NexDock is a ‘laptop’ that’s actually powered by your Windows or Android phone – PCWorld

Microsoft’s Continuum technology for Windows 10 makes it possible for a Windows phone to serve as your computer. A new Indiegogo campaign for a product called the NexDock builds on this vision, promising to extend the productivity of a variety of small devices, as well as OSes. It sounds nice in theory, but NexDock isn’t quite there yet.

For an estimated price of $149, users receive a laptop “shell” comprising a 14-inch display, 10,000mAh battery, and Bluetooth keyboard in a single unit. (As WindowsCentral originally reported, you can have the NexDock for $79.)

Plug a phone or tablet running Windows 10 or Android into the NexPad, and you have a more productivity-oriented environment, with the mobile device serving as a secondary screen. (According to NexDock, you could also connect the shell to a Raspberry Pi or something like the Intel Compute Stick, or to an iPhone via a display connector.) The NexPad doesn’t contain a processor, memory, or storage; all that has to be provided by your small computing device.

Why this matters: We’ll let NexDock explain. “Imagine a ‘computer’ that one day you can use as Chromebook, and the next day as an Ubuntu developer laptop. Imagine a longer-lasting computer that you can easily upgrade and customize to become a powerful Windows gamer laptop,” the Indiegogo page says. “We envision a world where we carry only our mini PCs, which connect to any screen in the world to turn them into tablets, laptops, and PCs.”

nexdock android tablet NexDock

NexDock can be used with Android tablets.

The future isn’t quite here yet

But Windows 10 Mobile fans probably won’t receive the “Continuum laptop” that the Indiegogo page describes. 

Microsoft uses a USB-C-to-USB-C connector cable to connect phones like the Lumia 950 to its Display Dock. Look closely at one of the embedded videos on NexDock’s Indiegogo page and you’ll see what looks like a dongle connecting the phone to the NexDock, which wouldn’t be necessary if the port was USB-C. (The NexDock specifications list two “USB” connectors—nothing more specific than that.)

It actually appears that the phone connects to the NexDock via its built-in HDMI-in connector, making the device just a larger, external display, albeit with a built-in keyboard. There’s nothing wrong with this. But it does render the NexDock something on par with existing external USB displays, or those skeleton keyboard cases for the iPad. 

nexdock next gen concept NexDock

NexDock sees a future based on USB-C—although for some reason it envisions a USB-C connector built into the back of the phone, rather than on its edge.

There is, however, hope for the future. External USB displays are typically powered by a USB 3.0 cable. Most phones use a microUSB cable. With the advent of USB-C, phones and peripherals will begin standardizing on a single cable, streamlining connections between the two.


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