One the characteristics that set the Surface Pro 3 apart from other tablets is its versatility. It can do so many things well that, if you get the right one for your needs, it can be a laptop replacement and quickly become your primary computer.
A significant reason for this is the inclusion of video and USB ports, features that are missing from most other tablets. However, to be used as a real primary device, most Surface users would prefer an easy way to hook up to an external monitor and peripherals.
Microsoft has satiated this desire with their Surface Pro 3 docking station, but for those of you who may be looking for a more affordable (and portable) option, take a look at eTauro's USB dock for the Surface Pro 3.
If we want to split hairs, the eTauro USB dock is actually more of a port replicator than a docking station. It plugs into the Surface Pro 3's video, USB and power jacks all at once, providing four USB 3.0 jacks, a video pass-through, and a proprietary power jack.
Once plugged into the Surface, the dock has a power indicator light and another light to show when the tablet is turned on.
The eTauro dock has a lot going for it. First and foremost, it is versatile and could just as easily be used as your home docking station as it could be a travel dock. Sure, it doesn't look as cool sitting on your desk as the official Surface dock but gets the job done as a stationary quick-connector to power, a monitor, and USB devices.
In addition, the device itself is thin, so it can fit into the side pocket of most sleeves and be taken it on the road with you. The power adapter isn't much larger than the one that comes with the Surface and can be stashed in a laptop bag. And if you don't want or need the power adapter, the eTauro dock still works as a USB hub.
The price of the eTauro dock is also a plus. The dock and power supply, which are sold separately, come in at just under $80, which is less than half the price of the Surface Pro 3 dock from Microsoft. Granted, it does not provide all of the bells and whistles of the official dock, but it is an excellent alternative for the price.
For all of its likeable features, the eTauro USB dock isn't perfect. However, for the price, I have a hard time finding anything monumentally wrong with it.
For instance, it would have been great if it included an Ethernet jack. Not only is the plenty of room for one, but there is actually a symbol on the side between the power and a USB port that looks like an Ethernet port.
Occasionally, when plugging in the dock, the power input does not line up with the port on the Surface. This misalignment isn't a big deal in general, but I can envision this wearing out the power input over time. The rest is more nitpicking than finding fault. The creamy white color is reminiscent of a computer tower from the early 1990's. It would look much better in a shiny black or something else that would complement the Surface Pro 3.
The eTauro USB dock is a perfect example of a good bang for the buck. It will do about 85% of what the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 docking station will do, but for 50% of the price. It is also helpful as a travel accessory for your Surface.
Still, if you have a serious command center at home, like dual monitors and several peripherals, you would be better served going with the official Microsoft dock.
But if you need something a little more casual, eTauro's USB dock for the Surface Pro 3 is an excellent pickup.