Henge Docks is back at it again, this time giving 13” and 15” Retina MacBook Pros some love with its latest Vertical Docking Stations ($90-$120). Available this month, the docks come in your choice of glossy white plastic, or, our preference, Mac-matching brushed metal. Both sizes come with pre-installed passthrough cables, making them ready to go out of the box. Because it stands your Mac up on its edge, the Vertical Docking Station is a good choice for hooking up to an external display on a desk with limited room. Update: Our original preview from May has been updated with new hands-on impressions and photos!
After hands-on testing of the Vertical Docking Station for the 13” Retina MacBook Pro, we’re almost entirely thrilled by the design, and a little underwhelmed by the frills. The Station comes with two Mini DisplayPort ports, one USB 3.0 port, and a 3.5mm audio pass-through cable. You notably have to supply the MagSafe power adapter yourself, and if you need Thunderbolt speeds, you’ll have to swap in your own Thunderbolt cables for the ones Henge Docks includes—a process that may cosmetically scuff the cable’s housing in the name of keeping it secure. A nifty stowable hex wrench and two MagSafe-securing plastic clips are included to let you insert the MagSafe tip, obscuring its power light in the process, as well as to pull out and replace any of the pre-installed plugs.
If there’s any one thing that makes the Vertical Docking Station impressive, it’s the Mac-matching aluminum base, which feels substantial and looks pretty close to gorgeous on a desk. While your MacBook will become an unnaturally tall tower when resting atop the base, Henge did a fantastic job shaping and lining the metal, providing ample ventilation and a nice cable-managing channel in the back of the dock. Everything connects simply to the proper ports on the MacBook Pro after you complete a quick initial locking-in of the MagSafe connector, and so long as you’re satisfied with these ports, you’ll love the Vertical Docking Station.
The only issue we saw, beyond the now-hidden MagSafe power indicator light, was the way Henge handled the ports. Using Mini DisplayPort cables rather than the full Thunderbolt supported by the Retina MacBook Pros adds potential hidden costs for users, and having only one USB port rather than a split port means that you might—depending on the monitor and accessories you’re using—want to add a hub so that you can have more USB accessories ready to use immediately upon docking. These probably won’t be problems for most users, as Thunderbolt remains a largely professional-class connectivity option and so many accessories have gone wireless rather than requiring USB; most users will be thrilled just to have something stable, attractive, and simple to plug their MacBook Pros into. Vertical Docking Station is a very good solution for that purpose.