Much has been made over how the Surface Pro 3 is a "tablet that can replace your laptop," but for business road warriors who want to sit back in an easy chair after weeks of travel, or for those that sit at a desk 70% of the time, nothing has been made over how the power and performance of the latest Surface revision can also serve those based at a desk. The improved keyboard and kickstand on the Surface Pro 3 definitely helps make the unit more "lappable," but there's comfort in being able to just sit at a desk sometimes.
The Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is now available for pre-order and the accessory is determined to provide a desktop-feel to the device. Having the ability to dock the Surface Pro 3 at a desk and then simply undock and take it with you is both valuable and rewarding. The docking station boasts much of what anyone needs to turn the tablet into a desktop replacement. It has an Ethernet port, mini DisplayPort, and 5 USB ports (three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0), so you can easily attach a range of peripherals.
The Surface Pro 3 is a power-house of performance. No matter if you start at the low range (i3) or the high range (i7 won't ship until August), the power of the Surface Pro 3 could easily perform better than the desktop you probably have sitting on your desk right now.
The Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is available for pre-order at $199.99 here: Surface Pro 3 Docking Station
However, it won't ship until August 15, 2014. And, for me, the docking station doesn't supply enough ports for video out. I don't think I'm unusual in my setup. I know many hardcore techies, like myself, that require a multi-monitor configuration. You can daisy-chain up to two monitors using the docking station's display port, but that's still not enough for me.
I've been using the Plugable UD-3900 for a while with the original Surface Pro and it works great. And, it now works great with the Surface Pro 3. It's not as convenient as simply sliding the Surface Pro 3 into a single docking station, but with some cable management skills, it provides a great desktop replacement experience.
You can take a look at the $109 unit here: Plugable UD-3900 USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station with Dual Video Outputs
There is a cheaper Plugable, the UD-3000 ($89), but it only provides a single video port, whereas, the UD-3900 sports two.
The only drawbacks with the Plugable docking stations are that they provide no power, meaning you'll still need to use your Surface Pro 3 power supply, and of course, the multitude of cables. Neither are a big deal or me.
Obviously, when you look at the Plugable docking station you'll see that it only provides two video outputs. For some, like me, that's still not enough. Due to my work habits and the type of work I do, I run four concurrent monitors, each designated with its own set of tasks. So, just two video outputs on the Plugable is not enough to completely replace my setup.
Plugable has a solution for that, too. In addition to utilizing the two video ports, I also run two of Plugable's USB 3.0 to HDMI/DVI adapters, allowing me to take advantage of the available USB ports and still have four remaining for other peripherals.
The Plugable USB 3.0 to HDMI/DVI adapter is $56.00 from Amazon: Plugable USB 3.0 to HDMI / DVI Adapter for Windows
After looking at the options, you're probably now pondering the cost. The Surface Pro 3 carries a hefty price already, and if you can wait until August, the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is only another $200.
The Plugable setup, though, is available now. If you can live with one video output with the UD-3000 and then tack on the USB video adapters, you're looking at an additional $250 to replace your desktop (if your setup is like mine). If you go with the dual-video output model, the UD-3900, that's around $220.
If your monitor requirements are not as vast as mine and only want a dual-monitor system, you can get by with just the UD-3900 model and no other video adapters and spend just a little over $100. To get more than two monitors for the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station, you'll still need to find another adapter and add it to the original $199.99 price.