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Blurring the Line Between Laptops and Desktops

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the large-smallness dept.

176

bart_scriv writes "BusinessWeek looks at the latest offerings in ultra-portable PCs, offering up some specs and pictures. Some of the highlinghts: removeable 19-20 inch LCD dispays, dual NVIDIA cards and customizable exteriors. On the downside, some of these machines weigh almost 20 pounds and all of them sport a pretty high price tag — they probably won't be replacing desktops or laptops anytime soon."

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176 comments

weigh 20 punds? (4, Interesting)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564469)

That's not a portable! My laptop is heavy at 8lbs and it sucks to carry around with all of the gadgets and gizmos. Heck... even my SFF is lighter than 20 pounds. I love the concept but the weight has to improve big time.

Re:weigh 20 punds? (4, Funny)

Cleon (471197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564501)

Oy, you kids. When I was young, in the heady days of 8088 processors, the laptops weighed ten pounds at LEAST. And we were THANKFUL!

Re:weigh 20 punds? (4, Funny)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564529)

LOL

I bet that really sucked carrying up a hill both ways too. :-)

Re:weigh 20 punds? (3, Funny)

Cleon (471197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564562)

In the SNOW, too! ;)

(I actually do have an old Zenith 8088 laptop that weighs at least 12 pounds.)

Re:weigh 20 punds? (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564656)

That's nothing... In the ancient days before laptops, there were "luggables" that were often mistaken for suitcases and frequently beaten up by gorillas at the airports.

Re:weigh 20 punds? (3, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564931)

frequently beaten up by gorillas at the airports.

that's one thing that hasn't changed, but the excuse has ;)

Re:weigh 20 punds? (3, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565482)

I remember those, some were made by osborne and some were made by compac; I think they had 5.5 inch CRT's and the keyboard doubled as the cover.

First real laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564757)

Re:weigh 20 punds? (3, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564999)

The first laptop a company ever issued me was a 486 but it did weigh a solid 10 pounds or so. To add insult to injury it didn't come with an internal modem (Or the company was too cheap to spring for it) so I also had to carry along an external modem and power supply for same. The laptop's own power supply was only slight less obtrusive than the nuclear reactor tower you get with the Xbox 360.

You ain't lived until you've had 15 minutes to get from one side of the Atlanta airport (Or Heathrow if you're on that side of the pond) lugging all that crap along. Fortunately that was a more innocent time. If you tried that sprint today the TSA would probably shoot you.

Re:weigh 20 punds? (4, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564520)

You're a wimp!

I'd love to be able to carry, or cheaply ship a real computer to sites when I have to travel, or even set it up back at the hotel rooms so I can squash bugs, compile, and do database stuff on a *real* computer.

It really sucks trying to do some sort of data manipulation involving millions of records, tens of gigabytes at a time, on a pentium M laptop with 512 megs of ram and one of its rinky-dink little hard drives. And many times the space is so tight on the clients server, I really have no choice during an upgrade to migrate the whole thing to the laptop (or usb drive) and watch the poor thing suffer overnight.

I've been trying to talk the boss into letting me put together a high-specced shuttle cube PC that I could ship out with a 15' LCD for just such an occasion. Once I had them overnight my office desktop to me, because it was apparent that my laptop just couldnt cut it.

So, like plenty of technologies, just because it's not useful to YOU doesn't mean it isnt useful to anyone.

Re:weigh 20 punds? (3, Insightful)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564573)

True.. .but if disk performance is your problem for that amount of data... why not use a portable drive? Laptops are powerful enough.. the only limitation is the disk performance.

Plus.. making the point that this isn't really portable is still valid. My SFF is a desktop just like anyone else's.. yet it's a lot lighter than this hybrid they are referring to. What's the purpose? I think the innovation is great, but it needs work.

Why are you so ornery? Is there something wrong with making valid points?

Not just disk performance (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564616)

... processor performance is still gimp and in general the video cards in laptops (vs luggables) suck. Those are 2 big points for developers. The rest is just gravy :)

Re:Not just disk performance (3, Insightful)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564650)

What?! Laptops awesome performance. There are lots of gamers that use laptops and at work we use high performance laptops as our demo road show that are more powerful than our blade server clusters. What you smokin? The only performance dig we've ever measured are the hard disks. I think you are buying cheap laptops and expecting the performance of expensive workstations. Or are looking at the wrong laptops for your needs.

Re:Not just disk performance (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564979)

I know not a single gamer who uses a laptop as a primary device. Desktops are much, much cheaper for comparable performance, offer greater options in terms of overclocking and cooling, and can be custom-built and easily upgraded. There aren't very many reasons for a gamer to use a laptop instead of a desktop; in fact, the only one I can really think of is the obvious portability that a laptop offers, which isn't demanded in most applications.

Re:Not just disk performance (1, Informative)

tbmcmullen (940544) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565018)

Hi, I'm Tyler. Now you do.

Re:Not just disk performance (1)

Kuxman (876286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565085)

Lan parties...

Re:Not just disk performance (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565166)

Yea, but most gamers I know either:

A) Haul their desktop to a LAN party

or

B) Use a laptop that's not their primary machine.

Besides, since LAN parties can be as much about E-Peen rigs as the actual gaming, most gamers just go for the desktop. Only when you literally need to be able to pull out a computer and game for a few minutes at a time in varying locations is a laptop worthwhile.

Re:Not just disk performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565168)

I've never seen anyone bring a laptop to a LAN party.

Re:Not just disk performance (1)

Wicko (977078) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564992)

But there are a lot more desktop gamers. You just don't have the same expandibility, and you can't really overclock. Little things like that drive gamers to desktops. Not to mention laptop keyboards are horrible in comparison to desktop keyboards, I don't think that there are any ergonomic laptop keyboards are there?

Re:Not just disk performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565151)

Slow HDD does not have to be a problem. Hitachi GST sells 100GB 7200 RPM mobile HDDs.

Re:weigh 20 punds? (1)

punkr0x (945364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564622)

Wouldn't it be *much* easier to allow yourself remote access from your laptop to a "beefier" machine in the office for such purposes? Or since that probably wouldn't work very well trying to transport gigs of data back to your office to be converted... slap a spare hard drive in the client's server? 20 lbs is HEAVY...

Re:weigh 20 punds? (1)

foamrotreturns (977576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565434)

I agree with this comment entirely. It's nonsensical to do raw number crunching on a mobile platform. Instead, you should be tunneling into a server with some real horsepower with SSH or a VPN, and then possibly connecting the GUI as well. RDP and VNC can both be tunneled through SSH. Once you're done doing all of the number crunching, then you can transfer the data back over. If the client needs the data crunched on-site, tell them to buy their own server rack.

Re:weigh 20 punds? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564809)

Sounds like you need a server or workstation.

Can you setup SSH aka putty and just log remotely into a real machine for work?

If its a unix or linux box you can even do X11 remote port forwarding if you want a desktop.

Manipulating mass pieces of data is unusual for a portable system designed to get powerpoint presentations and read email?

Re:weigh 20 punds? (3, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564930)

Well, I have a real laptop computer in front of me and I do all my work on it. It is a DELL Latitude D810. 2GB 533MHZ DDR2 RAM (2x1GM modules,) 2.13GHz Centrino CPU, 100GB 7200RPM HD, 128MB Video memory (ATI,) 15.4"WU 1900x1200 screen, removable DVD+/-RW 8X IDE NEC, removable second battery. It has all the ports that I need, including some ports I don't need. Everything weighs under 2.3Kg. It's a lease, I pay 208CAD/mo for 2 years (I got this laptop a year ago now,) and after 2 years I will buy it out for 1 dollar.

It is all I need in a computer, really.

Re:weigh 20 punds? (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564998)

The Shuttle sounds like a good idea but why bother with a monitor, presumably you have your laptop with you just remote in with that. a wireless G card and a carrying strap screwed to the top of the shuttle and your good to go.

Re:weigh 20 punds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565215)

That kind of volume of data should be processed by some big hardware located somewhere fixed and remotely accessible through the network.

so you're the one who lost all those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565412)

So you're the one who lost all those Social Security records!

involving millions of records, tens of gigabytes at a time, on a pentium M lapt

Re:weigh 20 punds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565460)

Not to sound like an ass, but have you ever heard of VNC? Just remotely connect into your desktop computer from your laptop and then you get the best of both worlds.

And if you're worried about security (as well you should be), have the firewall at work block the VNC port but allow the SSH port, then use this little trick:

ssh yourUsername@yourWorkComputer -L 59XX:127.0.0.1:59XX (where XX is the VNC server number you chose)

Then tell your VNC client to connect to 127.0.0.1:XX and both the client and server will "think" its counterpart application is located on the same machine, so you get the security of SSH and a full GUI interface thanks to VNC.

If your client (laptop) computer is running Windows, you can achieve this with a combination of Cygwin and TightVNC. If your server (work desktop) computer is running Windows, well, first, God help you for running a multi-gigabyte database on Windows, and second, I personally know of no way to do this except if you can use a Unix/Linux box as a "go-between." Basically, you SSH+VNC into a Unix/Linux box, then rdesktop into the Windows machine, assuming its Windows 2000 or greater (if you're running a multi-gigabyte database on Windows 98, please, kill yourself now).

Re:weigh 20 punds? (2, Insightful)

Zzyzygy (189883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564603)

That's not a portable! My laptop is heavy at 8lbs and it sucks to carry around with all of the gadgets and gizmos. Heck... even my SFF is lighter than 20 pounds. I love the concept but the weight has to improve big time.

Methinks you are missing the point of TFA. They're comparing apples-to-oranges; like comparing Compaq Portable PC, or luggable [oldcomputers.net] , to the laptops (or "ultra-portibles") of the time. I can't cite specific articles, but I do remember reading about the luggable-portable debates in early issues of PC magazine, back around 1987 or so.

-Scott

Re:weigh 20 punds? (4, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564642)

"That's not a portable! My laptop is heavy at 8lbs and it sucks to carry around with all of the gadgets and gizmos. Heck... even my SFF is lighter than 20 pounds."

It's a lot more portable than the case, kb, mouse, monitor, and speakers I have attached to it. Gotta put it into perspective. Some people read 'portable' as "I don't mind flying across the country with it", and some read it as "I can fold it up and take it to the office".

Re:weigh 20 punds? (5, Informative)

trb (8509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564674)

It may be argued that a 20 lb PC is portable. It may not be argued that it is "ultra-portable." "Portable ultra-PC," maybe. "Ultra-portable PC," no. (Note that this phrasing is an error in the slashdot lead, not in the article itself.)

Try "luggable" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564481)

What's "ultra-portable" about a 20" form factor and 20lbs of weight?

Re:Try "luggable" (1)

vldragon (981127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564503)

the "ultra-portable" is refering to the Q1 which is very small (compared to the laptop).

Re:Try "luggable" (3, Insightful)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564511)

I believe they mean "portable relative to other desktop computers".

Re:Try "luggable" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564599)

It says "ultra portable PC", not "ultra portable laptop".

Simple. (4, Funny)

treeves (963993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564692)

If "ultraviolet" means light that is beyond violet "ultra-portable" means beyond portable. i.e. it's too heavy to be considered portable.

Re:Simple. (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564942)

If that's the case, these should be called "infra-portables". As in less than portable, or lower portabilty. Particularly when compared to a fridge, an unconscious horse or a medium-sized country.

Re:Try "luggable" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564749)

I am about 250 lbs and I am "ultra portable".. my form factor is good due to my height, but hey

Well (5, Insightful)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564487)

The worst of both worlds. Big and heavy, thus hard to move around. Performance hit and battery life woes too!

Re:Well (1)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564597)

I didn't think your post was funny... I think it's dead on!

Prior art (5, Funny)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564493)

I've heard this guy [chadhorn.com] has just filed a lawsuit. Apparently he holds the patent for method and aparatus for blurring the line between laptops and desktops.

Re:Prior art (1)

MrNougat (927651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565340)

Were I a patent attorney, I would argue that that is prior art for a shouldertop. He might have something on wearable computers, though.

Ultra-portable? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564499)

What the hell gives those things the name ultra-portable? For that matter, who would actually want any of these things? It has none of the advantages of a laptop, so basically it's a desktop that costs more than most laptops, with mid to high-range performance.

Re:Ultra-portable? (2, Interesting)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564561)

It would be good for lan parties, but I suspect it's really a way to get people to take their work PC home.

That being said, I'm sure that since the margins for these things are higher it will soon become unfashionable to carry around a lightweight computer and have an absence of lower back problems. Long live marketing!

Two words: pen drive (1)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564671)

>>It would be good for lan parties, but I suspect it's really a way to get people to take their work PC home.

2Gb Pen drive. 4 ounces vs 25 pounds.

I agree with your sentiment. These luggables are a solution in search of a problem.

PowerBooks (-1, Troll)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564534)

My Titanium PowerBook is more powerful than your average desktop (except for the slow HD). It handles multimedia perfectly and has TV and audio outputs. I haven't gotten it to choke on a single game yet. So I can't imagine getting something that's only a little more powerful and weighs 20 lbs. These look like overbeefed laptops and I just don't see the point.

Re:PowerBooks (1)

mr_flea (776124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564590)

What you've just described is simply a high-end laptop. My 2-year-old Toshiba laptop even has a 7200 rpm hard drive (upgraded, but still 7200 rpm). It also has tv out and handles multimedia well. I can attach a 2nd monitor and watch hdtv-resolution video with no problem at all. I frequently play Unreal Tournament 2004 at 1024x768 with 32 bit color, and it does fine (unless I max out the quality settings with stuff like trilinear filtering, at which time it overheats the improperly cooled video card).

Re:PowerBooks (4, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564628)

While I own a powerbook, just about any 12-15" laptop with a decent video out, and a couple of USB ports works great both ways.

my 12" powerbook normally sites on my desk with a USB keyboard and mouse plugged and on the keyboard tray and a 19" LCD off to the side. I can use both displays at the same time(a feature found in all OS's now a days) and the hot swap mini dvi port means i can unplug the 19"lcd and plug in my 27" tv, sit back and watch a dvd. Both displays automatically switch to the settings I like for each.

Then when i do travel I just have to carry a 4.5 pound notebook, and a light case containing a couple of cords a USB travel mouse. Most of the time while traveling i don't even both with carrying a power supply because I have 4 hours of wireless web surfing, and more if i turn off the wireless card.

That's called the best of both worlds. And as I stated you can do that with XP or linux as well(not sure about hot swap monitors for either, but that's relatively minor)

Re:PowerBooks (0, Flamebait)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564769)

Can I run Visual Studio .NET and a full install of SQL Server 2005 on it with relatively large (20 gig or so) databases?

If not, it's absolutely useless to me, as shiney as it is, and regardless of how many games you play on it.

Why is everything a chance to evangelize or an opportunity for a sales pitch?

WHY DONT YOU MAC CLOWNS EVER SHUT THE FUCK UP? I've never seen a mac in use by anyone but trendy mcpopcollars and wannabe computer guys. Face facts, it doesnt run the software that I (or the majority of the world) need on a day to day basis.

It's really easy to "just work" when it has such limited usefulness, and it's easy to "not need drivers" when it's hardware specs are cast in stone on high Mt Jobs.

Fortunately for me, it's also just easy to install the drivers and software I need on a PC.

Re:PowerBooks (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564823)

Boy, you get awfully angry over such a nothing. Maybe you need psychiatric help.

Re:PowerBooks (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564851)

I'll ignore the rest of your pointless comment but respond to this:

Can I run Visual Studio .NET and a full install of SQL Server 2005 on it with relatively large (20 gig or so) databases?

It runs Java (you know, that .NET clone) and any of its IDEs. I run a 5GB mySQL database on it (far faster than SQL Server for most tasks) also with no problems. I'm a software developer and use it for work anywhere I choose to be.

I was a software developer on Windows for 10 years and happily switched to Unix/Mac. You wacky Windows zealots will never get me to use that OS ever again.

Re:PowerBooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564938)

Well I'm pretty sure the new MacBooks can with Parallels Workstation (http://www.parallels.com/)... I'm hoping to replace my 12" Powerbook and Dell Latitude for this reason. Sorry if this pisses you off... I guess...

MacBook Pro (1)

ksattic (803397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564934)

Can I run Visual Studio .NET and a full install of SQL Server 2005 on it with relatively large (20 gig or so) databases?
I can on my MacBook Pro... <runs>

Re:PowerBooks (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564961)

You need a hug.

Re:PowerBooks (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565260)

Keep in mind that the majority of the world also doesn't need to run Visual Sudio .Net or SQL Server with a 20 Gig database.
It's called "Server" for a reason.

Re:PowerBooks (1)

traveller604 (961720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564978)

"I haven't gotten it to choke on a single game yet." That's because it's a Mac. There are no games for it.

maybe good for offices and the like (2)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564537)

There would probably be a market for such PCs in offices, hospitals, etc etc, still for us this just means hard or impossible to customize, expand, personalize/tweak/mod. So far only Apple managed to sell such hardware to a somewhat considerable average user base, this IMHO should be a sign to care about. And there are also what you would call zealots - and if you wish, I'm also one - who'd never buy a desktop PC for home use pre-built. Of course at work we always order Dells and the like, as any other sane human would do, and this is one of the possible target market - which I was talking about in the beginning - and these places will probably drop really big money for these smaller machines.

Depends on the use (5, Insightful)

FiveDollarYoBet (956765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564544)

I think it depends on the use of the laptop. I just got a new rig with a 17" screen and while it does weigh in at 9lbs. it fits my usage. I needed a good machine that I could stare at for long periods but once a month or so I could toss it in the car and go on-site. People just need to realize that these aren't for the salesman who spends 340+ days a year on the road and they're not for the data entry temp's cube.

Of course knowing that didn't stop me from cursing about how heavy my bag was while lugging it around the subway on the way to the clients!

The Market for This? (5, Insightful)

nko321 (788903) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564554)

How many people here are looking for a 15+ lb. machine to replace their desktop priced at $2000+ USD?

Okay, now how many people are looking for a sub-5 lb. machine in a laptop form factor that can run basic productivity software with excellent battery life priced at less than $800 USD?

Why are there so few options for the latter scenario? And an even better question: why are there so many options for the former scenario!?

Re:The Market for This? (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564640)

It's a mystery to me. There must be some solid marketing behind why Apple don't offer a truly portable machine, for example.

Sony have some nice portables. If only they had a decent operating system...

Re:The Market for This? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564777)

Sony have some nice portables. If only they had a decent operating system...

And decent management. I refuse to buy any Sony equipment due to the Rootkit fiasco.

Re:The Market for This? (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564936)

"Apple don't offer a truly portable machine,"

Huh?

If you've got a bag that'll carry a three-ring binder, it'll fit a 12" Apple laptop. What definition are you arbitrarily assigning to the phrase "truly portable machine"?

(I'm thinking of the "No True Scotsman..." fallacy here...)

Re:The Market for This? (2, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564755)

How many people here are looking for a 15+ lb. machine to replace their desktop priced at $2000+ USD?

My stepfather just bought one. I don't know if it weights 15 lbs, but it's a beast by portable standards. It's purpose isn't really desktop replacement, but to showoff their cpu-intensive software to customers with a setup that is relatively easy to take on a plane. It is not intended to be used while on the plane. I'm pretty sure this is a fairly uncommon requirement.

Okay, now how many people are looking for a sub-5 lb. machine in a laptop form factor that can run basic productivity software with excellent battery life priced at less than $800 USD?

Hey now, it's also gotta have enough beef in it to run freecell! But yeah, one would think there are tons of people in that group, particularly if you could knock a couple hundred dollars off that price.

Why are there so few options for the latter scenario? And an even better question: why are there so many options for the former scenario!?

My guess? Margins on the latter are much better than the former.

Re:The Market for This? (1)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565107)

There are tonnes of laptops in the latter scenereo: Used laptops.

Re:The Market for This? (1)

nko321 (788903) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565283)

Used laptops have long lasting batteries?

Re:The Market for This? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565196)

Why are there so few options for the latter scenario? And an even better question: why are there so many options for the former scenario!?
You just answered your own question; obviously more people care about high performance than super light weight. My manager has both a tiny, light laptop and a pretty big honkin fast one. He travels all the time, and he seems to use his larger laptop a lot more. I think he just likes the full-sized keyboard and big screen, and it's a pain moving data back and forth to the small one. He's a fairly big guy and I doubt he cares about a few pounds of laptop.

Then there are people like my parents who never use their laptop on battery power, but take it to different rooms at home, or their second home on weekends. Another few pounds certainly don't matter to them.

Me, I go for a middleweight (14" screen). I doubt I would notice 5 lbs either way, but big screens are unweildy in econo-class airline seating. Having used both, there's a huge difference in performance between the smallest laptops and a good mid-sized laptop like the IBM (Lenovo) T-series.

Re:The Market for This? (1)

Mard (614649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565231)

I'd love to own a computer buff enough to play the latest games (RoN for instance), but transportable enough to easily unplug and move to another location, for playing LAN games with friends. I think this market is fairly slim.

Once upon a time in the USSR (-1)

antic (29198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564564)

In Soviet Russia, your ultra-portable computer lugs you.

Good and bad parts (2, Informative)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564567)

1. Cost in the more than $2000 range, up to $5000.
2. Adopted in developing countries, where power is much more unstable or harder to get - easier to recharge this from solar cells or power that's only on a few hours a day.
3. Reminds me of the old "luggable" portables one hated having to lug around, especially give the 20 lb weights.
4. Might be good for someone off the grid, with a portable high-speed connection (satellite dish or long-range WiFi?)
5. Might also be good for someone who is retired and moves infrequently (snowbirds).

Hardware Upgrades (2, Insightful)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564572)

Laptops are great, they are so handy. I am sitting on the sofa writing this, something I can't do with my tower PC. The price of laptops is reasonable these days too.

Frome TFA: 'LIMITED CAPACITY TO CUSTOMIZE'

Agreed! The one thing that makes me still want a tower PC at times is that it is much cheaper and easier to upgrade a tower PC with the latest gadgets. Try upgrading the graphics card in a laptop computer, or installing a TV card... Ugh!

Re:Hardware Upgrades (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564666)

Try upgrading the graphics card in a laptop computer, or installing a TV card... Ugh!

Plugging stuff into USB ports is too hard for you?

If you bought the laptop for gaming (about the only reason you'd ever need to update the graphics card), then you get what you deserve. But there are plenty of decent USB 2.0 TV adapters out there, and we demo our multi-screen app on laptops with addon USB video adapters.

Re:Hardware Upgrades (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564827)

Plugging stuff into USB ports is too hard for you?

If you start sticking external devices into a laptop, you lose portability, which is one of the key advantages of a laptop. Without portability, you might as well get a tower PC.

If you bought the laptop for gaming (about the only reason you'd ever need to update the graphics card)

So I can assume that you have never heard of XGL [wikipedia.org] ?

Actually I have both a laptop and a tower PC because they both have their advantages and disadvantages, but if there was a laptop that was as cheap and easy to upgrade as my tower PC (no easily broken external parts or dangling wires) I would ditch the tower for good. Obviously this means that add-on cards are going to have to be:

a) A lot smaller than they are today. (Probably will happen one day.)
b) Standard for all laptops. (Yeah, right!!! In my dreams!)

I know it's not going to happen for a long time, but perhaps one day...

Re:Hardware Upgrades (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564963)

To be fair, you are going to be tethered down with a TV tuner anyway.

Re:Hardware Upgrades (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564972)

Yeah, because you're toting around your cable TV connection there in your man-bag, right?

How portable does a TV solution need to be? If you're ripping to digital video, you don't need a TV card when you're playing back. If you're recording video, you're attached to a wire that's affixed to a building.

Unless you've got a backpack with a DirectTV dish on it. If that's the case, I think complaining about the portability of USB TV decoders is kinda silly.

Luggables? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564591)

Didn't we used to call these luggables back in the day?

You hauled around a big honking box which had the monitor and everything built it. They were utterly immense.

A 20lb 'laptop' is kind of a scary thought.

Re:Luggables? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565457)

Yeah, but back in the day, they had miniature, usually monochrome, monitors -- even when vGA was becoming common for desktops.

scoliosis on the rise? (1)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564594)

>>"ultra-portable PCs..." "...20 pounds"

Excuse me? What's that word again? "ULTRA-portable?" Compared to what, exactly, a steam powered Babbage Difference Engine? That's 20 pounds PLUS the weight of the bag PLUS all the shit you carry around with it including a charger, probably an extra battery (if battery life is as bad as the article says), CDs, mouse, books, etc.

Who would this appeal to? I just don't get it.

Re:scoliosis on the rise? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564726)

Somebody who doesnt carry their computer around all the time, but maybe a few times a year needs to take some real computer power with him on the road.. Like me.. A laptop is too weak for what I try to do on it, and a traditional tower desktop is too unweildly.

Or you have the folks who want a simple, slick shiney package for the home/office, without giving up functionality.

I like the concept. One plug to AC power, one to the 'net (if no wireless available), built-in UPS, and a small footprint.

Re:scoliosis on the rise? (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564927)

College students who change dorms/apartments every year, move home to their parents for the summer, and have a month off at Christmas. It would be much easier to carry than a desktop.

ULTRA portable? (4, Funny)

caudron (466327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564598)

I know what "ultra" means. Do they? I believe the phrase they are looking for is Semi Portable, not Ultra Portable.

That's like saying Windows is Ultra Stable or Linux is Ultra Simple!

Tom "Ultra Brilliant" Caudron
http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]

Re:ULTRA portable? (2, Insightful)

Suddenly_Dead (656421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564653)

Better yet: pseudo-portable

Re:ULTRA? No. Pseudo? Yes. Also. . . (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564783)

Quasi-portable.
from Webster's:
1 : having some resemblance usually by possession of certain attributes (a quasi corporation) 2 : having a legal status only by operation or construction of law and without reference to intent (a quasi contract) [emphasis mine]

Forgot Mac (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564741)

That's like saying Windows is Ultra Stable or Linux is Ultra Simple!

Good flames, but for the win you need to insult Windows, Linux and Mac all in one sentence. You only managed two out of three.

Re:Forgot Mac (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564792)

Well, if he didn't get the win, then I'll take I'll take Paul Lynde for the block!

I used to gripe about these things (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564684)

but I'm realizing that there's a lot of people don't really need a lot of the features of their laptops - they're not moved often, they don't ever use them without plugging them in - but they do want some kind of portability and the tidiness (no mouse, keyboard or video cables, just one power thing). Seems to me an updated version of those fold-up-into-a-briefcase computers would do well, especially if they were easy to upgrade, but then what do I know?

Re:I used to gripe about these things (1)

Rob Y. (110975) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564795)

Exactly. Sounds like what the target audience for this kind of thing really wants is an iMac clone. All in one hardware with minimal cable clutter. Moveable, without being truly portable. And cheaper than an iMac, not more expensive, which going for a laptop form factor is likely to make these things.

Re:I used to gripe about these things (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564948)

exactly. I was going to mention the iMac, but I didn't want to drag in the Apple drama.

The only thing missing is a decent way to carry it - it needs a cover that folds over the screen and some kind of rubber bumpers or some goddamn thing on it to make it at least vaguely durable while in transit.

The weight really isn't that big 'a deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564745)

I have had a Dell XPS Gen 2 for about 6 months now and I love it. Performance in Linux is spectacular and I get to boot in to Windows to get my frag on in a high FPS way. It's important to keep in mind, however, that the "desktop replacement" laptop is not designed for the jet setting business crowd that has to lug bags through an airport 1-4 times a month. I'm guessing that, demographically speaking, that crowd is less interested in video games than the typical power desktop owner anyway, and that's really what these behemouths are made for - the ability to game.

Does it suck to stand in a security line for 30 minutes with one? Hell yeah. Don't buy one if you are going to find yourself in that situation often. But don't let an innappropriateness for one application color your opinion for the technology as a whole. If you want a small laptop, you can buy a small laptop. If you want a portable gaming machine, you can buy a big laptop If you want a small laptop and a killer gaming machine in one, you can get it at the Have Your Cake And Eat It Too store. (It's owned by Best Buy and right now they have $4000 mail-in rebate coupons for them.)

if only it were blurred in a different direction.. (4, Interesting)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564771)

Here is what I'd like to buy: a laptop, but without the keyboard, monitor, touchpad, speakers, and optical drive. Basically a little brick I could carry back and forth between work/home and drop into a docking station that's hooked up to a full-size keyboard, mouse and 21" LCD monitor. If you ditch all the human I/O devices (keyboard, touchpad, monitor, speakers) and commit to using an external optical drive, the thing shouldn't be much bigger/heavier than a portable hard drive.

Alternately, I'd be happy with a "very fast" portable hard drive that has an elegant plugin interface to a desktop box. Then I could install everything on that drive and just lug it back and forth. The issue there is that I'd need to have "very similar" hardware in the two locations.

Re:if only it were blurred in a different directio (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564932)

"Here is what I'd like to buy: a laptop, but without the keyboard, monitor, touchpad, speakers, and optical drive. Basically a little brick I could carry back and forth between work/home and drop into a docking station that's hooked up to a full-size keyboard, mouse and 21" LCD monitor. If you ditch all the human I/O devices (keyboard, touchpad, monitor, speakers) and commit to using an external optical drive, the thing shouldn't be much bigger/heavier than a portable hard drive."

OK, so it's got an optical drive, but otherwise fits your bill: Mac mini.

Re:if only it were blurred in a different directio (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564983)

heh, i have been toying with an idea like that for some time (i think i even have a journal entry about how i envision it here on slashdot.

you dont realy need that much similar hardware, but licencing issues will show up when going windows...

in windows you can set up diffrent hardware profiles, and linux never have a big problem detecting and loading the right drivers at boot-time.

btw, i belive i spotted a entry on engadget where some company was planing a imac-clone with a replaceable hardware box. the hardware was stored in a box the size of a PSU and a had handle for easy removal and transport. this was buildt into the back of a LCD-panel...

Re:if only it were blurred in a different directio (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565070)

Yeah, I want a MacMini too!

Origami Pro? (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564779)

This fits into the category between portable laptops and stationary PC:s. It smells like a reversed Origami project really, which is normally a category between a handheld and a portable laptop.

I'm sure it's actually going to be used by some, but there's never going to be a market for a beast like this until we have foldable screens and a maximum of 4 KG (8 pounds) or so. Seriously, even my 23" monitor is portable to some extent, but that's not a reason to carry it under your arm.

Don't think of it as a laptop... (1, Insightful)

lucky130 (267588) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564797)

...think of it as serving the same function as an iMac.

Shuttle PCs weight less, use standard parts (2, Interesting)

billstewart (78916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564821)

Your basic Shuttle PC weighs about 4kg before you add the disk and CPU, takes standard PCI cards, has an optional handle for the top, and costs about $200-300 empty, maybe $700 heavily loaded, plus you'd need an LCD monitor of whatever size is convenient and a little keyboard. That'll weigh a lot less than these misnamed monster laptops, use standard parts so there's a viable upgrade path, and cost 1/4 as much.

iMac G5/Intel (1)

twjordan (88132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564825)

I consider my iMac G5 a portable desktop. It weighs about 20 pounts, and I even bought a custom case (with backpack straps) that makes it easy and pretty safe to carry it around. It sets up in seconds, and the new iMacs are even lighter.

I took it carry-on on a flight to Hawaii (for work) and had no problems, TSA was way interested, oohs and ahhs.

highlinghts? (1)

insanarchist (921436) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564888)

ABORT, RETRY, FAIL? (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/highlinght s)

mod dowN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564962)

They are called luggables. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564969)

There has been a class of portable computer called a luggable since the early 1980s - don't start calling it a laptop luggable!!

In order of size we have:

PDA
Palm Top (nothing to do the Palm OS)
Notebook - so named for being the size of a5 notebook
Laptop - but has anyone noticed modern laptops will die from heat dissipation problems if you actually use it on your lap. :-(
Desktop replacement - a laptop that proves battery technology still has a way to go.
Luggable - very heavy portable computer that usually runs only on mains voltage; if it has a battery it lasts about 30 minutes or weighs more than small car. Actually, luggable battery power is designed for UPS type operation rather than real world usage. There are special batteries for military luggables that last between three and twenty four hours depending on mission requirements - these are quite expensive as you may imagine.

These days the difference between a high end luggable and a mainframe is mainframe carry-on luggage bags have to be made to order. ;-)

Fan noise (3, Insightful)

2centplain (838236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565173)

One of the problems of a so-called desktop-replacement notebook is fan noise.
IMHO, a notebook sitting on my wheezing high-pitched hot air at me is annoying. I'd rather have a deskside CPU box, with a larger, quieter fan.

I wonder if there are any desktop replacement notebooks that don't have fans? (Or, if they do, have very quiet fans...)

As far as I know, all the Dell notebooks have fans. Sure, when the machine is idle, the fans don't run. But, once you start doing some amount of work, expect the "wheeeeeeeee".

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