Plugable Pro8 Docking Station for Tablets like the Dell Venue 8 Pro

  • If you missed our Kickstarter the Pro8 is now available on Amazon
  • For a list of compatible tablets click here.
  • No audio with Windows 10? Click here.

To solve the inability of the Dell Venue 8 Pro Windows tablet (and more) to charge and connect external USB devices at the same time, we 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.

Unlike other attempts at solutions on the market for the Dell Venue 8 Pro, our Pro8 dock will maintain charging no matter what order you connect the USB cable or what power state the tablet is in. Hot-plugging of the Pro8 is fully supported in any power state. If the tablet is off, asleep, hibernated, rebooted, etc the dock will always maintain charging and will always reconnect to USB (some tablets may have minor limitations).

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.

The Pro8 comes with a detachable USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable for tablet connectivity and can also 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 any laptop or desktop computer for maximum compatibility. So while it’s designed to work with micro-b Windows tablets (and charges several of them), it can also work with any Windows tablet or laptop.

Compatibility

This method of charging and supporting USB devices is only compatible with certain tablets. We’ve compiled a list below of the tablets we’ve tested and tablets our customer base have reported to be compatible (for customer reported tablets, we cannot guarantee compatibility).

Tablets marked with a “Yes” in green for the “Charge & USB Compatible?” column are tablets confirmed to work by Plugable. Tablets marked with a “Yes (customer reported)” in light green are reported working from our customer base, but because we have not been able to verify behavior in different power states and charge rates in our lab, we cannot guarantee those tablets as being compatible. Tablets marked with an “No” in red are confirmed to not be compatible. Tablets marked with an “Untested” have not been tested.

Performance

USB-graphics devices like the UD-PRO8, are “virtual” devices where much of the heavy lifting is done by the CPU, GPU, and RAM of the host device (i.e.; the connected tablet or PC). Once the graphics have been rendered on the host system, they are compressed and sent over USB to the attached display. As a result, the graphical performance of the attached display is heavily dependent on the system specifications, available system resources, and USB bandwidth.

For most tablet and laptop users, web and productivity software will run well on the display attached through the dock. Due to the bandwidth available via USB 2.0, graphically intensive applications (such as HD video) are not recommended as the results may be unsatisfactory.

Specifications

  • Four USB 2.0 high speed ports (2 front, 2 rear) (Terminus Technology USB 2.0 hub chipset)
  • DVI-I video output (DisplayLink DL-165 chipset) up to 1920×1080 (1080p) at 60Hz
  • DVI to VGA & DVI to HDMI adapters included
  • 10/100 RJ45 Ethernet network connection (ASIX AX88772A chipset)
  • Front 3.5mm headphone/speaker output and microphone input (HDMI audio output not supported) (C-Media CM6300 chipset)
  • 20 watt power adapter (100-240V 50/60Hz input, 5V 4A output)
  • One USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable (for Dell Venue 8 Pro, Nextbook 8 (Win 8.1), 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)

Downloading the Latest Drivers

Please note that it is perfectly normal to have your monitors briefly flash black (as if not connected) or white once or more during installation. A reboot may be required to complete install. We strongly recommend installing the drivers before connecting the docking station.

What’s in the Box

The Plugable Pro8 comes with the following:

  • USB Micro B to Micro B cable for tablet connectivity and a standard USB Micro B to USB A cable to connect the docking station to a laptop computer for maximum compatibility
  • Robust 5V 4A 20W UL certified power adapter (US AC Wall Outlet Plug, 100-240V 50/60Hz, required for operation) allows even power-hungry USB devices to be connected while still being able to charge the tablet at full ~2A rate
  • DVI-to-VGA and DVI-to-HDMI adapters allow for flexibility and compatibility with a wide range of displays
  • Quick-start guide

Troubleshooting

Problem: I connected my tablet to the Pro8 and it is not charging or establishing a USB connection to the dock.
Solution: Verify the dock has power (blue LED) from the included power adapter (required) and verify the USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable is securely connected. Try unplugging the cable and plugging it back in. You can check the charging status in the Windows Taskbar (battery icon & power cable) and you should see a green LED when a USB connection has been established. If that doesn’t help, fully shutdown your tablet and turn it back on.

Problem: I connected my tablet to the Pro8 and it is charging but not establishing a USB connection to the dock.
Solution: Verify the dock has established a USB connection (green LED) and verify the USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable is securely connected. Try unplugging the cable and plugging it back in. If that doesn’t help, fully shutdown your tablet and turn it back on.

Problem: I connected my tablet to the Pro8 and it is establishing a USB connection to the dock but not charging.
Solution: Verify the USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable is securely connected. Try unplugging the cable and plugging it back in. If that doesn’t help, fully shutdown your tablet and turn it back on.

Problem: When I set my external display to be duplicated (cloned/mirrored), the setting errors out and will not let me select duplication, my external display is rotated incorrectly and the tablet resolution may be incorrect, or when using the external display only with the tablet display disabled, the screen may randomly rotate when opening full-screen applications.
Solution: Only extended desktop mode is supported at this time. Why? Due to Intel Graphics driver limitations for the Intel BayTrail platform, duplication and external monitor only configurations are not available over any USB DisplayLink graphics adapters like the Pro8 dock. These issues are subject to change with new driver releases and we will update our FAQs accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

(click FAQs to expand)

  • What devices does the Pro8 work with?
    See our compatibility chart above for details.
  • Why is the Pro8 only compatible with some Windows tablets out of many others that are on the market?
    Most Windows tablets on the market that we’ve tested will not accept a charging signal when an USB device is connected. Despite how complex or intelligent our Pro8 dock is, because of this behavior it will not work with tablets that do not accept a charging signal at the same time as a USB device is connected. Fortunately some tablets have more sophisticated circuits that can both charge and accept USB devices at the same time with the help of our dock.
  • Will my _____ tablet work with the Pro8? Will the Pro8 work with other tablets in the future?
    We will continue to test our Pro8 dock with new Windows tablets that are released and update our compatibility chart accordingly. See our compatibility chart above.
  • If I have an unsupported tablet, can I still connect the USB Micro B cable and use the Pro8 dock without charging functionality?
    No. Our dock does not trigger the OTG (On-The-Go) mode that other tablets require to initiate data communication.
  • Is this the Pro8 ACA (Battery Charging Specification 1.2) compliant?
    No. We have not implemented the ACA standard as almost no Windows tablets follow it.
  • Why is the Pro8 designed for Windows tablets only and not Android/iOS/Windows Phone?
    Android/iOS/Windows Phone platforms do not support DisplayLink USB based graphics adapters like the graphics adapter built into our dock.
  • Does the Pro8 require drivers?
    Yes, the Pro8 needs drivers for the DisplayLink DL-165 chipset, ASIX AX88772 Ethernet chipset, and C-Media CM-6300 audio chipset. Windows 8/8.1 can install the DisplayLink and Ethernet chipsets over Windows Update (when already connected to the Internet via WiFi) or downloaded manually from the provided links below. The C-Media audio chipset has drivers built in to Windows 8/8.1 already.
  • Why is the Pro8 only USB 2.0 and not USB 3.0 like the UD-3000 / 3900?
    The Pro8 is only USB 2.0 because the Dell Venue 8 Pro is only USB 2.0 capable.
  • Can the Pro8 connect to my Windows laptop (or other Windows computer)?
    Yes! While the Pro8 is designed primarily for your tablet to enable charging with USB connectivity, we understand you may want to use this docking station for multiple other devices in your home and that you may not own your current tablet forever. We include two different cables with the docking station, a USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable only for use with the Dell Venue 8 Pro and other supported tablets for charging and data connectivity, as well as a USB Micro B to USB A cable for data connectivity only without charging to any Windows computer with a standard USB port such as a laptop. What about my laptop running Mac OS X? With the latest Mac OS X versions, 10.9-10.10, there have been regressions in the OS that severely limit multi-monitor functionality. We strongly recommend against using our dock with the Mac OS at this time.
  • As the Pro8 works on Windows PCs using a USB Micro B to USB A cable, can I connect it to any Windows tablet with an OTG cable?
    Technically yes. However, you will not have charging functionality for your unsupported tablet by connecting it in this way. There would be no advantage to this docking station over our normal, non-charging docking stations such as the UD-3000/3900 or UD-160-A.
  • Does the Pro8 have charging functionality limitations with any of the compatible tablets?
    The Dell Venue 8 Pro has no charging functionality limitations. The Venue will properly charge while turned on, in sleep mode, off/hibernate when attached to the Pro8 dock. The Nextbook 8 (Win 8.1) and HP Stream 7, if rebooted, will enter a slower charging rate of 500mA and the battery cannot gain a charge. To resume charging at the full rate, the tablet must be unplugged and plugged back in. The Lenovo Miix 2 8″ will not properly charge when turned off/in hibernate mode and attached to the Pro8 dock. The tablet will continuously cycle on and off to show a charging status screen. The Lenovo Miix 2 8″ must either be turned on or be in sleep mode to charge while connected to the Pro8 dock. We recommend for all tablets, that when not in use, to put the tablet into sleep mode vs shutting it down as you can quickly wake the tablet from sleep to resume work by the keyboard or mouse just like any regular computer.
  • Will my tablet charge slower when connected to the Pro8 dock vs the stock charger that came with my tablet?
    Charging rates will be unaffected. We have designed the USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable with high quality 24AWG (thicker than average wire) power lines to minimize voltage drop from dock to tablet. In our tests with the Pro8 the Dell Venue 8 Pro and other compatible tablets have charging rates as good as or better than the charging rates measured from the stock chargers for each tablet.
  • Does the Pro8 use an IC (integrated circuit) to initiate charging?
    No, our custom circuit was specially designed to be as simple as possible without sacrificing functionality. A complex IC circuit would require additional components and custom software programming. This would only increase the cost to you with no additional benefits.
  • Why use custom circuitry VS adding a simple 1.5K Ω (Ohm) resistor as seen in some DIY and retail 'solutions'?
    In our testing we have found DIY (do-it-yourself) ‘solutions’, such as the ‘resistor hack’, can cause data corruption and USB device incompatibility. Our circuit in the Pro8 does not modify the data signals being transmit ensuring no data corruption.
  • Why would I choose the Pro8 over a less expensive 'solution' (DIY or retail)?
    Other ‘solutions’ exist, however, none are a hassle free, all-in-one package like ours. Do-it-yourself options are usually a mess of cables and adapters that require manual user intervention to work such as switches and/or complex order of operations plugging in and unplugging devices. Often times there are also sacrifices to charging rate and data integrity. Current retail options that exist often use a cheap $0.10 1.5K Ω (Ohm) resistor shorted across the USB data lines and charge almost half the price of our Pro8. This can cause data corruption and USB device incompatibility. These devices often require the use of a more powerful charger in combination with a powered USB hub to try to overcome these issues.
  • Can I mirror (clone / duplicate) the tablet screen to the monitor connected the Pro8?
    No. Only extended desktop mode is available at this time. Why? Due to Intel Graphics driver limitations for the Intel BayTrail platform, this feature is not available over USB DisplayLink graphics adapters. Currently there is an issue where mirroring can be enabled, but there will be a rotational issue on the attached screen and the internal tablet screen will render at the wrong resolution. This issue is subject to change with new driver releases and we will update our FAQ accordingly.
  • Can I use only the external monitor connected the Pro8 and disable the tablet's screen?
    Technically yes, but with some limitations. We have seen reports where when a Windows UAC dialog is initiated on screen, this will cause the monitor image to rotate 90 degrees to the right causing the user to have to manually correct the screen rotation afterwards. Why? Due to Intel Graphics driver limitations for the Intel BayTrail platform, this issue is present with any USB DisplayLink graphics adapter. This is This is issue subject to change with new driver releases and we will update our FAQ accordingly.
  • Can the Pro8 support a 16:10 aspect ratio monitor? For example 1920x1200.
    The DisplayLink DL-165 graphics chipset in our Pro8 dock is not capable of a resolution higher than 1920×1080 (16:9). It supports 4:3 and 16:10 aspect ratio resolutions under that maximum. For example 1600×1200 (4:3) or 1680×1050 (16:10) will work. Because 16:10 aspect ratio monitors are now becoming mostly extinct in favor of the more popular 16:9 aspect ratio, for most customers this will be a non-issue.
  • Is audio over HDMI supported with the Pro8?
    No, the DVI-I output on the dock can be converted to HDMI for video output only. Why? The advantage of DVI-I is that it can be both back converted to VGA with a passive adapter, and forward converted to HDMI with a passive adapter. Both of those are included with the dock. The Pro8 can support VGA, DVI, and HDMI with one product. It was a tough decision as there are definitely tradeoffs, but overall this allows for the most flexibility of monitor type for the user.
  • Can I connect an external USB Blu-ray drive to the Pro8 dock?
    Technically you can connect and power an external Blu-ray drive through our Pro8 dock but we do not recommend it. The DisplayLink DL-165 chipset in the dock is not HDCP compliant. We suspect the quality of Blu-ray video playback on the Venue’s internal screen may be questionable (ultimately this depends on your Blu-ray playback software and if it supports hardware acceleration) and may not be possible at all on a monitor or TV connected to the dock due to the lack of HDCP support.
  • Can I watch 1080p YouTube or Netflix on my monitor/TV connected to the Pro8? What about digitally downloaded HD content?
    YouTube / Netflix performance on the Dell Venue 8 Pro internal screen is very taxing of the Intel Atom CPU in the tablet by itself. YouTube / Netflix playback through the DisplayLink chipset in our Pro8 dock over USB 2.0 is generally acceptable to most users but drops in frame rate, horizontal tearing, and dithering (down-sampling the number of colors) may occur. Users may have a better overall experience by lowering the quality on YouTube (dropping to 720p or 480p) or by turning off HD on Netflix. Digitally downloaded HD content can have varying levels of performance. Depending on the resolution and codec of the video, results can be excellent to unwatchable. For best results we recommend to use VLC for playback with hardware acceleration enabled. As with YouTube / Netflix, drops in frame rate, horizontal tearing, and dithering (down-sampling the number of colors) may occur.
  • Why do I need the Pro8 if I already own an existing docking station like the Plugable UD-3000 / 3900?
    The UD-3×00 is not capable of charging the Dell Venue 8 Pro. The Pro8 solves that major limitation.
  • I already own a Plugable UD-3000 / 3900, can I connect it to the Pro8 to enable charging?
    If you already own a UD-3000 / UD-3900 you can connect it in line with the Pro8 (Tablet –> Pro8 –> UD-3×00). This will add charging functionality to your current setup and add 3 extra USB 2.0 ports and 1 additional DVI video output. The extra Ethernet and audio outputs would be redundant. In this scenario we recommend using the UD-3900 as the primary dock for your accessories and then once it is full, connect additional accessories to the Pro8.
  • Will the AC power adapter for the Pro8 work in my country?
    We currently offer the product with US version plugs. We plan to have optional UK/EU versions. The AC power adapter is able to handle a range of input voltages for most regions of the world. The adapter is rated for AC inputs of 100-240V / 50-60Hz. It outputs USB power of 5V 4A. So with a passive adapter (for the pins/prongs) the Pro8 can be used in most/all geographies.
  • Can I use the Pro8 in my car or truck to power my Dell Venue 8 Pro?
    We have had several inquiries about potentially using a tablet permanently installed in a vehicle and the need for USB connectivity while charging. This is possible but additional components would be required such as a 12 volt (or 24v) to 110v DC to AC inverter or a 12 volt (or 24v) 5v DC to DC regulator capable of supplying 4 amps or more that fits the dock’s DC input jack to power the dock off of the vehicle’s power system.
  • What do the blue LED and the green LED on the Pro8 indicate?
    The blue LED indicates that the Pro8 is being powered by its power adapter. The green LED lights up when a USB connection has been established.
  • What do the green and amber LEDs on the Ethernet port on the Pro8 indicate?
    The green link LED on the Ethernet port on is an indication that the Ethernet cable plugged into the port is live and it stays steady as long as the live cable is plugged in. The blinking amber activity LED is an indications that data is transferring through the port.
  • How do I set the volume on my Pro8?
    The Pro8’s audio function is provided by a C-Media CM-6300 USB audio chip. See our how-to for adjusting volume.
  • Why does the “Display Color Calibration” tool in Windows seems to have no effect on the display attached to my dock?
    The DisplayLink GPU does not support color calibration functionality. For environments that necessitate near-perfect color reproduction and calibration capabilities, a dedicated graphics card is recommended.
  • Why does the VGA connection not look as clear as DVI or HDMI?
    VGA is an analog connection and is subject to electrical interference. Depending on the monitor and VGA cable being used in combination with a DVI to VGA adapter, some graphical distortions may happen. Common differences between an analog VGA connection and a digital DVI/HDMI connection is the presence of “ghosting” (blurriness/smearing) of the image. We recommend using a digital connection when possible.
  • Is this solution permanent or could something change to cause the Pro8 to not function?
    It is possible that a tablet manufacturer could push a BIOS update to a tablet that breaks charging while using USB devices, defeating the purpose of this docking station. We don’t see why a manufacturer 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 for the Venue 8 Pro (up through version A10) and have not had any issues. The Lenovo Miix 2 8″ has been test up to BIOS 90CN24WW (V1.07). Plugable cannot be held responsible for any future compatibility changes to currently supported tablets.
  • Does the Pro8 have a warranty?
    We love our Plugable products, and hope you will too. All of our products are backed with a 1 year parts and labor warranty as well as lifetime technical support via email.
  • What if I lose or damage the included USB Micro B to USB Micro B cable for the Pro8?
    We will have replacement cables available for purchase if lost or damaged.

Where to Buy