Titan TTC-G20TZ Docking Station Reviewairman -
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The Titan TTC-G20TZ has an egg-like shape with a flat, slanted front to accommodate a laptop. The rubber trim around the front mesh vent prevents the laptop from slipping while in use, and also prevents the transfer of vibrations to or from the laptop. The Titan logo on the front of the unit is a power button for the fan, which is a 92mm fan that does not have any listed specifications, such as speed or amperage. The front of the dock slants back at close to 45° in order to support the laptop. The rear of the dock is where the ports are located. The Titan dock boasts four USB2.0 ports, audio out and microphone jacks, VGA support, and 10/100 LAN. I'm not sure why Titan chose to put one USB port by itself and three others next to each other, but I'm sure the company has some reasoning behind it. The last two ports on the right are the USB input jack, which plugs into the computer, and the power jack.
Underneath and built in to the unit is a frame that can be flipped outwards and prevents the dock from falling backwards. Without it, the dock would surely tip over. It was quite difficult getting it to stay upright on carpet to take pictures of it without the stand! The label on the bottom of the dock contains the unit model number, power adapter voltage and current, the USB output power (standard 5V at 500mA), outline dimensions, and the fan dimensions. The serial number is also located on this label. A closer look at the rear of the dock shows the structure of the vents for the intake direction of the airflow. These vents do look somewhat impeding and could be a culprit for extra noise. I have not fired it up yet, so I can't speak of this for sure. With the stand flipped out, the dock seems very sturdy and well-balanced. There is a tiny tab on each side of the stand that allow it to "snap" into place, which will prevent the stand from falling out of this position when picked up to be moved or any other reason.
The software for the Titan TTC-G20TZ dock is very quick to install. The entire software CD only uses about 20MB, so it is fairly lightweight. The utility installs drivers for the audio, LAN, and VGA ports. After installing the software, I noticed a huge issue with the display — even without the dock plugged in. The video is very glitchy and flickers a LOT. Obviously this has something to do with the VGA drivers that the software installed, but I'm surprised to see that it affects the picture even without the dock being plugged in. This occurred at all resolutions, not just those that may not be supported by the dock. The picture will even freeze occasionally for about 10-15 seconds when calling on the software to do a function, and even at random. Very unimpressive! I am unable to gather a screenshot of this behavior, but I can make it very clear that something isn't right about it! I uninstalled the software, and this issue went away. After reinstalling, the issue came back. I tried this on another laptop and the issue was duplicated. Both laptops use an ATI Mobility Radeon video chipset, so it may be related to that, but I wouldn't imagine this to be the case.
As I stated, the software is simple. Once installed, a single icon named "Super Utility" appears in the task bar with several options. Now, all the information below is from Titan's user manual for the dock. The reason I say this is because I was unable to get these options to appear, only the ones pictured below! I restarted the laptop several times and reinstalled the utility with and without the dock plugged in. Nevertheless, I was unable to get anything extra to show up. Anyways, for the sake of explaining, these options in the user's manual include the display resolution and rotation, as well as the display mode. The first display mode is Extended, which simply extends the desktop to or from the built-in screen of the laptop. Mirror mode simply duplicates the picture on the primary monitor onto the secondary monitor. The mirror option brings out a sub-menu with normal and horizontal or vertical flip. The primary option will set the external display as the primary display, and the built-in screen of the laptop will be the secondary screen to which the display will extend. Selecting the "off" option does exactly that — it turns off the video output from the dock.
The other main option available from the Titan software, which I WAS able to get to appear, is the "Multi-Display Control Panel", which allows users to assign key combinations that will move the active window on the screen to different monitors. The software has the ability to move a window between 12 displays! Why? I don't know. Having 12 displays would require massive amounts of hardware and software configurations, so I'm not sure why Titan decided to make the software capable of that. Regardless, it's a cool feature that can assist other "keyboard ninjas" in the world to move their windows around without having to touch the mouse. That aside, without the dock plugged into a monitor there are still a couple of options that don't really apply. It still has Identify Monitors, Multi-Display Control Panel, and Display Settings, which only brings up the video settings from the Windows control panel, but it also has a checkbox labeled "Fixed Position." The user's manual doesn't mention anything about it, so I don't really know what it's for.
When powered up, the button on the front remains off. The fan does not need to be on for the unit to function, which is nice due to the noise. The Titan dock can operate at two speed levels, low and high. Low will make the button illuminate green, and high will turn the button blue. At high speed, the dock is quite noisy and doesn't feel like it moves a lot of air either. The fan is pointed frontwards towards the back of the laptop and there isn't really a lot of directional flow. I can feel the airflow around the mesh, but it's not much at all. The back of the dock is definitely impeded by the construction of the vent, and I'm sure this has something to do with it. We'll see how this affects the temperatures momentarily. Anyways, as far as the power this dock is capable of, I am curious. I'd like to see how USB transfer through it compares to straight off of the laptop, as well as LAN speeds and sound quality. I will be testing all these aspects on the Testing & Setup page.