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Thinkpad Stack review: Lenovo's unique stackable peripherals are made for travel

Jon L. Jacobi | Feb. 1, 2016
The Stack is a great idea marred by a meh implementation.

The hard drive’s power state is controlled by the router so it doesn’t have its own power button. It also turns on automatically with USB, so that’s not an issue. In my first hands-on, the power light didn’t stay on, but that was fixed by a firmware upgrade.

I had no difficulty connecting to either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands of the Stack 802.11ac router. Range and throughput were both quite decent. The router may also serve as a bridge to another Wi-Fi network, though it still functions as an independent network—you can't inherit the parent's DHCP assignments or network resources.

3G and 4G dongles are supported via the router's USB port, but the documentation only mentions types used in China. Lenovo said just about any module should work. Dial-up is also mentioned in the documentation, but the app doesn't allude to USB modems. I can tell you that the Shark Leopard modem (yes, I know) that I keep around out of a sense of nostalgia didn't register on the router's radar. If 3G/4G/dial-up capabilities are important you, bug the company for more info. Maybe it'll be more conscientious about detailing such things in the future.

Nicely, especially in light of the poor speaker sound, there's a DLNA server on board. It's labeled miniDLNA, which I'm guessing is because it only streams music. But it does supports a nice variety of audio file types including MP3, WMA, M4A, and even OGG.

Weighing in at 8.8 ounces, the power-cell battery is worthy of the name, providing a whopping 10,000mAh of juice that will keep the stack operating for a decent amount of time. If, as I said before, you detach the battery when you're not using the stack.

As with other travel batteries, you can use it to charge your mobile devices. In this, case, two at a time via dual standard-sized USB Type-A ports.

A great concept that misses the mark

I like the Stack as a concept, and once I’d endured the pain of setting it up and debugging it, I enjoyed using it. But for $390, I'd like to see more attention to detail, documentation for the U.S., and much better sound. 

 

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