Nexdock – Cutting the Cable

We’ve had a somewhat chequered relationship with the Nexdock here at TDL. Conceived in the excitement of Microsoft’s Continuum, the eventual product did exactly what it intended to and provided a screen and keyboard to give a laptop experience when attached to a Windows Phone. Unfortunately, Windows Phone was somewhat less successful than Microsoft may have hoped, and many Nexdocks have found a second life as extra screens, or as a way of creating a mobile Raspberry Pi. Indeed, my conclusion was that as a base for a Pi, the Nexdock made a lot of sense, even if it combined the looks of an Apple Macbook Air with materials that might make VTech say “steady on…”

During Ian’s review of the Nexdock in Continuum mode, the battery appeared to give out and refuse to recharge. Subsequent attempts to pair the Nexdock with a Pi again would result in a few seconds of use followed by a blank screen. It appeared that the £85 laptop shell was dead.

Enter Nexdock’s excellent online support and a screwdriver.

NexDock’s support reckoned that my laptop may be from late in the production run, where NTC (Negative Temperature Coefficient) was wired in by mistake. Since the guts of the NexDock does not support this, the battery would not charge. Refreshingly, the Nexdock can be taken to pieces painlessly in the way that a Macbook Air cannot, and with the removal of 6 screws, the back can be removed and the battery connector inspected.

The culprit is a single white cable on the battery connector, which is a similar connector to the one that I broke on my Mac Mini during a ham-fisted upgrade attempt. The NexDock is clearly built of sterner stuff and successfully resisted my attempts to destroy it. “Cut the cable” instructed NexDock’s support which I did (after taking a bit of a deep breath.) And I am happy to report that this bit of manual interaction resolved the issue, and my NexDock is once again rocking and rolling with my Pi 3.

Hopefully the next iteration of the NexDock will continue to buck the trend of sealed computers and allow for the potential of DIY repairs when things go wrong rather than consigning faulty equipment to the embrace of a landfill.

About the author Richard Speed:
Spaceflight enthusiast and tech hobbyist.
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