Most Useful Gadgets
Most Useful Gadgets – Linedock: Beautifully-Designed USB-C Dock with Added Battery Pack and SSD
The Linedock is a 3-in-1 gadget that combines a nine-port hub, 20000mAh battery bank, and an external hard drive into a sleek, sophisticated package. It looks like the kind of docking station that Apple themselves would create and has the price tag to match! Before we deep-dive into everything that’s great, and not-so-great about this…
Most Useful Gadgets –
The Linedock is a 3-in-1 gadget that combines a nine-port hub, 20000mAh battery bank, and an external hard drive into a sleek, sophisticated package. It looks like the kind of docking station that Apple themselves would create and has the price tag to match!
Before we deep-dive into everything that’s great, and not-so-great about this unique dock, let’s get an overview of everything the Linedock has to offer:
- 3 USB-C ports
- 3 USB 3.0 ports
- SD Card Reader
- HDMI port (4K)
- Mini DisplayPort (4K)
- 20,000mAh battery
Onboard storage is optional, and the price will vary depending on whether you opt for the base ($349.00), 256GB ($449.00), or 1TB ($699.00) model.
Most Useful Gadgets – Setting up your Linedock
When you first take your Linedock out of the box, it’s recommended that you fully charge the onboard battery, which should take around two hours.
To charge the Linedock, you’ll need to attach a USB-C adapter and USB-C cable to the power port, which is positioned along the back of the dock. As the Linedock charges, the 10 LEDs along the side of the dock will gradually illuminate.
Once all 10 LEDs are illuminated, your Linedock is fully charged and ready to use.
You can check how much battery is left on your Linedock at any point by pressing the Power button along the side of the dock. The LEDs will illuminate to indicate the percentage of battery remaining, so if six LEDs light up, your Linedock is at 60 percent charge.
This is a very stylish way to communicate the state of your battery, and is an early indication of the build quality and innovative design that characterizes this unique docking station.
The Linedock makes a great first impression, but I was surprised to discover that it doesn’t come with its own USB-C adapter and power cable. This wasn’t a major issue, as I simply used my MacBook’s charger.
However, the Linedock is an expensive piece of kit, so it’s disappointing that it doesn’t come with its own power supply cable.
The Linedock is distinct from most docking stations in that it’s designed to sit underneath your MacBook in “stacked mode.” This striking design choice can save you considerable amounts of desk space, particularly if your Linedock is replacing multiple cables, dongles, and adapters.
You’ll save even more desk space if you use the Linedock to replace multiple devices, such as a dock and external hard drive.
To connect the Linedock to your MacBook, you’ll need to place the dock on a stable work surface. The Linedock does become hot while in stacked mode, so you should never use this docking station on a soft surface.
Next, you’ll need to place your MacBook on top of the Linedock. You can then connect the two devices using the USB-C “U-connector” that comes with your Linedock.
The U-connector plugs into any of the Linedock’s USB-C ports and any of your MacBook’s USB-C ports. The fit is a little tight, but it’s a secure connection, and the two devices sit flush.
Visually, it’s a very pleasing effect, and it allows you to connect your MacBook and Linedock without any ugly trailing cables or bulky adapters.
This is all the setup you need to perform, so look more closely at whether the Linedock is actually worth the $349-$699 price tag.
Most Useful Gadgets – A sleek and sophisticated docking station
The Linedock’s build quality is exceptional. Visually, this is a product that Apple would be proud to claim as its own. In fact, at a glance you may even mistake the Linedock for the world’s slimmest MacBook. (It stands at a diminutive 0.9cm tall.) The designers even nailed Apple’s distinctive Space Gray!
If you own a Silver or Gold MacBook, it’s bad news: the Linedock isn’t available in any color besides Space Gray. However, as the owner of a Space Gray MacBook, I was very impressed by how the Linedock looked like a natural extension of my laptop.
The Linedock’s casing is made out of Aircraft Grade Aluminum alloy, which makes it robust and recyclable. The casing has also subjected to a shot-peening after-treatment that gives the material a lovely matte texture. This looks and feels like a quality product, and taking the Linedock out of its box gave me the same buzz as unboxing a brand-new Apple laptop.
The Linedock’s design is one of its most striking and innovative features, but occasionally this beautiful design isn’t exactly practical.
If you use your MacBook’s built-in keyboard, then the Linedock may noticeably change the elevation of your wrist when typing.
Whether this is an issue depends on how you plan to use your MacBook and Linedock. However, if for any reason you’re planning to use your MacBook’s built-in keyboard, that 0.9cm shift may be a deal-breaker.
Most Useful Gadgets – USB-C, USB, SD, HDMI and Mini DisplayPorts
The Linedock is, first and foremost, a docking station, so it’s no surprise that it has enough ports to attach all the peripherals you could possibly need.
You can connect an external display to your Linedock using either the HDMI or Mini DisplayPort. Alternatively, you can use one of the Linedock’s three USB-C ports. Despite having multiple ports to choose from, the Linedock can only support a single external display, which is bad news for fans of the dual monitor setup.
According to the documentation, Linedock can support “most” USB-C and HDMI monitors. I tested it with a 32-inch ultra wide display connected via the Linedock’s DisplayPort and experienced no issues with the supported resolution.
However, the Mini DisplayPort isn’t compatible with Thunderbolt 2 screens, and the USB-C ports don’t support Thunderbolt 3 screens.
I also find it odd that both the HDMI and MiniDisplay ports are located along the right side of the Linedock. As a right-handed mouse user, this puts the display cables firmly in the area where I use my mouse.
Surely it’d make more sense to place the display ports along the back of the Linedock?
Personally, I’d also have liked to see a GigE (Gigabit Ethernet) port included. If you want to use Ethernet with your MacBook, then the Linedock has a tonne of ports – but you’ll still need a separate dongle.
A new battery solution for your MacBook?
Linedock’s built-in battery is a unique feature that sets it apart from other docking stations.
With a 20,000mAh capacity, the Linedock is a powerful battery that can fully recharge your MacBook in around two hours or provide over eight hours of additional battery. You can recharge the Linedock itself in around two hours.
In theory, combining multiple products into a single package should be a big win in terms of portability. Instead of carrying around a separate battery pack and dock, just pop the Linedock in your bag and you’re ready to go!
However, at a weight of 2 lbs (912 grams), it isn’t exactly a light product. Its dimensions (21.24 cm x 30.41 cm x 0.9 cm) also mean it’s not the easiest thing to fit into a bag.
If the weight and size don’t bother you, then yes, it is a good device to bring along with you. However, if you, like me, decide the Linedock is too large or heavy, then it begs the question: when are you going to use the Linedock’s built-in battery?
Most Useful Gadgets – Charging: Linedock goes Super Saiyan
When it’s connected to a power outlet, the Linedock uses advanced algorithms and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 to triple the power output of a standard USB-C charger and keep all your devices fully charged.
When it’s connected to a power outlet, the USB-C port on the back of the Linedock is capable of pass-through charging at 100W, so you can charge both your Linedock and MacBook simultaneously.
If you have multiple devices connected to your Linedock, it will spread this 100W of power across all connected devices. Typically, this should be enough power to keep your MacBook and four additional devices fully charged. If there’s any charge left over, it’ll be used to charge your Linedock.
Once you have your Linedock setup on your desk, it does a fantastic job of keeping all your devices fully charged. However, Linedock also has a fast-charge “Saiyan Mode” that delivers up to 60-watts of power to your laptop. and can charge your MacBook by 50 percent in around 40 minutes.
This is perfect when you need to rush out the door and have minimal time to charge your MacBook. However, the Linedock’s U-connector isn’t capable of delivering a fast-charge. To use Saiyan Mode, you’ll need a regular, full-featured USB-C adapter. Once again, this makes me question why this beautifully-designed, high-end dock doesn’t come with its own power supply.
Due to overheating issues, you shouldn’t activate Saiyan Mode while in stacked mode. This means you’ll need to place your Linedock and MacBook side-by-side, and connect them using a USB-C cable. This takes up a considerable amount of desk space.
You’ll only need to activate Saiyan Mode for short periods of time, so this strange setup shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience, although you may need to move a few things around on your desk.
To activate Saiyan Mode, double-press the “Power” button along the side of your Linedock. The LEDs will then turn yellow to indicate that Saiyan Mode is active. Linedock really puts those LEDs to good use, and it’s clever little flourishes like this that make the Linedock feel like a high-end product.
Most Useful Gadgets – 1TB of onboard storage
I test-drove the 1TB model and experienced smooth performance even when dragging and dropping heavy files onto the Linedock’s SSD.
Linedock’s onboard storage is compatible with macOS’s Time Machine, which makes it ideal for storing all your backups. This is exactly how I’m using my Linedock, and it’s made the backup process far easier.
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Alternatively, you can purchase the base model ($349) with no internal storage. You could potentially add your own portable storage via the Linedock’s SD card reader.
Most Useful Gadgets – Quality comes at a price
The Linedock doesn’t just look like an Apple product, it’s priced like one too!
While the Linedock is pricey, it isn’t just a dock. For the price, you’re getting an external hard drive, a battery pack, and a USB-C hub, all presented in a single, streamlined package.
If you’re in the market for all three devices, then the Linedock’s pricing starts to seem more reasonable, especially when you consider the innovative design and a build quality that Apple themselves would be proud of. However, if you just want a dock, then there are far cheaper alternatives available.
Most Useful Gadgets – What else do I need to know?
There are a few other points that are worth mentioning:
1. Customization options
The Linedock is designed in line with Apple’s repairability and customization principles: essentially, don’t make any changes to your Linedock unless you’re prepared to invalidate your warranty!
The Linedock is not designed to be a user-serviceable product, and any attempts to open, disassemble, or repair your Linedock will void the Limited Hardware Warranty.
If your Linedock requires a service, becomes damaged, malfunctions, or comes into contact with liquids, you’ll need to contact an authorized service provider. If Linedock’s built-in battery or SSD needs replacing, you’ll again need to contact an authorized service provider. It’s a process that will feel familiar to Apple fans!
While some people may enjoy getting hands-on with their tech, I’d argue that the Linedock is a premium product that doesn’t particularly need customizations or upgrades. Sometimes just because you can doesn’t mean you should!
2. EMUI/DEX mode
If you own a Huawei Mate 30 or a Samsung Galaxy S10, then Linedock can transform your mobile into a desktop computer.
Simply connect your smartphone to your Linedock and then attach any peripherals that you want to use, such as a keyboard, mouse and external display. Your mobile will now function as a desktop computer. Apparently, you can even access the Linedock’s SSD directly from your smartphone!
3. Recyclable, innovative packaging (yes, really)
The Linedock is presented as a premium product, thanks to some well-thought out and quirky packaging. I particularly loved how the U-connector comes in a little metal tin.
Does it add any real value to the product? No. Does it make the unboxing process more enjoyable? Yes.
The Linedock does come with a considerable amount of packaging, but there wasn’t a single piece of plastic in sight. Every scrap of the Linedock’s packaging went straight into my recycling bin. Other companies should take note!
When you first open the Linedock, there are also messages printed on the packaging that point out all the Linedock’s ports. This is a clever touch that made it much easier to learn about my new product.
This is quality, environmentally-friendly packaging that makes you feel like you’re unboxing something special.
Most Useful Gadgets – So, what’s the verdict?
The Linedock is a great-looking docking station that complements the distinctive Apple aesthetic. I love having so many ports, a battery pack, and SSD storage combined into a single device that sits neatly beneath my MacBook.
The Linedock can save you some serious desk space, but its quality and design comes at a hefty price.
Whether you can justify the cost will largely depend on whether you’ll actually use the Linedock’s internal storage and battery capabilities. If you’re only interested in ports, then it’s difficult to justify spending this much on a docking station.
However, if you are looking for a power bank and external storage, then the built-in battery and SSD are unique features. The thought of having all this functionality tucked neatly out of sight beneath your MacBook, does make the Linedock an attractive option, and there’s no denying this is a unique, beautifully-designed and quality product.
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