InfiniWing, Inc., maker of the much–lauded LandingZone line of slim docking stations for Apple’s diminutive MacBook Air portable computers, is set to deliver an all–new dock in December — this one for Apple’s larger MacBook Pro portable computers.
The forthcoming LandingZone DOCK for MacBook Pro with Retina display will offer many of the same features found in the current MacBook Air docks, but there will also be at least one key design difference — an improvement to the release lever that the company says is exclusive to the new DOCK.
Building on the LandingZone DNA
Like the other LandingZone models, the DOCK adds to the array of connectors found on the Apple computer alone while at the same time leaving most of those accessible and working — unlike many other laptop docking stations, which replace and inactivate the computer’s built–in ports.
The MacBook Pro with Retina display includes two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI port (for connecting a monitor), as well as a headphone jack, a power adapter jack and an SDXC card slot.
The DOCK includes:
- Five USB ports (three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0)
- A Gigabit Ethernet port with LED status lights
- A Mini DisplayPort port
- An HDMI port
- A headphone port for attaching speakers or headphones
- A lock slot, compatible with Kensington–brand portable computer locks
- A power adapter compatible with a range of international voltages (100–240 VAC)
- LED status lights that indicate whether the MacBook Pro is powered on while closed
With the MacBook Pro installed in the DOCK, user’s can still utilize one of the computer’s built–in USB ports, one of its Thunderbolt ports, its headphone jack, and the SDXC card slot. (The functionality of the computer’s other Thunderbolt port is leveraged via the DOCK’s Mini DisplayPort port.)
The DOCK will work with all models of the MacBook Pro with Retina display that Apple has sold since June 2012, the company says.
The LandingZone brand’s parent company, infiniWing, was founded in 2010 with crowdfunding via Kickstarter.com and introduced its first docking station in 2011. The company now sells three distinct docks aimed at differing versions of the MacBook Air: the LandingZone 1.0 PRO ($149) for MacBook Airs sold from 2010 through mid–2012; the LandingZone 2.0 PRO ($199) for MacBook Airs introduced in June 2012 and in June 2013; and the LandingZone 2.0 LITE ($59), also for MacBook Airs introduced in June 2012 and in June 2013.
While the 2.0 PRO offers a wide variety of built–in ports and a lock connector to complement the ports on the MacBook Air, the 2.0 LITE features only two USB 3.0 ports and a lock connector.
Both 2.0 models, first introduced in 2012, were updated in July after Apple released its newest MacBook Air computers powered by Intel’s Haswell microprocessors, to compensate for the new computers’ lower power consumption, said Rachel Notor, content director at infiniWing, based in San Jose, Calif.
“As each new release from Apple emerges, LandingZone has adapted to its computer,” Notor said.
Early reviews of the latest LandingZone 2.0 PRO generated much praise.
I also recently tested a review unit of the latest LandingZone 2.0 PRO with a new, Haswell–powered MacBook Air, and found it impressive. After installing a driver on the computer to get full Ethernet compatibility from the docking station, setup was as simple as placing the Air’s rubber feet into dimples in the docking station’s base, and then manually sliding two ends of the docking station — one fitted with a USB connector and the other with both USB and Thunderbolt connectors — until they clicked into matching ports on the computer.
However, there were a couple of nuances about the LandingZone 2.0 PRO’s design (shared by the other Air–oriented models) that some users may consider problems.
First, because of the precision and tightness of its fit with the attached Air, this docking station won’t work with computers sheathed in protective cases.
Second, the release lever on the back is sprung to protrude from the docking station when a computer isn’t attached; an included clip must be installed to keep the release lever retracted flush, and forgetful users may lose this clip, rendering the LandingZone less convenient for travel.
Notor said infiniWing recommends solving the fit issue by protecting the MacBook Air with a thin protective skin — she explicitly noted those sold by Skinit — rather than a hard shell case.
Addressing the release lever protrusion, she said infiniWing has created a new, magnetized release lever for the DOCK that eschews the clip, “for even easier travel and stowing.”
But, “this new magnetic closure will only be available for the LandingZone DOCK,” Notor added.
Price and Availability
Pre–release sales of the LandingZone DOCK began in September for anticipated December availability. The price now is $199, but Notor said it will rise to $249 with general availability.