Slightly Less Nonexistent…

3 comments May 20th, 2008at 10:45pm Posted by Eli

Me, last year:

…[I]f I could design the Perfect Portable Device, based on existing or at least plausible/impending technology, what would it be?


There are devices that can pretty much do all of this already, but they have the absolute constraint that they have to be at least as large as their screens. So large-screen devices are bulky, and compact devices have tiny screens. So here’s my idea: A screen that folds. OLED technology will make it possible to manufacture displays that can bend in half, so why not have a device with the form factor of a book? You open it up, and you have a screen that’s the size of two “pages.” For typing, you could turn it 90 degrees and use one “page” as a touchscreen keyboard – or just use the bottom half of the two-page display (needless to say, it would auto-tilt the screen like on the iPhone). By my calculations, a 4″ X 3″ folding device would have a 7″ display when fully unfolded. At the other extreme, you could fit a 15″ screen on something roughly the size of a hardcover book.

The next-generation OLPC (One Laptop Per Child):

Negroponte didn’t share many details about the XO-2’s hardware, but the new system has two touch-sensitive displays. As you can see from the video and the pictures, the XO-2 will be much smaller than the original machine (half the size, according to the press release) and will have a foldable e-book form factor. “The next generation laptop should be a book,” Negroponte said.

The XO-2 will employ the dual indoor-and-sunlight displays, which was pioneered by former OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen. The design will provide a right and left page in vertical format, a hinged laptop in horizontal format, and a flat, two-screen continuous surface for use in tablet mode.

It’s not exactly what I had in mind – two screens instead of a single foldable OLED one, but it’s the same basic strategy for fitting more screen real estate into a small form factor, and the ability to convert to a laptop mode with one half of the screen turning into a keyboard.

Now I just need one with a 128GB solid-state drive and some PSP-quality gaming capability…

(h/t Engadget)

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology


  • 1. spocko  |  May 21st, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    I alway envisioned that the OLED displays would be curled up like a shade hanging from a window. The hard electronics and connector pieces would be in the tube part and you would pull out only as much as you needed to work. This why you would be able to me small or large with your display screen.

    A do worry about the lack of tactile feed back for typing. I think that you will have a new kind of carpel tunnel problem, but I could be wrong.

  • 2. Eli  |  May 21st, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I thought about the furled screen first, but the question is what you brace it with – I can’t see how that wouldn’t be kludgy and annoying. Plus the folding case gives the device more protection – it’s armored on both sides, not just on the back.

    Not sure about carpal tunnel, but I do agree that touch typing might be a little trickier without physical keys.

  • 3. Cujo359  |  May 21st, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    I suspect that for youngsters, touch-typing isn’t much of a problem. I think this sort of thing could have lots of applications. Sometimes, a second display that’s a touchscreen is more useful than a keyboard.

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