Inside the Perfect Laptop

It's fair to say that laptops have gotten boring. For years now, they've offered pretty much the same features and pretty much the same designs. Sure, there have been a few innovations such as Apple's multitouch trackpad, but mostly laptops have had just incremental improvements such as adding more media slots over time and replacing USB 1.0 with USB 2 or FireWire 400 with FireWire 800.

So InfoWorld decided to challenge PC makers to do better. We subjected our project to the limitations that any manufacturer faces when it starts whiteboarding a new notebook. Components must either be available now in sufficient quantity to support volume production or have component manufacturers contractual commitment to availability at a supportable price within the next 12 months.

We came up with our WorldBook designs that take touch to a whole new level, integrate iPhone functions so the laptop is also a great communication station take advantage of renewable solar power and rethink the display technologies. Plus we rethought the case design to make it more durable and reconsidered what a docking station should be.

You can take a Flash tour of our two WorldBook models and even price them out along with their options. Now, if only someone would build them! (We were pleased to see that Apple's newest notebooks take up one of our ideas: the use of DisplayPort video connectors.) We also explored how to make our perfect laptop greener.

But we didn't stop there. We asked our readers to add their ideas to the table. And we got some really interesting suggestions. We learned that features we excluded for being too expensive or impractical might have enough market appeal to justify another crack at doing them affordably.

Modularity was a popular theme among our readers' submissions. More than one reader wanted a removable keyboard a removable screen a detachable camera and microphone removable wireless speakers and a removable disk drive that could be easily slipped out of the laptop and into a desktop computer.

Now that we and our readers have put a compelling design and ideas on the table, it's time for the PC makers to take up the challenge. Will it be Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba ...? If we're lucky, we'll all find out in 2009.

This story, "Inside the Perfect Laptop" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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