Building a cheap Android laptop with an Android TV stick + Motorola Lapdock

Motorola may not be making the Lapdock anymore, but for a little over a year, the company offered Lapdock accessories for a handful of smartphones, letting you use your phone like a laptop. The Lapdock looks like a laptop, but it has no processor, memory or storage. Just connect your supported Atrix, Bionic, or other phone to a port in the back, and it acts as the brains of the laptop.

While Motorola didn’t sell enough Lapdocks to call the idea a success, it turns out you can do some nifty things with a Lapdock and a non-Motorola device. We’ve seen them used to turn the Raspberry Pi and MK802 mini-computers into inexpensive laptops.

You can also connect other mini-computers, and Youtube user DAVE01568 has posted a video of a Minix Neo G4 hooked up to a Lapdock. What’s interesting about his DIY laptop is that it also involves a backup battery, which allows you to close the lid of the Lapdock and re-open it without rebooting the computer.

The setup involves splicing a few wires and hooking up a few adapters. But in a nutshell, it involves connecting the Neo G4 to an external battery which it can use for power, connecting that battery to the Lapdock so it can recharge while the device is on and maintain a charge when the Lapdock is off, and hooking up the Neo G4 to use the keyboard, touchpad, and display of the Lapdock.

You don’t end up with the most portable device — there are cables all over the place. But you do end up with a cheap way to use the Minix Neo G4 without plugging it into a wall jack or a full-sized TV.

The Neo G4 sells for about $60 to $70 at DealExtreme, and features a Rockchip RK3066 dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a stronger WiFi antenna than those found in most of the cheap Android TV sticks I’ve tested.

Now that the Motorola Lapdock has been discontinued, you can also find one of those pretty cheap. They sell for under $100 on Amazon, and as little as $50 on eBay.

  • strider_mt2k

    It’s a fun project.
    Mine was an MK802+ that ESD-ed my Bionic Lapdock and itself into permanent retirement after much rewarding fiddling and tinkering.
    I thought about buying another Lapdock and a better Android stick, but been there, done that at this point for me.

    It’s no reflection on the setup at all, it is quite nice from a hacker standpoint.

  • CampGareth

    I’ve also done this with my MK802 II, if you just use enough adapters to get the microUSB male port on the lapdock to connect to the full size USB host port on the stick you get both data and power in one cable. Then you just have to hook up HDMI and you’re done in 2 cables.

    These days I don’t use that setup any more since I have no need for an android laptop but I do still use the lapdock as a second monitor for my laptop when I’m on the move. I guess I might also use it with my phone if my current ROM had MHL support.

  • buzz86us

    I am tinkering with the dock plus an MK809 pretty awesome so far I just need to figure out how to streamline it a little more and put linux on it.

  • http://twitter.com/rgf42 RICHARD FREELAND

    I also have done this with a IP872 and have had a lot of fun. I just wonder where these Android TV Sticks will go. Now I see them with a camera and another with quad core and bluetooth.

  • deadhp1

    I’ve got one of my lapdocks setup to use my GK802, and another my MK808B. Both have backup batteries. I’ve also got ubuntu on the GK802 so it’s pretty useful. Now if only I had dual boot…

    • buzz86us

      What are the power requirements for this? I was looking into getting one of those credit card sized batteries to streamline this setup into a usable laptop…

  • http://www.surecart.com/ laptop screens

    What a great post and an easy and useful replacement for the lapdock. Thanks!

  • http://stores.ebazr.com/[email protected] iPad Accessories UK

    well this future is very useful to convert your laptop into android ipad thanks for share this things really it is very nice blog thanks to advice…

  • Cal Rankin

    I’m curious if this hack could work on a tablet, like my Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. I think I could work out the same hack with a certain tablet like that. Heck, I might try it with a motorola xoom or some other tablet I can pick up cheap.