So PC World has put together a slideshow showcasing 15 future laptop concepts. A very interesting look at the innovative and imaginative minds of designers and nerds alike in thinking of what the laptop could eventually become.
I will highlight my top 3 Favourites and Why:
RollTop : By Orkin Design
The coolness factor of this concept is off-the-charts. I really like the neat, all-in-one, concept that is well integrated with a cutting-edge design that optimizes portability. The red decal on version 2.0 is much more striking and appealing (at least to me) than the blue decal in version 1.0. The main idea here is to combine the benefits of a very large touch-screen tablet (approximately 27”) with a keyboard, web camera, loud-speakers, power supply, and carrying case into one device.
More details from the designers:
Rolltop is not a “virtual and futuristic” gadget, existing only on the screen of your computer as in the most of similar concepts and visions! Most of the existing design concepts usually have been developed without any deep technologic and ergonomic elaboration and often could be difficult or even impossible realized. From the beginning Rolltop has been developed as a real future product. During its development a lot of different scenarios (e.g. usability, functionality etc.) were simulated. Moreover we have included in Rolltop the best worldwide ergonomic, mechanic and electronic practices.
The device of the flexible display allows a new concept in notebook design growing out of the traditional “bookformed” laptop into unfurling and convolving portable computer. Rolltop incorporates both latest high-tech devices and a new brand design techniques into a computer that will increase the quality and productivity of the designers work. On top of everything else no laptop bag needed – all computer utilities from an interactive pen through power supply to the holding belt are integrated in Rolltop. This is really an all-in-one gadget.
They are currently looking for partners for funding and finalizing the design of Rolltop (presumably 3.0) and sourcing the components required for completing the prototype.
- The ability to have a very large tablet multi-touch surface and a laptop with a spacious keyboard is quite convenient
- The All-In-One design really simplifies the travel aspect of moving an office to a remote location
- The ability to combine an entire desktop station into a footprint roughly half the total cubic space of today’s 17” laptops is pretty awesome
- How comfortable would it be to type on a completely flat and smooth “keyboard” surface?
- It’s current design does not seem to have the option of being battery powered and looks like it relies on a power supply to turn on (thus killing its potential for absolute mobility)
- Aside from the potential costs (I’d imagine it would be very high), the option of hardware upgrades seems very limited with the design specifications
- In terms of a separate, stand-alone unit, it is very portable but the round, thick, cylindrical design would be quite difficult to pack into today’s conventional backs, and storage options
Dual Screen Tablet/Laptops:
So apparently, creating dual screen tablet/laptops is quickly becoming the next big thing in portable computing as there are many companies preparing for this new segment including big names like: ASUS, Toshiba, Acer, and Sony. Even MSI (very popular motherboard and videocard manufacturer) is also in the dual-screen tablet scene.
Almost all of the designs feature dual touch-screen surfaces of varying dimensions (7”-10”) with at least one of the panels able to convert to a keyboard.
Out of the 5 designs, I like the Asus design the best. It features a seamless large screen that is literally foldable. The others have a fairly large bezel separating the two panels and in my opinion is quite unsightly. I also feel that the Sony, despite usually being at the forefront for designing products that makes technology just stunning had the ugliest design for a dual-screen tablet out of the 5. However, there is mention of a Sony Vaio line-up that will incorporate dual touch-screens and have an almost invisible bezel and should look amazing as per Sony Standard. In terms of UI, Acer’s Iconia seems to be the most intuitive and simple to use. It really optimizes the multi-touch capabilities of the device.
- Improved ergonomics vs. a tablet for long duration typing and device usage on a desk or flat surface
- Minimizes the footprint of the device and also doubles the usable screen space (best of both worlds)
- May also allow multiple, simultaneous users to allow collaboration and teamwork
- Every prototype is far more expensive than the single screen tablets available in the market
- Lack of tactile feedback or physical keyboard may be a significant learning curve for certain users
Links to Company Designs:
Projection PCs: NEC
Okay, so you’ve stuck around this far and for that you will be rewarded. I’ve saved the best for last. The world of James Bond and Mission Impossible is finally entering our world.
Projection PCs are computers that are stored on small devices that is easily hidden or disguised as an everyday item (pen, shoe, sunglasses, etc.)
One of the coolest is a double projection computer stored inside a pen. It has a laser keyboard (which you can get at SW-Box) and a projector for the monitor.
A similar idea is a allowing direct manipulation of the screen using a specialized digital pen and a projected screen.
A more detailed description of the technology that NEC is developing is available on their site:
“It seems that information terminals are infinitely getting smaller. However, we will continue to manipulate them with our hands for now. We have visualized the connection between the latest technology and the human, in a form of a pen. P-ISM is a gadget package including five functions: a pen-style cellular phone with a handwriting data input function, virtual keyboard, a very small projector, camera scanner, and personal ID key with cashless pass function. P-ISMs are connected with one another through short-range wireless technology. The whole set is also connected to the Internet through the cellular phone function. This personal gadget in a minimalistic pen style enables the ultimate ubiquitous computing.”
I am really excited about the possibility of having my computer stored on two pens (or better yet one pen) that projects to a screen and also a keyboard. Our team at SW-Box had a lot of fun in playing with and testing out the Magic Cube (Virtual Laser Keyboard). It works great with my phone (HTC HD7) which has a built-in stand so it easily converts into a very portable laptop in a pinch (using Microsoft Office).
- Super Cool Design and can make anyone feel like a certified spy or secret agent
- Easily the most portable computer you can have (at the moment because microchip embedded into our brains aren’t possible)
- Did I mention it was super cool???
- Outrageously expensive at the moment ($30,000US for the prototype) but then again, it’s a computer inside a pen!
- There are potential issues with battery-life
Well, I can’t really think of any other cons other than I can’t afford one right now. So what do you guys think? Which one if your favourite and why?