Help us reach $32,000! If we can get there, a new $90 pledge level is added. Backers at that level and above receive a USB card reader (SD and CF supported) which simply plugs into the dock.
We released a demo video on YouTube last November showcasing the Dell Venue 8 Pro with our flagship UD-3900 USB 3.0 Dual Display Universal Docking station, essentially turning the tablet into a full desktop workstation. We received an extremely warm welcome from the Dell Venue 8 Pro user community and even caught the attention of Michael Dell (CEO, Dell Inc.) himself who retweeted our video. To this date we have over 150,000 views and almost 400 user comments. The majority of comments were all asking one question: “Can it charge?” This Kickstarter is the culmination of our work to make that happen!
The newly released Dell Venue 8 Pro and Lenovo Miix 2 8" tablets both run full desktop Windows 8.1 which allows them to be used with almost any USB device including those that require drivers. The only extra hardware needed is a standard USB On-The-Go (OTG) cable. This allows them to be linked with multiple monitors and USB devices such as a keyboard, mouse, flash drive, etc. For home or office work not demanding heavy 3D performance, these small and inexpensive tablets are a great value to consumers. These 8" tablets are even preloaded with Microsoft Office. Having the ability to purchase a docking station and convert a tablet into a full computer makes it an even greater value.
The main flaw with these tablets is that they each feature only one USB port for both charging and data connectivity. This is an issue because the user cannot charge at the same time while using USB devices. The tablets are not capable of remaining charged throughout a full workday, forcing the user to disconnect their tablet from the dock to charge it.
To solve this problem the team at Plugable Technologies have created the Plugable Pro8 docking station. When connected to our Pro8 dock, the dock simulates the signal of the stock charger needed to trigger the tablets charging cycle. It then flips the port over to host mode so devices can be used while the tablet continues to charge. We prototyped this first with a breadboard solution and several of our Plugable USB devices.
Our integrated Pro8 Docking Station, as delivered for the Kickstarter, provides several important features over USB 2.0, including a DisplayLink based video connection to a single additional monitor (up to 1920x1080 (1080p) via DVI, VGA, or HDMI (HDMI audio not supported) with adapters included with the Kickstarter reward), front audio output and input, wired 10/100 network connection (typically much faster than wireless), and four additional USB 2.0 ports. It has been designed to offer full speed charging and USB On-The-Go (OTG) data connectivity simultaneously to the tablet. It has also been designed to still be able to function with a normal computer such as a laptop, using a separate cable (included with the Kickstarter reward).
The custom circuitry in our docking station that allows the dual functionality of charging and USB data connectivity to be possible was designed in-house and brought to production by our manufacturing partners.
The method of charging and supporting USB devices is only compatible with the Dell Venue 8 Pro (The Dell Venue 8 *non pro* Android version is not supported) and the Lenovo Miix 2 8 tablets. There have been several do-it-yourself hacks but none have been integrated into this kind of all-in one solution with true plug and play functionality. We have created a truly hassle free solution with no complicated procedures or compromises to tablet charging rates. This is the ultimate all-in-one solution.
We need your help to make it happen, especially all existing Dell Venue 8 Pro and Lenovo Miix 2 8 owners. Thanks for considering the backing level that's right for you. And thanks so much for your support!
In our video and pictures you can see a fully working prototype for the Dell Venue 8 Pro and the Lenovo Miix 2 8. The final production units will be in a slightly different enclosure, a rectangular design in all black. They will also have a detachable USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable for tablet connectivity and can use a standard USB Micro B to USB A cable (like the stock cable included with the tablet for charging) to connect the docking station to a laptop or desktop computer for maximum compatibility.
- Four USB 2.0 ports (2 front, 2 rear)
- DVI-I video output (DisplayLink DL-165 chipset) up to 1920x1080 at 60Hz (1080p)
- DVI to HDMI and DVI to VGA adapters included
- 10/100 RJ45 Ethernet network connection (ASIX 88772A chipset)
- Front 3.5mm headphone/speaker output and microphone input (HDMI audio output not supported) (C-Media CM6300 chipset)
- 20 watt power adapter (110-240V input, 5V 4A output)
- One USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable (for Dell Venue 8 Pro / Lenovo Miix 2 8 charging and data connectivity)
- One USB Micro B to USB A cable (for standard USB port data connectivity to a laptop, etc)
Based on the bug fixes and refinements needed (and there are some), we estimate with production time that we will begin shipping by November 2014.
We’re proud to be able to present our Plugable Pro8 docking station to you. We're excited at how this enables the best of both worlds -- an inexpensive ~$250 Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet that can also be a desktop replacement. Please let us know if you have any questions at all. We're happy to help.
Risks and challenges
Currently the biggest challenge is meeting our estimated shipment date. We do not anticipate any delays but with any mass produced product, unforeseen issues can arise during production.
We will do our best to keep our supporters updated along the way.
We’re also taking a risk releasing a custom designed solution because it is possible that either Dell or Lenovo could push an update to these tablets that breaks charging while using USB devices, defeating the purpose of this docking station. We don’t see why either company would want to do this as it would alienate their customers, however it is a possibility. Currently we have tested each BIOS update released by Dell (up through version A08) and have not had any issues. Lenovo has not released any BIOS updates for the Miix 2 8 at this time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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