Think of it as an iPhone-style dock for your MacBook. At home you might have several things plugged into your MacBook’s various ports (hard drives, USB products, speakers, etc), which means disconnecting and reconnecting everything each time you leave or return with your MacBook. With LandingZone, everything gets connected to ports in the back of the dock, allowing you to simply place your MacBook in the dock and instantly connect to all your peripherals. When you leave, you can pop out your Mac and walk away in seconds without thinking twice about all the connected cables. It also packs in a 5-port USB hub, ethernet adapter, HDMI, and Mini DisplayPort all while reducing cable clutter on your desk. I’ve been using the latest LandingZone Dock model for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro for a couple weeks and it has truly transformed my workspace.
Connecting to LandingZone is easy. After placing your MacBook on the dock, either side slides in to connect to the MacBook’s Thunderbolt, USB, and HDMI ports. You’ll still have access to one USB port, one Thunderbolt port, headphone jack, and the SDXC card slot, but the rest of the ins and outs are used to connect to the dock. When you’re ready to undock your MacBook, a small lever at the back expands the dock to disconnect it from your MacBook’s ports. Docking the MacBook is super easy and only takes a couple seconds once you get the hang of it, and undocking is as easy as pulling the lever. After you’re docked, the only cable coming out of the side of your MacBook will be the MagSafe connector for power. Apple doesn’t let accessory makers build the MagSafe connector integrated into their products, but the company has done its best by notching out a groove to let the MagSafe pass through (pictured above). The dock props up your MacBook at a slight angle, which I personally prefer but it’s something that might not be ideal for everyone.
You lose one of your USB ports when connecting to the dock, but LandingZone has 5 on the back (three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0), a gigabit ethernet port, HDMI, 1 Mini DisplayPort, and a headphone jack. There’s also a keyed lock slot that you can use for some added security if you purchase a Kensington laptop lock. I was mainly using the Ethernet port and the USB ports to connect my drives and audio interface, but the HDMI and DisplayPort would obviously come in handy for those with multi monitor setups, and an indicator light on the dock lets you know if your MacBook is on without having to open the lid. For those without an audio interface, the company has added a 3.5mm jack for plugging in speakers (the older MacBook Air model didn’t have it and that’s something we complained about in our previous review). Putting the MacBook screen down makes accessing the ports on the back easy and you still have one Thunderbolt and USB port available on your MacBook if you want to quickly plug in a camera or hard drive.
Cable Clutter |
The ability to quickly dock your Mac and not have to worry about plugging in cables is one benefit, but decreasing cable clutter on your desk might be the best part of LandingZone. No matter how you route or attempt to hide your cables in and around your desk, you can’t do much about the spaghetti of cables flowing out from either side of your MacBook. Before LandingZone, I used a 4-port USB hub on one side of my Mac for an external hard drive, a USB powered audio interface, mobile device charging and connecting USB accessories. That’s on top of the Magsafe connector for power and a couple cables often plugged in on the other side for a connected camera, display, or other accessory. The result is a mess of cables coming out from the sides of the MacBook and running across your desk that looks something like this:
Because Landing Zone moves all your ins and outs to the back of the MacBook, the result is a much cleaner desk with no cable mess. Here’s the after shot:
Should you buy it? |
The LandingZone is clearly a bit of a niche product. Not everybody will have multiple pieces of hardware plugged into their MacBook and also frequently want to pick up and take the machine with them. With a spot for a Kenginston Laptop lock, however, it makes a lot of sense for people that use their MacBook at work or in other public spaces. If you do fall in one of those categories, the LandingZone will surely save you a lot of time and effort and is just about the only way to eliminate cable clutter for MacBook users. For me, decreasing all the cable clutter in my tight workspace was reason enough to make it a permanent part of my setup. It would have been nice if the design and materials were made to match the MacBook, but once you’re docked you can’t see much of the dock anyway.
The LandingZone Dock for 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is available for $199. Well worth the price if you add up the cost of entry for a 5-port USB hub and Ethernet adapter, not to mention the convenience of docking and everything else you get with the LandingZone. Other models for the MacBook Air start as low as $49 with less features.