USB dock stations

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I have just come across an advert for a Belkin USB docking station. It
claims to offer serial, parallel, USB, mouse and keyboard ports all from
a single USB connector (it does also have an external power unit).

Anyone have any experience of these or similar units? I heard of one
from Acer too.

My initial problem is that my laptop doesn't have a parallel port for my
printer, but adding all these other ports would be a bonus. If it really
works. Some time ago I bought a noname USB to parallel cable, but never
got it to work. So I'm a bit sceptical.

Re: USB dock stations

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Mouse and keyboard from a USb connector is relatively simple.  However
serial (RS-232) and parallel are more problematic.  A lot depends on whether
you application allows windows to handle the interface with the serial or
parallel port or whether it tries to talk to the port chips direct.  In the
former case, there is usually little problem, but lagacy applications that
try to control direct are more problematic.  Although the supplied drivers
are designed to intercept such calls and direct them to the USB port, the
results can vary, and vary considerably between different suppliers.  Trial
is the only way you are going to find out for sure.

I have a USB to RS-232 converter that has worked without problem with
anything I've thrown at it (no name so I can't help here).  I know someone
else with another no name example where a TI calculator with a serial port
is correctly detected and identified, but other than that, it resolutely
won't communicate.

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