November 27, 2021

Gadget of the week

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1-transformervLaptop innovation: A history of unique and bizarre breakthroughs

By Conner Forrest, From TechRepublic

1. ASUS Transformer Book V

Throughout the years, laptop manufacturers have taken big risks with portable computer design. Some have paid dividends, others… not so much.

Have you ever wanted an Android phone that docks into a tablet that, in turn, can transform into a laptop? If you answered yes, than the ASUS Transformer Book V is the device for you. Talk about functionality.

Image: Aloysius Low/CNET

2. IBM ThinkPad 701

IBM has been known to file patents for some strange laptop innovations. The ThinkPad 701 was known for its use of the TrackWrite, also known as the butterfly keyboard, which would fold out to full size when the device was open.

Image: TechRepublic

3. Acer Aspire R7

The Acer Aspire R7 is a laptop for users who want to feel as if they’re actually working on a huge tablet poorly rigged to a keyboard dock. The trackpad sits behind the keyboard to allow for the multi-point hinge to move the screen all over.

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

4. Canon NoteJet 486

No, your eyes don’t deceive you––that’s a laptop with a built-in printer. Born in the early 90s, the Canon NoteJet 486 was the business executive’s dream and came with a pricetag that only a CEO could afford.

Image: Cannon

5. Asus Taichi

To eliminate the (apparently) difficult task of twisting a laptop screen around to convert it into a tablet, ASUS just stuck another screen on the outside of its Taichi laptop. So, whether it’s open or closed, you’ll never be able to look away.

Image: Asus

6. Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds

Long before the “second screen” was the marketing term it is today, Lenovo released the ThinkPad W700ds, a laptop with a second screen that slid out of the first. It received some decent reviews, but didn’t prove useful enough to survive as a concept for very long.

Image: Lenovo

7. Acer Aspire Iconia 6120

Back in 2011, Acer had the brilliant idea that it would replace a standard laptop keyboard with a touch screen that included a keyboard and other features. That franken-device was known as the Aspire Iconia 6120.

Image: CNET

8. Palm Foleo

The Palm Foleo was a subnotebook companion device for the Palm devices, and other, that ran Linux. The Foleo launched in 2007, and was shuttered three months later.

Image: Palm

9. MacBook Air

Arguably the catalyst for the trend of thin laptops known as ultrabooks, the design of the original MacBook Air was revolutionary for its time. Although, the first generation didn’t have much in the way of performance, the line has grown to be one of the most popular for Apple.

Image: CNET

10. Microsoft Surface

In 2012, Microsoft introduced its original 2-in1 detachable laptop, the Surface. It was a bold move by Microsoft that eventually paid off big with later generations of the device, and inspired a ton of copycats.

Image: Josh Miller/CNET

11. CR48

The CR48 was the first Chrome OS prototype before these devices were known as Chromebooks. This device was initially available through a pilot program and set the stage for the first Chromebooks made by Samsung and Acer.

Image: Google

12. OQO Model 01

The OQO Model 01 was the first of the company’s devices that existed somewhere among a tablet, laptop, and PDA. In 2005, it made the Guinness Book of World Records for the smallest, full-power PC.

Image: OQO

13. Dell Adamo XPS

One of the most prominent early MacBook Air rivals, the Dell Adamo XPS was known for its strange, built-in kickstand and industrial design. This was a risk that didn’t pay off.

Image: CNET

14. Asus Eee PC 700

The Asus Eee PC 700 has the unfortunate distinction of being the first mass marketed netbook. The tiny form factor made a splash in some niche markets, but the fad died out rather quickly.

Image: Asus

15. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga

The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga was the leader of its Yoga lineup, which has grown considerably over the past few years. It has inspired numerous imitations.

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

16. Dell Inspiron Duo

The Dell Inspiron Duo was one of the first laptops to use a border hinge to allow the screen to flip in place so that it could be operated like a tablet when it was closed. The concept was further teased out in the Dell XPS 12.

Image: Dell

17. MacBook (2015)

Just like Apple was one of the first to forgo floppy drives in its machines, it seems that they took a similar stance on optical drives and hard disk drives with the 2015 Macbook. The stripped-down design is a minimalist’s dream and…it comes in gold.

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

18. Sony Vaio P

Originally billed as the laptop that would fit in a jacket pocket, the Sony Vaio P was the company’s take on a designer, ultramobile PC. However, the poor battery life and tiny display were too much of a hindrance for it to gain success.

Image: Sony

19. Toshiba Satellite U845W

The big draw of the Toshiba Satellite U845W was its 21:9 aspect ratio, that made it similar to the cinema. It came at a decent price, but in the end it was a “cinema” laptop that had no drive for DVDs or Blu-ray films.

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

20. OLPC

OLPC stands for “one laptop per child,” and it is an organization that works to provide sturdy, low-cost laptops to kids in need. One of the models comes with a hand crank to power it in areas with no power.

Image: CNET

21. Toshiba AC100

One of the first laptops to run the Android OS, the Toshiba AC100 made its debut in 2010. However, it was released as a netbook when netbooks were going the way of the lemmings.

Image: CNET

22. Lenovo ThinkPad X1

Announced at CES 2016, the ThinkPad X1 by Lenovo is supposed to be a laptop, a tablet, a 3D camera, and a projector all in one. The modular design means that you can add other accessories as well.

Image: Lenovo

23. IBM ThinkPad TransNote

Just in case you want to take physical notes while you’re typing digital notes, the IBM TransNote provides you a connected notepad along with your laptop. As you write on the connected pad, it will transcribe your notes into digital format for you.


24. Apple iBook

Perhaps one of the most recognizable laptops of its time was the Apple iBook, with its garish colors and clamshell design. It affectionately earned the nickname of the “toilet seat” Mac for its resemblance to a porcelain throne.

Image: Apple

25. HP Tablet PC

One of the first and foremost pen-based convertible laptops. Popular initially with engineers, it was announced in 2001 and ran a version of Windows XP.

Image: Janto Dreijer

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