Landing Zone Dock Turns A MacBook Air Into A Mini Mac Pro [Review]

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Landing Zone byLanding Zone
Category: MacBook Docks
Works With:MacBook Air 13-inch
Price: $200

My 13-inch MacBook Air is a fantastic portable computer – fast, light, crazy battery life and with a “bigger” screen than my old 13-inch aluminum MacBook[1]. But as a desktop computer it sucks: only two USB ports, no Ethernet, and a tiny amount of storage.

Which is exactly why the Landing Zone exists. It’s a dock that stays on your desk, hooked up to all your peripherals, and which grabs onto your MacBook like a facehugger grabs onto, uh, a face.

I’ve been using one for a while now, and it’s almost entirely excellent.

What It Is

The Landing Zone Pro is a plastic bar with a lever and two moving ends which shove themselves into the holes on the sides of your MacBook Air. Because of this intimate arrangement, you need to pick the exact model for your machine.

Once pushed into the USB and Thunderbolt ports, the dock sits there ready for hookups. And what hookups: there are three USB 3.0 ports around back, plus one high-powered USB port on the left, for charging/syncing iPhones and iPads at high speed. There’s also an Ethernet port, a Thunderbolt port and a power socket, into which you plug an adapter to power all those USB ports.

There’s also a spot that will clamp your MagSafe connector into place, pushing it into the MacBook when you dock it. And because you’re likely to need to take the adapter with you when you go, it is easily removable, too.

Access to the SD card slot and the headphone jack is unimpeded.

The Good

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More hookups than a men’s sauna.

Having all your drives hooked up to your MacBook, all at once, is pretty sweet. I currently have a USB 3.0 drive and a FireWire drive (via Thunderbolt to FW800 adapter) plugged in, and they’re both super fast. I also have my MacBook connected to Ethernet (driver required), which means that I can access the internal and external drives on my iMac, as well as giving me faster backups to the Time Capsule.

Plugging it in is easy. You just put the MBA in the dock, where it lines up thanks to the sculpted shape. Then push both sides in by hand: don’t use the lever (as I did before I read the instructions) as it can damage your ports if not lined up perfectly (it’s a lever after all, which means it adds force).

To undock, you just eject all drives (there’s a free app) and yank the lever. You’re MacBook is free to go. This is even better if you have a spare power brick, or if you’re not planning on using the MBA beyond its battery life.

The Bad

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You can Kensington-lock this thing, too.

The Landing Zone props up the back of the MacBook, which is good for air flow but bad for your wrists. It also has a glowing white LED on the side to tell you it’s switched on. If you use this dock in your bedroom, then this light is bright enough to keep you awake. Worse, its light leaks into the surrounding white plastic so even a small square of black tape won’t help. I find myself undocking the MacBook at night, which means that it isn’t charging, which means it won’t perform its power-nap functions (mine’s set up to do it only when plugged in).

Also, the powered USB ports only charge iPhones when the MacBook is docked, making them slightly less useful. This appears to be more of a USB hub thing than a Landing Zone thing though.

Also, that price. Yes, you save the $30 an ethernet adapter would cost you, but it’s still a little steep for a dock. Then again, it is useful, and is certainly cheaper than buying an iMac to use as a desktop machine.

Finally, you have to register your dock to get the free undocking app. As this involves giving your personal details, and (maybe worse) typing in your dock’s serial number, which is (of course) hidden around the back so you have to undock everything just to read it, I skipped it. Launchbar already has a command to “Eject all ejectable volumes,” so I just use that.

The Verdict

I like this gadget a lot. If I used my MacBook with an external monitor then I’d be totally smitten. As it is the Landing Zone is useful to me mostly when my iMac is out of action. Happily, it’s also light and compact (it comes with a hook to keep the lever closed when traveling) so you could totally take it with you on vacation.

Recommended.

LZPRO2_5210-540x390Product Name: : Landing ZoneThe Good: Incredibly handy, light, tough, clever design.The Bad: $200

The Verdict It’s hard to fault. If you need to dock you MacBook Air, and you don’t mind the price, buy this now

Buy from: Landing Zone

Cult of Mac rating: Excellent


  1. It’s not physically bigger of course, but it fits more on it thanks to its higher resolution.  ↩
Related
  • Adrayven

    steep? naw.. The cheapest Thunderbolt Dock is $249 from Matrox, Belkin is $299… CalDigit Thunderbolt Dock is the one I want.. thats $199.. Though soon you can get the ZenDock for $129.. but it’s kind of a joke for the Air.. for the Pro ZenDock looks nice.

    CalDigit is the best bang for your buck when it comes to true expansion IMO.

  • joshbroton

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is mostly pointless if you’re using a Thunderbolt display, right?

About the author

Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

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