MK802 IIIS + Motorola Lapdock + PicUntu = cheap Linux laptop (video)

If you’ve been paying attention to the Android TV stick space lately, you may already know that you can pick up a USB thumb drive-sized computer for about $60, run Android or Linux on it, and plug in a Motorola Lapdock to effectively turn it into a laptop.

But it’s kind of neat to see everything coming together in on short video.

Rikomagic UK’s Andy Kirby has posted a video showing a mini PC working as a Linux laptop, thanks to these three components:

  1. RikoMagic MK802 IIIs mini PC/TV stick – about $60 and up
  2. Motorola Lapdockas little as $50
  3. PicUntuFree

The MK802 IIIs is a tiny device designed to let you run Android apps on your TV. It features a Rockchip RK3066 dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and 1GB of RAM.

Motorola’s Lapdock is a discontinued line of products designed to let you use certain Motorola smartphones as laptops — but while Motorola isn’t pushing the platform anymore, you can pick up some Lapdock models dirt cheap and use them as keyboards and displays for other devices… like an MK802 IIIs.

Meanwhile, PicUntu is a new, light-weight Linux operating system based on Ubuntu 12.10. It’s designed specifically for devices with Rockchip RK3066 processors… like the MK802 IIIs.

mk802 iiis laptop

When you put those things together, you’ve effectively got a low power Linux laptop (with a few extra cables hanging around) that costs just over $100 to build. It’s not exactly going to win any computer processing speed records, but it makes a pretty nifty DIY project… and it might even be useful for some folks.

Update: While PicUntu doesn’t support hardware-accelerated graphics or video on devices with RK3066 processors yet, the CPU is fast enough to handle 720p HD video playback using software-decoding alone, as shown in the video below.

  • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

    Cool stuff.

    It is a pity that Motorola has stopped producing the lapdocks. It was a neat idea, it only needed a couple of generations to become useful (e.g.: Ubuntu instead of that limited WebTop).

    • matthew bennett

      No, discontinued is a good thing! The lapdock was $500 when they first came out, but I just grabbed a surplus one for $50. BTW, he *is* running Ubuntu.

  • rformisa

    I’m thinking what happens if instead of Android or Linux we install Chrome OS in a Rockchip RK3066 stick?

  • Andy Kirby

    Cool Brad thanks for the mention! Whats interesting here is that the MK802III is capable of running Linux (Picuntu) extremely well. I also have here the ARM Samsung Chromebook running Xubuntu, this uses the Exynos 5250 dual core A13 and is probably the fastest ARM platform right now… to be honest I cant really tell the difference between this and the Picuntu MK802III in terms of performance, they are both very snappy indeed. I’ve been using one of these devices hooked up to a monitor and wireless keyboard in the office to carry out everyday tasks. We really are getting close to a micro sized ARM desktop computer!

    Also the MK802III is running at 1920×1080 and the Chromebook is running at 1366×768

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      Have you tried HD video playback and/or XBMC? I know a lot of people are wondering if hardware-accelerated graphics/video are supported yet.

      • andy kirby

        I know, me included! Hardware accelerated graphics/video are not supported yet however I know the Picuntu developers are working on it.
        It seems like Rockchip are interested in helping the development too.(hopefully they will be more helpful than Allwinner were)

        I think its likely we will see hardware accelerated HD video playback first in the form of a piece of video player software (ffmpeg, VLC) that can access the VPU of the device.

      • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

        Cool, keep us posted!

        (And while I stop by your forums every now and then to see what’s new, feel free to shoot me an email at http://liliputing.com/contact when you think you’ve got something cool like this that we might be interested in!)

      • andy kirby

        Will do Thanks! I just added a video showing 720p video playback which is very smooth. The MK802III has more than enough power to playback 720p video without using video hardware.

      • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

        Nice, I added the video to this post.

  • Alex

    Got my lapdock today (thanks to liliputing for the tip). I expected it to be a plastic shell but it seems to have metal casing throughout, except the back. The whole shell looks better than I expected… truly nice little piece of hardware.

  • eric

    where’d you get the adapter cables, I have the lapdock now, but need the right adapters to hook it up…

  • http://www.facebook.com/rdircio Roberto Dircio Palacios-Macedo

    Andy, is that a IIIs model, the one with bluetooth? if so, did you ever get the internal wifi chip working? i got one and i’m as far as booting picuntu.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gipsychef Melillo Nicola

    Hi….this post is awesome, but incomplete.
    Can we get some links about the wiring? There a mess out there. Too many possible configuration.
    Thanks

  • Hardik Patel

    Does the MK802 III get the correct resolution when connected to the Lapdock? I ask because the MK808 cannot get the correct resolution at all.

    Is the MK802 IIII outputting at 1280×720 or 1366×768? and did the resolution pick up correctly on boot or did you have to connect to a monitor first to get the correct resolution and then move the stick over to the lapdock?

    • JustinTime253

      Same here I have 808 and am curious about resolution. When using Android OS with finless 1.6 resolution is fine but when booting Picuntu resolution only shows 1080 when using xrandr from CL. I’m going to see if I can get a different resolution rocking so I can actually see the text $_$ lol other than that I love it. Will spend next few days tinkering trying to get display bigger. If you know any quick terminal magic to make font bigger at least that’d be awesome :) I compiled Synergy which works awesome when using multiple machines with one mouse/keyboard just extra tip :) oh and Car+808+Picuntu+PTZCam+Zonealarm+UbuntuOneSync = mobile car video surveillance to the cloud! Smile your on cardid camera!