Lapdocks have never been cool, but Razer has put an end to that with Project Linda. It turns the Razer Phone into a fully working laptop and we’ve taken a look at CES 2018.
Remembering back to some crazy products like the Motorola Atrix and its laptop, we weren’t exactly surprised that the idea of a lapdock had apparently died out.
The simple idea is a sort of dummy laptop that doesn’t have internals to work but is instead powered by a phone. Previous designs have been clunky and awkward but Razer might have just nailed it.
Price and availability
Project Linda is still in a concept form at the moment, although Razer has working prototypes.
This means there’s no information about how much it will cost or when it will arrive. That’s if it ever does with Razer saying it’s put the device out at CES to guage reaction.
Considering the amount of awards it’s won (including a Tech Advisor Top Pick) and the positive reception, we’re hopeful that it will be something that does come to market.
Considering the device works with the newly launched Razer Phone (£595 from Three), we hope that Linda will go on sale this year before the phone gets out of date.
If we had to guess on a price, we’d put it at £300-500 and Razer could well sell a bundle with the phone and lapdock for around £1,000 – perhaps saving you a few quid compared to buying both separately.
So it’s an expensive piece of kit considering you need the phone to make it do anything but is also two gadgets in one so could represent a big saving.
Design and build
We’ve never really liked lapdocks much because they tend to look pretty rubbish and use an awkward docking system. The Motorola Atrix, for example, docked behind the screen.
Razer has done a great job of designing Project Linda, using its wealth of experience building sleek and well-made laptops.
The firm has taken the Blade Stealth and essentially tweaked it to fit the Razer Phone in. The dimensions have been tweaked a little and the keyboard has been moved closer to the display.
It’s still made from the same CNC aluminium and the chassis is 15mm. The laptop weighs 1.25kg including the weight of the phone.
As you can see the trackpad is gone and in its place is a hole where you slide the Razer Phone in. There are a couple of rubber bumpers at the back to hold it in place and a soft fabric to avoid scratches.
Slot it in and push the docking button on the keyboard and a motorised USB-C connector plugs into the phone. Now that’s how you make a lapdock cool.
Once in place the phone’s display becomes a trackpad complete with two-finger scrolling gestures and the like. There’s just no push to click or course. A clever cut out at the front means you can still use the phone’s power button which also has an embedded fingerprint scanner that remains usable when docked.
The headphone jack on the phone is hidden away but there’s one on the side of the laptop chassis. You’ll also find a USB-C port and a full-size USB port but no SD card slot. The speakers built into the phone are the only ones in use.
Overall the device looks and feels really nice, with Razer’s usual high standard of build quality. You get the usual features like a backlit logo on the lid and the keyboard feels nice as well.
It’s got Chroma lighting, albeit not quite as advanced compared to Razers full-blown laptops. Razer will need to work on palm rejection by the time Linda goes on sale so you can type without accidental input via the phone’s screen.
The keyboard is also customised for Android with dedicated keys for things like home, voice search and show all apps. You can also do things like Alt+Tab to switch between apps.
Specs and features
Since the Project Linda lapdock is powered by the Razer Phone it doesn’t actually have many specs of its own.
The key element is that the Snapdragon 835, backed by a decent 8GB of RAM, is tasked with running everything. Considering there are Windows 10 devices launching with the same processor inside, it should be capable.
We’ll have to wait and see just how much it can handle though as the device is a bit buggy at the moment, being a prototype.
Razer tells us it will be able to cope with any Android game. Some will even work with mouse and keyboard. Linda will even run software like Adobe Lightroom, albeit the mobile version, of course.
So the main piece of hardware is the display which, like the Blade Stealth, is 13.3in and Razer aims to launch it as Quad HD, 120Hz and touch input. The prototype we saw was Full HD and non-touch as the one Razer wants doesn’t exist yet.
The neat thing is that the Razer Phone’s 5.7in display will not only be a trackpad but also a second screen. So when you’re gaming things like maps or key info will appear on the phone and, for example, your gallery of photos might appear there when using Lightroom.
There’s almost endless things developers could do with the second screen setup which is quite exciting.
With the Project Linda capable of both gaming and work, the 64GB of storage inside the Razer Phone might not be enough. So the firm has put 200GB of storage inside the lapdock to ease the strain and you can keep apps and media on the device that you’ll only use in laptop mode.
As mentioned earlier, there’s UBS-C for power and a regular USB port for plugging in accessories.
The laptop also has a webcam and dual microphones so if someone calls or video calls you, this can take place without even undocking the phone – although you can if you want to.
Although docking the phone inside an aluminium shell dramatically restricts the antenna, the lapdock has its own to help boost the signal.
With a 53.6Wh battery, Project Linda is also a huge powerbank for the phone. As soon as you dock it, the phone will start charging and Razer says the internal battery can charge the handset three times – impressive stuff.
Project Linda provides a desktop environment thanks to Sentio Desktop. Razer has worked with the maker to create the experience it wants. Overall, it works like the Samsung DeX but in a laptop rather than a dock plugged into a monitor.
There’s still work to be done but it provides things like a taskbar at the bottom, easy access to quick settings, notification center and even a sort of start menu. Importantly, you can run apps in resizable windows and provides mouse cursor support.
It all seems to work really well, although perhaps not quite as well as the Samsung DeX. As mentioned earlier, Razer has put a number of dedicated Android buttons on the keyboard.