Simply put, the Linedock is an extension to your Macbook Pro (16”, but not only, more on this later).
It’s a docking station designed with the Macbook Pro 16” in mind (though your Mac will not actually dock into it), it has 10 ports to extend the connectivity and functionality of your Mac. It’s also a huge power bank that can actually power and charge your Mac (and other connected devices) and it’s even, in some configurations, an external SSD drive that can be used as a Time machine drive or just simple backup/storage.
The Linedock has an impressive array of port all around it:
- 3 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 (One is input only for charging)
- 3 x USB 3.0
- 2 x UHS-II SD Card Reader (rated at 230MB/sec)
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 (up to 4K/60P)
- 1 x HDMI 2.0 (up to 4K/30P)
On top of the ten I/Os, there’s a massive 27,000 mAh (99.9WH) internal battery capable of supplying 100W of charging power. This means it’s a comfortable 0.1WH under most airline requirements, which makes it as dense as possible while still allowing you to carry it with you on most airlines. (Now that we can fly again… kinda).
The Linedock supports USB-C power delivery and power can be supplied to up to four I/Os at once. The left side also has the 10 power LED indicators, and if you use Macbooks long enough, it’s a nice reminder of what power indication once was on a Macbook. And… Yes, there’s more… up to 2TB internal SATA6 SSD storage capable of up to 390MB/sec transfer rate (our unit was shipped with a 1TB SSD). The Linedock weighs in at 2lbs (905g) and uses silent passive cooling.
The I/O ports are conveniently located where you’d expect them, with power input and monitor outputs at the back of the unit, the three full-size USB 3 ports on the left, and the dual SD card readers on the right side. The remaining USB-C I/O ports are on each side perfectly aligned with the Macbook’s I/Os for bridging the Linedock and the Macbook using the supplied Cubicables (You only need one on either side).
Using the Linedock – Power
Connecting the dock to your Macbook is done by bridging the USB-C of the computer to that of the Linedock using one of two supplied connectors. This will immediately start charging your Macbook’s battery (if needed) and if the Linedock is connected to a power source, the Linedock’s power management will pass through the power to the MacBook’s battery first before charging the Linedock, this should prevent a surprise empty battery if you decide to disconnect the dock and walk away. With the Linedoc’s battery full, and the Macbook’s battery at 1%, I managed to get a 53% charge on the Macbook before the tray bar indication said “battery not charging” and the Linedock’s red LED lit. The Macbook’s still showed the little power outlet icon in the tray bar, but there was no active charging happening (Line will try to address this in the future)
Using the Linedock – SSD
With our tests (Blackmagic Disk Speed Test), we were able to get 370MB/s write and 404MB/s read speeds which means backing up files (using Apple’s time machine) is easy and fast. It’s not Samsung T7 fast, but you can comfortably even edit 4K footage off this drive (not sure why you’d want to – but you can).
SD Card Reader
Yes! Thank you Linedock for dual UHS-II readers! No more card switching to move photos or videos of my Fuji X-T3. Both slots performed as advertised and the backup of my cards was quick.
Testing with the Lexar 1667x UHS-II card, I manage to get almost the max read speed advertised by Lexar (250MB/s), and write speeds of just under 100MB/s which is slightly under what the card is rated for at 120MB/s, but this test is far from scientific. Even when passing through the dock to back up on my external drive, the read/write speeds remained about the same, the convenience of having a dual card reader can only be described as pure joy, and with many of today’s camera gear supporting dual cards, this is almost a must for professionals on the go.
Also, the Linedock utilizes camera-style SD card slots, this means the cards go all the way in and lock. This definitely helps with moving the Linedock around keeping the cards safe.
I love the inclusion of a full-size HDMI and DisplayPort, both on their higher-spec versions and with support for driving two external monitors at 4K60P.
The hefty power rating of the unit means you can charge pretty much every device you own from the Linedock. I can imagine myself using the Linedock as a power center in some cases or on set when shooting even without a computer connected to it. It’s the best power brick I own!
Consider the size and portability of the Linedock. It’s as big as your Macbook pro 16”, and while the LineSleeve is a beautiful carrying case for both the Linedock and your Macbook pro, you still need to move around with both.
I ended up selectively taking the Linedock with me when I knew I’ll be carrying other stuff with me (Like my camera bag) and needed the extra battery and connectivity (did I mention I love the dual SD card readers?)
Stuff I wish I knew and some hiccups
While there is so much to love about the Linedock – no product is perfect.
Maybe the biggest thing I wish Line would advertise more is usability at zero power – once the internal battery is dead, you’ll hear an indication sound from the dock and you have between 1-2 hours of usage of the Linedock, this means you will lose access to the SSD and all ports once the battery is fully depleted! This is a big one, as your laptop can continue working for hours and you might be transferring data to the SSD or from the SD card readers and with no clear indication when the dock is about to die (1-2 hours is not accurate enough) this can have some serious implications.
Another thing I’ve encountered during my 2 weeks of using the Linedock is, what I can only refer to as “a good design with a flaw”. The Cubicables (USB-C bridges) are well designed and with its trapezoid shape, it’s easy to pull it out when needed, but the lack of flexibility means you have to keep the Macbook and the Linedock aligned all the time, with zero tolerance. I can’t remember how many times I adjusted my Macbook’s position just slightly and got the computer and the dock to misalign resulting in obvious stress to the USB-C ports and the supplied Cubicables (USB-C bridge connectors). Also, the Cubicable physically blocks the other USB-C port next to it on the Macbook.
There are two Cubicables connectors supplied and this little issue makes me wonder if this is for a good reason. Naturally, as the days passed, I learned to move the two in sync, but opting for a simple short USB-C to USB-C flexible cable could fix this.
While I love passive cooling and hate when my Macbook starts its fan (I can swear it’s always on top speed and sounds like a jet engine), when using the Linedock, you can expect to feel both your Macbook and Linedock heating up. It’s nothing crazy, and I never got to hear the jet-engine like Macbook fans, but it’s notable.
We all follow rumors on an upcoming M1X or M2 (whatever!) MacBook Pro models. The question remains whether the USB-C on the new models will align with the Linedock, and what will be the ports selection on the new macs. In any case, I successfully managed to use the Linedock as a desktop dock with a 13” Macbook Pro (2019) – it’s a bit awkward, but far from impossible. My guess is that the new models might not perfectly align with the Linedock, but will not render it useless, as you don’t really need to use the supplied Cubicable and just use a USB-C to USB-C short cable.
The unboxing experience and sustainability
I’ve seen and tried many Mac-specific products over the years. And the one common feature they all had, was trying to mimic the wonderful unboxing experience of a new Apple product.
Linedock is by far the closest of them all. The package is simple and very well made. It’s obvious a lot of thought was put into this by the designers at Linedock. The top part has a printed model-aircraft-like mold with all the content of the box, and the internal electronics of the Linedock itself. The bottom part has a very Apple-like product view and some small print (with lots of easter eggs all over)
The dock itself sits sturdily in the center of the box, “locked” by design to prevent it from moving around and wrapped in a silk paper. Just underneath it, in a dedicated grove, you’ll find your somewhat basic instructions manual.
Our demo unit didn’t include the cool Eliot the Robot assembly kit, which is an awesome way to reuse leftover PCB material to create extra value for customers and save the world.
Alongside the main box, inside the bigger FedEx box came a really cool, sardine-like tin can that held two USB type C connectors (dubbed Cubicables) to bridge between the Linedock and the Macbook.
Speaking of saving the world, the Belgian company seems to put this as top priority with a lot of effort going into sustainability.
According to Line, the Linedock has 0.325% plastic in it and the entire unit is recyclable and easily repairable. Line also took it one step forward and created Elliot the robot (kit included in the box) – a cute friend made from the leftovers of the motherboard material. (Read more here).
Even the personalized note we got, was written on a unique piece of paper that can be soaked in water and planted in soil to grow tomatoes! I just love this!
Final thoughts and should you get one
Over the past two weeks, I really enjoyed using the Linedock. Having extra ports and connectivity can be easily achieved with dongles (which we all hate) and Line did well with the added battery and SSD, both are always very welcome when you work with your Macbook a lot, especially when not stationary.
You don’t need to be a die-hard Apple fan to appreciate the quality of the Linedock (and it’s great packaging), a lot of effort was put into this product and it’s definitely premium all around.
Speaking of premium, with prices ranging from $479 to $839, depending on your storage preference – it’s not a cheap add-on – but if you are out and about a lot, and need the extra connectivity, power, and storage, the Linedock has a lot to offer in a beautiful slick form factor.
To get yours, head over to linedock.co and configure your Linedock
About The Author
Itay (ET) Galim is a filmmaker, designer, and UX/UI expert based in Tel Aviv, Israel. You can visit him right here