Connect an Android Smartphone or Tablet to a Monitor, USB Keyboard and Mouse Easily with a DisplayLink Docking Station

Following my post featuring Zenfone 2 Deluxe Special Edition smartphone with 256GB internal storage and 4GB RAM, I had an interesting discussion about mobile and desktop convergence, and we had different views on how this may pan out and what the consumers want, but we all basically agreed this was still work in progress.

DisplayLink_Android

Another reader pointed me to his various attempts to conveniently connect his Android smartphone and tablet to a large monitor together with keyboard and mouse. He basically considered – and in most cases tested – four choices:

  • Wireless Display solution (Miracast, Chromecast, EZcast…) together with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse
  • Micro USB port with MHL using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse
  • Slimport adapter based on MHL but with USB port for keyboard and mouse. Here’s on example of Slimport to HDMI adapter ($10).
  • Displaylink docking station with HDMI and VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0

Wireless display was not satisfactory because of lag, and Bluetooth also introduced some lag, so the first two solutions are feasible, but not with the best user experience. Slimport would have worked, but it’s a solution for mobile platforms only, and some models are only compatible with Samsung devices Samsung-only (5P vs 11P), so finally the best and most versatile solution was to go with a Displaylink docking station such as StarTech.com Universal USB 3.0 laptop mini docking station with model USB3SMDOCKHV including HDMI and VGA ports, Gigabit Ethernet, a USB 3.0 port, and a USB 3.0 cable to connect to a laptop or mobile device.

Displaylink_Docking_StationAfter the first time setup where you need to connect a VGA or HDMI TV/monitor, the USB keyboard and mouse via a USB hub, you just need to connect the docking station to your USB OTG capable Android 5.0+ smartphone and tablet using a USB OTG adapter, and all signaling for video and input devices go through the USB cable. The bonus is that, just like with MHL, it will also charge your device as you use it.

The provided CDROM includes a user’s manual and drivers for Windows and Mac, which you can also download via the product page. However, fi you’re going to use an Android device this won’t help, and instead you need to download DisplayLink Desktop (Beta) via Google Play Store. Apps reviews are quite positive and the app has been confirmed to work with Nexus 6, Asus Fonepad 7, Galaxy S6 Edge, and One Plus One with CM12. It has also been tested successfully with StartTech docking station with Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Note 4.

Samsung Galaxy S Tab 8.4 Connected to StarTech DisplayLink Dock
Samsung Galaxy S Tab 8.4 Connected to StarTech DisplayLink Dock

Thanks to JoyTest for sharing his experience.

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