Ever wished your Android smartphone or Raspberry Pi was a laptop? Well, with the NexDock 2 project, now live on Kickstarter, it can be!
Both the name and the conceit should be familiar to long-time gadget fans. The original NexDock was a 14.1-inch laptop shell with no computer inside. It successfully crowdfunded back in 2016.
The OG device made its way in to the hands of thousands of backers. While competent enough, some of-the-time reviews were tepid about the dock’s build quality.
After a brief stint fawning over Intel’s innovative (now scrapped) Compute Cards, the team behind the portable device is back with an updated, refined and hugely improved model.
And it’s called…
The NexDock 2
The new NexDock unit is a 13.3-inch laptop shell that turns smartphones and small-form factor PCs into fully-fledged computers.
The chassis is made from aluminium, a major step up from the cheap plastic-construction of the OG unit.
Also benefitting from a notable upgrade is the screen. The NexDock 2 features a 13.3-inch IPS LCD display at full 1080p resolution (and 16:9 aspect ratio).
With no CPU, RAM or graphics to house there’s more room for a beefy battery, which for this model is rated for 38Wh.
Built-in speakers, a full-size keyboard, and multi-touch trackpad also feature, as do a wide range of ports and connectivity options, including USB-C in, USB-C charging, and full-size HDMI.
The NexDock 2 touts compatibility with high-end smartphones offering “desktop mode” software, such as the Samsung DeX and Huawei Easy Projection.
While Android may be the ideal use-case, it’s not the only one.
Anything that can be connected to an HDMI in port will, in theory, work with the NexDock too, e.g., Raspberry Pis, small form factor PCs, even FireTV sticks, and games consoles.
Should I back it?
The NexDock 2 crowdfunding campaign is already live on Kickstarter as of writing (March 21, 2019) and, promisingly, it’s already super close to meeting its (rather lowly) $50,000 goal.
Early bird pricing of $179 scores a NexDock unit, plus the required USB-C cables and power charger. This is $100 than the planned RRP.
Crowdfunding campaigns aren’t online shops. You are not guaranteed to receive the item you ‘back’, ‘preorder’ or ‘donate’ to. You may lose your money so please: back projects wisely.
Now I can’t lie: the low goal amount sets my alarm bells ringing (not unique to this product; it always does on any crowdfunder). That, and the fact Gmail dropped the press release I was sent into my spam folder automatically.
That said, this is a company with a track record of delivering a crowdfunded project. Also, they’re using Kickstarter this time, a site that’s far more stringent about who or what can be flogged using its facade.
Whether you’re tempted or curious, you can, head over to the Kickstarter page to learn more.
On Convergence and Cost
Three years on from NexDock’s original attempt, and the notion of convergence is more alive than ever, from more tech providers than ever.
But for all the convenience that ‘converged’ computing experiences can supposedly offer, the experience remains one catering to a privileged few.
You have to literally buy in to the concept.
A high-end Android smartphone (with high-end price tag attached) is often required, or a particular device model, and sometimes you need to fork out for a proprietary desktop accessory (Samsung DeX) or laptop shell (Motorola Atrix)
Now it looks like Google will make the high entry price and custom hardware requirements a thing of the past.
If it can deliver a capable and consistent experience with the Android Q desktop mode, and allow the feature to be used on less costly hardware, convergence could finally break into the mainstream.
And if it does, devices like the NexDock 2 will be well placed to benefit.