- Sturdy construction
- Includes two Mini DisplayPort connectors for dual display setups
- Vertical orientation saves desk space
- Thunderbolt cables not included
- Doesn’t expand connectivity out of the box
Though it doesn’t have extra connectors, the Vertical Dock makes a practical and artistic statement on your desk.
When I did a review roundup of Thunderbolt 2 docks last May, I decided not to include the Henge Vertical Dock. (This review looks specifically at the Henge MacBook Pro with Retina Display Vertical Dock.)
Like the docks in the roundup, the primary purpose of the Vertical Retina Dock is to provide a quick way to connect and disconnect devices to your Retina MacBook Pro. However, unlike the docks in the roundup, the Vertical Retina Dock doesn’t provide additional ports for connecting devices. (Henge’s Horizontal Dock does provide additional ports, which is why it was mentioned in the roundup as an upcoming product.)
The Vertical Retina Dock is a dock, after all, perhaps more true to the idea of a “dock” than the ones in the roundup, which are more like hubs. Since a few people have asked me about it, here’s a look at the Henge MacBook Pro with Retina Display Vertical Dock.
Cables coming out the back of the Vertical Retina Dock correspond to the Retina MacBook Pro’s ports on the laptop’s MagSafe 2 side. But before you slide your laptop in and connect your devices, you need to do a little bit of reconfiguring on the Vertical Retina Dock to have it properly set up for your needs. It’s not difficult to do, fortunately.
First, you need to thread your MagSafe 2 adapter through the Vertical Retina Dock’s power adapter port, which involves fitting a Henge-provided plastic sleeve called an Adapter Tool on the MagSafe 2 connector, removing the Cover Anchor on the side, unscrewing an anchor screw, threading the plug into the Vertical Retina Dock’s port, screwing in the anchor screw, and replacing the Cover Anchor.
But you may not want to replace the Cover Anchor just yet. The second thing you have to do is only required if you want to be able to use Thunderbolt devices. Henge’s website says the Vertical Retina Dock is “Thunderbolt ready,” which means it is fitted for Thunderbolt cables that don’t come with the Vertical Retina Dock. Instead, it has a pair of Mini DisplayPort cables. If you want two Thunderbolt connectors, you need to buy Thunderbolt cables (Apple sells a 0.5 meter cable for $29; Henge doesn’t sell Thunderbolt cables), remove the Mini DisplayPort cables from the Vertical Retina Dock, and then replace those with Thunderbolt. Installing the cable is a process similar to that of the power adapter.
Docked MacBook Pro
When sliding the laptop into the Vertical Retina Dock (while facing the front of the Vertical Retina Dock), the laptop’s Apple logo needs be facing to your left with the top of the logo pointed toward you. This will line up the laptop’s ports with the Vertical Retina Dock’s connectors.
The dock holds your laptop vertically, making an impressive-looking aluminum monolith. And the vertical position frees up space on your desk. I needed to adjust the fit of my Thunderbolt and MagSafe 2 connectors, but after that, I was able to slide my laptop in and out of the dock easily. The dock is quite sturdy and has enough weight to stay in place when removing a laptop. The laptop sits firmly in the well-constructed dock.
If you want a two-display setup you need two external displays—you can’t count on the laptop’s display because your laptop is closed. If you’re using a HDMI display, the laptop’s HDMI connector is facing upward, so you plug in your HDMI display at the top, which ruins the aesthetic.
If you like the look of the Vertical Retina Dock but wish it had more USB ports, you can solve that problem by connecting a USB hub.
If you’re looking for a dock that makes an obvious design statement, the Vertical Dock may be what you want. It certainly creates an eye-catching installation on your desk. Henge makes the Vertical Dock for the 13- and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air, the MacBook, and the older MacBook Pro with standard displays.
Compared to the docks in our Thunderbolt 2 roundup, the Vertical Retina Dock has limitations—it doesn’t offer extra ports, ethernet connectivity, and it prevents use of the laptop’s display. It also doesn’t include Thunderbolt cables. If you want Thunderbolt and want to add a USB hub, you’ll need to shell out more money above the cost of the stand.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Henge has announced a Horizontal Dock that includes Thunderbolt 2 ports, gigabit ethernet, and six USB 3 ports for $399. It’s not a connector box, but another cradle that you slide your laptop into horizontally (as the name says), not vertically. Henge’s website says the device will be available in July.