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5 Things Wrong With Today's Laptops; 5 Things Right Answered

Asus, a sponsor of Instructables, has put together WePC where they are asking for input on their next generation laptops. As part of their sponsorship, they've asked my opinion on various aspects of laptops. Most recently 5 Things Wrong With Today's Laptops; 5 Things Right

The power supply is still external to the laptop. Why? I've heard the garbage answer "Underwriter's Limited certification takes too long so manufactures get one supply rated and use it for everything," and understand that the specs look better with a lighter machine. However, it would be undeniably nice to never forget your power supply.

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What things are right and wrong about your laptop?

8 Replies

kelseymh (author)2008-12-09
I'd rather speak generally than in detail about my 5-year-old iBook which just died :-(


  • the hinge between display and base is a weak spot, and a single point of failure (see Kiteman's comment).
  • backlit displays require a substantial fraction of total power
  • Insufficient space to adequately cool modern high-speed CPUs
  • Limited display size, always a conflict with weight and size of unit

  • portable
  • untethered (at least for a few hours)
  • mostly self-contained

Okay, that's not five of each, but you get the idea.

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xACIDITYx (author)2008-12-09
  • Nice Screen.
  • Hinges are still good.
  • I love the keyboard
  • Backlight is pretty bright.
  • Windows XP
  • Little scroll thingy on the touchpad thing.

  • HardDrive read speeds are... ridiculous, at best.
  • HardDrive is only 75GB. I need more for music.
  • Keyboard gets too much stuff in it. I still love it, but it's too dirty.
  • Overheats too fast.
  • Only 4 USB ports, 2 of which are for external mouse and printarr.
  • DVD/CD drive makes a lot of noise.
  • Only has A/B/G, no N wifi.

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CameronSS (author)2008-12-08
The main thing wrong is that I don't have one...

  • E-ink display on the back of the LCD. If you have a 250-page document to read, you hit a button, fold the lid, and instantly have an eye-friendly display to read from.
  • More widespread use of LED backlighting.
  • Easier expandability-not sure how to implement this one.
  • Folding displays-with today's technology, you could easily have a second LCD built in with little extra thickness added, and only a narrow border gap. It would suck battery life, but you would have the ability to double your display space if needed.
  • A built-in scanner would be cool-I'm visualizing an extra quarter-inch on the bottom that could feed paper through, and possibly detachable.

Critique as you wish, I'm just brainstorming.

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DJ Radio (author)2008-12-08

well, right things about my laptop: -4GB ram -dual-core CPU -looks awesome -comes with remote -spacious HDD (250 GB, still not sure tho) -64 bit vista what went wrong: -fingerprint magnet (high-gloss design) -short battery life (less than 3 1/2 hrs)

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killerjackalope (author)2008-12-08

Now I know engineers work on faster faster faster laptops so cooling is given some thought but on a park bench in the dead of winter the bottom melts your cheap suit trousers and you can't type in such cold, why not have a reversible fan setup, say you run with slightly less resources and heat your hands, it could work better in general though, the keyboard is ful of holes on most laptops... Also why aren't the motherboards, I'm sure not every square millimetre is traced, putting holes in it might help cooling, not to mention save those vital grams they care about. Why not carry around an external hard drive for big jobs and have a decent chunk of flash based memory for using day to day, you could go faster that way, maybe save money aswell. Stop making bad speakers, I understand limitations are obvious but why not just give up on conventional ones and put in a driver that shakes the screen or the bit between the keyboard and the screen, it'd save money, weight and you'd have less holes to pick crumbs out of or drain coffee in to. Why not use those accelerometers for pointless stuff? You may aswell, think games where you pilot cars and planes by leaning side to side, it works on my phone and makes you look like an idiot, that way you'll get more done in the day. Why not jam the CPU up at the top and knock a chunk out of the lid, then put a bigger heatsink on it? It'd look weird at first but you could simply stick an obscenely powerful fan behind it and cook your croissant in starbucks, plus it could help cool the rest, drag the air in through the keyboard or holes on the front and out the back bit. Why not stuff a second battery in the power brick, if you must lug it about it might aswell do something else clever, better yet make a laptop with a backup power system, say a tube that you slide a bunch of AA batteries in to down by the hinge, it wouldn't be incredibly long lived unless they were damn good rechargeable ones but in a real bind you can stop at the petrol station and grab a pack of energizers to make it work for an hour. Give them better wifi antennas, often enough they're alright but if you're going to promote portability make it really good, then you can cook the microburger you got during the petrol fillup in your busy work day on the antenna, or at least get a signal in starbucks. Put swish controls around the screen border like volume and such, so you just run a finger up or down to do things, maybe brightness could feature there too, we have touchy feely surfaces, make them work for us. Plus caressing a laptop to turn down the volume would easily beat that whole mess of nigh on useless buttons crammed in under the hinge. also make those proprietary controls work with software, rather than mess things up. Why not use multi touch on those infernal touch pads, to less then amount of rubbishing around you have to do with them. How about a mouse, a clever little gizmo that's just a disc on a lead that slides out of the laptop somewhere, only single button but any surface you just move it around with your finger, push down to click, make it like those street hockey pucks, that way it'll be easy to move around with a single finger and not need cleaned too much, plus it'll be easy on wrists and completely ambidextrous. If they must stick to the whole laptop slowly melting through your desk thing why not have a clip on super fan and skirt to make it in to a hovercraft that runs super fast? Make a briefcase that is also a laptop, if you're carrying one inside it then you may aswell just combine them and keep stuff in the laptop briefcase, think even with storing other bits and pieces if you market it that way it'll sell with any luck and it'll be much easier to build well, downside being people will think you're very weird. Make an adapter for cars, then make a box based on those big car jumper things that you can carry on long missions in to the wilderness that is starbucks for days on end. Ok I admit some of those ideas are slightly crackpot ideas and that I abused starbucks more than was completely necessary but it has more laptop users per square mile than a prison has people.

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OK MS word says 726 words, if I got this annoyed in english I'd be a writer...

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LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-12-08

I liked the idea of a small (phone sized) secondary LCD on the back of the screen to display pics, email, etc, but it never got past the concept stage. I like the idea of an internal power supply, but it needs better cooling to keep it comfortable. I like built in bluetooth, wifi, microphone, and webcam. I'd like to see some type of docking station or at least some way to plug in everything at once. Multitouch. I'd like to see webcams on the front that can track hand gestures and use that to edit pics, control presentations, music, etc (minority report style). Magnetic lid instead of a mechanical latch (check out macbooks). Backlit keys. Something softer on your eyes in the dark. Remote.

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Kiteman (author)2008-12-08

I always get nervous opening them up wide - the creak from the joint makes me think the hinges are going to give way.

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