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cheapest is the top priority for laptop makers (3, Informative)

optikos (1187213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267746)

until at the premium-model level

Re:cheapest is the top priority for laptop makers (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267846)

And size. The whitebox laptop has been a dream for a while now. Mainly because fitting more power in less space means propitiatory components. The fact that this includes vendor lock in is just gravy for them.

Re:cheapest is the top priority for laptop makers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35269234)

propitiatory

???

Re:cheapest is the top priority for laptop makers (2)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268068)

For low end laptops the priorities are cost and "headline specs" (aka what the salesman uses to sell the machine). The premium lines add less obvious specs like size, weight, appearance, robustness etc to the list of important things.

Ease of teardown and interchangability of components are somwhere a long way down the list.

Re:cheapest is the top priority for laptop makers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268564)

Considering how often we have people from Dell (or rather their partners) at our office fixing our laptops (broken mainboards etc), it *should* be a rather prominent point on their lists. Either that, or at least having some quality controls, all those warranty repairs can't be cheap...

Re:cheapest is the top priority for laptop makers (2)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268790)

This is true even in the ruggedized military market.

Re:cheapest is the top priority for laptop makers (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268980)

Sure, but that's an example of what behavioral economists call "present bias". The consumer is happy if he gets his all-in-one laptop for 10% less than an equivalent modular one. The hardware vendors are happy when eighteen months from now you buy a whole new laptop when a $15 inverter board fails.

A modular laptop is something I've wanted for many years, and I'd happily pay a 33% price premium to get it, but it won't ever become a reality without some kind of regulatory intervention. Present bias works in the vendors' favor. They get more sales up front, and bigger sales downstream.

Manufacturers don't want it (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35267764)

Good luck with that.

Laptop manufacturers (yes, all of them) want to make disposable machines. Not only is it cheaper to make them that way, it encourages users to buy new rather than upgrade.

In the past, computer makers had to cater to the geek market, and the geeks wanted to be able to tinker. Although the Slashdot crowd refuses to accept it, the geek market is tiny relative to the mass market.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (4, Insightful)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267848)

A more-important factor than disposable is "small".

It's hard to squeeze all those functions in a notebook-sized chassis unless you use every millimeter of space. Modular designs like Desktop PCs or PC/104 waste precious space.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268050)

You could make a modular computer that wouldn't really waste any more space, but it would cost a lot more to design. And because we live in the real world, it would cause more problems than it would solve. Most people don't want to reconfigure their computer. Most people will never upgrade their computer.

Perhaps one day when we all have more CPU power than we need we will get a universal backplane. But until then, the march of progress ensures that any such thing is doomed to become outdated. PCI-E is the closest thing we've got and there are already cases where PCI-Ex16 is insufficient and adding more lanes is impractical.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268492)

People always need more memory or more disk or a better video card.

Part of this is driven by designs that were "too cheap" to begin with and quickly become obsolete.

Not everyone buys the cheapest crap available. For those that don't, being able to keep an expensive device useful longer is valuable.

Simply being able to separate the "PC" part of the laptop would be very useful.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268538)

RAM and disk are already upgradable behind a panel even on a netbook. Video cards are for 3D gamers, and if some reports are to be believed, the majority of 3D gamers are moving to consoles and cellphones anyway.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269290)

... the majority of 3D gamers are moving to consoles and cellphones anyway.

I'm not sure what it is, but something seems very, very wrong with this statement.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268698)

People always need more memory or more disk or a better video card.

No they don't. Lots of people buy laptops, use them quite happily for four or five years with zero upgrades (other than perhaps an external drive for backup) and then "trade up" to a new model.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (2)

olau (314197) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268190)

I've opened a couple of notebooks to fix things on them, and I don't think you're necessarily right. There's plenty of space in there - not compared to a desktop pc, but still enough that it isn't a totally packed mess (I've opened a Mac mini, and that was a mess). Heck, it's not about total innovation, it's just about standardizing certain physical features so you can replace them. Memory and hard disk are already standardized, we just need optical drive, motherboard, maybe even screen and keyboard?

Being able to replace a fried motherboard would be sweet. Many laptops live hard and die young.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (2)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268666)

Unless something's changed since the last time I was messing with notebooks regularly, optical drives are already standardized: slim ATAPI and slimline SATA. Although a lot of manufacturers put their optical drives into proprietary housings/brackets/modules, the drives themselves follow a design standard and anybody with a screwdriver can usually swap them out regardless of laptop model.

There have also been (rather half-assed) attempts to standardize mobile graphics like nvidia's MXM and AMD/ATI's AXIOM.

space ain't the problem man (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269342)

Imho, the only real obstacle should be form factor standardization.

MacBook Airs [apple.com] are now fairly simple on the inside, users obviously cannot replace the flash drive, memory, cpu, gpu, etc. given they're all parts of the main board, but batteries, screen, and main board could be user replaceable parts, and the fans could be cleanable. I doubt you'd sacrifice much space making the flash, ram, cpo, and gpu all user replaceable too.

Why should more than one company make a MacBook Air however? You need enough space for product differentiation, which likely goes beyond simply installing better or cheaper parts. And once they need slightly different ports you've lost main board compatibility.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267864)

This is not about appealing to the geeks. It is about appealing to the greens. The funny part is that it is really no more green that a regular laptop.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268324)

How about building computers that are meant to last instead of being meant to be thrown away and "recycled" after 3 years?

They don't make computers the way they used to. Older 486s and Pentium 1s were sturdier and lasted longer.

Goddam culture of waste. Green my ass.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268508)

> How about building computers that are meant to last instead of being meant to be thrown away and "recycled" after 3 years? ...then you will likely want to upgrade something or perhaps just replace a broken component.

Wirth's Law (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268566)

How about building computers that are meant to last

That wouldn't work because of Wirth's Law [wikipedia.org] . As computers become faster, new versions of software become slower due to new features or due to new language or library features that trade off programmer time for runtime. You can't upgrade the software because the new version's system requirements exceed your hardware, and you can't keep using your existing software on a public network because someone has discovered a critical security defect after the software's announced end of life.

Consumers don't want to spend the green (1)

tivoKlr (659818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268582)

It's really a matter of purchasing a computer that lasts, such as this 4 yr old MacBook I'm typing on today. It's been through hell and back, and still works.

I used to purchase wintel laptops for a FD I did IT work for, and we always spec'd ThinkPads as they were bomber, well except for the Chief who had to have a Dell with all the bs, home use bells and whistles. His priorities weren't fiscal, they were personal.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268774)

My company-that-/.-loves-to-hate laptop is two months short of 5 years and if it wasn't for upped requirements for the games I play I still wouldn't be considering a new one yet.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268802)

How about building computers that are meant to last instead of being meant to be thrown away and "recycled" after 3 years?

I'm writing this on a Dell Inspiron 4100 laptop from 2001 - A P3 with 768 meg of RAM running streamlined XP. Works perfectly well for most things. Runs Office 2000 very well, plays DVDs well. About the only things that run very poorly on it are the 'new' Slashdot and Firefox. IE 7 works fine. as does Chrome.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (2, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267888)

Good luck with that.

Laptop manufacturers (yes, all of them) want to make disposable machines. Not only is it cheaper to make them that way, it encourages users to buy new rather than upgrade.

In the past, computer makers had to cater to the geek market, and the geeks wanted to be able to tinker. Although the Slashdot crowd refuses to accept it, the geek market is tiny relative to the mass market.

You must mistake the laptop market with the Apple market, and users by Apple-customers.

Almost all laptop users understand that they at some point would want a bigger harddrive, but don't necessarily need a new screen. And that would actually convince people to upgrade some hardware while they would never buy a new laptop (not yet), which means some people will see a business-model in this idea.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (2)

isopropanol (1936936) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267966)

aaand the HDD & wireless card are the two parts in most laptops that are standardized & replaceable... Some models the HDD has only 2 screws, Many it has it's on door, some you have to dis-assemble the machine to get at it, but almost all use a standard 2.5" SATA.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (0)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268126)

And on a mac it doesn't. Neither does the battery. Which most likely was his point.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268208)

And on a mac it doesn't. Neither does the battery. Which most likely was his point.

Oh noes! I'm a PC user and don't think I could POSSIBLY be arsed to remove the bottom panel, take out TWO screws and then replace the drive! Macs are way too hard!

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

mikestew (1483105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268662)

It took me ten minutes to swap the hard drive on my early-2009 (replaceable battery) Macbook Pro. From the looks of my friend's later model non-replaceable battery MBP, it would be a few minutes more because the screws on the bottom cover have to come out. It would probably take me longer to swap drives on most desktop machines of any make.

I believe GP's point might have been more about how Apple users are thought to just replace hardware as an assembly rather than upgrade piecemeal like "almost all laptop users". GP is making broad assumptions that are most likely wrong. "Almost all laptop users" are not /. geeks who have a full set of tiny Torx drivers. The only reason I swapped drives was to put in an SSD with less capacity than the OEM drive. I doubt I'd ever go to even the minimal trouble just for more space. I'd just wait until it was time for a new machine.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

story645 (1278106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269400)

I doubt I'd ever go to even the minimal trouble just for more space. I'd just wait until it was time for a new machine.

Or buy a portable for the things that were taking up piles of space (pics, vids, etc) that I really don't need to carry around all the time anyway. I'm not even all that squeamish about taking apart my laptop (just replace the fan actually, which as the video illustrates is quite a process) and I've got thinkpad with a pullout drive, but it's not worth the cost or hassle of transferring things from one hd to another.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268232)

MXM graphics boards?

still, Shuttle showed of some laptop board shapes that they hoped to push as "standard" a year or so ago.

Not sure if it got any traction so far tho.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

anethema (99553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268182)

Both apple laptops and my big fat gaming laptop have very easy to replace hard drives. My 2008 Macbook anyways had one panel with a clicky switch thing that let it go. You then had battery and hdd access easily.

My g73 has an access panel with 2 screws, then you can see ram, hdd, pcie, and some of the (replaceable) video card.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268388)

Almost all laptop users understand that they at some point would want a bigger harddrive, but don't necessarily need a new screen.

Yes, almost all of them understand this. But still, almost nobody does this. They look at the $100 price of a new HDD, and the $500 price of a new laptop with a new screen, new CPU, new non-fucked-up Windows install, and new warranty, and they say, "screw it."

But go ahead and believe that the world is full of Slashdot nerds. After all, you're a Slashdot nerd, I'm a Slashdot nerd, so everyone must be fine doing their own upgrades, right?

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268522)

...except Apple products are THE WORST when it comes to being servicable.

They aren't any more reliable either. Or any better at standing the test of time and not becoming quickly obsolete even if they don't break.

This would be an obvious area for Apple to "innovate" in.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268812)

You sound like someone who has never owned an Apple computer EVER.

Their case designs have always been brilliant and serviceable, all the way back to the Apple II.

The Apple laptops are every bit as serviceable as another vendor's laptop (which is to say, you can replace the memory, laptop, and battery). Not sure where you're coming from with this.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269066)

You sound like someone who has never owned an Apple computer EVER. Their case designs have always been brilliant and serviceable, all the way back to the Apple II. The Apple laptops are every bit as serviceable as another vendor's laptop (which is to say, you can replace the memory, laptop, and battery). Not sure where you're coming from with this.

From Apple's support site:

The battery in these MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models should only be replaced by an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Please do not attempt to replace the battery in your Apple portable computer yourself if it is on this list: MacBook Pro MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2010) MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010) MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009) MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009) MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.53GHz, Mid 2009) MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2009) MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2009) MacBook Air MacBook Air (Mid 2009) MacBook Air (Late 2008) MacBook Air (Original) MacBook MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2010) MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009)

Oh and I believe every laptop has the ability to be replaced :)

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269036)

Have you ever owned or opened one up to service one?

I've stripped down multiple Apple laptops, from the G3 and earlier generation up to the Intel era. They're no more difficult to service than PC laptops, and no quicker to go "obsolete" compared to PC laptops. The metal (and thick polycarbonate bodies of the old ones) they use are pretty rugged in the notebook arena (especially compared to the plastic bodies of many PC laptops), although they are clearly not indestructible and a couple of models have had "common weak points" - like the Tibook hinges, or the iBook with 16Mb of video RAM with the dodgy GPU.

Apple have "innovated" a lot in this area in terms of "green" computing with the materials they use to assemble them. They're highly recyclable, and they have eliminated BFRs and other nasty stuff from internal components.

It sounds like you want them to be as easy to open and swap out RAM, HD etc as a desktop tower (which Apple have made very easy in the past with their towers - no screws, just handles, and no screws on internal components, the use of drive caddies, modular fan systems, entire fold down sides that expose the logic board completely like the G4 tower while the machine is still running). You just can't really do that in a laptop - miniaturisation, heat issues and case strength are all too important. If you make it easy for the average computer user to upgrade the thing would be huge.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269350)

I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at, but you do realize that MacBooks are easy to upgrade. It's not any harder than doing it on POS Dell machines. Yes, you have to go to Mac Fixit to see just how it comes apart instead of randomly attacking screws on the bottom of the case, but it's not difficult at all.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35267962)

Manufacturers want to sell stuff. Capitalism means they will chop of the branch they are sitting on just to be able to sell it as firewood.
If there is a demand, there will be a supply.

Also... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268030)

That thing is a relatively chunky system even compared to some laptops in the market that are lamented as too large.

A manufacturer would find a customer base that rounds to zero with an offering like this.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

mazesc (1922428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268088)

I think manufacturers could be forced to do it. The same way they have been forced to use the same type of phone chargers by the EU.

Re:Manufacturers don't want it (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268526)

Yet I would accept a bit bigger and a bit more expensive laptop if it was modular. I suspect I am not the only one. Also think that there is a third world market that puts a high price on the repairability of items and cares less about weight or performance. A school that knows it can easily (and quickly, not everyone has a Fry's nearby) repair the 30% of laptops that will be broken every year is probably ready to pay 15% more for each.

Cheaper assembly (2)

Aggrajag (716041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267782)

This would mean cheaper assembly costs for manufacturers.

Standford and Findland (1)

scarface71795 (1920250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267796)

Otherwise known as Finland and Friends.

Hmm... (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267812)

The totally separable keyboard concept alone was really cool. If there was a laptop out there using that, Id buy.

Re:Hmm... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267884)

Yes! It could allow me to be further away from my small screen. Ahhh... Wait a minute. :) And before you say external monitor, let me remind you of external keyboard, and wow, it is not a laptop anymore.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268310)

What about a glasses-mounted pico projector as the external display? There are two kinds - laser displays for the retina [wikipedia.org] , and the "normal" kind that project to a surface (hand, table, wall, etc). Then it could still be portable.

Re:Hmm... (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268410)

Not all laptops have tiny screens. Take an example of a lap-jack. A lot of offices provide them for their laptop workers. With every lap-jack there is a regular keyboard littering the table that you generally cant bring along. Placing your laptop at eye level and keeping the keyboard on your desk is ergonomically sanest thing to do. Your neck will thank you for it. And a laptop like this would allow you to do it anywhere, where there is something rectangular(books, packaging box, whatever) to put under the laptop available.

Re:Hmm... (3, Funny)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267978)

If there was a laptop out there using that, Id buy

It's called an iPad. The keyboard is so separated that is isn't even included by default.

No iPad for me (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268612)

The iPad is explicitly not designed to do much of what I do on my netbook. By explicitly, I mean Apple's developer agreement prohibits any application that does it. So I've chosen not to replace my netbook with an iPad.

Re:No iPad for me (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268992)

You've lost me. The iPad accepts any Bluetooth keyboard. What has "Apple's developer agreement" got to do with an external keyboard?

Re:No iPad for me (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269086)

The iPad accepts any Bluetooth keyboard. What has "Apple's developer agreement" got to do with an external keyboard?

Keyboard or no keyboard, the applications that I would want to run are still banned from the App Store.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267990)

That was neat indeed, but otherwise the laptop doesn't convince. The single biggest problem I see with it is that is it the complete opposite of sturdy; usually laptops go through all kinds of rough spots, drop down from tables, have cats/dogs/etc jumping on them and so on, and this thing would come apart. And if it comes apart while running it could seriously damage the parts, especially the screen itself would be in danger.

I don't mean to bash their efforts though, I would love a laptop that is easily disassembled, and I definitely wish to support "green" developments in the area. I just hope they pay more effort in making the thing sturdier and less likely to come apart unintentionally.

Re:Hmm... (1)

slashdottedjoe (1448757) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268456)

Plus, with that standard the TSA will go nuts with these. I can see it now, dis-assembly required to board a plane.

Re:Hmm... (3, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267998)

The totally separable keyboard concept alone was really cool. If there was a laptop out there using that, Id buy.

No its not. Just buy a wireless keyboard. The fact of the matter is, the only things that a consumer can't replace in a laptop is the screen, CPU and mainboard. I mean easily. The harddrive and ram are easily replaceable by anyone who cares to. This is basically just a feel good video of a trio of college students who don't understand the market well enough to make something useful.

Re:Hmm... (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268346)

Reason, why I have a laptop and why I like the separable keyboard is portability. There aren't that many wireless keyboards made for portability. There are some, certainly, but they are hardly common and they would still be an extra item in my laptop bag that already contains my wacom tablet, a mouse and all the assorted cabling. An extra wireless keyboard I would need to power by some external means at least occasionally too so I would be hauling a battery charger and spare batteries or the charger for the keyboard. Having the keyboard/touchpad popping out on demand would be seamless and endlessly awesome.

Apple bt keyboard (1)

tivoKlr (659818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269112)

Come on, the Apple Bluetooth keyboard I have is ridiculously small for what it does, having full sized keys and all. If you can carry a tablet with you certainly this could squeeze into your bag. No cables and the batteries last a long time. Easy peasy.

Re:Hmm... (3, Insightful)

olau (314197) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268686)

The fact of the matter is, the only things that a consumer can't replace in a laptop is the screen, CPU and mainboard.

And the battery. And the keyboard. And the optical drive...

Sure, for these you can still get a spare part. At least as long as it's new and not too obscure. That's different from being able to replace it with something new and different, though. I think this sounds like a fantastic idea. Cheaper, more flexible hardware. If somebody would force it down the manufacturers' throats I would be happy. :)

Re:Hmm... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269084)

All the optical drives in laptops are pretty standard parts.

I have dropped a few random whitebox ones into people who wanted upgrades on their old powerbooks that didn't have DVD-R drives.

Re:Hmm... (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268872)

No its not. Just buy a wireless keyboard. The fact of the matter is, the only things that a consumer can't replace in a laptop is the screen, CPU and mainboard.

You forgot RAM. RAM is usually at or near the max of what the machine is capable of holding if you buy the machine in a 'capable' configuration. The "default"/minimum for the machine is usually half that. It gives you very few upgrade options. Considering laptops are usually roughly 2/3rds as capable (or less) of a comparably priced desktop (disk speed, CPU, RAM/RAM upgrade options), there's not a lot that can be done to make it go another mile when it's time to replace it.

Also, consider that laptop displays do tend to fail significantly faster than desktop varieties due to the jostling the CCFLs get, and the likelihood that they won't be getting power that's as clean as a desktop (most of those AC adapters suck), causing the LCD controller to fail.

Though given that the mainboard often has the power charging components, and laptops seem to be designed so poorly as to not run/restart/etc. without a good battery, it's almost a moot distinction. Most laptops (and other portable devices) I've had have ended their life due to the charging components, battery, etc. failing. Usually it's 3-4 years after purchase, but I've seen it happen within warranty a number of times as well. Ironically, this is at about the time when other components start to fail (hard drives, keyboard keys, etc.).

Most laptops have 1-2 years of useful lifespan before they become cost prohibitive to repair. A new battery and power supply for a laptop is often in the $200 range, making a new laptop seem mighty appealing to most users. And if the power plug socket, or something on the charging component is broken/damaged/diminished, well...

Personally, I think the biggest thing to improve laptop longevity, despite all the above, would be to modularize the power component and make a standard connector (maybe). It's already fairly isolated/modular from the rest of the system, but having the "small plug" on the back/side is a recipe for failure (board, battery, power supply). Instead, the battery should be inline from the PSU, directly. The battery could attach to the rear (under the display, as most/many do), with the PSU attaching to that in the same fashion as the battery does to the laptop. These interfaces would be identical, so you could run the PSU with the battery not inline, if you so desire. The battery would then have a pass-through circuit (akin to how a UPS does), as they're already essentially doing this internally to the laptop. Since the charge/pass through is as likely to fail as the battery on current designs (and often at the same time for similar reasons) it makes sense to combine them into a single device.

This would be suitable for most users. The only case in which it would probably not work is if someone wants to charge a number of batteries at a time, in which case they'd have to power off the machine. (This would, however, make it trivial to get another power charger for your extra batteries.) This could probably be worked around by using a single, standard AA (or similar) disposable battery cell in the chassis to provide a minute or two of battery power while you switch batteries.

Re:Hmm... (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269294)

the only things that a consumer can't replace in a laptop is the screen, CPU and mainboard.

Power sockets. Power sockets are the #1 repair request I get on laptops. It's insane how much I have to charge for replacing a $3 part to make it worth my while to open up a laptop.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268014)

Dell XPS Portable... Giant screen, detachable bluetooth keyboard, high-end video card...

Weighs a ton, battery really only good as built-in UPS, breaks down ALL THE TIME.

I bought a Dell laptop once (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35267836)

That thing designed for landfill from the get-go.

Why naming it Finland? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35267858)

Reading TFA it quite clearly says "Students from Stanford and Finland's Aalto University", so a much more proper way to say it would've been "Stanford and Aalto University of Finland". (since most of the readers have probably never even heard of Aalto University) How would the summary of "Aalto and United States cooperate on project to..." sound?

Size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35267868)

So they take a regular old macbook, make it twice the size and replace the aluminum frame with a big clunky plastic one. And in the process, disconnect and reconnect everything with cheap flimsy wires. Real innovative.

It's called the iOrange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35267896)

iOrange, modular and easy to work with.

why (2)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267944)

Quick connects are heavier and take space. Even without quick connects, one either builds for compactness or ease of disassembly. The later always involved compromises in the former. Laptops are often used in public spaces. Anything that can be removed easily can often be removed even when the laptop is secure. While a battery that can only be used on a certain computer might not be valuable to everyone, memory and harddisks and other things might be,

This type of machine will appeal to a select group of people. Desktop macs starting in the late 90's were more easily expandable and easier to work on than any desktop PC. A single latch opened the machine. Hard drives were exposed at the bottom, memory was right there. No one cared. For a long time the powerbooks were reasonable easy to work on. Once the cover was open, secured with Torx, it was pretty easy to replace a hard disk, replace a keyboard, replace an wireless card, replace pretty much everything. Just like all machines, though replacing anything would be 10% the cost of the machine, so many opted to buy a new machine, or get Apple Care for 15% of the machine and have Apple fix it for three years, which would mean a four year lifetime.

But then no one cared preferring to buy a cheaper machine even though it was less elegant to upgrade.

Thinkpads (4, Interesting)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35267980)

They could use Thinkpads as the base for thier idea
Almost all components, except the Processor,Motherboard and screen are CRU's
Making the Screen and Processor a CRU shouldnt be too difficult(Its not very difficult as of now either), cant say about the Motherboard.
By Thinkpads, I mean the real thinkpads(T,X,W Series)

Problem: Hard to get to fan. Solution: remove fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268096)

The obvius solution to the problem of a fan that cannot easiliy be acessed: Encase the fan in plastic, so the dust never gets into it.
Why not just remove it?

Also btw. wtih this "modular" laptop you would still ned to disattach the fan and void warenty to clean it.

Re:Problem: Hard to get to fan. Solution: remove f (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268352)

[off-topic] It's a glitch in the Matrix, you don't need to worry, much...

[on-topic] Some laptops can be upgraded, at least the video-card can. Additionally for what laptops are used for, medium-end models today do pretty much everything you need it to do, even 3 years from now. I think we passed the point where we need to buy the latest and greatest every 6-months unless you're a hardcore gamer, in which case just get a PC already. I was asked which netbook was better and my answer was simple. They all do about the same thing which is almost nothing more than word processing and internet. If battery is the most important thing, which clearly should be for what it is, then you may want to go with the one with the better battery. Just don't spend any less than $300 for a netbook and you'll be OK. Laptops are almost the same these days. If they can play videos on full HD smoothly, browse the web, capable of multi-tasking like a pro, and more than able to run Doom, then that's all you really need, the rest is just bells and whistles in my opinion.

Apple, really? (3, Insightful)

ugen (93902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268118)

I know Mac is a magic word and answer to world peace and all. And the song is cute.

But really, do they have a clue? Did the guy try to open up a Macbook? It's worse than his HP. The official Apple answer to cleaning the fan is to buy a new computer :)

Re:Apple, really? (1)

lilo_booter (649045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268570)

Was thinking exactly the same thing - replaced a hard drive in an MBP last year, 32 screws... all Philips, except the last 4 were torx. Didn't have the right size, so had to go into town the following day to complete the job. At least it was a relatively standard size though, unlike the screws they're using on their newer models... Someone is selling the screw drivers here [ifixit.com] though.

Re:Apple, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268838)

I had a "unibody" aluminum mbp 15 and it took 5 screws to replace a hard drive. One screw was to take off the retainer, the other 4 were lugs to fit the hard drive in the retainer. FWIW.

Re:Apple, really? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269140)

The new ones are really easy.

The toughest one I've done is the 12" Powerbook and even that's not too bad. Certainly it't on a par with the HP laptop in the video though - it's not like taking a laptop apart is like replacing the batteries in your TV remote.

Re:Apple, really? (1)

lilo_booter (649045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269392)

Good to hear - the one I repaired was an A1212 - instructions here [ifixit.com] . Not much fun.

Re:Apple, really? (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269372)

Seriously? The current model MacBook is pretty easy. Just open the bottom and everything is there- no hidden screws.

WIll require legislation (3, Interesting)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268144)

before the manufacturers will do it... same as the WEEE regulations had to come in before they would finally take back their broken items... it will take legislation to force them to design for disassembly and design for repair... currently, they hide behind other product liability regulations where they can use "scary" labels and weird proprietary fasteners to prevent the owner from taking the machine apart...

my new netbook has a "warranty void if tampered with" label over one screw hole which effectively prevents me from swapping out the hard disk and sticking a new one in to put a clean Linux install on (thus keeping the original disk ready to slip back in if needed).

Being a fully "qualified" geek who has built systems from scratch since almost day one of the personal computer revolution this sad fact really annoys me as I'm perfectly competent to fix things if I can get at them...

Re:WIll require legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268442)

before the manufacturers will do it... same as the WEEE regulations had to come in before they would finally take back their broken items... it will take legislation to force them to design for disassembly and design for repair... currently, they hide behind other product liability regulations where they can use "scary" labels and weird proprietary fasteners to prevent the owner from taking the machine apart...

my new netbook has a "warranty void if tampered with" label over one screw hole which effectively prevents me from swapping out the hard disk and sticking a new one in to put a clean Linux install on (thus keeping the original disk ready to slip back in if needed).

Being a fully "qualified" geek who has built systems from scratch since almost day one of the personal computer revolution this sad fact really annoys me as I'm perfectly competent to fix things if I can get at them...

Is it a MSI Wind? If so, MSI told me that removing the sticker won't actually void the warranty if all you're doing is a HDD or RAM upgrade.

Re:WIll require legislation (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268448)

Or you could plug in a USB hard disk, dd if=/dev/sda of=/mnt//disk-image bs=4M.

Re:WIll require legislation (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269378)

nothing requires legislation.

There is plenty competition out there in the computer market to have whatever you want and prices reflect the differences.

And it will be a failure.. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268162)

Many others tried the "modular" laptop design. result, everyone ignored it. there is no video card standard, there is no formfactor standard, no screen standard... etc...

So we get the mildly upgradeable laptops, most do away with a processor socket and go with a bga soldered to the board to save $0.32 per unit made eliminating processor upgrades.

It's a great exercise in though and design, but in reality cheap and custom is what everyone will stick to.

Kinda sorta (2)

John Napkintosh (140126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268168)

Maybe not quite as modular and able to be disassembled as what the they're going for in the article, there is at least one manufacturer called Clevo out there making barebones, totally upgradable laptops at the premium level. Granted they use mobile components, but CPU and GPU are discrete, up to 3 hdds and 4 sticks of ram in some cases, a mini pcie slot, etc.

They actually offer one that allows you to use desktop i7 processors.

They should focus on tablets (1)

pokyo (1987720) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268192)

They should try to make a standard for tablets. I think the chance of moving the laptop industry to this is small...the removal of the screen didn't look very user friendly anyways. I agree that the amount of waste produced is tragic though, Mayne they should try to make a standard for tablet screen size, and then design screens that attach to tablets with a standardized port. Then at least screens should be able to be salvaged.

Hungry? Cold? HUNTED? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268278)

Scared to close my eyes! I want to get out of here!

Clueless high-school optimism (3, Informative)

Confused (34234) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268386)

What a piece of clueless high-school optimism this project is.

They wrap the innards of a netbook into the a casing regular size casing. Look at the space wasted on the fastenings for the screen bezel and the additional thickness added by all those thick plastic sheets between motherboard and keycaps. With that much space and weight wasted, at least they could have gone on the full eco-trip and made the casing out of cardboard or recycled wood. They totally miss the main selling point of a laptop: Small and light.

At least the project leadress was blond and pleasant to look at. But to improve the video, they should have cut the scenes where the geek or the invention appeared.

To sum it up: rather worthless - except for blondie if one is attracted to the type.

Re:Clueless high-school optimism (1)

dejanc (1528235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268690)

They wrap the innards of a netbook into the a casing regular size casing. Look at the space wasted on the fastenings for the screen bezel and the additional thickness added by all those thick plastic sheets between motherboard and keycaps. With that much space and weight wasted, at least they could have gone on the full eco-trip and made the casing out of cardboard or recycled wood. They totally miss the main selling point of a laptop: Small and light.

To me, that laptop seems very compact. I suppose they used thick plastic for casing because it's easy to mold, but in production, I assume better quality and thinner material would be used.

The concept is, in my opinion, great: they don't go out of their way to prevent users from disassembling the laptop, and that's the major difference between what they made and all other laptops. Hard disks and ram are already standard, but as long as manufacturers start manufacturing standard size/connection displays, power supplies and motherboards (perhaps there already are standard mb sizes for laptops, I don't know), laptop cases would become as cheap and disposable as desktop cases.

That's the whole point of this laptop: don't like your motherboard/cpu? Replace it. Don't like the size of your laptop? Get a new case, perhaps one without thick plastic, new display, new keyboard and reuse all other components and sell the old case and display on ebay.

Very cool.

kinda something like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268580)

http://www.thedesignblog.org/entry/evobook-laptop-concept-with-detachable-keyboard/

which was thought of, pushed and rejected already 2 years ago

Bloom Laptop Designed For Easy Disassembly (2)

wehe (135130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268700)

A similar story has been at SlashDot already at November: 2010: Bloom Laptop Designed For Easy Disassembly [slashdot.org] . Though these projects are still not available in the shops. In the meantime you can have a look at these free do-it-yourself disassembly guides for laptops and notebooks [repair4laptop.org] .

Re:Bloom Laptop Designed For Easy Disassembly (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269218)

DIY disassembly isn't for everyone, and even where it is possible the guides are not always available, but your mention of this gave me a brainstorm. A professionally molded modular kit might be very attractive to the kind of hobbyists who play with small form factor enclosures.

Dell did/does this already (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268778)

A friend of mine had a laptop from Dell with a modular slot that would accommodate a 3.5" floppy drive or a slot-load CD/DVD disc drive. The laptop package came with both and promised other accessories were available.

Aside from this, hdd, and ram; what else would you like to upgrade in your average laptop? I have seen Gigabit Ethernet via ExpressCard Slot [ebay.com] , clunky video card solution [sewelldirect.com] and a few vendors sell USB 2.0 sound cards that beat laptop audio for performance.

These are certainly clunky solutions that probably wouldnt fit in your laptop's case, but they do exist.

not good enough (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269226)

Things I would like to upgrade in my laptop that aren't normally upgradeable:
* motherboard (I'm OK with video chipset being on this)
* cpu - a few models allow this, but the upgrade path is very narrow
* LCD - it is offered as a factory option for some premium laptops

You can argue all you want about how difficult it is, or how "clunky" it would be. But I believe such arguments indicate a lack of imagination.

what it sacrifices (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268904)

You're gaining easier upgrading, recycling, and service. None of these directly benefits the manufacturer.

What you are giving up:
- lower cost
- smaller size
- greater durability

And to a lesser degree these designs usually have fewer built-in features because space cannot be fully taken advantage of to cram in little extras like bluetooth or surround sound.

We've seen this idea pitched a few times here before and nobody wants to talk about all the tradeoffs they'll have to make. Manufacturers don't like it. In the end the users don't like it either. It's not a good idea overall.

Do we need this? - they already exist... (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268910)

I get through laptops pretty regularly, (life on the road + 4 kids), so don't buy expensive ones - cheapest with the biggest screen. Then I swap out the big memory and hard-drives that I used to upgrade the fried one. Easy to do, since most laptop chassis from big manufacturers are designed to be easy to build to order...
I find that cheap laptop + home upgrade = plenty fast PC for peanuts...

Finns. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35268934)

tiny social democrat country. big innovation. thank you.

Toshiba notebook fan cleaner = Dremel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35268996)

On my sadly departed Toshiba laptop the best way to get to the damn fan was with a Dremel - cut out the bottom of the case over the fan and ductape the plastic piece back when vacumed clean. I disassembled it once and decided that it was far too risky to try a second time.

Brilliant Idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35269032)

I hope this is successful, although others have tried! My only beef with the idea is that the design is intended to have no screws.. (If anyone else has ever broken off a plastic tab when disassembling/ reassembling anything, you should know what I'm talking about! Besides, I just wouldn't want my laptop falling apart in my hands.)
Plus, I wouldn't mind having a slightly oversized laptop for the sake of customization (and cooling options). On that note, my first laptop was an Inspiron 9100. That sucka was HUGE, but it got the job done!

Perhaps if a company invests in this the design will be improved..
(I'm rooting for Cooler Master/ Corsair/ Antec!)
Also, I would hate to see a single laptop manufacturer take the idea and lock it down to a single brand and trick the consumer into "Going Green" to further boost their sales.

Here's hoping a universal standard for laptop components can be reached..*yeah right :-( *

It costs thickness (0)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269150)

Modularity costs thickness. That's the problem. Thinness is a key sales point for laptops.

Some of the components in a laptop are custom, and some aren't. Design involves cramming the ones you can change around the ones you can't. This results in oddly shaped PC boards, flat cables running around the insides, and boards stacked over thinner components.

Incidentally, "cleaning laptop fan" is a heavily spammed phrase in search. The top 10 results in Bing are all content mills.

Dell and Lenovo already more or less do this (1)

foog (6321) | more than 3 years ago | (#35269362)

It's not up to the level of geek fantasy what-a-white-box-laptop-could-be. However, for practical purposes, if you get one of the big-chassis Thinkpads or Dell Latitudes (in the case of Dell, this would be a Latitude E-series today) then a ton of parts are interchangeable and upgradeable between models in the same chassis series. And it's been that way since the Latitude C-series at least. They're a lot easier to work on than the consumer-model laptops, too.

These days I just buy disposable junk like everybody else, though.

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