MEGATech Reviews: Diamond Multimedia DS3900V2 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station
summary
Pros
  • Slick, streamlined design
  • No loss in USB 3.0 performance
  • Reasonable price point
Cons
  • Video drivers incompatible with Windows 7
  • No front USB ports
  • Still requires external power
6.5Overall Score

There has always been something of a great divide between the permanent world of the desktop computer and the portable world of the laptop PC. We’re not only talking about raw horsepower and the ease of upgrading, but also when it comes to peripherals and expansion. As a general rule of thumb, notebooks just don’t have as many ports as their desktop counterparts and this issue is even more apparent when you move into Windows tablets. What’s a road warrior to do?

While it doesn’t hook up to the fancy new USB type-C connector on the new MacBook, the updated Diamond Multimedia DS3900v2 can “enhance” your Windows experience with more ports and jacks than you can shake a flash drive at.

The New Ultra Dock for Notebooks and Tablets

MEGATech Reviews: Diamond Multimedia DS3900V2 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station

If you’re thinking that you’ve seen this “Ultra Dock Dual Video USB 3.0/2.0 Docking Station” before, you probably have. We previously reviewed the original DS3900 docking station quite some time back and, as its name implies, the DS3900v2 is the second version of that docking station. As before, you don’t physically dock your laptop or tablet into this device; it just connects through a single USB 3.0 cable, which is included.

For a quick overview of some of the key features and to see what is included when you buy a DS3900v2, be sure to watch our unboxing video that we posted not that long ago. The Diamond DS3900v2 is meant to be a updated model with a few design changes, but we quickly learned that not all that much has actually changed.

Taking Everything to the Back

MEGATech Reviews: Diamond Multimedia DS3900V2 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station

Compared to the first generation DS3900 docking station, the DS3900v2 boasts a much classier design, albeit one that is likely more forgettable. The glossy black and plasticky silver have been replaced by just a matte black finish. While it may be a little more boring, in this regard, it also doesn’t look as cheap. They’ve also upgraded how the vertical stand works, boasting a metal plate in place of a cheaper plastic “I”-shaped stand.

Aside from aesthetics, the other most notable change is the placement of the ports. In my review of the DS3900, I commented that I liked having the two USB 3.0 ports and the headset jack in the front for ease of access. For whatever reason, Diamond decided to toss everything in the back this time, except for the audio jack on the side. It’s cleaner, but I found it just wasn’t as functional. It also meant that I actually had to look for the difference between the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connections. The ports are otherwise identical, giving you dual video out via HDMI and DVI, plus a wired networking port.

Is There Any Performance Degradation?

MEGATech Reviews: Diamond Multimedia DS3900V2 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station

Whenever you go through a secondary device, you assume that there may be something lost in transition (on translation). Since the Diamond DS3900v2 effectively serves as a USB hub (plus the noted networking, audio and video-out functions), you may also have some concerns that you won’t be able to achieve full USB 3.0 speeds here.

To test this theory, I ran the CrystalDiskMark 4.0.3 with the default settings on a Kingston HyperX USB 3.0 flash drive. I did this first with a direct USB 3.0 connection on my Ultrabook and then I did the same through the Diamond DS3900v2. For some inexplicable reason, I actually achieved faster speeds through the dock than I did through a direct connection. This will naturally degrade as you plug in more peripherals and use them concurrently, but it is a curious observation to be sure.

MEGATech Reviews: Diamond Multimedia DS3900V2 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station

On the front package of the Diamond DS3900v2, you’ll notice the company makes explicit mention of Windows 8. There’s a reason for that. While the USB hub portion worked just fine, I ran into some DisplayLink video troubles when I connected the dock to my Windows 7 Ultrabook. I got the error message above, despite the fact that Device Manager indicated I did indeed have all the latest drivers. This is definitely something you’ll want to keep in mind if you have a Windows 7 machine with which you’d like to use this video dock.

MEGATechie Bright Like a Diamond or MEGATechie Cut for Clarity?

MEGATech Reviews: Diamond Multimedia DS3900V2 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station

As much as I had hoped this matte black docking station would shine bright like a diamond, I was ultimately disappointed. The switch in aesthetics is largely a positive one, but you really don’t gain anything in terms of actual functionality compared the original. Moving the USB 3.0 ports to the back makes the DS3900v2 less useful and the video driver issue with Windows 7 can be a real nuisance.

If Diamond had bolstered the features and functions of this dock compared to its predecessor in some notable way, I may have sung a different tune. But seeing how the beauty here is only skin deep, I’m not as inclined, even if the DS3900v2 sells for just under $100. It’s not expensive, but the price doesn’t scream “buy me now” either.


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