back to article This Brit biz's seven-screen laptop is something to behold

An outfit in London, UK, called Expanscape has said it has received a surge in interest in its prototype laptop that sports seven screens. The bonkers gizmo, named the Aurora 7, was shown off around this time last year, as evidenced by the tweets below. The casing looks 3D printed to us, but we could be wrong. Email enquiries …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coat

    Timber!

    Looks a bit top heavy... there must be a better solution?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Timber!

      I'm with you, chivo243.

      My first thoughts are that a flight case or Pelican case would be a better starting point for a multiscreened portable workstation.

      This thing at 12 kilograms still has to be periodically stowed and removed from a protective bag (an awkward operation), whereas a flight case base design can just be 'unfolded'.

      My other criticism of this design is that the ergonomics - as dicticated by the height of the keyboard above the desk, and the height of the main screen with respect to the keyboard - are not optimal. Again, a flight case design could use use a standalone keyboard.

      So, flight case design advantages: quicker deployment, better ergonomics in use, more durable in transit, components such as keyboard easily swapped out.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Timber!

        It will probably have a starring role in Bruce Willis' next 'Die Hard' film (is he up to number 10 yet?).

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Timber!

        At "around" 12kg that exceeds many airlines' carry-on baggage weight limit so you would really need a sturdy flight case anyway as you'd be likely to be forced to put the beast in the hold.

        1. CuChulainn Silver badge

          many airlines' carry-on baggage weight

          Just imagine.

          You've got a window seat. The bloke next to you gets this thing out to do some work. And now you need to go pee-pee.

          Could be fun.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Timber!

      After 30 years...

      The "luggable" is back!

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Timber!

      Yes, it's clearly a prototype or concept design just to see if it's possible. What it needs now is some serious design and engineering investment, preferably from a team which includes some origami aficionados.

      On the other hand, it could be something made redundant by rollable screens which just put up and out like the old portable projection screens. They already exist but don't seem especially rugged yet.

    4. Schultz
      Facepalm

      Stop calling it a laptop.

      Same thing goes for the smaller device sitting on the table in front of you. If it doesn't sit on your lap, it's not a laptop. And it also isn't a notebook because it's neither a book nor is the primary use to take notes. Call it what it is: a portable computer, or PC for short.

      I nailed that one, right?

      1. sreynolds

        Re: Stop calling it a laptop.

        Could be a laptop but don't expect to have any kids. I suspect they'll be medium to well done by the time you pry that thing off you.

  2. Giles C Silver badge

    At 12kg in weight that is almost the same as the Compaq portable from 1983.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compaq_Portable

    The main selling point of a laptop is that it is portable and can be put in a bag. You would be better off with a decent spec single screen machine and the monitors rigged up on a desk for when you are in an office. Would you want to try and unfold that on a train or in the car?

    1. BinkyTheHorse
      Happy

      " Would you want to try and unfold that on a train [...]?"

      Sure, just imagine the looks of your fellow commuters! And if one or more decides to take an unhealthy interest, it seems by the weight alone it would double as an effective bludgeon.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        " Would you want to try and unfold that on a train [...]?"

        A lot of power sockets on trains are labelled "MAX $smallnum Watts". So it'd need an octopus power cord to stay under that per-socket limit.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        I've opted for some cheap 1920x1080 USB-powered screens from Bezos Bazaar. Obviously not used while on a train or plane, but is nice portable way to have multi-monitor setup at destination.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      > Would you want to try and unfold that on a train or in the car?

      No, I wouldn't! It's clearly 'designed'* to be used with external power.

      Outside film crews and military command types - folk who have a need for quickly deployable multiple screens and good ergonomics - tend to roll their own solutions from flight cases or Pelican cases.

      *At the risk of denigrating the discipline of product 'design' by associating it with this laptop. I suspect it may have been designed to get attention, in which case it is successful.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Mushroom

        military command types

        I can see them requiring armour plating on the back of the screens so they can just keep working while under fire.

        1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: military command types

          1. First we ruggedize the CPU in its own case with D38999 connectors.

          2. Then we have to protect the wetware -- obviously the most damage-prone and debatably most valuable component -- by building an armored box around it.

          3. Then the armored box must be mobile -- wheels or tracks depending on planned mission terrain (mobility requirements). The box is now upgraded to the size of a small room to fit a driver and an powertrain.

          4. Since we now have a box we're free to upgrade those screens to proper affairs (19 inch, 24 inch, more?) with lots of big fat batteries.

          5. Revisit the powerpack (engine/alternator) config to make sure there's enough power to run it all and recharge the batteries at the same time.

          6. Oh, the box is big & loud enough we're being shot at. Guess we better add a third person ("Commander") with a remote-control gun ("weapons station") to kill these baddies.

          7. Upgrade the powerpack again to power the aircon so the large box / small room doesn't become an oven due to all this stuff + 3 humans making waste heat.

          Congrats -- you now have a mobile armored command center!

          (Former employer Stryker HQ even made a "high-back" turretless vehicle just for this purpose. Looks like a pickup truck with a camper in the bed.)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The main selling point of a laptop is that it is portable and can be put in a bag"

      And, erm, that it can sit comfortably enough on top of your lap, surely?

      A 12 Kg device that radiate the power from 2 batteries in one hour doesn't quite seem to fit the bill...

    4. Steve K Silver badge

      Would you want to try and unfold that on a train

      Had to do that with the Compaq Portable 3 back in 1991 as a C&L junior auditor!

    5. CuChulainn Silver badge

      that is almost the same as the Compaq portable from 1983

      Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    Now they just need to refine the idea a bit, into a wrist wearable that uses a holographic projector for all those screens.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      And whilst we're waiting for the holographic display, the VR headset with an 8K per eye microLED display rumoured to be coming from a fruity company might serve as a reasonable stop-gap... if you can touch type!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sells by the truckload.

    That's about three of these things then.

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    ThinkPad W700DS dual screen

    From 2008, the ThinkPad W700ds had a secondary portrait screen (same height as main screen ) that pulled out. It also had a Wacom digitiser built in to the left of the trackpad for good measure. (And a ThinkPad nipple, too!)

    It was sold as a Mobile Workstation, and contained nVidia Quadra graphics.

  6. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    Central Serous Rentinopathy is the new RSI for IT workers, available at any LED screen near you...

    That many LEDs will emit a lot of high energy blue light. I've got CSR, and my retinas are leaking blood just looking at the photo.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Give it a year or so... Samsung Display is said to be ramping up production of laptop-size OLED screens for OEMs. OLED screens produce far less blue light than standard LED displays.

      The potential for saving energy by using OLEDs (depends on drivers and colour scheme of desktop theme and applications) would be useful for this multiscreened machine.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Central Serous Rentinopathy ..., available at any LED screen near you...

      >That many LEDs will emit a lot of high energy blue light.

      But probably a lot less (high energy blue light) than the 50" TVs sitting in many peoples homes...

  7. Kildare

    But is it upgradeable!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Does it run Windows!

      Interestingly, none of the spec's indicate which OS the beast is actually running.

      My assumption from the screenshot is that it is running a customised Linux variant.

      Aside: I like how they apologise that currently due to chipset choice they are limited to a max. of 64GB of RAM.

    2. CuChulainn Silver badge

      You mean you want more screens?

  8. My-Handle Silver badge

    One small piece of criticism about the article itself...

    A lot of companies block Twitter, Facebook etc. The only image of the machine in question was via a Twitter link, which if blocked renders the reader pretty much blind to what is being discussed. Serving a header image from your own domain would go a long way to fixing this.

    I acknowledge there are difficulties around sourcing and licensing images, which might be the case here as the beast in question seems pretty elusive.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      The only image of the machine in question was via a Twitter link, which if blocked renders the reader pretty much blind to what is being discussed. Serving a header image from your own domain would go a long way to fixing this.

      Umm...no. There were links to couple of publications that had images of it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: A lot of companies block Twitter, Facebook

      Not only companies. I've had these blocked for years(plus google, whatsapp etc). My blocklist is over 100,000 lines long.

  9. diguz

    Watch out for Linus

    This reminds me of something similar (less over-the-top) made by Razer a few years ago, Project Valerie (can't be bothered to google which one is correct), that was jokingly "stolen" by Linus Sebastian (of LTT).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The machine’s specs sheet lists a 1.44 inch, 128x128 “system status mini display.” Could that be an eighth screen?"

    You can see it just above the primary screen, on the left hand side, it looks like a small blue square.

  11. Stoneshop Silver badge
    WTF?

    Required accessories

    A carrying frame with castor wheels.

    50Ah Li-ion extended runtime battery

    Further options (not yet available):

    A porter.

    A small forklift

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Required accessories

      Too many years back I was called upon to design a mobile system for the army. An ex-soldier advised me when I asked about portability and weight, that anything that could fit in the back of a jeep and be carried by two squaddies qualified as portable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Required accessories

        To be fair, some of that is down to the environment it's used in (and the reputation of squaddies for breaking things). The phrase "it needs to be bomb-proof" isn't just a figure of speech.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Required accessories

        I once designed some high-end electronics to be deployed in a armoured vehicle.

        Rule no. 1 when designing the case and fixings = the squaddies will use it as a step

        1. mechgru2

          Re: Required accessories

          I once had to design some auxiliary equipment for a main battle tank engine. By far the most arduous requirement was the 'sqaddie test', basically as close to a destructive test as you can get! No wonder they weigh over 70 tonnes.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Required accessories

        Reminds me of a quote from a former volunteer firefighter regarding a portable water pump used in rural firefighting: "the pump was portable, which was an odd term for a device capable of simultaneously inducing hernias in four grown men"

  12. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Why?

    What is this for? Who needs seven screens at once (including three teensy ones)?

    I guess this is another example of the numbers game for overpaid "executives". More memory, more speed, more screens ...

    BTW, funny how words change their meanings. "Executive" originally meant someone who carried out other peoples' orders to do things - now it means someone who sits on their arse looking important and telling other people to do things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bad stonk traders

      Bad stonk traders need them!

      https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffsb&q=traders+wall+of+screens&iax=images&ia=images

      Good stock traders write algorithms and sit on a beach in the tropics, making sand castles with their kids in the powdery white sand, sipping their cold beers, while their Android tablets beeps to tell them they've sold a CFD and can go buy another beach house*.

      Bad stonk traders sit in darkened basements surrounded by screens. Bad stonk traders *are* the algorithm, the screen is their IO bus. A multiscreen setup to them is like DDR5 vs DDR3... more bandwidth!

      *Really* bad stonk traders, work a dayjob to pay the bills, and have to take their stonk screens to work with them. Hence a laptop with multiscreens is something a bad stonk trader dreams of.

      * I have 7 screens in front of me, so I shouldn't talk.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      Perfect for all those PHB's out there to spy on their workers from the comfort of their plane/yacht/limo

      You gotta make sure that they have their nose to the grindstone 24/7

    3. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      > Who needs seven screens at once

      Well, actually there are only 4 screens, the small ones are just for marketing purposes (they could had added a dozen inch-sized ones too...). 4 screens isn't that excessive, a lot of software can take advantage from additional screen space.

      Obviously this is a simply a marketing stunt to make themselves a name, and apparently it worked. I suspect this beast costs around $10k, and is thus not really commercially viable, only very rich geeks wanting to show off will buy one. Also the use of Velcro to keep a 12 kg beast together says it won't survive more than a couple trips, and replacing broken(-off) screens will make it even more expensive over time.

      I think a more reasonable 4-screen version would be a hit though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or use Android tablets

        Or just use Android tablets. If it was for network security monitoring as they claim, its all networked anyway. Pretty much what I do with Alldocube iPlay 40's all stacked up on the same network talking via UDP. Why would the screens need to be attached together if all these need is to be attached to the network?

        Get them in bulk, 6 (2 column x 3 landscape screens) sets you back around $1000. For that you get 48 core, 48GB Ram, ~750GB of storage.

        Buy a few multiport USB chargers (I use LDNIO's), $8 x 2 to charge them.

        Mount them with little plastic tablet stands (one at the bottom, one flipped over to hold the top). $1 per pair, so $6 total.

        Screw those mounts into a 2x4 piece of wood, I like my screens curved, it looks more stylish if they curve around you.

        Write your own software to connect them up, a free weekend coding.

        You end up with 6 x touch screens not just passive screens, touch screens. Buy an active stylus ($12) if you like. The one they ship has magnets in it, so a couple of well placed screws for it to stick to.

        I gave up waiting for the Android world to deliver me the sort of fast big android tablet I need, and instead just DIY'd a solution. Turns out to be cheaper and a lot lot better. Scalable!

  13. Aaiieeee
    Angel

    I used to require 2 screens, believing nobody could be efficient with 1

    Since WFH in pandemic I've managed fine for the last year with no external monitors even though I have a few spare ones. Dunno, alt+tab solves most problems. Only issue is I can't remember how to do the alt+tab equivalent in Firefox between tabs

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: I used to require 2 screens, believing nobody could be efficient with 1

      Depends on the kind of job you have. Very much.

      Just now I have two 21" screens attached, one with a VMware session running a couple of putty terminals (just four today, well over a dozen yesterday). the other with a manual and a checklist open plus a few other windows I need to check occasionally behind them, and Teams on the laptop screen itself.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: I used to require 2 screens, believing nobody could be efficient with 1

      Ctrl-Tab

      1. David Neil

        Re: I used to require 2 screens, believing nobody could be efficient with 1

        Every day's a school day

      2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: I used to require 2 screens, believing nobody could be efficient with 1

        Bloody hell, I did not know that! ------------>

    3. Sceptic Tank Bronze badge
      Trollface

      Re: I used to require 2 screens, believing nobody could be efficient with 1

      Ctrl+W

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: I used to require 2 screens, believing nobody could be efficient with 1

        Did you know that you can re-spawn the just closed tab with ctrl-shift-T ? Very useful when accidentally hitting ctrl-W.

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I used to require 2 screens, believing nobody could be efficient with 1

      Some tasks involve monitoring many things... CCTV feeds, live broadcast editing from multiple feeds, stock markets, industrial control, monitoring network health... for these scenarios, merely switching between applications might not be suitable.

      I don't do those things. For me, I think one main screen plus one smaller for tool palettes, combined with task switching and maybe virtual desktops, would do nicely most of the time.

    5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: I used to require 2 screens, believing nobody could be efficient with 1

      Two 4:3 (unwanted by our IT department) 20-inchers and a full size beige Dell AT101W keyboard from the early days here. The laptop itself is tucked away under my display support, connected by umbilical to the USB hub, network and displays.

      Why switch between displays if you don't have to? (I very much dislike typing on a flat laptop keyboard, and the less said about touchpads, the better)

  14. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Imagine the fear you'd experience if you owned one of these.....

    I'm not talking about the worry of not having a power outlet available, or of a screen getting broken, or even of it getting nicked.

    No, it's the terror of seeing someone breezing into the office and unfolding their new nine screen laptop.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Imagine the fear you'd experience if you owned one of these.....

      Nicked?

      The look on the crim's face as he attempted to pick it up and tuck it under his arm would be worth it.

      He would then probably try to sue you for his sprained arm.

  15. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Finally, Google Maps catches up with paper maps in having to spend 15 minutes working out how to fold them.

  16. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Not enough

    When Sir Terry Pratchett was asked why he had nine screens on his desk, he replied "because I can't fit any more in".

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Not enough

      Hmm, it appears the number of monitors on the late Sir Terry's desk has increased since his death. :)

      I'll check back in a couple of decades time and see if it is said that his desk was specially constructed from reinforced concrete.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Not enough

        Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhhhhh!

        It was only SIX screens!

        Search for "Terry Pratchett Desk" on Google reveals my humiliating mistake. I am so embarrassed.

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-41267378

        Please forgive me, Dave 126.

        :o(

        1. Roland6 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Not enough

          Well if you include the one in the final photo of the BBC article, its 7...

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Not enough

          @Eclectic Man

          There's nothing to forgive!

          I hope my reply didn't come across as snide - I wanted to lighten it with some humour in the spirit of - though of course not, unless the muses were really on my side this morning, with the panache of - Sir Terry.

          Buggrit.

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
            Linux

            Re: Not enough

            I can never remember whether that 2 'G's and 1 'T' or 1 'G' and 2 'T's

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: Not enough

              Buggrit - or bugritt - is but a phonetic transcription of the speech of a certain man who operates purely in an oral tradition. The question of one G or two is therefore dependent on how much phlem Foul Ol' Ron is clearing from his throat at the time.

            2. dajames Silver badge

              Re: Not enough

              I can never remember whether that 2 'G's and 1 'T' or 1 'G' and 2 'T's

              Always 2 G's, and add T to taste!

              (Oh, you were talking about Foul Ole Ron?)

  17. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    I can imagine a few uses...

    In a limited and specified way....

    Things like big touring bands that have multiple screens showing stuff off.

    Workers at remote plants needing a metric f-ton of displays to monitor many and various processes.

    Possibly on fishing vessels? (think of sonar on one screen, ship metrics on another, shipping charts on another.. Weather on another and solitaire on the main screen...)

    Other than... I'd need a few drinks first before outlandish ideas for uses.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: I can imagine a few uses...

      > Possibly on fishing vessels?

      No, ships tend to move a lot, violently. Everything needs to be bolted down, else you've got a 12 kg wrecking ball shooting through the cabin. (Or at best your screens fold and unfold all on their own depending on the ship's movements...).

      Besides, nothing prevents you from using a much cheaper normal workstation with normal screens bolted to the walls for any specific uses you might have. Sonar, radar, GPS & charts, ship's metrics, come all with their own screens already, you don't need a separate computer for them.

  18. DenonDJ DN-2500F

    Look under the desk

    They havent shown the hole in the desk under the keyboard with the HDMI, power and USB cables to the workstation under the desk.

  19. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Great!

    This is a fantastic solution in desperate search of a problem.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Great!

      ...or a problem in search of an application...

  20. trevorde Silver badge

    Use case

    Prop on 'Mr Robot' or used by some Bond villain

  21. GraXXoR

    They missed a trick

    By not using a decent capacitative display as a track pad.

    Shame on them...

    Though technically it's 8 screens anyway if you count the mini LCD display, top left of the "traditional" screen.

  22. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Competition Entry?

    They are obviously trying for the all-time record for the most impractical design.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But does it run crisis?

  24. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    3x seven?

    "One of the seven-inchers is embedded in the machine’s palm rest and is touch-sensitive."

    The one in the palm rest can't be much over five inches diagonally.

  25. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
    Pint

    Optional Power Supply

    Chuckled at one of the comments in a link referencing the power requirements as possibly 430V 3 Phase.

    A lot of beer money ------------------------>

  26. waldo kitty
    Boffin

    does no one think of the content makers?

    The biz says it created the beast depicted above because it thinks there’s a market for “a proper mobile Security Operations Center.”

    that could easily be a streaming gamer's battle station, too... the 1060 is a bit behind the curve for this use but there is still the future to look forward to...

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