Purism has just announced the Lapdock kit to turn their Librem 5 Linux smartphone into a laptop with a 13.3-inch touchscreen display thanks to the NexDock 360 laptop dock.
I was a big believer in mobile desktop convergence around 10 years ago, expected to be soon able to use my phone as a computer or laptop with a dock, and it looked like it might have become a reality when Canonical launched the Ubuntu Edge smartphone crowdfunding campaign in 2013. But it turns out demand was not sufficient, and Canonical eventually ended their convergence efforts focusing on profitable IoT and cloud segments instead. But that does not mean there isn’t a niche market and Purism’s Lapdock kit addresses it to some extent.
The Lapdock kit is comprised of three parts namely the NexDock 360 laptop dock, a magnetic mount to attach the Librem 5 to the side of the NexDock 360, and a USB-C cable for data and video. All parts are off-the-shelf except potentially the magnetic mount that may have been custom designed for the Librem 5 smartphone [Update: The magnetic mount looks to be that one. See comments section].
NexDock 360 offers the following:
- Display – 13.3-inch IPS display with 1920×1080 resolution
- Input ports
- 1x USB 3.1 Type-C port with DisplayPort alt mode.
- 1x Mini HDMI 1.4a port
- Output ports
- Storage – MicroSD/SDXC card reader
- USB – 1x USB-C 3.0 data port
- Audio – 3.5mm audio jack
- Audio – 4x 1W speakers
- Keyboard – Full-sized backlit keyboard with multi-touch trackpad
- Power Supply – 1x USB-C PD charging port
- Battery – 44 Wh
- Dimensions – 30.7 x 20.9 x 1.5 cm
- Weight – 1,190 grams
The Librem 5 smartphone raised over 1.5 million dollars when it was introduced in 2017 on a self-hosted crowdfunding campaign, and in 2023, the hardware will feel outdated to many people as the 5.7-inch smartphone (720×1440 resolution) is equipped with an NXP i.MX 8M quad-core Cortex-A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz and just 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. But if the idea of a Linux smartphone that doubles as a laptop is still appealing to you, your wallet or your partner may not be so enthusiastic since the phone is now selling for $1,299 up from its original crowdfunded $599 price tag, and that’s with a one-year lead time unless you purchase the $1,999 made-in-USA model shipping within 10 days. The Lapdock kit adds $339 to the total.
Alternatively, if the magnetic mount is not a must you could purchase the NexDock 360 separately for $299, and use a more affordable Linux smartphone such as the PinePhone Pro going for $399 for the “Explorer Edition”. One advantage of the Librem 5 is that it runs the convergent PureOS Linux distribution that is also found on the company’s laptops so the user experience is designed for both mobile and desktop.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.