The Linedock is the gorgeous Swiss Army knife of MacBook accessories. If the SD slot speeds were improved and it sprouted a LAN port it would be perfect.
Apple’s recent charge more for less philosophy has led to some MacBook users feeling a little unsatisfied with the lack of connectivity. Except for the headphone jack, MacBooks are shipped with USB Type-C exclusively. Can the Linedock satisfy your connectivity needs? Let’s find out.
- Number of USB-C Ports: 3
- USB-C Spec: USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) / DisplayPort
- USB-C Power: Power Delivery 2.0 / 5V – 3A / 9V – 3A / 15V – 3A / 20V – 5A
- Number of USB-A Ports: 3
- USB-A Spec: USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
- USB-A Power: Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 (12W)
- Pass-through Charging: Yes / 100W
- Display: Single Display / 4K @ 60Hz
- USB-C Video: Yes
- HDMI Video: Yes / HDMI 2.0
- Mini DisplayPort: Yes / DisplayPort 1.2
- SD Card Slot: Yes
- Battery: 20,000 mAh / 71.61 Wh
- Battery Output: 60W (20V / 5A)
- Pass-through Charging: 100W (20V – 5A)
- Internal Storage: 0GB / 256GB / 1TB
- Internal Storage Spec: SATA III (6 Gbps) – M.2 2280 / Bootable
- Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.35 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 0.9 cm)
- Weight: 2 pounds (912 g)
- Colors: Space grey / Black
- Price: $399 with 256GB storage
The Linedock ultimately aims to replace three things. A USB-C dongle, a power bank, and an external SSD. These are probably the first few items you purchase to kit out any laptop you may own, especially the MacBook.
The device is absolutely gorgeous. It’s designed and manufactured from aluminum and looks like a MacBook that’s had its screen removed. Its dimensions make it no larger than the MacBook as well so that when stacked it doesn’t look out of place. Stacking also means it will take up less real estate on your desk compared to a tangled mess of dongles.
Line also sell a purpose-built U-shaped USB-C connector, which further adds to the minimalism. It’s worth noting that you should plug in the U module on the left side of your MacBook to avoid blocking the headphone jack, however, it works on either side.
The box includes the Linedock, reading material, and a cheeky graveyard to store your old dongles. The optional magnetic and U modules arrive in little tins and are almost certain to put a smile on your face. Line has put a lot of effort into the packaging, and it shows. Good start!
The Linedock is garnished with a delicious selection of ports. There are three USB-C, three USB-A ports, and an SD slot. There’s also HDMI and Mini DisplayPort if you’d like to connect to an external display. You could also take advantage of a USB-C display if you so desire.
You can only use a single display at a time, and it’s limited to 4K at 60Hz. This is something to consider if you require dual display or any resolution above that. So unless your monitor has VGA or DVI, the Linedock has you covered.
The only port that the Linedock doesn’t have is Ethernet. This may not be a big issue for everyone, but it was for me. All of my video editing is done on my server, and Wi-Fi speeds can’t cope with the bandwidth required. If your workload is heavily reliant on wired ethernet, you might need an ethernet adapter, but that’s counter-intuitive.
Other than that, the Linedock meets any use case. All ports are easily accessible regardless if you’re in stacked or unstacked mode. The best part is that your external SSD isn’t taking up one of your precious ports because it’s built right into the Linedock.
When purchasing a Linedock, you can choose between no storage, 256 GB, and 1 TB versions. The built-in storage comes from a SanDisk M.2 SSD which is connected via SATA III. Write speeds topped out around 225 MB per second with read speeds reaching around 250 MB per second.
The SSD is automatically detected when connecting the Linedock and can also be used as a boot drive. This means you could dual boot your Mac with Windows or even another instance of macOS. The Linedock also makes a great place to store your TimeMachine backups.
Another anti-Apple pattern is making the Linedock easy to open up if you’d like to change the SSD. If you do open up your Linedock, it will greet you with a brilliant little light show. Line has gone through the trouble of painting a world map on the internals and paid homage to the people who created it by the clever use of colored LEDs.
The SD Card slot speeds were a little disappointing. Read and write speeds topped out around 20 MB per second. This is far slower than a typical USB SD Card reader. While the Linedock may be compatible with the fastest SD cards, it certainly doesn’t have the speed to match. There’s definitely room for improvement when it comes to the storage speeds, but it may not be a deal breaker for you if you seldom use SD cards.
Capacity and Output
The Linedock sports a 20,000 mAh battery which should be enough to support a small colony on Mars. Even after fully charging a 13″ MacBook Pro there will still be around 6000 mAh left to charge other devices.
Power output for a single port tops out at 60W meaning it can supply enough power to charge your MacBook quickly. The Linedock also supports pass-through charging through the rear port for up to 100W. You can charge up to six devices simultaneously, and power is distributed quite cleverly.
Think of the total power available, either 60W or 100W, as a budget so to speak. So if you had the following devices plugged in:
- Linedock Internal Battery (60W)
- iPad (12W)
- iPhone (18W)
- Nintendo Switch (18W)
- 13″ MacBook Pro (60W)
The total watts required to charge all devices to 100% will be 168W. If you connect a 60W charger to the Linedock, it will charge all of the above by sharing the power and if necessary will wait until one or two devices are fully charged to charge the remaining ones. If there is any power left, it will be used to charge the internal battery of the Linedock. This makes the Linedock an intelligent power distribution system as well!
If you’re familiar with the Dragonball series you should know what Saiyan is. Charging power output is doubled. Saiyan mode works by double-clicking the battery indicator button which will turn the LEDs yellow. The rationale behind this is that your MacBook needs only 30W of power to sustain its battery life. But you may want to actually fast charge it which is what Saiyan mode is for.
This does mean the Linedock and your MacBook will get run a little hotter than usual, so you will need to use it in unstacked mode. One thing to note about unstacked mode is that you will require a decent USB-C Cable in order to use both power and data transfer from the Linedock. The standard cable that Apple sells just isn’t good enough, unfortunately. On the bright side, the one that Line sell is perfect!
The Linedock is marketed for the 2017 or 2018 13″ MacBook Pro specifically. This is because of its size and aesthetic. That being said there are cases which people have used Windows laptops from Lenovo and Huawei and have had no issues at all. Everything from power to the ports works exactly as intended.
The best thing about the compatibility is that the Linedock supports both EMUI and DEX. So if you had a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S10 or a Huawei Mate 20, you could connect it to the Linedock and use your phone with an external display, mouse, and keyboard. Everything from the internal storage and SD card slot become accessible via your phone as well!
If you own a 15″ MacBook pro and feeling a little left out, worry not. Linedock plans to release a 15″ version which will beef up the power specs and cooling required for the more powerful 15″ MacBook Pro.
If you had to tally up the price for everything the LineDock replaces such as a power bank, external SSD, dongles, and power distributor you’d end up paying roughly $260, which is around $150 less than the cost of a LineDock.
However, this isn’t really a fair comparison as none of those devices are going to provide you with the one cable experience or space saving that the Linedock has. You’re paying a premium for a premium device that looks and feels the part. The devices falls a little short in SD card slot speeds and could maybe do with a wired ethernet port.
There are undoubtedly purpose-made devices that outperform the Linedock, but there are none that boast the unbridled versatility or aesthetic. It really is the Swiss Army knife of MacBook accessories. If you’ve just purchased or are thinking about buying a new MacBook Pro, the Linedock should definitely be on your radar.
Most of all the company behind the Linedock make an effort where it counts. Little things like messages on the battery, the overall presentation, naming conventions, and appreciation for their team go a long way in making you feel special. They aim to be exceptional and have indeed come up with an exceptional product.