back to article NexDock 2 revisited: Could it be more than a handy Pi hole?

We had a play with the crowdfunded NexDock 2 last month and came to the conclusion that the machine was a handy host for Raspberry Pi-type devices on the move, for a price, but the Samsung DeX experience soon left us pining for a "proper" laptop. This time around, having begged, borrowed and stolen some virtual desktop access …

  1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

    That brings us to thin clients again

    For individuals, I can see the appeal. Pretty interesting idea, actually, and can give ARM laptops PC-like upgrade capabilities.

    But how about corporates? Is buying a hundred or so of these + the Raspberry Pi + Citrix or open source equivalent a good option in real life as opposed to deploying desktops?

    The proposition is so good in theory that I can't see why it isn't being deployed more often in new installations (where you don't have switch-over costs and the like)

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: That brings us to thin clients again

      The problem is the licensing costs. My previous employer had a hefty VMWare setup for VDI and between Windows licenses, MS server licenses (SQL Server, Exchange, etc) and VMWare licenses we were paying a fortune despite being a charity. A change to a per core model by VMWare didn't help either.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: That brings us to thin clients again

        How about an free/open source alternative, possibly with experienced sysadmins providing support? If we're discussing new installations. it doesn't have to be Windows.

    2. Crypto Monad

      Re: That brings us to thin clients again

      > But how about corporates? Is buying a hundred or so of these + the Raspberry Pi + Citrix or open source equivalent a good option in real life as opposed to deploying desktops?

      I don't think corporates will be buying Raspberry Pis. As far as I can see, the idea is they plug their employee's existing company phone into this, and the phone gains a full-sized screen and keyboard.

      The phone is already set up for secure access to corporate resources, so this means one less device to manage compared to giving the employee a full-blown laptop or chromebook.

  2. Buzzword
    Coat

    It's like an electric car

    Yes, there are plenty of times when a NexDock2 and a Samsung phone, with their limited capabilities, are sufficient to work productively. But there are enough times when you need a proper laptop, so you might as well get one and save yourself the hassle.

    Yes, there are plenty of times when an electric car, with its limited range, is sufficient to get you where you're going. But there are enough times when you need a normal car with longer range, so you're probably better off with a normal car.

    As the original review of the NexDock2 pointed out, for the same money you can get a decent second-hand laptop. With a UK keyboard.

    I'll get my flameproof coat.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: It's like an electric car

      No need for flames. An electric car as they currently are and used as a second car, does a far better job than an old fashioned car.

      For a person who uses their phone as a productivity device on the go (I know at least 2 people who do) might benefit from this thing during hotel stays. Those two people carry a bluetooth keyboard and plug their phones into hotel telly. Not always possible though. I use a Planet Gemini with Sailfish OS.

      It's never good to assume that, based on your own requirements, you can understand somebody else's requirements.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's like an electric car

        "An electric car as they currently are and used as a second car, does a far better job than an old fashioned car."

        No, they don't. The Nissan Leaf (last year's cheapest electric car) costs $30k and has a max range of 150 miles. For about $22k I can buy a new Honda Civic (30 town/40 highway mpg) with a range of about 400 miles that fuels up in minutes at any gas station. I don't have to replace the battery pack in 7 years (at my expense) and the Civic is a hell of a lot more comfortable than that Leaf.

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: It's like an electric car

          I researched electric cars a couple of months ago, and it appears that batteries last much longer than initially thought. If it is only 7 years, you have really fckd it.

        2. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: It's like an electric car

          Assuming that the Civic still has its original engine and/or transmission by then, are you sure you aren't going to spend $7000 in regular maintenance and parts when you buy one? An EV might be more expensive upfront, but down the line you would recoup that cost in savings on maintenance and fuel. ICE cars need a hell of a lot of regular maintenance compared to EVs (simplistically, four modular electric motors plus a battery on four wheels).

          Nor have you taken in mind the fact that in seven years' time, with technology progression, battery retrofits may become available for much cheaper, as pressure is mounting on EV manufacturers (especially Nissan).

          Comfort is subjective. While the Civic is more _upmarket_, featuring higher-quality fit and finish, any luxury car from ten years ago trumps either in build quality _and_ price. (But of course, you'd have to pay fuel and maintenance that correspond to a much higher price tag).

          And the Civic definitely doesn't match the Leaf in ambient cabin noise nor in acceleration, which some people include in the umbrella term "comfortable".

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: It's like an electric car

            I bought an smax from the diesel scrappage scheme in 2009. In 11 years ive had a couple of brake discs, a back box, wheel bearing and rear suspension bushes. All told less than 1k. Fuel is 45mpg and i paid 18.5k. Range is 650 from a tank. I live in cumbria near Shap where we at least have a tesla rapid charger 15 miles from me at tebay. Other than that im 40 miles from work. Electric is no go on those ranges.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: It's like an electric car

              Electric is no go on those ranges

              In my original comment I said "as a second car". I've never had to go to a filling station, it's always fully charged in the morning.

            2. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

              Re: It's like an electric car

              Even gasoline cars have once been billed as unsuitable for many applications ("Get a horse!", anybody?)

              Electric battery tech is still in its relative infancy. Down the line, hopefully, batteries would overcome these problems.

        3. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: It's like an electric car

          No, they don't.

          Yes they do.

          I'm talking about the job it does, not the cost. As I have such an electric car I can tell you from first hand experience that it pisses all over old fashioned cars and there is no way I would ever willingly go back to dinosaur ICE. My intention is to replace my main car (hybrid) with electric as soon as I can.

          As for batteries, all those taxi drivers using Prius that are over 10 years old are still on their original battery. I am certain that my electric will be replaced in less than 5 years.

          1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

            Re: It's like an electric car

            As for batteries, all those taxi drivers using Prius that are over 10 years old are still on their original battery.

            And replacements are available for very cheap (the equivalent of $1000 where I live).

            And even if not replaced, they would still run just fine with a bad battery.

            I am certain that my electric will be replaced in less than 5 years.

            By then, battery replacements might have become cheaper.

  3. moylan
    Alien

    missing something

    it needs space inside the case for the pi probably with some sort of replaceable 3d printed lid so you can cut holes to some of the ports you want available outside the laptop. right now i'm thinking of getting an old psion and connecting it to a pi with a powerbank in a case via serial

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: missing something

      But once you're putting the SBC inside the case, you might as well get a PineBook (this is exactly what they do).

      But as a convenient KB/screen for your phone, it could still have it's uses. If I were one to actually use cellular data (rather than syncing through wifi before I leave home) I'd consider it. I had intended a similar idea with the current Barnes & Noble 10" tablet & keyboard, but the KB cover accessory for their tablet is non-functional shit.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: missing something

        Pinebook just doesn't have the relability or stability of a Pi or a Phone device. I have pine and the software is ropey.

  4. Gerard Krupa

    Nice device, shame about that trackpad

    It's just not a nice thing to use (even by normal trackpad standards).

  5. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
    FAIL

    Opportunity missed

    Phone should dock in place of (and act as) the trackpad.

    1. tcmonkey

      Re: Opportunity missed

      Windows 10 Mobile had this feature. When the device was docked the entire phone screen acted as a big multitouch touchpad. It worked well. Ahh, memories.

      No, I'm still not over the loss of that OS.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Opportunity missed

      How would this work with phones of different sizes? BTW. I occasionally use DeX on my S10e and a very smooth screen does not provide the best kind of trackpad experience, though this may have something to do with the fact that it's usually connected to a TV.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Opportunity missed

        Adjustable clamps like the universal phone holders use.

  6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Not what DeX was designed for

    DeX is really designed as home/office solution where you take your phone and nothing else with you. The Android desktop experience is still subpar, largely because Google is trying to force feed everyone with ChromOS, but mouse and keyboard work fine and the Remote Desktop thing sounds very intriguing

  7. Nick Name unbekannt

    Nice to complement the surface kind of devices

    I bought a used Dell tablet a while ago. The original keyboard is 100£+. Also, I am spoilt and need two screens. My Nexdock ii complements the tablet perfectly, just one USB C cable needed to connect both!

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