back to article A fine host for a Raspberry Pi: The Register rakes a talon over the NexDock 2

Late, lightweight and looking like a Macbook, the new NexDock has finally arrived. But with the world agog over foldables, is it any good? The NexDock concept has been around for a while, with the first plasticky white version looking a bit like a Macbook Air, except without the brains. It could support a Raspberry Pi after a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

    If you have to carry around a full size laptop, why you should need to attach it to something else to make it work - with all the cumbersomeness it means? Laptops (and tablets) today can be small and have all the connectivity they need - at least in the Foleo era it wasn't true.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

      I can *sort of * see a use case whereby you buy 2 of these - one for the office and one for when you're working at home. Transporting your machine between locations becomes no more cumbersome than popping a fag-packet-sized machine in your pocket......but for that sort of working scenario you're not likely to be using a Pi as you main machine - you're much more likely to use a laptop, which brings us back to your argument....

      1. Blergh
        WTF?

        Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

        "I can *sort of * see a use case whereby you buy 2 of these - one for the office and one for when you're working at home."

        But even if this was the case why would you want it in a laptop form factor. If this was my use case I'd want a proper keyboard, mouse, and big ass monitor sitting at both sites. Not a laptop.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          I could use one rather than trying to carry a monitor+keyb+mouse + find enough power outlets for headless machines

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

            I've got a keyboard/mouse/3m extension lead and sockets on a piece of hardboard with a slot at the back a 22" monitor fits and pulls out to velcro down on the hardboard and it makes a really useful portable that everyone laughs at for a few minutes. I've got a Pi4 on it but I dare say others devices would work.

            Could do with some custom leads to make it a bit less Davros but I like it.

        2. toejam

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          Yup. I'd rather buy a USB-C laptop docking station for half the price so I could properly connect my device to my monitor, keyboard, mouse, and wired LAN.

          1. LewisRage

            Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

            Not much use on the train though?

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          And I'd just carry the data on a thumb drive.

          1. hmv Silver badge

            Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

            Usually effective, but I've found it tricky pulling out a USB memory stick to take meeting notes - I can't find the keyboard. Or the screen.

          2. SteveCoops

            Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

            You allow USB ports on corporate devices?!

        4. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          But.. I thought everything was cloud these days!

        5. rmason Silver badge

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          Exactly. With 2 x of these and one pi, you're at the spend of a decent, modern i5 +8/16GB laptop.

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

        If you are not going to carry it around:

        Keyboard + mouse cost basically nothing

        Monitor costs whatever you wnat to spend on it, but a screen comparable to this thing would be a lot cheaper

      3. bobdylan123

        Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

        By that logic why not just shell out for another pi and transport the microsd between home and work?

        The use case seems to be to run a 3 year+ old laptop, in a nicer case. Unfortunately you can actually buy a 3 year old laptop for around that price point without the extra effort. A 1080p screen just isn't good enough either. You'd may as well buy a portable monitor and a wireless keyboard, a decent power bank etc. and have a higher quality build for the same price (or less).

        1. rfrazier

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          This what I've just done. RPI 4, no-name portable monitor (1080p 11.6"), wireless keyboard with trackpad, and Imuto 30W, 20000mAh power bank. Although I've just put it together, initial test suggests that it will get at least 8hrs from that power bank. It is heavy at 1.5kg for the whole thing. And, it was nearly £200. But, I like the modularity, which always adds to (initial) cost and weight.

      4. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

        True, but I'd use a real monitor and keyboard for a decent ergonomic experience and a USB-C dock to connect and power it all.

        I find it a shame that there isn't a "flat" Raspi that you could plug into a slot on such a device to make it portable...

        1. rmason Silver badge

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          That's what I want. To be fair, that was the initial vision MS had with whatever-it-was-called and samsung with DEX.

          You buy a powerful (core, ram etc) *device* most people envisioned to be a phone or a tablet.

          *Device* then just slots into optional mini/medium/large options of laptop/tablet/desktop all with relevant bits.

          *Device travels everywhere with user, user simply slots device into preferred working environment. The issue was the tech was too expensive. 1k for decent device + various chassis that turned out to be expensive despite lacking most of the computer gear.

          One day it will be like that, but right now it would mean your "laptop" costing more than a traditional laptop of higher spec, and your "tablet" not being much cheaper than a tablet with all the computer inside anyway, etc etc.

    2. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

      I can see a niche use case for plugging into headless boxen if you're not suitably equipped with a KVM or crash cart with monitor/keyboard. Having a self-contained device with the battery-powered monitor is a nice solution, albeit a bit old-fashioned these days with light-out and remote management. I'm sure there are some field-techs who could find a use for it.

      But if you're humping around a laptop-sized device to support a RPi as your daily driver, you'd be just as well off finding a used Thinkpad on ebay. There's some corking ex-business units out there with specs that would wipe the floor with the Pi. It obviously makes sense as a Continuum peripheral. It remains to be seen whether people are keen on turning their phone into their main computing device (beyond browsing/email/messaging where clearly it already is most people's primary device).

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

        Exactly, as something to drag out to the datacentre, to save trailing a monitor around with you. But my ideal device would be an actual laptop that could do the same thing.

        Turn up at a borken server, flick a switch on your laptop and you have your own KVM setup.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          If they just added a slot for an RPi compute module, and maybe broke out the NIC and enough GPIO to configure a serial port then I could buy into it as a data centre/server hall cart in a bag, or even a device to drop into a 1u tray in any rack (I could probably deal with just NIC/USB exposed and using a USB -> serial doodad.)

        2. MattPi

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          You could go with something like this. Not quite as cheap but easier to carry.

          https://www.startech.com/Server-Management/KVM-Switches/USB-Crash-Cart-Adapter~NOTECONS02

          1. Crypto Monad

            Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

            > You could go with something like this. Not quite as cheap but easier to carry.

            There are some others in that space, all rather expensive:

            https://www.epiphan.com/products/kvm2usb-3-0/

            https://www.lantronix.com/products/lantronix-spider/

            If you want to do this on the cheap, then search for "HDMI capture" devices on Amazon (the thing gamers use for uploading their adventures to YouTube) - starting at £55. You may have to put up with a second or two of video lag.

            This leaves you with the need for a keyboard. You can buy tiny USB keyboards easily enough, but making your laptop act as keyboard to a remote device is harder than you think. One option might be to use a Pi Zero with serial port on one side and USB running in target mode on the other, but you get to write the software yourself.

        3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

          Exactly, as something to drag out to the datacentre, to save trailing a monitor around with you. But my ideal device would be an actual laptop that could do the same thing.

          Turn up at a borken server, flick a switch on your laptop and you have your own KVM setup.

          I think the Lenovo Ideapad Y730 (the old one, not the entirely different model using the same number) could do this, at least as far as the display was concerned. The VGA port has an "in/out" switch. Unfortunately the display harness in mine is bad, so I can't test it out.

    3. bish

      Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

      The main selling point would appear to be that, because all the processing is external, it can easily be upgraded and therefore - in theory - last longer. I suppose in that respect it *might* be possible to bill it as a less-wasteful solution than a traditional laptop, although I have my doubts about how long the keyboard and screen will last. I'd be interested to know how easy it is to replace the battery, too, because if it's anything other than a simple external, screw-less latching system, the whole premise of longevity falls down immediately. And of course, I'd have to believe that they'll continue to make suitable replacement batteries...

      Nah, I'm really not sold on it, either. The fact they claim it's a great solution for carting a PS4 around suggests to me that they really haven't figured out the point of it themselves.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

      Also glossy screens are headache inducing. They are evil. We have had ultra sharp better than 1080 screens with no reflection or gloss for over 18 years.

      US keyboards should be illegal even in USA. The only way to use them for Spanish, French, Irish and Scots Gaelic is International mode with dead keys. Also they are usually missing one key. Why after 30+ years are the USA keyboards still a thing? Less than 13% of world population and many of them need to type accented letters, \ | ~ # ` ¦ etc.

      This product is too niche even for a Pi.

  2. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
    Stop

    Bring back netbooks

    Seems that Netbooks like we had around 8 years are just as powerful as a Pi, and you could carry them around no problem. Why they didn't take I don't know. I still have my Acer Aspire 1, it's nearly ten years old. It's showing its age with modern OS, but runs the lightweight Linux builds just fine. Surely something with the same form factor would be welcome today?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Bring back netbooks

      Buy chromebook for $50-$100

      Install GalliumOS

      Cheap, plasticky, kid-proof, crappy screen

      Or buy one of the many Atom-Z8350 chipped laptops. 1920x1080+4Mb for around $150, looks like a macbook air for 20% of the price

    2. Simon 15

      Re: Bring back netbooks

      I replaced my ageing netbook(s) with an ASUS VivoBook E203 for a total of £160 from Argos. It's worth every penny and runs Linux (Ubuntu at the moment) beautifully but comes with Windows 10 pre-installed if you like that sort of thing... 64 GB SSD, 4GB RAM, Dual-Core Celeron, 11.6" in size and the battery lasts 10 hours.

      I use an 256GB SD card for all my files as this makes things easier moving between machines, backing-up and so on.

      1. keithpeter
        Windows

        Re: Bring back netbooks

        Interesting. How bendy is the keyboard?

        I need to learn about Windows 10 for.... reasons

        1. Simon 15

          Re: Bring back netbooks

          It seems fairly study to me, I've not managed to break anything, keyboard included yet which is good considering my penchant for percussive maintenance. For the price it's a nice bit of kit and I must have had it a year or more now.

          I find Asus kit tends to be generally well built unlike the similar sounding Acer which I've always found to be hit-and-miss with regards to materials quality. From what I remember from the few minutes I used it Windows 10 ran perfectly well for standard office use.

      2. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Bring back netbooks

        Hey thank you very much for that! Just checked it out on Argos. My 9 year old son has taken to using his mums laptop (he's not allowed to use mine!) for Roblox and all that other nonsense. It's his 10th birthday in March. Guess what he's getting for his birthday!

        Have a beer! -->

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Bring back netbooks

          I picked mine up a mini-tower from Gumtree for his 10th. Had a keyboard and mouse lying around. Added an LCD telly that my parents were replacing, and slapped in a SteamLink. Boom - lad has a PC in his bedroom, but none of the noise/heat.

          Also, because it relies on the (wired) network, it's easy to disable if he's naughty. And yes, it's happened before. He behaves better as a result!

          Also, that PC can be upgraded easily. If you've got somewhere to set it up, I recommend it. Less likely to get damaged than a laptop too.

      3. WallMeerkat

        Re: Bring back netbooks

        Good reviews, google shopping reports it as £160 in Argos

        Argos has increased it to £199.

    3. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Bring back netbooks

      I have wondered if some manufacturers ended their netbook lines because they were cutting into sales of higher-margin ultrabooks.

      1. Evil_Goblin

        Re: Bring back netbooks

        IIRC, Microsoft killed the netbook by insisting they ran a bastardised version of W7 rather than XP or Linux which was what the form factor was originally built with - this pushed prices up and relative performance down.

        Then tablets came along and snaffled most of the "consume content on a bigger screen than mobile" crowd - leaving such a small segment behind that manufacturers stopped bothering.

        1. WallMeerkat

          Re: Bring back netbooks

          Also, the market for cheap small portable computers that wasn't cornered by regular laptops or tablets, that aren't hobbled by Windows, was taken up by Chromebooks.

        2. WallMeerkat

          Re: Bring back netbooks

          I actually remember a relative getting an early netbook, and complaining that they wanted "Windows not the penguin", like I am a walking repository of Windows licences.

          They later got a newer netbook which was hobbled with Windows 7 starter, and asked me to change the wallpaper. MS for some reason disabled this, I had to rename the original wallpaper file and copy the picture to that file as a workaround, if I recall.

        3. rmason Silver badge

          Re: Bring back netbooks

          MS lied.

          They told the suppliers of it that Atom processors would be fine. they were not. Hence netbooks ran OK for a bit (with windows I mean) but then swiftly tanked.

          By the time the drive had filled with user stuff and updates, applications made the thing crawl, the processor (in most) for the power consumption was intel Atom, and they just didn't have the grunt for windows. That's what killed the netbook. The average user and business who bought them, bought atom and used windows. Without much long term joy.

          They did probably still do) run linux absolutely fine.

          Similar thing happened to vista (other UI issues etc aside) MS told the OEM boys that 1-2GB or ram would be sufficient, so people bought "vista ready" machines with 1GB when they needed 4.

    4. oiseau Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Bring back netbooks

      I still have my Acer Aspire 1 ...

      Indeed ...

      I still have my ca. 2000 Asus 1000HE w/2Gb RAM which works perfectly well on Linux Devuan ascii, would be much nimbler if I got rid of that Xfce crap once and for all.

      Last year two of the USB ports came up with broken tabs so I got a used unit on the local fleabay, transplanted the whole mobo, reflashed the BIOS and I was on my way for ~US$50 and an hour or so of tinkering. A week later I got to sell the extra screen for US$30!

      Granted, it's not for graphics editing but for the US$250 I paid for it at the time and how easy it has been to upkeep and repair it has to be one of the best IT purchases I have ever made.

      Now try that with the new shiny stuff on the market these days ...

      O.

  3. Baggypants

    At $200 the new Pinebook Pro seems like it would be more useful if you just wanted an ARM based laptop.

    1. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      That's a great point. I can't see why you'd ever want one of these things!

    2. overunder Silver badge

      Pinebook Pro is probably being snuffed out by major laptop players, or so these fellows hope. Considering what the specs are now of the Pro, it's not hard to imagine that a 3rd iteration of the Pinebook being at the very least an example of major laptop players overcharging for very, VERY old specs (which they obviously are).

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    It does seem overpriced for what is essentially just a screen, keyboard with a built in battery. As others have pointed out you could pick up a refurbished Thinkpad or similar for less which would be more functional.

    If they could get the price down to around $100 to $150 then it might make more sense.

    I recently decided not to take my laptop away on a trip and instead took my phone, wireless keyboard, mouse and a Miracast dongle to use the hotels TV as a monitor. It works pretty well for web browsing when you set the browser to request the desktop versions of website. Yes it not as fast as my laptop but certainly not so slow to be unusable and everything fits in to my pocket. So I think I will do that again next time rather than lugging my laptop on a plane.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Use case

      It does seem overpriced for what is essentially just a screen, keyboard with a built in battery. As others have pointed out you could pick up a refurbished Thinkpad or similar for less which would be more functional.

      I can sort of see one particular use case that a common laptop won't satisfy, and that is when the Pi is wearing a Hat to drive some piece of hardware, and you regularly need to take that setup on the road. And instead of screen, keyboard and mouse you take this when you need to run it with a native display. The battery is a bit of 'eh, why not', as it might save faffing with power supplies for short runs, but I don't see it as a must-have.

      1. Anne-Lise Pasch

        Re: Use case

        The better use case is for turning powerful mini pcs into portable machines. Wiring up the latest Skull Canyon to one of these gives a powerful 'laptop' that you can use at your destinations without needing to cart about a full monitor, keyboard and mouse.

  5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Well

    If you want to do Raspberry Pi things - some people have dozens of those running, around the home - and perhaps you don't actually want to buy an olde fashioned PC with its own schedule of software updates as well, then how about this?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Well

      For ... what? If you have dozens of pi projects in your house (I may not have dozens but I have a few), they're probably running headless with SSH access from your main computer. If you want this to use a pi as your main computer, why not just use a pi with existing hardware--you probably already have keyboards and monitors available. What is the advantage of this one unless you want to move it around, and if you're moving it around, why not use a standard laptop? The suggestion above of a portable interface to servers makes sense, but otherwise, I can't think of a good use case.

    2. hoofie

      Re: Well

      I've got about 5 PI's running in various modes - one is a telescope controller, one runs as a APRS gateway for Amateur Radio and one acts as an SSTV receiver for ISS piccies and others.

      The first 2 are headless, the last one sits in a case with a PI touchscreen display.

      I really don't see the need for this - all you need is an old keyboard, monitor and mouse at a pinch.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Well

        If you look at the Kickstarter page you can see that the NexBook is aimed at the Android phone user, and the Pi is like an afterthought idea to try to broaden the interest group.

        So it’s for people who power use their phones for office functions and want a better screen and keyboard for extended use? They have over 2000 backers I expect the greater number are not For pivuse.

        I would be interested in a better integrated Pi laptop with a UK keyboard that’s not a ropey Pitop because my desktop computers are Pis already. My portable device is a Planet Gemini running Sailfish.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "So it’s for people who power use their phones for office functions"

          How many of them? And this thing doesn't solve the problem of not carrying around a device far bulkier than your phone, this thing weights 1.4kg and there are lighter laptops and convertibles which can run better full-featured application for office functions than a phone app on a larger screen.

          Sure, they are more expensive, but how many "office power users" are on a tight budget?

          I can see some use in remote areas where you don't have a power supply for your phone and need an external battery - but have those areas phone coverage to make a phone useful?

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: "So it’s for people who power use their phones for office functions"

            In that case, this is not the most efficient option. Running a screen from the battery will run it down very fast. You could get a portable USB battery that will run the phone for a week. Sure, there's no big screen now, but the battery will be cheaper and smaller. Meanwhile, if you need the larger screen and keyboard, this probably won't run with any less power than a standard laptop.

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: "So it’s for people who power use their phones for office functions"

            Sometimes it's good to remember that we are not all the same. Some people may find things useful where others don't.

            They have over 2000 backers in US only keyboard form. That's OK for Kickstarter. Crowdfunding tech development is for things that are not in demand enough for a big production run, but enough people want and can be brought together to make it happen.

            I would take a properly integrated (compute module) Pi Laptop in an instant and I would pay premium for it. I would also throw my money at an e-paper / e-ink linux laptop (or just a text input device with a decent display and keyboard (not an awful kludge like the Freewriter) that I could use outdoors in sunlight. But I accept that there might not be enough of that requirement to make it happen. I also accept that there are people with different requirements than my own and it's not for me to tell them what they want because I don't get it.

  6. martinusher Silver badge

    Yet another wheel reinvention

    I don't know about everyone else but we've been running remotely on 'ix' type systems for at least 25 years. You really don't need a keyboard and display to work a computer, that's what the network connection's for. I could understand people not being into this back then since decent network interfaces were not that common but these days there's ubiquitous access -- fast and quite low latency -- so its time to brush up on those remote access methods.

    (So, if you've got a Pi or two out there you'd only hook a TV up to them to figure out why they weren't booting.)

  7. ScrappyLaptop2

    Ten years ago we called this the Droid Razr Lapdock 100

    Same cumbersome cables to connect the Pi, same...everything. Probably a lower quality screen.

    It was a satisfying repurposing of a newly surplused item when they showed up on eBay en mass, but turned out to be little more than a fun weekend project. There simply wasn't a practical use case until the R-Pi nano W came along. Even then, it was just a laptop. I ended up using mine for lugging out to headless servers in broom closets, IIR, but even that required an additional video adapter dongle.

    There was that one issue with one of the power-good signal lines that required the most minor of hacks, but yeah - pretty much the same exact thing.

  8. Richtea

    Good articles start with a sentence describing the purpose of the kit being reviewed.

    I got to the hardware spec still not knowing, and decided a sarky comment was worth more than the read.

    Must be a Grumpy Day.

  9. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Upgradability

    A quick glance at the various tat-bazaars will throw up any number of ultrabooks both more powerful and lighter than the NexDock 2, such as a Dell XPS.

    Yeah, sure, but are they upgradable ? This thing will take next years Pi, the one after that and so on ...

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Upgradability

      That depends which laptop you get. Many of the slightly larger ones (still at that price) do have upgradeable memory and storage. The smaller and thinner ones probably won't, but they'll weigh much less than this will (and won't have any wires hanging off). You have no guarantee when the next pi will come out, what its specs will be, or whether the ports will have changed by that time. With those provisos in mind, it's at least worth considering whether this has many advantages for you particularly.

  10. Flywheel Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Raspberry Pi, wobbling on the cusp perhaps?

    I'm a real Pi fan and have been buying the things since the first model came out - it seems so long ago ...

    I've enjoyed seeing the little devices become more and more powerful, but after the Model 3 declared that it wanted a 3+ amp PSU my enthusiasm began to wane a little as it meant that I could no longer realistically power a bunch of Pi off my Anker 5-way USB block. I still have a bunch running on the official wall-plug PSU though, but it's getting messy. With the model 4, even more power's needed, and in its rush to become a physically small desktop machine I feel that Pi are wobbling on the cusp of a new direction. Which way to go - full blown desktop or keep it powerful but power-economical?

    Personally, what I think they should be doing is developing the Pi Compute module to give Intel's Compute Card some competition, and more importantly, start lobbying laptop manufacturers to start making onboard docks to accept them. If I wasn't a home worker I'd buy a lap-dock for each locatoion and just carry my card with me to use in either. TBH, I keep looking at Pi-based laptops and none seems rugged enough for a regular commute environment: if Pi can decide which direction they're heading we could all benefit.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Raspberry Pi, wobbling on the cusp perhaps?

      It's not just peak power but overall power consumption - it really isn't practical to run a Pi off a battery, even the early ones. I can understand why, but it's unfortunate that there's no support for low-power states for the periods in which the device is idle.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Raspberry Pi, wobbling on the cusp perhaps?

        Yes, and this makes them much less useful for IOT than they should theoretically be

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Re: Raspberry Pi, wobbling on the cusp perhaps?

          [It not being practical to run a Pi off a battery] ... makes them much less useful for IOT than they should theoretically be.

          You can run a Pi ZeroW off a battery for a while ... but I'd want anything IoT-like for which I might consider a Pi to run 24/7 without needing its batteries changed 4 times a day.

          In any case, running Linux makes the Pi less good for anything that requires actual real-time work, which some IoT-type applications will. Better to use an Arduino-like board -- based on something like an ESP8266 or an ESP32 if you want WiFi -- but I'd still want a permanent power connection rather than (just) batteries.

  11. JulieM Silver badge
    Coat

    US keyboards

    If you try to configure a US keyboard with a non-US layout and rely on touch-typing, it will sort of work ..... More or less!

  12. Stephendeg
    FAIL

    Close but no cigar

    I’m honestly surprised that no one has done a *good* Raspbian laptop based on compute module. No bells an whistles just a good affordable education focussed laptop that isn’t crippled like chrome books.

  13. John H Woods Silver badge

    KVM device

    Why can't I find a reasonably priced laptop / ultrabook form factor KVM device with its own battery that can plug into any server? KB and mouse over USB is trivial I just want HDMI / DVI / VGA input for the screen. Is it possible to make one?

  14. Professor Clifton Shallot

    Cokes

    "You will, however, need most of the bundled cables to coax a Pi 4 into life"

    Tried and failed three times not to read that as co-ax.

  15. HTDutchy

    So.... it's a KVM console?

    I've regularly come into situations where I need to quickly source a keyboard, mouse and monitor.

    Would be great to just have it in your toolkit like this.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: So.... it's a KVM console?

      Just seems very expensive... I've realized since my earlier post that one can get USB powered monitors for games consoles etc ... £150 for a 2k 13.3" screen, then add keyboard with track pad or track point.

      Would just be nice to have it in a laptop form factor, and have your own battery if the device you are USBing to struggles to power the display.

  16. IR

    No built-in dock?

    Seems like the main use-case for this is not for a Pi but just so you can use your phone as your main computer. So why do you have to use a cable to connect your phone to it? Why no built in dock or at least an integrated cable?

  17. Stephendeg

    I just want a good rPi laptop

    I just want a good rPi laptop, I’m sure the pi-top(3?) is fine if you want to do hardware stuff, but I just want to use the good educational stuff on raspbian in a cheap laptop form that is a reasonable price. Maybe this already exists. (Please don’t say chrome book - it is the closed opposite of raspbian)

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: I just want a good rPi laptop

      I've got a Pi-Top 3. It's a bit rough and ready and it prefers to use PiTop OS. It doesn't really work as a general PC.

      I would bite the arm off anyway offering a Compute Module based laptop.

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: I just want a good rPi laptop

      If you don't want to do hardware stuff, why not run Raspbian x86 on a cheap Intel laptop?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: I just want a good rPi laptop

        Because I am a Pi user. I want an ARM pi in my laptop.

        It's not objective and it doesn't need to be.

  18. SteveCoops

    Bring back the Libretto

    I got a Toshiba Libretto last week and whilst rebuilding it with good old Windows 95 it made me want a device that size but much more modern.

    I still get tempted by the devices from the ex-Psion people.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Bring back the Libretto

      Absolutely love my Gemini running Sailfish (no Android partition).

  19. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Interesting idea. However, I don't think it'll succeed.

    It's between two markets.. It's a laptop that requires a separate computer.to function. Something that in this case is only really convenient if you have a supported Android phone . Something that if the review is correct, isn't a particularly nice experience. If you are using it with a Pi (or any other small computer, assuming you can), you still have to carry the computer. So, assuming you need to use it as a laptop, and don't have a Samsung phone, you may be better off buying a cheap laptop.

    OK, so the next use is as a monitor/keyboard for headless machines in several locations. Possibly a good use, but if the machines are in server rooms, they may well have KVMs to enable control. If it's only a couple of locations, it may still be cheaper to have actual keyboards/mice and monitors at each location.

    The most likely use I can think of is the hobbyist, who might have Pi's (or other single board computers) in various locations, perhaps performing different functions. I should imagine this is a bit of a niche market though.

    The other problem is looks. It looks like a Macbook, and Apple are usually quick with the legal action if they think someone is copying their product.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      "Interesting idea. However, I don't think it'll succeed."

      It has already succeeded. It has 2166 backers so far, achieving half a million dollars, when they were aiming to raise $50,000 to proceed.

  20. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Windows

    Been down that route......

    Reading the comments, I have been down the small form factor route.

    The use case being carrying our online life with us when travelling round the world.

    Firstly an eePC running Linux, which then had XP added.

    Retired when "upgrades" to XP ate all the SSD space and I couldn't be added to wipe it and start from scratch. Because I was back home with my full fat PCs.

    Next long trip I got a Sony Xperia Z tablet with USB keyboard and mouse. Worked OK (still have it) but not really as good as Windows for support of various 3rd party hardware such as SatNav. It also needs the USB port replacing and no TUIT has been sufficiently round so far. I knew there was a reason that I bought the optional charging station that used the two external contacts. I hadn't realised that it covered the USB port so couldn't be used as a docking station but it came good in the end.

    Recently I bought a Dell Latitude off fleabay. Dirt cheap with the low res (described as HD) screen) but harder to find and more expensive with the full HD screen. Which is as high a resolution as you need for an 11" screen IMHO. Well, I bought two in the end. An i5 without Thunderbolt and an i7 with Thunderbolt. Roughly £250 and £325 respectively but I couldn't be added to wait for a better deal.

    Given that my old Core 2 Duo Dell XPS (must be 10 years plus now) which originally came with Vista is still rocking W8 like a train I expect the Latitudes to last another 5-10 years, unlike the cheap and cheerful HP W8 netbook-alike which didn't survive a couple of drop tests. Umm...missed that out of the list of global travelling items. See icon.

    Which finally brings me to the point. I have a number of Pis but have never used them as a desktop because I have always had more powerful PCs at home.

    For portable use I can't see anything obvious this setup can do which can't be done better by a "proper" laptop.

    So I am with the reviewer there.

    This seems to be for people with enough money to afford to buy an empty laptop casing and then plug in something external just to be different. Happy for them. It is not for me.

    .

    .

    I am, though, wondering if there is enough functionality in the CI slot found on UK TVs to take a CAM which could support some variant of a Pi. You could then carry a small card and a wireless keyboard and plug into any TV to have a fully functioning PC. Assuming Internet connection, of course. That might be of interest to a road warrior or someone with TVs in the kids rooms. Doesn't enable working on the train, though. Unlikely to be crowd funded in the USA unless they have CI slots in TVs as well.

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