I have a LARGE desktop PC that I built with the help of Tom'sHW:-) works good.....however, I do not want to sacrifice performance or money but I need a notebook also.(ASUS looks pretty good) but I will almost never be out of range of a 110v outlet and have thought about getting a very good aluminum attache case and using it like a "portable" ATX case, bulding the "notebook" out of off-the-shelf PC components (which are getting REAL cheap) Anybody ever seen such a machine? The Screen would be the only drawback but the LCD's are getting in the right range.
There are great flat speakers out there already. I think it could be done, and a lot cheaper than a notebook and ZERO sacrifice on performance. What do you think of this? Be honest now, think about it before you start/quit laughing.
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  1. Interesting thought...technically do-able, yes. You are correct in that finding the LCD for "low-cost" would be the toughest part. Really portable? Probably not. Might be an interesting toy, but the weight of the power supply from the "desktop" market would itself outweigh most notebooks.

    Here's a different angle to your thought...could an all-in-one ATX motherboard drive a notebook shell? If one purchased a $300 close-out laptop, could an ATX motherboard and the notebook shell be married together? Ignore the size issue for a moment (I'm not asking if an ATX motherboard could go inside the notebook shell), but focus on the integration of the technologies.

    Could the video adapter on the ATX motherboard drive the LCD panel?

    Could the IDE controller on the motherboard drive the notebook harddrive? How about the second notebook (hot-swappable) IDE component like a CD, DVD, ZIP, CDRW, 2nd drive?

    Could the motherboard IR header drive the notebook IR receivers & transmitters?

    Could the motherboard port controllers (USB, serial, parallel) drive the device recepticles in the notebook shell?

    Could the motherboard keyboard controller work with the notebook keyboard?

    Could the motherboard mouse controller work with all the various mouse devices (touch pad, j-stick, track ball, etc.)on the notebook shell?

    What controller on the motherboard would drive/work with the PCMCIA/PC-Card slots on the notebook?

    What might be a real interesting (new??) market for current desktop motherboard makers (ASUS, ABIT, etc.) might be a generic notebook motherboard replacement. What I don't know is how tightly integrated (besides the connectors) the notebook hardware devices are to the motherboard.

    My gut reaction.....the biggest problem with a generic notebook replacement motherboard is that none of the notebooks share a common system-board footprint (in size or shape), and none of the hardware components share the same connector.

    Notebook manufactures have worked themselves into a nice, but expensive, niche. Everything is very unique to each model of the notebook (even within the same manufacturer) making it difficult for the general consumer to upgrade pieces (ever wish your notebook display adapter could run at a higher resolution than 800x600?). But it is also means that the manufacturer has to support each unique model.

    Which is a better business decision? Have many models which are unique in design forcing the consumer to completely toss their old machine when they upgrade? (Consumers will take longer to upgrade since they want to make their investment last as long as possible. Plus, there is no garauntee that the consumer will upgrade to the next version of the same manufacturer's model!)

    Or would it be better for all models to share the same design of components which are modular enough to be interchangeable? Consumers could upgrade compents of their notebook when new technology comes out, and replace the "external facing pieces" (LCD screen, 9-pin serial port, keyboard, etc.) when they wear out. (How often does one need to replace/upgrade the keyboard? How often does one wish they could replace/upgrade the CPU or video adapter?) As a laptop manufacturer this process will insure that the consumer will stay with your products.

    I think that the best advocacy that Tom's Hardware could do for the community would be to push the OEM companies into more of a modular notebook design. If I am going to buy into the idea that I can replace my desktop with my laptop, then I want to know that I can upgrade components in my laptop like I can with my desktop.

    My two cents...

  2. I don't think the ATX MB's would be compatible with any of the current notebook hardware. I doubt they even have drivers or patches that would work. That would be scary to try:-)
    I was aiming more towards a truly portable Desktop Pc at around 20-25# that you could carry to work and back home
    without lugging around the speakers, Monitor and cables, etc.....I guess you could mount all the tower hardware into the briefcase and find a 12-14" flat panel monitor to carry
    but it would be better if you could mount a notebook monitor into the inside lid of the briefcase.
    I guess what I would really like to see is a larger notebook that competes with the PC's performance without cutting so many corners to save weight...we need something in between the two extremes for people who need a computer but don't work at the same location everyday. Just something to drag to work and plug into any outlet and be ready to go. I might build one if I can figure out the monitor hurdle. Your comments were very thought provoking.
    I'm going to have to investigate this compatibilty thing...
    Can you put a notbook CD-Rom into an ATX Tower and MB???
    Might be interesting to see if it would work.
  3. Well let me propose the opposite compatibility question...can a notebook motherboard drive desktop components?

    Here is a challenge for notebook vendors...create your notebooks more modular for component upgrades!

    If any of you have seen an IBM ThinkPad 755 series laptop, then you know the framework on easy access to the notebooks "interior". On that laptop, the keyboard was hinged...two little latches allows the keyboard to eaisly be lifted up for access to replace/exchange components. This allowed one to the system battery, the CPU-backup battery, the memory slot, the harddrive, and the drive bay (for floppy, cdrom, etc.). It was neat, because if you lifted up the keyboard while the machine was powered up, the system went into instant suspend mode so you would not "shock" yourself. Underneath all these quickly replaceable components was the motherboard, and though that was protected by screwed-down shields, it *was* right there very quickly.

    Oh...what else was cool about that machine was the built-in modem! The phone connector was a socketed item so that (in theory) IBM could allow you to pop out the 4-pin phone jack, and plop-in a 8-pin ISDN or even network jack. The circuitry driving that jack was their MWave DSP chip, so a quick software update is all that is needed. IBM did provide updates to take that original 28.8 modem all the way to a V.90 without any hardware changes. The power of DSP and software (firmware) updates!

    As much as the consumers would desire laptop components to be compatible across all vendors, much like the desktop environment, I don't forsee that happening anytime soon. **BUT** I am **WISHING** that a vendor will make their whole line of laptops modular so once I purchase into their line, I am able to constantly update my "shell" with new components. Like the desktop environment, I will probably only be able to upgrade only so far (how many of the BX motherboards are able to use CPU's over the 1GHz barrier?), but if I purchase a new "migration path" every 3-5 years I would be extremely happy!

    Two more cents from my pocket...

  4. I have a suggestion for the motherboard/power supply problem.
    the other day I saw rackmount computers on this website
    look under "cases". it's a UK company but maybe they ship overseas as well.
    these rackmounted compters come with PCI slot adapters so that the PCI cards are actually parallel to the mainboard instead at 90°. maybe this input can help you.

  5. A few years ago I was working for a small company fixing and refurbing PC/Laptops. We were uning dos 6.2 and Windows 3.1 which was setup to use VGA mode. in this respect we could ghost the drives for any PC and just provide the users with a SW licence. But to ghost the laptop drives we had a small adapter that plugged into the back of a 2.5" HDD (laptop hard drive) and allowed you to then plug it into a 40 Pin IDE cable and 4 Pin power cable. I can't remember the supplier of the part but they are out there and should also work with other IDE devices E.G. Cd/DVD ROM.

    Only the insane prosper.
    Only those who prosper can judge what is sane.
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