While I’ve used Continuum in the past, wirelessly and wired, and with and without a dock, the HP Elite x3 Desk Dock is the best experience I’ve had so far.
And it’s hard to know if that’s because of the phone, the dock itself, or some combination. But I’ve had positively horrific Continuum experiences with my Lumia 950 over the past year, in every possible configuration imaginable, with laggy performance and an unresponsive mouse cursor when using the phone as a pointing device. And that’s when it connected at all. It usually didn’t.
The HP Desk Dock is … different. Physically, it is a big, heavy, and imposing device, and it dwarfs the Microsoft Display Dock I’ve used with the Lumia 950. It is also of much higher quality, and has the feel of a weighted metal ball.
I would have recommended some changes to its expansion options, however. For reasons I do not understand, the Desk Dock features a full-sized Display Port for video-out, rather than the far more common HDMI. And it offers two full-sized USB ports (one USB 3.0 and one 2.0, I believe) for expansion; three would be better. But there is a USB-C port, too, and 1 Gbps Ethernet. So it can give you the basics of a full desktop experience, assuming you can figure out a way to get Display Port out to your display.
Like the Microsoft Display Dock, the HP Desk Dock features a rubbery micro-suction bottom, but because the HP device is so much heavier, it actually works to keep things in place. The top of the dock, where you sit the phone on a USB-C jack, is removable, I assume to accommodate different viewing angles or perhaps phone cases. But there is also an adapter that lets you use HP’s wireless charging option for the phone too.
The Dock also supports fast charging and is, in fact, the fastest way to charge the x3. It can charge the phone from 0 to 80 percent in about an hour, compared to 90 minutes for the normal phone charger. And to 100 percent in about 140 minutes, vs. 160 minutes. According to HP, that is.
As noted, this dock provides a rock-solid Continuum experience, and while I will opine on the Elite x3’s software experiences at a later date, I’d like to stress how unusual that is. Everything works immediately and works well.
And that changes things, now doesn’t it? A lot of my opinion about the viability of Continuum have rested on—wait for it—my real world experiences using it, and those experiences were decidedly negative. Granted, alot of my opinion about the viability of Continuum is also based on the fact that Windows phone has a terrible apps ecosystem. And the quality of the Desk Dock won’t help there.
This bowling ball of a peripheral will, however, help deliver desktop applications to the Elite x3 virtually, from a datacenter. That’s something I’ll be looking at next week, when I get back from my pending Las Vegas trip.
Long story short, it’s already clear that the HP Desk Dock provides a superior Continuum experience, and that is something I’d never seen before. That alone makes this device—and the usage scenarios it enables—a bit more interesting.