I just wanted to share my current findings with other folks who are looking for the ideal convergence set up for their Librem 5. I have long been a fan of tiny laptops and when I talk about convergence with the Librem 5 and Nexdock 360 for travel some folks come back with the observation that the Nexdock 360 is the same size as a laptop.
Without getting into the counterarguments there, and the benefits of traveling with an inexpensive lapdock instead of a full computer, I also realized it would be nice to have a tinier lapdock myself. The UPERFECT X Mini is an 11.6" lapdock that just came out and mine just arrived yesterday so here’s a quick sneak peek while I put it through its paces.
Here you can see the lapdock on top of a Nexdock 360 for scale:
Some first impressions:
- Barrel charger is an annoying regression. I ordered a USB-C -> Barrel adapter so I can use my existing USB chargers and battery bricks.
- Screen needed adjustment. By default the brightness was set to high and contrast too low, but you can change these with function keys. Once adjusted it looked pretty nice.
- The hinge is very nice and sturdy and even with the phone hanging from it, it holds its position firmly.
- Keyboard tactile feedback is nice, not exactly clicky but I think I like the feel more than the 360. The keys themselves are smaller than standard and for some people you may have to take some time to adjust but I took to them pretty quickly. The big gotcha is the Del and | key locations (this is a US Intl (alt) layout). Time will tell whether I get used to that.
- Phosh “just worked” out of the box. I was able to connect the Librem 5 and it detected the phone and extended the desktop just like on my nexdock 360.
- “Tablet mode” works. This has a 360 hinge like the nexdock but you need to tell phosh to use it as a touchscreen. I had to manually figure out a gsettings command to make phosh detect it as a touchscreen, but I also added a patch that just got merged to phosh-mobile-settings to make it aware of this lapdock so you can enable the touchscreen through that tool. I used it in tablet mode to read a book last night and it worked pretty well. More comfortable on my lap in that mode than the larger 360.
- Low power charging. It does provide power to the Librem 5 while docked, but it looks like it maxes out at 500mA, which is not much (the Nexdock 360 provides 1A). Depending on what I’m doing I imagine the phone will slowly drain over time, instead of maintaining or increasing its charge.
- Lots of nice USB ports. I haven’t used them yet but it’s nice to see them there.
All in all I like the X mini lapdock so far and I’m going to use it instead of my Nexdock 360 for the next week or so to see which I prefer. I think the big question marks will likely be the max charging current and whether that limits long-term use, and whether I can get used to the Del,| key placements.
But the neat thing about convergence is I can try out a “new laptop” form factor for a few hundred bucks and easily swap between devices.