This has been a post long in the making, but is pretty simple. This is the short story of me dumping my clunky office Windows PC for the MacBook Air, which performs much faster thanks to multiple cores, a solid state boot disk and, frankly, a better operating system. As my school went one-to-one, teachers and students received MacBook Airs. The mobility of my Mac really helped with my job, since I work with different teachers across my campus every day. However, I still had a lot of data entry or design tasks that required more precise mouse control. Plus, the hardline network connection was so much faster when uploading instructional videos I produced. So, how could I combine the controls and network connectivity of my PC with the speed and mobility of my Mac? Enter my budget docking method, which I’ve not got three other teachers replicating to great success. Now, I can use my MacBook at eye-level (no hunching over) and get some true desk work done, too.
What does it require?
- 1x Dell monitor (provided by school)
- 1x Dell mouse (provided by school)
- 1x Dell monitor-mounted speaker (provided by school)
- 1x ethernet/network cable (provided by school)
- 1x MacBook power cable (provided by school)
- 1x $26.99 Anker Unibody Aluminum 3-Port USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet Hub with 1.3ft / 40cm USB 3.0 Cable
- 1x $15.99 Cable Matters Mini DisplayPort (Thunderbolt™ 2 port Compatible) to VGA Cable in White 6 Feet (optional if you can trust plugging your VGA cable into your Apple dongle regularly… I don’t!)
Below, you see my USB+Ethernet hub, which I keep my keyboard and mouse plugged into. I also have a spare USB port for my podcast microphone, storage devices or Christmas decorations (as shown). The blue cable coming out of that hub also provides a hardline connection to the network at 10x the speed of WiFi. The white cable coming from my MiniDisplayPort stays connected to the monitor at all times so I don’t have to worry about reconnecting or damaging the VGA dongle that teachers received (I keep that thing underused as I’m afraid of damaging the small pins). I can also still listen to videos via a speaker by connecting the green speaker cable to my headphone jack.
The best part? No software to configure or buttons to press. I just plug in those four cables and lower my Mac’s lid when I’m ready to sit and focus on something at my desk.