And how much?
... a device that turns its Librem 5 smartphone into a laptop.
And just how much more than a laptop with the same utility will this cost us?
Just asking ...
Freedom and privacy-oriented kit vendor Puri.sm has put out a device that turns its Librem 5 smartphone into a laptop. The Californian vendor said the new piece of kit joins (pun intended) its catalog of all-Free-Software based laptops and smartphones: the LapDock. Puri.sm doesn't manufacture the new device itself – instead, …
According to a comment on slashdot, the phone costs $1299, and the dock costs $399, so the dock alone costs as much as a cheap laptop, never mind the combined price. Still I guess it is a company focussed on a very particular niche, and this isn't aimed at everybody.
Edit: the dock actually appears to cost $339 - lapdock kit
I wonder if this lapdock would work with Samsung Galaxy phones in DEX mode?
I'm assuming it would, if it just presented itself as a monitor, mouse, keyboard and audio over USB C. And I can't immediately think of a reason why it wouldn't.
Yes, the original product, the Nexdock360 was created with Samsung phones in mind. Purism are just bundling it with a USB cable and plastic mount.
I appreciate its a niche device so they are probably taking production runs of just a few thousand units, but why do these lapdocks always cost fortune, for what amounts to a screen and keyboard inside a case?
Brand new 15 inch HD panels are only £40 and a keyboard can't be more than £7, add in a plastic housing and a few bits of electronics to hook it all together and they should be able to knock them out at £100 - £120 and still be making a profit.
Make them compatible with Samsung Dex and you would sell a quite a few I expect.
You omitted the battery and gubbins in your bill of materials! :)
It is compatible with DEX, it was developed for DEX and similar. (DEX will work with a generic USB C hub - ones sold for the Nintendo Switch will do the trick.) Purism have bundled it with a cable and a phone mount and offered it for sale on their website - though Purism have done some work on the phone software side too to make the experience nicer.
The only use case for using a phone as a PC would be bluetooth connectivity to a wireless keyboard and mouse, and either wireless connectivity or a single wire to connect to a monitor. Having to spend as much as a cheap laptop in exchange for turning your phone into a cheap laptop doesn't save you money, and having to carry the "lapdock" around with you doesn't save packing space when traveling either!
"The era of a phone that can also be a tablet or a full computer is arriving, thanks to FOSS."
The era of a phone that can also be a tablet or a full computer already got here. Android's had support for that for a while with a few different companies' standards alongside the half-baked Google version for every device (some exceptions apply because it's Android, exceptions always apply). People don't use it.
Yes, Linux is a better desktop operating system than Android is, so a Linux phone should be better at it, and it probably will be when we have Linux phones better than this. This phone is not capable of running a desktop system very well based on its specs. From reviews, it's not that great at being a phone either. You've complimented the CPU (incorrectly, but that's for later), but there are other problems as well. Here's a simple one: 32 GB of EMMC storage. That's what you have to put your desktop operating system on: a disk that's smaller, slower, and less reliable than anything you would ordinarily use. The good news is that you can put in a Micro SD card for some expansion, but it's not going to be fast. 3 GB of RAM isn't exactly impressive by 2013 standards either, but that is less likely to be immediately problematic if you don't open too many browser tabs.
Now onto the CPU. You've told us that "it's easy to forget that even a relatively low-end smartphone is still a powerful computer by the standards of just a decade ago", but this is incorrect. Four A53s are not fast when compared to a 2013-era computer processor. I don't have good benchmark numbers for the specific SoC used in the Librem 5, but those are standard cores where performance is proportional to clock rate and memory speed (that appears to be the same), so let's look at another quad-A53 chip, specifically the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916). It got Passmark benchmark numbers of 424 at 1.25 GHz, so for this devices maximum 1.5 GHz (not specified how often it will operate at maximum), we'll adjust its number to 509. Let's look at some CPUs from 2012 (we're not that far into 2023 anyway) and see what their numbers are like. I don't want to use anything too powerful, so I'm looking at small laptop CPUs. How about the Core I5-3317U, a dual-core 1.7 GHz part that's far from the top of the rankings. What's its benchmark number? 1988, 291% above our adjusted Librem number. AMD hadn't ascended to its present position at that point. Let's try one of their parts. How about the low-end APU A6-3650: 2008. But that one has four cores. How about a dual-core model like the Athlon II X2 240e? This is by far the worst I found and it's number is ... 1002. Some phone processors are powerful enough to serve as laptop-class chips, but this is not one of them. You don't by a Librem 5 for the CPU. You buy it because you want open software and are willing to compromise on basically everything else to get it. People know that and it's fine. Don't pretend it's something it isn't.
I'm going away soon, and I'm thinking of buying a USB C hub to take with me... Mainly to use as an SD card reader (my phone has an SD card slot, but it's not suitable for swapping with my camera for data transfer since it's in use*) but I might look at buying a Bluetooth keyboard too.
I've got an old Samsung tablet kicking around, its software hopelessly out of date... I wish tablets had been made with a Video In function so that they could act as dumb monitors.
That said, I'm tempted to leave unnecessary gadgets and their cables and cards at home, just take a phone and a Kindle.
* All the Reg commentards who always clamour for SD card slots in phones: why stop at one? Don't be shy, demand at least *two* SD cards slots! One encrypted for app data and music, and one to swap data with cameras and other devices.
/Not sure if serious
Let's see, you cary an Android or iPhone around of which there are gazillions: it's a phone with apps. Nothing to see here.
You carry a device specialising in "privacy protection" around: red flag. Authorities will be on you like ants on honey. Ask the Sky ECC users. Not that I'm not glad they caught a boatload of criminals that way, but from a protection perspective it's not good to draw attention.
Good confidentiality starts IMHO with not appearing to have any interesting secrets..
Having ordered one of their phones years ago and paid for it only to have years of endless excuses why they can't yet ship it, I have to perhaps suggest someone might want to tell them to actually ship the phones they took money for and then worry about their fancy new docks.