Product: Linedock 13
Release Date: late 2019/earlier 2020
The Linedock ($349+) is a 3-in-1 gadget that works as a docking station, a portable power bank and an external hard drive for your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. It’s unique because it’s shaped exactly like the bottom half of your laptop, so it can then rest under it and comes in the same colors Apple offers its MacBooks in space grey and silver (you can also get a Linedock in matte black). Aside from color, the only other thing(s) you have to decide is how much storage you want and how much you’re willing to play. More storage, more dough.
For those of you who think you’ve seen the Linedock before, you probably have! It was first launched as an Indigogo campaign back in 2016, but it only just became available recently. After reviewing it for the past few weeks, I can say that the Linedock really isn’t like anything else, and it is an extremely overkill device if you can stomach the price. As for the design, which is one of the Linedock’s most striking features, it’s definitely innovative — but there’s one design flaw that can’t help but think it would drive Jony Ive up a wall.
It really is a productivity beast.
The Linedock is first a docking hub. It adds pretty much all of the ports that a creative would want — there are nine in total — including three USB-C ports, three USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, HDMI and MiniDisplay ports, and a 4K display output. By allowing me to connect my old-school wired keyboard and mouse to my MacBook Pro, plus simultaneously charge my other devices like my iPhone and AirPods without taking power away from my computer, it essentially made my laptop feel more like a desktop. Also cool is the fact that the Linedock worked with the external display (LG UltraFine 4K) at my office. (The Linedock works with 4K displays up to 60Hz, but it can only be connected to one at a time.)
On the charging front, the Linedock is a decently powerful portable battery. It has a 20,000mAh capacity, which is approximately enough to fully recharge a 13-inch MacBook Pro (or give it 8+ hours of extra battery). There’s a button on the side of the Linedock that, if double-tapped, switches the Linedock into a more powerful “Saiyan mode” that delivers up to 60-watts of power so that the Linedock can fast charge your computer. If you want the Linedock to charge multiple devices at once, it can; it can simultaneously charge six different devices, spreading 100 watts of power between them; according to the company, it’s enough to work on your MacBook, while keeping it fully charged, as well also charging four other devices.
A neat and useful feature is the Linedock’s smart charging ability; it’ll actually charge all its connected devices (like your computer, smartphone, headphones, etc.) before it actually charges itself.
This thing ain’t cheap, and affordable alternatives abound.
The Linedock starts at $349, but that’s for the (smaller) 13-inch model that comes with no SSD storage. If you want 256GB or 1TB of storage, that’s going cost an extra $100 and $350, respectively, to that. Needless to say, the Linedock isn’t cheap.
If you’re just after one of the following — ports, battery or extra storage — there are cheaper alternatives of each. For example, the HyperDrive Pro ($100) is a great option for those who just want to add ports to their MacBook Pro. The Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL ($150) or the RAVPower 26800mAh PD Portable Charger ($60) are solid options for those who want a portable battery for their MacBooks. And both LaCie and Western Digital make dependable and well-reviewed portable hard drives.
There’s one small but extremely annoying design flaw.
The Linedock is designed so that it can fit perfectly under your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. And while it can, as it has the same dimensions, the USB-C ports on the Linedock and the MacBook Pro don’t perfectly lineup with each other. This wouldn’t be problematic if the Linedock didn’t come with a special U-shaped USB-C connector. You see, when you place the Linedock directly under the MacBook Pro and then connect the two with the special U-shaped USB-C connector, you’re forced with an ultimatum; you can either have your MacBook hanging half-an-inch off the front of the Linedock, or half-an-inch off the back. It gives the appearance of the two devices an overbite or an underbite.
Of course, you can skip this whole dilemma by just using your own USB-C charging cable to connect the Linedock and your MacBook. But, I can’t help but thinking: why didn’t Linedock just get the USB-C ports to line up? Or why did they even include this weird U-shaped cable? The whole thing strikes me as a bit odd. And I can’t help thinking this one design flaw is the exact type of thing that would drive Jony Ive up a wall.
Linedock provided this product for review.