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Universal laptop shell extends phones, mini-PCs, and SBCs

Mar 28, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 2,781 views

On Indieogogo, a $119 “dumb” battery-powered “NexDock” laptop offers a 14.1-inch display and a BT keyboard to extend a phone, mini-PC, or Raspberry Pi SBC.

The NexDock laptop offers a big-screen, mouse and keyboard environment for Android, iOS, and Windows 10 mobile devices, stick computers, and mini-PCs. Silicon Valley startup NexDock also singles out the Raspberry Pi, including the Pi 3, as being compatible with the device, although we imagine just about any HDMI-enabled SBC would work as well.

NexDock prototype (left) and planned future variations
(click images to enlarge)

The NexDock is aimed primarily at Windows 10 phones, tablets, and mini-PCs that can exploit Microsoft’s new Continuum feature, which lets you plug in a Windows Phone to a monitor, and use a keyboard and mouse in a scalable, PC-like interface.

NexDock also hints that it can — or will — be capable of implementing Ubuntu’s somewhat similar convergence feature. Convergence will arrive on the first official Ubuntu tablet, BQ’s Aquaris M10, which today became available for pre-order starting at 250 Euros ($280). “Imagine a computer that one day you can use as Chromebook, and the next day as an Ubuntu developer laptop,” says the NexDock Indiegogo page.

With 20 days left, NexDock has already surpassed 77 percent of its fixed-funding campaign goal on Indiegogo for its eponymously named laptop shell. The $79 and $99 early bird specials are gone, but there are still a few $119 packages before the campaign jumps to a $129 price, which is $20 off retail, or $154 with shipping. The product is expected to ship in June.

NexDock with Android
(click image to enlarge)

The NexDock provides a non-touch, 14.1-inch, 1366 x 768-pixel TN screen with 16:9 display ratio, a Bluetooth 4.0-enabled full-size keyboard and touchpad, and a 10000-mAh battery. The device further integrates a mini-HDMI port, dual USB ports, a microSD slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and dual speakers. Stretch goals, which seem unlikely to be achieved, call for a USB Type-C port ($500,000) and a higher resolution display ($1,000,000).

NexDock with Raspberry Pi
(click image to enlarge)

The NexDock not only provides a larger, mousable display for mobile devices and mini-PCs, but also acts as a charging and speaker dock. You can use it as a secondary display for an existing laptop, or add a wireless display adapter and use an Android phone to watch video on the 14.1-inch screen. You can also connect directly to any MHL-enabled Android device, says NexDock. The device supports Apple Airplay, allowing you to use the iPhone as a game controller.

As SlashGear notes, the 351 x 233 x 20mm device is awfully thick and heavy (1.4kg; 3.3lbs) for a laptop that lacks a computer, storage, or extensive ports, and the 1366 x 768 resolution may be disappointing for those with the latest powerhouse smartphones. You can also hack together your own PC-like environment for less than this, although typically without the convenience of an integrated laptop form factor.

Eventually, NexDock plans to offer a variety of alternative display and keyboard docking options.

NexDock on YouTube

Further information

The NexDock is available on Indiegogo for another 20 days for $119 (limited early bird) or $129, as well as in discounted volume packages. Shipping, which should start in June, is approximately $25 extra in Europe and the U.S. Retail pricing is expected to start at $149. More information may be found on the NexDock Indiegogo page.

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2 responses to “Universal laptop shell extends phones, mini-PCs, and SBCs”

  1. Mats Svensson says:

    Great for people who are fed up with the puny UHD-screen on their phone, and want s the full HD-ready experience.

  2. Ray Scarbrough says:

    Please, send me updates !! …It needs a higher resolution screen !

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