and stationary desktop solutions. I personally used their 13-in-1 Docking Station for years with MacBooks, iPads, and even Windows computers. They are compact, well-built, and most importantly, reliable. But now that some iPads have secondary monitor support, they came up with a docking solution that allows you to use your iPad as a tablet while also giving you the freedom to use a secondary display and treat it as a computer!


Plugable 8-in-1 USB-C Docking Station – the specs

Before I get into what I really like about this docking station, let’s go through the specs first and what you get in the box. In classic 2023 fashion, in the box, all you get is the docking station stand itself and a 20in (50cm) USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 cable for data and power passthrough, meaning there is no charging brick or secondary USB-C cable that can be used for power. Therefore, if you plan on using this purely for an iPad, then a 35W charger will be more than enough since the iPad only takes in 33W of power at its max. It does, however, support up to 91W of power passthrough if needed.

I mentioned it was an 8-in-1 docking station, so the port selection is as follows:

  • Two USB-A 5Gbps ports
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • HDMI port that supports up to 4k at 30FPS
  • USB-C port for power delivery
  • SD & MicroSD card slots
  • USB-C port for data passthrough

It has just about all the basic ports you would need for an iPad docking station.

plugable docking station
plugable docking station – left
plugable docking station – right

Build quality

In terms of build quality, Plugable knocked it out of the park. It is made out of classic Apple aluminum to fit that same design language. It is heavy enough that it won’t move when adjusting the iPad on the stand but light enough to be portable. The bottom of the stand has a rubberized platform to keep it from sliding on your desk. It also includes some rubber on where the iPad sits, so it doesn’t cause any unwanted scratches. And, lastly, the stand itself is extremely rigid. You will not accidentally bump it and change the angle of the iPad. This one, you want to set it and forget it when it comes to the angle of the stand.

Rubber padding for iPad

The good

The number one thing that makes me want to use this iPad docking station for my iPad Pro is the fact that this stand lets me use my iPad as an iPad when I need to, but it also allows me to use the secondary display as a “computer.” I have been looking for a stand that lets me use my iPad as a computer on a secondary display, but also still allows me to use the iPad with my Apple Pencil for handwritten notes and other tasks. For example, being able to edit my thumbnail on the iPad with my Apple pencil – without having to undock the iPad – is a huge time saver for me.

You also get, basically, infinite viewing angles with the iPad. You can have it almost flat on the table while still being connected to the dock, or you can have it at a 90-degree angle with zero issues.

Lastly, we have the rigidity of the stand; due to the fact that it is so rigid I never worry that I am applying too much pressure with my pencil or finger. It gives me peace of mind knowing that the hinges are weak or easy to move.

What needs improvement

At this point, I am nitpicking with what I think needs to be improved.

One thing I wish they included was an L-shaped USB-C cable in the box; that way it would look a bit cleaner when it came to the final setup. You can see the cable sticks out like a sore thumb. The only other thing I wish the added was the ability to support at least 60FPS at 4K resolution. For my work, 30FPS is more than enough, but I know some people need that 60FPS for their use cases.


If you are like me and you like to use your iPad as your main computer at a desk, then this dock by Plugable is worth considering. It allows you to use your iPad as an iPad without needing to fumble around with undocking your iPad while also allowing you to stay plugged into your secondary display! It is sturdy, comfortable, and works with any iPad that has USB-C (which is not every iPad except for iPad 9th Gen). Oh, and this is only $69 – docks like these usually go for $100+. As I mentioned, I wish there was an L-shaped cable in the box, but that’s more form than function.

What do you think? Do you use your iPad as a desk computer? Is this something you think would help with your workflow? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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