capsule review

Apricorn Aegis NetDock: An Affordable, Convenient Laptop Companion

At a Glance
  • Apricorn Aegis NetDock

The packaging for the Apricorn Aegis NetDock docking station ($89, as of 7/6/2010) only implies that there's an optical drive on board. But don't be fooled: Not only is there one--an 8X TEAC DV-W28S-V DVD burner in this case--but four USB 2.0 ports as well. Two of these ports remain powered even when the unit isn't attached to a computer, so you can charge cell phones and other mobile devices with them. It's this versatility that helps make the NetDock a useful add-on for laptop and netbook users who may find themselves without such amenities.

Our test unit also came with a 500GB hard drive inside (a $189 option, as of 7/6/2010). Save a few dollars--or choose your own capacity--by buying the optical-only unit and adding a 2.5-inch drive yourself later. Installing such a drive is fairly simple: The NetDock comes apart with the removal of single screw. Slide the drive into the SATA connector, secure it there with two screws, reassemble, and you're good to go.

I took the NetDock for a test spin with several laptops, including an Asus Aspire One netbook, and its presence indeed made life quite a bit easier. A hard drive inside makes backing up a laptop simple, the optical drive is great for installing software, and the USB ports allow you to quickly add a printer, a scanner (I used both), or more storage to the mix. Every computer I tried it on, which included Windows XP SP2, Vista, and Windows 7 units, recognized the NetDock immediately, and drivers all installed automatically.

What I also realized after about five minutes of use is that the NetDock can be an exceedingly handy IT tool. Instead of dragging around separate optical and hard drives, I can carry around the NetDock; plus, I can recharge my cell phone without having to hunt for a free AC outlet in a power-cable maze. Sweet.

The NetDock ships with, and requires an AC adapter. You simply can't run a hard drive and an optical drive, as well as provide enough power to the USB ports, without one. Apricorn bundles some freebie software to take care of all the tasks I mentioned: Microsoft's SyncToy for syncing and backup, BurnAware Free for disc-related chores, and VLC for playing movies and music. Be careful not to click mindlessly through the installations, though: The BurnAware software in the package wants to install the Ask toolbar.

The Apricorn Aegis NetDock is a good complement for your netbook at home, as well as a handy portable storage device. My only (exceedingly minor) complaint is that it doesn't have USB 3.0 connections.

At a Glance
  • An affordable docking station for your netbook with an optical drive, optional hard drive, and powered USB ports.

    Pros

    • Optical hard drive built-in
    • Always-on, powered USB ports for charging
    • Optional hard drive

    Cons

    • Doesn't have USB 3.0
  
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