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Laptop Sidecar

Peripheral enclosure that looks like a laptop computer but isn't
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Laptop Sidecar

Certain creative computer users need lots of peripherals such as extra displays, external hard drives, a graphics tablet, a second DVD, to name a few. Sometimes these users have to be on the road which means packing a laptop and everything else into one or more totes and then plugging them all together at some remote site.

The laptop sidecar is a portable enclosure that holds just what is needed for a given project. It looks like a laptop when folded. When opened it may have a display in the usual place. The lower half may have a graphics tablet or other input device where the keyboard would be. The inside would contain a power supply and any of the following as needed: display circuitry, hard drive(s), DVD drive, battery.

The sidecar connects to the computer by Firewire, USB, or maybe a dedicated card bus cable. If it has a display then it also connects to the computer's external video display port. If the sidecar has a battery, a power cord can be connected between it and the computer for extended use. It also has extra Firewire and/or USB ports for those peripherals that don't fit.

Say you are a Photoshop artist. Your sidecar has a display, two 2.5" hard drives, a graphics tablet, and a battery. You have two hour layover in an airport. You find a small empty table in a coffee shop. You unpack your laptop and sidecar, place them side by side on the table, and connect them with power and USB cables. You connect the sidecar to a wall outlet if one is available. Now you have double the screen real estate, plenty of storage, and a tablet and very little in the way of cable mess. When it is time to move you simply disconnect, fold, pack, and go.

A video editor might choose to replace the graphics tablet with a jog shuttle wheel and have additional hard drives connected by Firewire.

Different laptops position their connections differently so a few cables are necessary but if a computer manufacturer wished to exploit this idea they could design matching laptops and sidecars with proprietary connectors that would allow them to connect directly to each other.

toolhacker, Jan 08 2010

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       It's better than drilling a hole in a suitcase, and throwing all your crap in there. But, the trick I think would in the design (from a companies perspective), how do you accommodate the different sizes in your space, for different peripherals based on all the various needs people have, in one product?
leinypoo13, Jan 08 2010
  

       [21q], surely the smartphone can -be- the mouse? Or the mouse is obsolete since one just moves one's finger in the air.
pocmloc, Jan 08 2010
  

       //You have two hour layover in an airport.//   

       So long as it isn't Luton, which has a) no free wi-fi and b) no power sockets. Despite being "one of London's major Airports".   

       //laptops are gonna become obsolete soon//   

       We'll see about that in ten years!   

       The main problem with this idea is the number of different configurations that will be needed. The meta-idea here is a laptop-form product that is sufficiently modular to allow buyers to assemble all the peripherals relevant to them into a single package. The connectivity should be relatively simple (USB3.0 should handle even hard drives) but getting all the hardware to fit physically into one frame requires re-manufacturing all the currently available hardware. Maybe more physical standardisation is called for, along the lines of the ISO standard for car stereos.   

       Some big issues here, but [+] for the sentiment.
wagster, Jan 08 2010
  

       There seems to be lot of talk about smartphones in an idea that is clearly about laptops.   

       It might be possible to overcome some of [wagster]'s objections by offering some standard preconfigured combinations, but otherwise I agree with those objections.
tatterdemalion, Jan 08 2010
  

       There was a very interesting analysis by Ian Pearson, a "futurologist" who argues that although we cannot predict whether we will still be using laptops, desktops or phones in 50 years we have always and will always divide our technology into pocket, portable and not-portable sizes. He predicts we will continue to use these three basic sizes even though the capabilites of each will increase and converge.
wagster, Jan 09 2010
  

       [+] I can recall times when I've wanted this.. but doesn't this defeat the purpose of a laptop in the first place? When I worked in corporate America and did a lot of my work on the plane, I had to request a better equipped laptop because I felt very awkward asking my neighbors in the window and aisle seats to hold my external peripherals.
Jscotty, Jan 10 2010
  
      
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