Thanks for contacting Plugable and for considering our products.
You should be able to connect one monitor directly to your laptop via its VGA or HDMI port and use it with the lid closed. You likely will have to change the laptop’s power-management settings to not shutdown or sleep when the lid is closed. And you’ll want to duplicate (aka mirror) your internal screen to the external monitor via Windows Display Properties to have access to your desktop and Start menu.
You then can connect the second monitor with a Plugable USB product. The docking station you mentioned (http://plugable.com/products/ud-160-a) will work for this purpose. But if you don’t need the extra functionality available in the dock (ethernet adapter, four USB ports, audio input/output jacks) you can save yourself money and space with just a USB graphics adapter.
For example, the Plugable UGA-165 USB 2.0 graphics adapter (http://plugable.com/products/uga-165) is built with the same graphics chipset as that is in the dock. But you’ll save $30 if you don’t need all the other features in the dock. And if you only need VGA connectivity rather than DVI or HDMI, you can save even more money with the USB-VGA-165 (http://plugable.com/products/usb-vga-…), which uses the same chipset again but only offers a VGA-out option.
Besides the video connection type, the optimal resolution of your monitor should determine if any of these products are what you need. The dock and the two standalone graphics adapters support a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080. We have products that max out at lower or higher resolutions. You can see them all at http://plugable.com/products.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to write again. Your replies will reach me.