Back in January, I reviewed the eTauro USB dock for the Surface Pro 3. Despite a few shortcomings, I found it to be a budget-friendly alternative to Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 docking station, giving you about 85 percent of the functionality at half the price.
Since that time, eTauro has revamped the design and repackaged the device. I decided to revisit the device, now referred to as the DUCGe USB dock.
Although the overall design of the DUCGe is pretty much the same as its predecessor, there are three primary differences with this latest iteration.
The most significant change to the eTauro USB dock is the addition of a gigabit Ethernet jack, giving you more versatility at home or when you travel.
The DUCGe also has a smaller power pack that is easier to tote around. It also comes included with the dock, rather than having to purchase it separately, like you did with the previous model.
Like its predecessor, the eTauro DUCGe is immensely convenient. The four USB 3.0 ports are great for adding peripherals, a flash drive, or what have you, making it helpful when multitasking on your Surface. The mini DisplayPort, power, and now, network jack, give you the ability to sit down at your desk and get to work right away without having to fuss with multiple cables.
And because of its svelte form factor, the DUCGe can be thrown in your laptop bag or sleeve pocket to take on the road with you. If you don't feel like bringing the new smaller power adapter along with you, no worries, as the all of the jacks on the dock are fully-functional without an external power source.
I also found that I don't have the same problem with the power input lining up when plugging the dock into the Surface that I did with the previous model. Perhaps that is by design, but it could all be in my head.
Pricewise, the eTauro USB dock is still a bargain when compared to the official Surface Pro 3 dock made by Microsoft, despite the fact that it doesn't have all of the bells and whistles. The DUCGe is $25.00 more than eTauro's other dock. So, the answer to the question of whether or not it is worth it depends on how much importance you place on greater portability and a hardwired connection.
The Not So Good
From a functional perspective, eTauro resolved the two biggest complaints that I had with their dock.
I know that function comes before form, but I still think that it would be better served by being a different color. The DUCGe sticks out like a sore thumb when connected to the beautiful Surface Pro 3. That being said, it wouldn't stop me from using this accessory because I am much more practical than that.
What would make the eTauro USB dock "over-the-top great" would be if it used the Surface Pro 3's power cable. That would eliminate the internal debate of which brick to travel with if you don't want to carry both.
My assumption is that the proprietary connector stands in eTauro's way.
So what's the verdict? Well, If you already own eTauro's first model without the network jack, I am not sure it is worth the upgrade.
However, if you are looking for a versatile port replicator for your Surface Pro 3 that doesn't break the bank, then eTauro's DUCGe may be a good option. It gives you the convenience of a dock at home and the utility of a USB hub/Ethernet jack wherever you are.
It isn't a direct replacement for the Surface Pro 3 dock made by Microsoft, but with the added network port, it now does almost all of the same stuff at a fraction of the cost. Not to mention that the smaller power adapter and the ability to use the dock without the power source, makes it a welcome travel companion.
You can find the eTauro DUCGe on Amazon for $99.00.