There was a time, not too long ago, when the desktop computer was king. Everybody had a desktop. Laptops were slow, heavy, and could only last a few hours without being plugged in for a charge.
However, times have changed. Today, the laptop rules supreme. Is there still a place for a traditional desktop? Absolutely, but it’s hard to beat the convenience of a laptop when it is both powerful and mobile.
However, as popular as they are, laptops still have compromises. The most notable compromise is the number of ports you have to deal with. Apple moved to address that with the recent 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros, but if you don’t have $2000 (or more) to spend on a laptop, most alternatives require dongles or docking stations to get through the day.
I have numerous adapters for the 2018 MacBook Pro I use at work. They’re annoying, but I have grudgingly got used to them. So, when Brydge reached out to ask if I wanted to try out their new Stone Pro TB4 Universal Docking Station, I jumped at the chance.
What’s in the Box?
The Brydge Stone Pro is smaller than I thought it would be, but there’s no sense in it taking up any more desk space than it has to. It is wedge-shaped and can be used flat on a desk or in the included vertical desk stand.
Also included is a 135-watt power cable for the dock, a Thunderbolt 4 cable (0.8m/2.6ft) to connect to your computer, and a user manual.
Ports and Specifications
The Stone Pro TB4 can be used with macOS 11 or later but is also compatible with Windows 10/11 and even ChromeOS. It has no less than 11 ports and can be used with a laptop or desktop computer. So, here’s a quick rundown of what you get with the Stone Pro dock.
There are three Thunderbolt 4 ports on the rear of the dock. Because they are Thunderbolt 4, these ports support data, video, and power signals. The three on the back are rated for 15 Watts of power delivery. They allow you to connect two 4K monitors at up to 60Hz or one 8K monitor running at 30Hz.
Mac users should note that dual displays are not natively supported by M1 computers like the 2020 MacBook Air. Intel Macs work fine, but if you have an Apple Silicon Mac, you need the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips for dual screens. That said, the Stone Pro TB4 does support one 5K display running at 60Hz, and not many docks have that option.
Rounding off the list of ports on the rear of the dock are three USB-A 3.2 ports that handle data and up to 4.5 Watts of charging power. There is also a gigabit ethernet port.
On the front of the Stone Pro, there is another Thunderbolt 4 port. This one is rated for up to 90 Watts of power delivery and is intended to be the port you use to connect the dock to your computer. Remember that Thunderbolt 4 cable that came in the box? This is what it is for. With 90 Watts of power, you should have no problem charging almost any laptop.
The remaining three ports on the front include a 3.5mm audio jack with sound and mic support, a USB-A 2.0 port that is rated for 7.5 Watt fast charging, and an SD Card Slot (SD4.0UHS-II).
How it Works
In my testing, the Stone Pro TB4 worked really well. However, because there are no HDMI ports, I had to pick up a couple of USB-C to HDMI cables so that I could connect the HDMI monitors that I have on my desk. You can find similar cables at brydge.com or on Amazon for less than $20 each (affiliate link).
I connected two 1080p monitors, a 2018 MacBook Pro (13-inch), an ethernet cable, a pair of USB-C desktop speakers, a lightning cable to charge my iPhone, and a Logitech USB Unifying Receiver. That left me with a couple of spare USB ports and the SD card slot.
Of course, the best thing about connecting all these things is that they connect to my laptop with just one cable. When I head home at the end of the day, I unplug that one cable and put my laptop in my bag. When I arrive at work the next day, I plug in that one cable, and everything just works.
In my time using the Stone Pro dock, I have had zero issues with dropped connections from any of my inputs. The dock stays relatively cool in use, and I think it looks kind of stylish, even though it is tucked away behind my monitors.
I use the Stone Pro with the included vertical stand. You don’t have to use the stand, but the dock takes up less space on your desk when you use the stand. It’s not weighted, so it could potentially get knocked over if it was in the wrong place. However, I have mine on my desk where the cables don’t get pulled or knocked very often, so stability hasn’t been an issue for me.
If you want to save even more space and you don’t need your laptop for an additional screen, you could opt for something like the Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock or similar (affiliate link). This is a good option if you have a smaller desk to work with, and it can be used in tandem with the Stone Pro.
Verdict & Value for Money
The Brydge Stone Pro TB4 Universal Docking Station sells for $329. At first glance, that might seem like a lot of money, but it is competitively priced when compared to the alternatives from Anker, Kensington, Lenovo, and others.
It’s not a cheap accessory, but it pays you back in kind every time you use it. Connecting everything to your laptop with just one cable is a luxury that is hard to describe.
After using the Stone Pro every day for the last week or so, I know I would miss it if I didn’t have one. For me, those are the accessories that are worth the extra money.