Samsung’s latest high-end smartphones have a feature called DeX that lets you connect the phone to a docking station, hook up a keyboard, mouse, and display and use the phone as if it were a desktop PC.

But what if you’d rather use it like a laptop?

You could try to find an old Motorola Lapdock or try to figure out if the Mirabook or Superbook are ever going to actually ship. Or you could hack apart an old laptop and retrofit it with the components you need to use it as a laptop dock for a Samsung phone (or maybe another phone running MaruOS).

Anyway, xda-developers forum member kreal took that DIY route, and shared some pictures and a video of the system in action.

Basically, kreal dissected a 2008 MacBook, took out all the components that made it work like a MacBook, and replaced them with things like an LCD controller board, some new batteries, power converters, a fan, and some other components.

There was also some soldering involved in order to get the MacBook’s keyboard and touchpad to work as USB peripherals.

Now when a Samsung phone is plugged in, the screen displays the Samsung DeX environment and the keyboard and touchpad work as input devices. You can also use a wireless mouse and other peripherals, like gamepads, as shown in the video.

At the end of the day, you’re still running Android, so any apps or games you want to use will be smartphone apps that may or may not look good when scaled up to run on a laptop screen. But if there were more laptop docks like this in the world, maybe we’d see more developers create Android apps that are designed to behave like desktop apps.

via Android Community

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6 replies on “Hacker turns old MacBook into a Samsung DeX Lapdock”

  1. Old post I know but I’ll respond in order to try to save someone a headache. I have an S8 and a Motorola Lapdock. I tried to use the Lapdock for Dex and it was no good. The problem is that Samsung has chosen to support only 3 very specific resolutions and all are widescreen. As a result Dex on the Lapdock has big black bars on the top and bottom. The image then is so pinched that text is unreadable. I did find that it some apps were sort of almost usable if I turned the font size up really high but the text in many apps and even the icon labels do not seem to respect the text size setting and. They remain too small to read. Also when I unplugged the phone was not smart enough to store separate font sizes for Dex vs regular phone use. Text was so big I couldn’t even navigate the setup app, I had to plug back into Dex to do that!

    Personally I blame Samsung. Adding a couple more resolution options including non-widescreen ones should have been super easy for them to do. I think they just want to sell more new widescreen monitors. They don’t sell anything like a Lapdock though (Motorola patent perhaps?) So we are just SOL if we want portable Dex! Honestly this shouldn’t be hard. Convergence between our phones, desktops and laptops should be a no-brainer. Motorola screwed it up by over-pricing the Lapdock and (in their first version) crippling it to be little more than a browser. Samsung is crippling Dex with their poor hardware support. Some day somebody is going to grow a brain and get this right!

  2. Awesome job, but he sounds technically proficient enough to come up with lots of these types of things.

    I wish the HP lapdock for the Elite X3 worked with any other device, as a lapdock, it’s gorgeous and nice to use, but no other device I’ve tried connecting to it has worked.

  3. I wonder if he is driving the original Macbook screen at 1440×900 or he changed the screen as well. Android usually don’t play well with weird resolutions (weird as in anything but 720p or 1080p).

    Edit: reading the forum post, yep, he is using the original screen but driving it at 1080p while the actual resolution is 1440×900. I wonder when will changing to custom resolutions in Android will be as straightforward as in other OSes?

    1. Actually, Android is very good at adapting to weird resolutions.
      OS X is not, which is why each OS X build is specifically tailored to the MacBook. The Mac Pro in particular struggled, its much better now though.

      What I’m curious about is, in the video how was kreal playing GTA V ?
      I think he was streaming it from his PC (which looks like its on his right), but the image was too small, so I couldn’t see which App he used to do the streaming. And was the controller (GameSir G4s) connected directly to the PC, or was it connected to his SGS8 and the input was also going through the streaming App.

      The reason why I ask is because that gamepad is great, one of the best on the market, but it has some lag issues. So having a streaming connect would’ve created a lot of input lag, but we don’t really see this in the video.

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