Lapdock as DSLR Video HDMI Monitor

Here's something pretty interesting that reader Nathan Smith shares for an external HDMI Monitor. The Motorola Lapdock is used to connect to Android phones via HDMI and provides a keyboard, larger screen, two USB ports, and more. The Lapdock also has an internal battery that claims an 8 hour life span. Well the Lapdock never really took off as a product, and now you can find them on clearance or at discounted prices. Nathan was lucky enough to grab one for around $59 dollars. So what does this have to do with DSLR Video and cameras?

There were a few forums that claimed the Lapdock will perform as a normal HDMI screen with the right adapters and some videos have shown it being used with a Playstation. If you're wondering, the Lapdock has a Micro Male HDMI connection, so you'll need a female Micro HDMI to start with. Here Nathan proves that with the right cables, you can even use it to display the HDMI signal from your camera. Can't beat that for $59 bucks.

I also found this interesting because the Lapdock provides two USB ports. The Lapdock with it's internal rechargeable battery can be a remote monitor receiving the HD video feed and power the Asus through dual USB power without extra batteries (theory). I've updated the comments in this article with some information about the adapter and cable you'll probably need. Anyways, it's a neat idea and could be a fun thing to have with the clearance prices, but the only thing i'm still unsure of is the exact model that Nathan is using. [Update] He's using the Atrix 4G Lapdock and you can find the Lapdocks online via Amazon (click here)

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 74 Comments





74 thoughts on “Lapdock as DSLR Video HDMI Monitor

  1. Kristofor Gieske

    Just as an update, I bought the exact same cords/adapters that Venga linked to in post 69, and it now works!

    The only thing is the connection is kind of intermittent; I'm afraid I may have damaged the hdmi connector in the lapdock when I modified it to use with my phone.

    But, it does work!

  2. Kristofor Gieske

    So far, I have not had any luck with my T3i.

    The cords/adapters all work (tried it as a second monitor for my computer), the lapdock works beautifully with my phone, but the lapdock doesn't seem to recognize the camera as a hdmi source - it doesn't even turn on the little white light. Weird.

    πŸ™

  3. Venga

    And, the cheaper micro HDMI female to micro HDMI male cable I linked to in my last post doesn't work. So much for the cheap cables.

  4. Venga

    @Kristofor - I do not have the force SD option on - the lapdock is accepting the 1080i signal. And I just tried a new cable/adapter combination, which is working perfectly (previously a cheap generic adapter caused an inconsistent signal):

    HDMI Male to Micro HDMI Female Adapter - http://www.dealextreme.com/p/hdmi-male-to-micro-hdmi-female-adapter-66079?item=36

    HDMI Female / Female Coupler - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001EPVOQY

    BlueRigger Mini HDMI Male / HDMI Male Cable - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00608XLUM

  5. Kristofor Gieske

    @Venga - do you have the force SD option on in Magic Lantern or is the lapdock accepting the 1080i signal in playback mode?

    I just bought the dock/adapters last night. Excited! I'm planning to try to modify the lapdock to be able to be used with my Atrix 2 as well, so with luck this lapdock will be mega-useful. At $60 it can't be beat!

  6. Venga

    @Dan Rollins (#60) - I just got the adapters and hooked up my T2i to the Motorola Laptop Dock (the one on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004M17D62
    , and it works, mostly. The Dock screen goes blank every so often, and then comes back on. I have to test it out more to figure out what is causing that - seems like it might be a quick time-out/sleep setting somewhere (maybe in Magic Lantern)? Anyway, I'm encouraged at where I am so far....

  7. Venga

    @Leonardo (#61) - see my post #24 - FWIW, I ordered a 36cm HDMI female to mini USB male cable to go straight from the micro HDMI female to HDMI male adapter (connected to the lapdock) to the camera, only to be notified weeks later by DealExtreme that it was out of stock....

  8. Drew Veeneman

    Ok, after trying dome different cables I've given up on using the lapdock with my GH2. It works with many other cameras, but no dice on the Panasonic.

  9. Drew Veeneman

    @pops Any luck getting the GH2 to sync directly with the lapdock? I'm having the same problem. The GH2 will do playback on my lapdock, but doesn't get a signal in live-view mode. To be safe, I tested my hdmi cable with a regular monitor and that worked fine... just not the lapdock.

    Meanwhile, the lapdock works perfectly with my Nex-5n!

  10. Justin

    I just got my cable adapters from China. With the GH2, the lapdock turns on when I put the GH2 in playback mode (pressing the play button in any photo dial mode). but as soon as I exit play mode on the camera, the HDMI signal stops transmitting and the Lapdock says "HDMI Connected No Signal" then shuts back off.
    Need to find a way to trick it to hold the signal when recording...

  11. James Churchman

    got my lapdock for use with my 5D .. love it!!
    odd thing was tho i have 3 adapters for the mini hdmi into the 5D , all slightly different but all work with the 5d into a TV ... oddly out of the 3 only 1 work with the lapdock .. i have no idea why .. maybe like others have said its due to the quality of the cables or length or similar but if you find it does not work with a 5d or t2i or similar try different adapters ( my guess .. the shorter the length the better !)

  12. Leonardo

    I can confirm 5DII does turn on the lapdock. The bad news is image is stretched. Is there some kind of a USB/self powered HDMI gadget that can solve this?
    The micro-hdmi to hdmi adapter stacked with hdmi female-to-female is too tall and puts too much strain on the connector. The lapdock does seem to want a solid connection as the signal is fragile.
    I'm looking for a hdmi female to male extension cable to remove the need for the f2f connector. To use the cross-arm with Manfrotto projector tray requires minimum 2' cable length - and it can't be a crappy 32 AWG one. Any ideas?

  13. I received the final adapters I needed today and with great anticipation plugged it all into my T3i and my T2i.. no go. The Lapdock for Motorola Atrix (this is the version linked to from the original blog post) does not seem to work. I am wondering if it is the resolution or as @Amy suggested, maybe the signal issue. It was odd that plugging it into my iMac worked fine at full resolution. So I will be returning my 2 Lapdocks.

    Has anyone had any luck with a lapdock with a T3i or T2i? If so what kind of Lapdock was it?

  14. Amy Barrett

    Any workaround for the GH-2? Also, my experience with HDMI adapters and cables - One cable would not work with my GH-2 to a 23" monitor. After trying other cables I found out that did work. None were bad cables, worked fin from TV, etc. Just maybe the DSLR signal is not too strong and the length and quality of connector/cable makes more of a difference. So before assuming the monitor is bad experiment with other connection options.

  15. @Emm Not sure how to do that because with the Atrix version it will only power the lapdock with a signal. I just plugged it into my iMac and it did work perfect as a second display, and my iMac is set to 2560x1440 and it wasn't an issue. But since it is only treated as a 2nd display the keyboard didn't work, so the FN key was worthless.. I couldn't adjust brightness, volume, etc. So I don't think I can mess with the resolution either. Maybe the Atrix lapdock isn't a good one?

    I guess the good thing is that it seems that it might be the mini-HDMI adapter that is the problem. I will wait patiently.

    Oh, like @Luke (comment #37) I also had to shave my adapter so it would fit the Lapdock, it had a lot of extra rubber so I used a knife and cut the excess off, works/fits great.

  16. Emm

    Post author

    @Dan Rollins - You don't change it on the camera, you would change it on the Lapdock. Maybe the resolution setting on the Lapdock isn't set properly so it's not displaying anything.

  17. @Emm not sure I can change the resolution output to a monitor on the camera, I just went thru the T3i menu and saw a option called "Ctrl over HDMI", I enabled that... no luck. BUT.. it may be the mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter I have going into the camera.. I plugged it into my HDTV and it will show the display but the slightest movement of the adapter and it cuts out. I won't be able to confidently test it until I get my HK adapters. I am dying to get this thing working!

    Still curious if any T3i & T2i people got the Lapdock Atrix working,

  18. Emm

    Post author

    @Dan Rollins - Someone posted something on here about changing the resolution in the menu. I would check that out, because maybe it's not displaying from the input if the resolution doesn't match?

  19. I got my Lapdock for Atrix last week and the HK adapters are showing up sporadically. I just hooked it up to my T3i and it didn't work, screen is black. I tried my Flip Mino and nothing. I plugged in my HD TV and it at least showed a box on the screen that there was not HDMI signal.. so the TV triggered something. I am really hoping it is my HDMI to Mini adapter, it is older and slightly bent. The new one is in route. All that said.. has anyone been successful using this with a T3i or T2i?
    Cheers

  20. Emm

    Post author

    @Panda - The Lapdock is not a laptop. It's just a screen with a keyboard, and it will display from an HDMI connection.

  21. Panda

    So the camera must be plugged in to make the laptop run?
    Does the laptop run on a windows OS and if so I'm guessing you could install the canon eos utility if it is?

  22. Hi Everyone πŸ™‚ I found this in my inbox from Newegg today: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA0V108S5365&Tpk=9SIA0V108S5365&nm_mc=EMC-GD061212&cm_mmc=EMC-GD061212-_-index-_-Item-_-9SIA0V108S5365

    It's a 13.3" HDMI monitor with 1366 x 768 resolution similar to the Lapdock. It is $168.00 so it makes it quite more expensive, but still cheaper than other options. It is USB powered so some of those cool batteries Emm talked about could work πŸ™‚ I don't have the cash right now, but if someone buys it and thinks it's a worth while, let us know πŸ™‚

  23. My D7000 does 720p out via HDMI. Also 1080i, 576p, and 480p. Should be interesting to test this out. Will also try through my Swivi's passthrough. Considering the current price, I can't refuse. πŸ˜‰ Can probably use this with my tablet, too.

  24. Pingback:

  25. I finally got my adapters together and managed to get an image to display on the atrix lapdock.

    At first I'd tried hooking the lapdock to the hdmi output of an Avid Nitris DX box. The lapdock wouldn't even power up.

    Then I'd tried hooking it to the hdmi output of a Canon 5D Mark III, a Flip HD, and a Creative Vado HD camera. For all of these, the lapdock would power up (indicated with the illumination of a white LED on its trackpad), but the screen remained black for all of these cameras.

    Then I hooked it to the hdmi output of my computer. Finally, an image appeared on the lapdock. I brought up System Preferences/Displays (I'm on a mac) to see the list of available resolution for the device (which identified itself as "MotoAttach"). They are:

    720p
    480p
    1366 x 768
    1344 x 756
    1024 x 576
    800 x 600
    800 x 600 (stretched)
    720 x 576
    640 x 480
    640 x 480 (stretched)

    1366 x 768 seems to be the device's native resolution.

    So I guess none of the cameras I tried happen to output any of these resolutions over HDMI, so the lapdock doesn't display anything for them. I'm curious what cameras do output 720p over HDMI (or one of the other resolutions the lapdock will take). Or maybe doing a passthrough using a SmallHD DP4 will mess with the signal from one of these cameras in such a way that the lapdock will display it?

    I wonder if maybe the lapdock would display the signal from a T2i or 7D?

  26. Barley

    My Sony bluray bx-18 fits underneath this thing perfectly.

    Anyone figure out how to turn off/control the volume on the speakers?

    I'm a little nervous about cracking it open to snip the speaker wires:)
    Fitting it with a headphone jack would be ideal.

  27. pops

    Another update:

    1. HP Wireless HDMI arrived and works as advertised.
    2. VAAS Battery that Emm found on Ebay also arrived and works as advertised. It will power the transmit portion from the camera output (2.1 amp USB). I like the size of the unit. I've not conducted a duration test yet but don't expect any issues.
    3. I've been successful with using the LapDock as the battery source for the receive portion of the wireless HDMI. However, I had to utilize a cable I had laying around. The cable normally powers a external CD drive or something similar. USB to round 5.5 (I believe). I didn't need to use both USB ports from the LapDock.
    4. I now need to figure out how to trick the GH2. I really don't want to use the DP4 as a pass through in all applications. However, the GH2 without the DP4 won't pass the signal directly to the LapDock. Or... I've not figured out the right sequence yet. Ultimately, the GH2 wants the external display to be turned on prior to turning on the GH2 for proper sync to occur.
    5. I'm really stoked at this point.

  28. Greg

    @Luke I ended up disassembling the dock portion of the Lapdock to expose the USB and Micro HDMI cords so they were not stuck in the plastic port and allowed me to freely move the cord around and work with my phone as well as being able to easily plug into my female Micro HDMI connector w/o any tension to the port. I'm sure the cord can be gaff taped or retro fitted better to the body in the future so there is not accidental pulling on the cord

    Here is my analysis on the Lapdock as a client monitor:

    Pros: Cheap, internally powered by lapdock batteries, instant [as in, no power button] on as soon as there is a HDMI connection flowing through

    Cons: Laptop size with keyboard gets in the way, stretching, takes about 2 seconds before signal is recognized and turns on screen, tethered via HDMI

    I did a couple tests with my DP4 + Lapdock monitor. Connected my Canon 7D to the DP4 via HDMI and pass-thru out my DP4 to the Motorola Lapdock. I found out that if I start up the DP4, turn on my 7D everything works as it should be. Then I connect the Lapdock's HDMI to the DP4 pass-thru and the image shown on the Lapdock is the correct ratio [shown in image below, 2 & 3]. Once I turn the DSLR off then back on, the image on the Lapdock becomes stretched like previous attempts directly from the 7D to the Lapdock [image 1]. So it seems like the DP4 can correct the screen ratio when sending out as long as the DP4 is powered on before the 7D (and with the lapdock unplugged), but any other order of powering up and plugging in the system results to a stretched image on the Lapdock. The DP4's software allows the image on it's own device become full screen and unstretched, but does not follow through the HDMI out all the time.

    So the method that works for me is plug in the DP4 to the camera, power on the DP4, next power on the camera, then plug in the Lapdock. A real quick production setting might not allow for such a precise method, but it works if you're willing to tread on the extreme-budget end of the camera equipment spectrum. I hope anyone else trying out the Lapdock as a monitor develops a better method. It is possible SmallHD might be able update their software that would allow image scaling correction via HDMI out all the time, but until then this works for most low end productions.

  29. Luke

    Did everyone else needed to shave their adapters? I didn't want to put too much stress on the micro hdmi on the lapdock, so I took out my knife and shaved as much excessive plastic so that it fit snug....

  30. Luke

    I got my adapter from HK today. I ordered on 26th and recieved it on the 3rd. 8 days is not too bad.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250997090180&ssPageName=ADME:L:OU:US:1123

    It works great with my 7d, and tomorrow I will try it with my hdmi splitter and dp6.

    As for a solution while using this on a tripod... Manfrotto make a 131ddb for $130, but you could get this chinese version for half!

    http://www.amazon.com/Vanguard-Multi-Mount-Horizontal-Mounting-Multiple/dp/B001HBIYFO/ref=sr_1_28?ie=UTF8&qid=1338867934&sr=8-28

    I also know that manfrotto makes a laptop table, but I haven't found a cheaper version yet.
    http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-183-Projector-Table-Attachment/dp/B001HS697C/ref=pd_cp_p_2

  31. Greg

    Finally got my HDMI adapter for my DSLR 7D to Lapdock connection. The only problem is the image showing up is stretched horizontally because of the size ratio of the lapdock screen vs the DSLR's screen. Beyond that, it's a great side monitor, and I have no doubt it would help pull focus for tripod shots. Just make sure you have a long enough HDMI cord or a wireless solution.

    Next step, investing in a wireless HDMI transmitter and possibly a portable power source for this.

  32. pops

    Update:

    I received everything needed to input a HDMI signal from my GH2's to the LapDock. My findings are as followed.

    1. LapDock powers up with HDMI signal and works as expected.
    2. I've not been successful with adjusting the brightness/contrast of the display. The quality is good enough to use as a preview/framing or client viewing monitor. But... it is not as optimal as the DP4 or DP6 obviously. Viewing angle is quite important. The LapDock can look a little washed out if viewing at off axis.
    3. Unfortunately, I've not been successful with running the GH2 directly to the LapDock. The GH2 likes to see the monitor ON prior to syncing to it externally.
    4. LapDock works flawless with the GH2 when using the SmallHD DP4 as a pass through.
    5. I'm still optimistic it will work with the HP Wireless HDMI system I have on order. However, it hasn't arrived yet.
    6. Overall, I think it can't be beat for 75 dollars.

    Please feel free to hit me up with direct questions. I hope to do further testing over the next couple days.

    FYI - the HDMI ebay adapter does need to have the plastic portion of the plug ground down a bit.

  33. Drew Veeneman

    I figured out a rigging solution for the lapdock.

    A cheap wooden letter-size clip board holds the lapdock very well. Just Cut about 2-3 inches off the bottom(so the dimensions are the same as the lapdock when it's in the clip)... and drill holes were ever you want to bolt-on.

    The back of the lapdock fits in the big clip perfectly.

  34. Hugo

    Any chance of removing the keyboard part as use it as a field monitor mounted on the rig?

  35. pops

    @ Nathan - I will keep this thread updated as I move forward.

    The LapDock should be fine to power the receiver (5V 2A) typical power consumption 5 w. The transmitter is the same. The biggest negative is the size of this system. They have brought out a new version that is 3d compatible and has a much smaller transmitter (jump drive) but reviews have been horrible along with a higher price. So... being an early experimenter/adopter I'm ok with the footprint for now. Range should be 16 to roughly 32 ft. Although reports have seen higher than 50 ft. I may try that USB charger that Emm posted up today for the transmit side. I agree the size, mounting, and weight are somewhat of an issue for the transmitter. I'm not too worried about the receiver size at this point. The LapDock is really light for it's size. The only two negatives I foresee with the LapDock are the screen opens really easy with not much tension and the hdmi adapters/connectors will be stress on the connection over time (so one must keep that in mind).

    Information on the HP unit below.
    http://www.engadget.com/photos/hps-wireless-tv-connect-transmitter-and-receiver-hit-fcc/

  36. Nathan Smith

    @ALL WHO BOUGHT A LAPDOCK

    Yes it will NOT turn on in anyway without an HDMI signal present. My Chines adapters from ebay took about 10 days to arrive.

    @POPS let me know how the wireless adapter thing goes. I confirmed that you will have access to 2 or 3 5volt USB connections on the lapdock. If that transmitter works well I would be very interested in picking one of those up.

  37. pops

    ok I just confirmed our theory is correct. HDMI input signal must be present for it to turn on. By the way, I also purchased the HP WIRELESS TV CONNECT from ebay (refurbished) for 90 shipped. I'm very excited to see how all this comes together. I still don't think less than 200 is bad for this type of system. Worth a shot I believe. Hopefully, it won't be a complete waste of funds. Although, it wouldn't be the first or last.

  38. pops

    @Venga - Thanks for the response. It's nice to see I'm not alone. I ordered the adapter from china the same day I ordered via Amazon. Hard to say how long it's going to take of course. Anyway, I'm pleasantly impressed with the look/feel quality so far. However, the only thing I really care about is the display which I can't comment on yet obviously :(.

  39. pops

    Everyone, I just received the lapdock this evening. Ultimately, I'm waiting for the proper hdmi adapters to arrive from China. Presently, it won't turn on/power up in anyway. My expectation is it will once it senses some kind of video-hdmi input signal. If my assumption is wrong mine is doa then. Has anyone else purchased one to experiment with? Obviously, I don't have the correct phone to work with it.

  40. Nathan Smith

    @ Venga that combination would work fine. That is basicly what is shown in the video I made.

  41. luke kwan

    i didnt have an option for express shipping at dx... mine looks like if it is coming from china...

  42. Joe

    I just ordered both from DealXtreme for 7.99 with Express shipping, if I remember correctly they are US based right?

  43. Luke

    Has anyone found the necessary micro female type d to mini male adapter I the US?

    I tried mono price, eBay, amazon. eBay has them in china, but I'm looking to recieve it quicker.

    I've also googled for it but haven't been able to find it.

  44. pops

    I bit.... worth a shot at $75 for a hdmi self powered monitor... I'm thinking of a few applications but.. mostly for my jib/crane. I'm not doing critical focusing normally. Plus... I'm going to forge ahead with a wireless setup. Granted the wireless sd setup you posted the other day would run about the same $$ in the end (150.00) or less.. but.. I'll try this for now. I would rather keep my smallhd's available for other important things.

  45. @Seenematic - I totally know what you're saying. Good thought. I would not use it for a monitor with the tripod or monopod. Way too big... the keyboard does not need to be there.

    I am using it for a mini crane/jib monitor (will put a custom bracket/plate by the end of it. It I would use it on corporate/still shoots since I have magic lantern on 60D.

    PLus.. I get to play xbox 360 on the go! haha.

  46. @Emm and Everyone

    RE: Converting to Wireless?

    You said: "The Lapdock with it’s internal rechargeable battery can be a remote monitor receiving the HD video feed and power the Asus through dual USB power without extra batteries (theory)."

    We now know the usb ports ARE powered.

    Also, what did you mean by "power the Asus"? What is that referring to?

    I'm concerned about the functional issues of having the dock plugged into the camera in real world shooting scenarios where we need to move the camera around, pan, etc.

    Are there any small wireless adapters for transmitting HDMI that could turn this into a wireless monitor?

  47. Way too big and bulky IMO. My advice is to save those $70 and spend it on a LCD monitor that will at least let you change contrast, brightness and saturation.

  48. awesome... glad I took a look at that... i ordered (unfortunately the $72 lapdock) from Amazon and ordered the cables on ebay... coming from China so it may take a while before I test it. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the great find Nathan... love the DIY thinking there.

  49. Nathan Smith

    @EMM hang on thats the mistake I made at first. its very important to note the lapdock has a MICRO HDMI male connection. Its about half the size of the MINI hdmi connection that is on our canon cameras.

    See my flickr link for detailed pics but it goes like this.

    MICRO FEMALE HDMI to STANDARD HDMI (the only Micro female HDMI option out there?) (((( http://bit.ly/JEP3bW ))))

    Then

    Standard HDMI coupler (Female to female) http://bit.ly/Jz8lps

    Now you have a standard FEMALE HDMI socket on your lapdock. From there you would treat the lapdock like any standard HDMI TV/MONITOR you need a MINI MALE to STANDARD MALE cable to plug in a typical camera.

  50. Luke

    One would need to look for a

    Micro (type d) female to a hdmi male (type a-standard full size)
    Still looking for a link but it seems Fry's would have them locally.

    Female type a to female type a- coupler

    Instead of using a hdmi cable and another adapter... Like the original YouTube user shows.

    I would get a...
    Male (type a) hdmi to male mini (type c) cable

  51. Rob

    The resolution of this device is 1366x768. Also, you might need an MHL adapter to connect to your camera, then adapter to regular male-to-male HDMI cord. But a regular regular to mini HDMI might work, too.

    I'm apprehensive of the glossy screen more than anything.

  52. Emm

    Post author

    @Joel - Not sure exactly but basically the right male or female hdmi or mini hdmi adapter. Nothing too difficult to find from what i have heard. Ill try to get more info.

  53. Joel

    Emm, Great price from a dependable manufacturor. When you say it will display your camera lcd "with the right cables", I wonder what those might be?

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