How to Dock your Surface RT and Surface 2

Although there is no officially supported Docking station available for the Surface tablets that run Windows RT, using some standard accessories we can setup our Surface in a workstation like fashion allowing you to get some real work done.

What you will need:

  • External monitor. Preferably one with an HDMI port but not necessary (more on that below) and that supports up to 1920×1080 resolution. I am using a Lenovo D221 22” with DVI.
  • USB 2.0 hub (a powered hub is required for the Surface 2). In my example I am using a D-Link DUB-H7.
  • Mini-HDMI to HDMI, or DVI, or VGA, or DisplayPort, etc, whatever your external monitor supports. I am using the Microsoft Surface HDMI adapter, and a Belkin HDMI to DVI cable.
  • Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter or ASIX chipset USB 2.0 10/100mbps adapter – *please read my blog on support for USB Ethernet adapters in Windows RT. https://digitalmanblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/ethernet-on-surface-rt-with-windows-rt-8-1/
  • USB Keyboard and Mouse (plus any other supported USB accessories, ie. Printers)
  • Desk and a comfortable chair.

Attach the monitor using the appropriate adapter to the mini HDMI port on the side of Surface tablet. Next attach your USB hub to the USB port on the Surface and then your Surface power adapter. See image. I was able to use a non-powered hub with my Surface RT successfully, however the Surface 2 does not supply enough power to the devices on its own, so I recommend a powered hub in either case.

dock1

Plug in your accessories to the USB hub, Ethernet adapter, Keyboard and mouse. Drivers will install automatically. *See my blog about setting up the Ethernet adapter, link above.

When windows finishes the driver setup, log into your Surface and setup your monitors. Go to the Desktop and right click in an open area, and select Screen Resolution from the context menu. Adjust the setting for Multiple Displays. The default is to duplicate, change to Extend Desktop this Display.

Capture

Now using your Surface display you have two screens to work with. You can adjust the orientation of the displays using the graphic at the top by moving (click and drag) Display 1 and 2 to match your desk setup.

Once this is configured, your Surface will remember these settings and to Dock (or un-dock) just simply plug in the 3 connections; HDMI, USB, and Power. This is not a true docking solution, however it does illustrate the power of the RT tablet and that you can really get some serious work done. See images below of my setup. I also attached my Canon Pixma iP4600 printer, I am sure any supported USB accessory can be added via the USB hub.

I didn’t cover audio, but you can add speakers by plugging into the 3.5mm jack on the left side or using a Bluetooth audio speaker.

dock2 WP_20141105_11_21_59_Pro hdmi ether

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