Kensington’s LD4650P Is an Okay Dock and Lock, but an Expensive Combo

The Kensington LD4650P laptop dock hooked up to a laptop with various cords attached to it.
Michael Crider

An elaborate desktop setup that can transition to portable demands a capable desktop dock. Kensington’s LD4650P is one such dock, with some impressive locking features thrown in. But its bells and whistles fail to justify the sky-high price for most.

Using the LD4650P with its single USB-C connection gives your Windows laptop access to two DisplayPort screens, four USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet data, and a standard headphone jack. It all works as advertised, with the added benefit of locking down your laptop to a heavy base. You can then lock the base to a desk or table with the included chain. But at $250, you need to use every single feature—and be okay with some major ergonomic and functional drawbacks—to consider this dock.

Lock It Down

The LD4650P is odd-looking, with a heavy metal base that slips up underneath the hinge of a laptop. Two “wings” on either side clamp down on the hinge, to lock the dock in place. How do you release the wings from the laptop when you’re done working? The LED on the right side gives you a clue. When you pass the included “key” (a plastic fob with what I assume is an RFID chip inside) over the right side, it releases the wings. The green LED flashes to blue, and both sides click outward thanks to a small internal motor.

The key sitting next to the Kensington LD4650P dock with its green LED lit.
An RFID key fob releases the locking mechanism. Michael Crider

It’s remarkably secure with the wings in place, and the dock secured with a Kensington laptop lock. But there are some serious drawbacks to this design. Most obviously, it doesn’t work with anything like a tablet. It’s impossible to secure a Surface Pro or my HP Chromebook X2 in this dock. That doesn’t mean the electronic components cease to function. But anything other than a standard laptop—and even then, a fairly thin one, with no protruding battery—won’t be able to use this security feature.

An HP Chromebook and the (unattached) LD4650P dock.
The dock doesn’t work with tablets or Surface-style, 2-in-1 laptops. Michael Crider

The dock’s locking mechanism also won’t work if the power supply isn’t in place, which isn’t an issue for a conventional lock. That’s probably not a problem for most people. After all, why have a USB-C dock if you’re not going to keep it working? It does, however, make this gadget unsuitable for more extensive deployments that aren’t using its full capacities at every engagement.

Based on your particular scenario, the unique RFID key might be an advantage or a disadvantage over the more general Kensington lock key.

Using the Dock

Using the dock was a more pleasant, flexible experience. The placement allows you to easily connect up to two monitors (plus the laptop’s screen), as well as any USB-based accessories you might want. I was disappointed to find only two video-out options, and no choices for the much more common HDMI, with resolution limited to 1920 x 1200 maximum. The dock could handle my 2560 x 1440 main monitor, but only when a secondary screen wasn’t connected at the same time.

The ports on the back of the Kensington LD4650P.
Rear ports include Ethernet, four USB-A, two DisplayPorts, and a combined headphone/microphone jack. Michael Crider

I was also disappointed the dock only supports USB-A connections, even though they’re high-speed 3.1 spec. This meant I couldn’t plug in any of my USB-C devices directly to the dock—I had to use a secondary port on the laptop.

The USB-C PD connection on the dock works flawlessly and carries video and data without any major issues or errors. (It didn’t work on my HP Chromebook, but that’s not the only problem I’ve had with that machine—it performed exactly as expected on Windows.)

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iClever’s Vertical Mouse Will Do (If Other Options Are Over Your Budget)

The iClever Vertical Mouse.
The iClever Vertical Mouse gets the job done without any bells or whistles. Michael Crider

Do you have to spend a lot of money to get ergonomic gear for your computer? No. But you do have to make a few compromises. That’s the idea behind iClever’s vertical mouse.

This sub-$20 gadget can’t compete with the likes of the excellent Logitech MX Vertical or its contemporaries. But if all you need is some relief from your wrist-based repetitive stress injury, the iClever’s got you covered.

It handles the basic duty of lifting your hand off the mouse pad and turning it to a more natural position. I used the iClever for hours of desktop work per day and was just as comfy as I was with the more expensive options.

Logitech's MX Vertical mouse sitting next to the iClever Vertical Mouse.
The iClever is approximately the same shape as Logitech’s MX Vertical, if less refined. Michael Crider

The iClever lacks creature comforts, though. Thankfully, it’s wireless—wrangling a mouse cable sort of defeats the purpose. But it limits you to a standard, 2.4 GHz USB receiver with no Bluetooth option. You also have to dig out two, AAA batteries (not included) to get it working. And if you want advanced key binds or super-specific customization, you won’t find it here, as there’s no software to be found.

But the basics are here. The wheel spins and clicks, and there are backward and forward buttons for your thumb. There’s a button to adjust the sensitivity of the 2400 DPI optical sensor with four hard-coded presets. The mouse is light and slick on a pad, and the buttons are shockingly quiet if you want to be unobtrusive at the office. In short, it works!

The USB dongle sitting next to the iClever mouse with its battery door removed, showing 2 inserted batteries, and the empty stow hole for the USB dongle.
There’s a stow hole under the battery bay for the USB dongle. Michael Crider

There are some bright spots. For instance, there’s a nice little groove for your pinky to help keep your hand in the right position. If you travel with your gear, there’s also a hidey-hole for the USB dongle near the battery bay. And most ergonomic mice are likely to go on a walk as people usually opt for them instead of using a trackpad.

As a budget-conscious alternative to the de facto picks, the iClever Vertical Mouse will serve you fine. Grab it if you occasionally need a break from your regular mouse or are strapped for cash.

I’ll Miss the Bixby Button on the Galaxy Note 10 (But Not for Bixby)

The new Galaxy Note 10 design does away with the Bixby button. I’m going to miss it—I love the Bixby button on my Note 8. Even though I never use it for Bixby.

Say what? Allow me to explain. While Samsung certainly hopes customers will use its voice assistant Bixby, they haven’t—on Android, those who are inclined to use any voice assistant at all will use Google Assistant (also known as “Okay Google.”) No one I know uses Bixby. If it weren’t for the heavy promotion during phone set up, I dare say most Samsung owners wouldn’t even know it’s there.

No one ever did this.
No one ever did this. Samsung

But the button is hard to miss. It sits on the opposite side of the power button on my Note 8, just below the volume rocker, in an ideal position for a finger tap. (Or, indeed, to be mistaken for the power button when you’re just getting used to your new gadget.) And as phone users are wont to do, I’ve re-purposed it, with the help of this handy app in the Play Store. It’s something that’s been done by tinkering Galaxy owners since the Bixby button first appeared on the Galaxy S8.

Instead of activating Samsung’s cumbersome and questionably-useful Bixby launcher, this in-between app lets me launch any other app or use a bunch of other tools. Currently, I have mine set up like this:

  • Single press: hide the navigation and notification bar for fullscreen apps
  • Double press: play or pause music
  • Long press: activate the LED flashlight

I got the idea from reviewing phones in Samsung’s Galaxy Active line. The super-tough Active and Rugby phones had an extra button long before the Galaxy S and Note did, and they included options like the ones I outlined above. Programming an extra button for an oft-used function isn’t a new idea in mobile design—I distinctly recall remapping the “voice note” button on my Palm Tungsten T3 to launch its RealPlayer MP3 program.

That noise you just heard was the grey hairs spreading through my beard.

Other encounters with superfluous but useful buttons: Galaxy S Active, Tungsten T3.
Other encounters with superfluous but useful buttons: Galaxy S7 Active, Tungsten T3. Android Police/Palm

I’ve come to rely so heavily on this extra button in my day-to-day smartphone use that I missed it dearly when I tried out the Pixel 3, sporting only the usual power and volume buttons. I managed to cobble together a similar set up with double- and long-presses on the volume rocker, but it wasn’t anywhere near as handy. I was happy to have it back on the Note 8.

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10 Fun Premium Android Games Without Microtransactions

A racing game being played on a phone.
They’re hard to find, but good premium games do exist on Android. Michael Crider

Trying to find a mobile game that won’t hook you with $100 in-game purchases for currency or boosters? If you’re looking for a fun, premium Android game without the BS, check out our selections.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of “The 10 Best Android Games Ever”—we’re not quite that arrogant. There are so many thousands of games on the Play Store, one person can only hope to play a small percentage of them.

But these are games we’ve personally enjoyed that don’t feature the manipulative currency and booster purchases you find in most free-to-play mobile games. We’ve also avoided ported games from consoles or PCs, as they tend to be tough to control on a touch screen.

Without further ado, let’s get to the picks.

“Horizon Chase”

If you long for the simpler age of racing games, when going fast was pretty much all there was to it, Horizon Chase is for you. It’s a simple setup, with a wide selection of tracks and cars based on 80’s and 90’s classics.

The graphics are simple, but appealing, crisp, colorful 3D reinterpretations of classic sprite-based racing games from the 16-bit era. I wish it had a multiplayer option, but for tight, technical racing with a wonderful atmosphere, you can’t beat it! Players get access to a few tracks for free, and at this writing, you can unlock the whole game for $3.

“Alto’s Adventure”

Alto’s Adventure takes the simple setup of an “endless runner” game and nails every aspect of it, from the simple, but enthralling, graphics, to the chill music and super-fluid animation. At first, the game seems basic. But as you expand your repertoire of snowboarding moves and techniques (and get a handle on the sliding physics), you find there’s an amazing variety to the 2D stages.

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Booē Hybrid 20 Backpack Is Amazingly Waterproof, But Light on Design

A Booē Hybrid 20 backpack lying in a stream.
The Booē Hybrid 20 is brilliantly waterproof, but a bit bare on features. Michael Crider

How much is it worth to have a bag that’s truly 100 percent waterproof? How many features can be sacrificed on a modern bag? Reviewing the Hydro 20 makes me ask these questions.

In terms of pure design, it’s a remarkable backpack, made possible by the new TruZip toothless plastic zipper. During my testing, I found that the Booē Hybrid 20 makes good on all the promises made in its Kickstarter campaign. It’s completely waterproof, submersible, and offers floating protection for whatever you put inside it. If that’s your primary concern, buy with confidence.

By focusing on the waterproof materials, though, Booē has left out some creature comforts you’d expect in a modern backpack. Its protection (beyond water and dust) is minimal, and internal organization is clunky at best. It’s unlike anything on the market at the moment, but those looking to invest in a waterproof bag might do better to wait for a second design revision.

The Hybrid 20 backpack lying in the sand.
The Hybrid 20 claims complete protection from water and dirt when sealed. And it delivers. Michael Crider

…Off a Duck’s Back

I’ve been using “water-resistant” messenger bags from the likes of Timbuk2 and Peak Design for 15 years, and find them reliable. These designs use a heavy-duty fabric with sealing treatments to keep rain and splashes out of the interior pockets. But the Hybrid 20 puts this approach to shame in terms of water and dust protection. The TruZip zippers and heavy-duty plastic coating mean you can completely dunk this backpack in water, and not a drop will get in. Yes, really.

The TruZip toothless plastic zipper on the Hybrid 20 backpack.
The TPU-coated material repels water like an Old Testament prophet. Michael Crider

The promotional materials say you can completely submerge the Hydro 20 in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes, and none will get past the zipper seals. I placed a ream of printer paper in the main pocket and some folded paper in the smaller front pocket (I confess, I wasn’t willing to risk my laptop during testing). They were bone-dry after half an hour in my tub. Success!

The bag is equally resistant to dust and mud, as tested in the creek at my local park. The Hydro 20 would be fantastic for campers, kayakers, or anyone who spends a lot of time around or in wet locales. As a bonus, the sealed nature means it (generally) floats—as long as you leave a little air inside and didn’t stick a brick in the main pocket.

Seal It Up

One of our concerns with the TruZip waterproof zipper seal, when we saw it at CES, was how much force it took to close it completely. Booē solved that with a little quality-of-life tweak. The zippers have big, generous finger rings that give you plenty of torque, so it’s easy to get them into that crucial, completely sealed position. You can safely close the bag with only a bit more force than a conventional toothed zipper requires.

The pull ring on the TruZip toothless plastic zipper on the Hybrid 20 backpack.
The generous pull rings make opening and closing the bag easy. Michael Crider

I’m no designer, but I’ll venture that a small tweak would improve usability here. The zipper seal needs to be completely closed to be reliably waterproof, but it’s hard to tell when it is. A dot or line on the fabric that’s completely covered to indicate the zipper is fully sealed would be helpful.

Protection Is Lacking

As much as the Hydro 20 does to protect its contents from water and dirt, it doesn’t offer much protection in the more conventional sense. Aside from a comfort pad on the back and an internal sleeve for laptops and tablets, the TPU-covered fabric is the only thing between the inside and outside of the bag for the rest of the contents. And that fabric is only a single, quite thin, layer at most points.

The Booē Hybrid 20 backpack.
The fabric body of the bag doesn’t offer much impact protection for the contents. Michael Crider

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