Snap Verdict

For all intents and purposes, the Linedock looks like a 13-inch MacBook Pro. Its sleek lines and design reflect the small Apple laptop, but with no screen, power supply or distinguishing features it’s difficult at first to tell exactly what it does.

The Linedock has been designed to give back everything that Apple took away when it launched the new design MacBook Pros; ports, storage, card slots and direct connection to HDMI.

The Linedock packs in the ports, both new and old, boosting the connectivity that many MacBook Pro users have lost. Not only that, it contains an SSD and it’s own battery.

In our test, the Linedock was a revelation. OK there are a variety of connectors and external drives out there that boost the connective and storage power of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but nothing that made it quite so simple.

But the Linedock enables me to plug-in everything I needed at the same time. No swapping between power and storage or monitor, there’s now enough room for all.

Being the size of the MacBook, just slightly slimmer, made it easy to carry around, or leave on the office ready for docking into the following day.

The built-in battery enables plenty of charge, enough for me to edit video on the train to and from London without needing to hunt around for a mains plug on the train.

If you use a MacBook Pro 13-inch you’ll already know the frustrations. The Linedock is the answer, so go an buy one. For 15-inch MacBook Pro owners a larger version will be along soon.

Introduction

I’ve been using MacBooks for years, they’re my go to, and although I’ve tried a Windows machine for video editing and photography I’ve just never found one that has been as good as a Mac.

However, a couple of years ago I made the leap and decided to upgrade my old 2011 MacBook Pro. It could still churn through HD video and it had been heavily upgraded but it was admittedly time to retire the old beast.

Linedock review

I found myself in Stormfront is Salisbury, a local Apple reseller, and the guys in there were excellent and showed me just how good the new machines were, I was sold, but then I realised there was no way to plug in my monitor without the addition of an adapter, then once I had the adapter I was then stuck for ports as one was used for the monitor and the other for power, so where did I stick the external drives.

You can start to see where this is headed, but after a while, I decided to hold onto the 2011 and save some more for the 15-inch which is now my main machine. Even that took two attempts with the first MacBook Pro 15-inch 2017 randomly erasing itself, a battle with Apple and a new i9 and all looks to be resolved.

However, that frustration I had with the 13-inch design was also felt by friends in the design and photography world, who are genuinely frustrated with the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s due to its complete lack of connectivity.

I have ended up with one of these 13-inch machines for this test, and am once again confronted with the oddness of the design. Why offer such a good machine with no way to truly use it.

It has potential and now with the Linedock that can be realised.

The Linedock is very obviously an Apple accessory, the metal construction, design and overall look is all very much in keeping.

It essentially looks like a MacBook Pro without a flip-up screen and is slightly thinner. What it does do, however, is to partner your 13-inch and transform the way you can use it.

First up it gives you back all the ports that Apple took away, then it adds additional storage with an internal SSD and finally, it adds power essentially doubling the battery life of your machine and leaving you with a bit left over to charge up your iPhone.

Features

The Linedock is designed to fit snuggly under the MacBook Pro 13-inch and as such it’s 30.41 x 0.9 x 8.36 cm dimensions align perfectly with the lines of the laptop. Although the size of the machine is ideally placed to sit underneath, it doesn’t have too, as the main connection is made through a short USB-C cable that is supplied you can position the device by the Mac’s side, lean it against the wall or simply out of the way somewhere else on your desk.

Linedock review

As the width and depth match that of the MacBook Pro it means that it will also slot into most bags alongside the computer, and at 912g it doesn’t add too much weight.

Connectivity is at the heart of this product and it features 3 x USB-C, 3 X USB 3.0 an SD Card slot that is UHS-II compatible, HDMI 2.0 and a MiniDisplay Port.

That’s a good amount of additional ports and a huge upgrade from the standard two USB-C ones that you usually have access to.

Although it’s physically possible to plug a device into every port the Linedock will have a bit of a meltdown as it’s designed to support unto 7 devices at any one time. That still a massive 5 more than usual.

Aside from the lack of connectivity storage is often the other big issue with MacBook Pros, trying to do anything on a Mac with less than a TB can be a challenge especially when it comes to images and video. Although there are some fantastic storage devices out there, such as the Samsung X5 there’s nothing quite like the convenience of internal.

The Linedock will ship with a few storage choices; 0, 256 or 1TB, you can swap and change between these as the hard drive can be updated as and when you need. The SSDs they supply have a 540 Mbps read / 365 Mbps write speed.

Finally, there’s the battery which is rated at 20,000 mAh.

Build quality and Features

Despite looks, the line dock is not made by Apple and was a successful IndieGoGo campaign, and it’s easy to see why.

Designed in California the same attention to detail and design as the MacBook Pro has been put into designing and building the Linedock, it looks stunning.

Linedock review

It’s not all aesthetics, sure it looks nice but with full metal construction, it feels like a quality piece of kit and a perfect MacBook partner.

The overall surface of the device is clean and smooth and it’s only when you look at the sides that you get to see all the ports.

On the front are a series of small slots that are obviously there to enable clear airflow through. Turn it around and dead centre is the USB-C slot for the power lead.

The way the Linedock works is simple, plus the laptop power lead into the port at the back of the Linedock and then daisy chain the Linedock to the MacBook.

Very easy, then anything else you want to plug in can then be connected directly to the Linedock.

In use as a dock couldn’t be more simple working in exactly the same way as you’d expect from any other dock, just you’re able to plug in a few more options.

As a dock it’s handy, but there are of course far cheaper solutions out there, such as the excellent Kingston Nucleum which is smaller and easier to carry around. But, and it’s a big but, this is so much more than just a dock.

Our review sample featured the 256GB SSD and having that extra storage was a godsend especially when out and about, and then there’s the additional battery life.

Very soon the Linedock goes from being a good idea to an essential – but if the Linedock can improve the usability of the MacBook Pro 13-inch to this level, then surely it won’t be long before we see, CPU and GPU boosts also in the same box. Maybe I’m just getting ahead of myself, but the potential seems to be there.

Performance

In use the Linedock performed well, plugging in external hard drives, monitors and a Wacom, and there were no issues with the performance of any of the devices.

Having an SD card reader back under the Mac was one of the greatest aspects. One that I knew I’d missed, just not to the degree that was now apparent.

Linedock review

Having the additional storage was also welcome and the read-write speed through the USB-C connection was fast enough to comfortably edit video directly from the drive. Photo enhancement and manipulation were equally smooth flowing and fast, just as if it were the internal HD.

On a couple of occasions, I utilised the built-in battery which again saved the day when I couldn’t locate a power socket on the train. It was also used more than once to charge up my iPhone and an old PSP Vita which still seems to get packed in the bag and lugged around everywhere.

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One of the biggest issues I have with the MacBook Pro 13-inches is heat – they get hot, and by hot I mean really hot. Adding the Linedock to the mix when placed under the Mac and editing video did seem to increase that heat further, however separating the two brought temperatures back down to normal.

But, then when editing 4K video on these Mac’s the temperatures can hit well above what they should.

Verdict

There seems to be an explosion of amazing products at present and the Linedock is one of the best.

Its sleek design and seamless integration with the MacBook Pro 13-inch makes it discrete, and once plugged in transforms your MacBook Pro into everything you always thought it should be.

The addition of ports makes all of the accessories you’ve owned for years quick and easy to connect, plugging back into your TV or display monitor is no longer task and having the SD slot back is a major highlight.

Let’s hope an XQD / Cfast slot is possible future releases as it’s use in the Nikon Z7 will surely increase the popularity of the format

Add to that the additional storage and battery and it’s an all-round winner. My advice would be to buy the base unit and add your own SSD as you see fit, but really the inclusive price for the 1TB is so good you may as well go for that option.

The Linedock is one of the best products out there, if you own a MacBook Pro 13-inch and use it for any type of photography or video work then you’ll know the frustrations. Lack of storage, battery power and ports, but now with Linedock those issues are now all solved.

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