Looks a bit top heavy... there must be a better solution?
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 …
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.
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.
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?
At 12kg in weight that is almost the same as the Compaq portable from 1983.
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?
> 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. 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bad stonk traders need them!
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.
> 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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
> 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.
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...