There's no need to try and reinvent the wheel, and some might argue the same applies to desktop PCs. Not Razer, a company that's best known for its PC gaming peripherals. Razer has set out to reinvent gaming desktops with a modular PC concept that's currently called Project Christine. The idea is to simplify the processing of setting up a PC, make future upgrades easy, and eliminate obsolescence.
For all its crazy improvements in speed and power, the desktop computer has had basically the same form factor for the past two decades or so. The same can't be said of the laptop computer.
From its bulky, barely-portable origins to the sleek ultrabooks of today, the laptop has always been a breeding ground for innovative hardware. And while sometimes those innovations have stuck (the clamshell design and trackpads, for instance), others have been a little bizarre. We've collected 11 of our favorite outrageous laptop concepts into one gallery—hit the jump to check it out.
We've already covered a new ThinkGeek gadget today, so let's keep the "Think Geek" ball rolling and talk about a concept that keeps real-life geeks awake at night, jittering at the thought of its awesomeness: quantum computing. Even though Lockheed Martin signed up to buy an underperforming "Maybe it's a quantum computer" from D-Wave One a few months back, the face-melting power we think of when uttering the words "Quantum computer" is still a long ways off. A pair of researchers at Purdue University just inched it a little bit closer to reality, however.
Netbook users can scurry right along, there's nothing to see here. So can anyone interested in ergonomics, precise input devices, and gaming mice. Oh, and if you're strictly a desktop user, you can join the exit group too. At this point we should be left with notebook users who demand nothing more from their input peripheral than the ability to move a cursor around the screen. The Disk Mouse concept might be just the device you never knew you wanted.
We're a bit skeptical when it comes to concept keyboards shipping on time. That's what happens when you get strung along with numerous delays and excuses, as was the case with Art Lebedev Studio's Optimus Maximums OLED keyboard, which finally shipped long after its original promised launch date. Now we're being told that a company called Minebea is prepping its totally flat "Cool Leaf" concept keyboard for a May 13, 2011 release. With all due respect, we'll believe it when we see it.
It's been a little while since we checked in with Yanko Design, a "Web magazine dedicated to introducing the best modern international design." The conceptual inventions we run across are sometimes fantastic and at other times fantastically ill-conceived. One of the latest additions to Yanko Design's site is a Digital Neck Pillow designed by Jung Hwan Song and Joo Young You. How would you rank this one?
We're not entirely sure what to make of the Touchscreen Interface Water concept on Yanko Design, so we're asking you, our readers, what do you think about it? We dig the touchscreen controls, we're just not sure they're appropriate on a water faucet, especially one as funky looking as this. However, we do concede that there may be some functional applications for something like this.
Ma Yi Xuan's "Double USB" concept swings both ways, meaning it can be plugged in right-side up or upside down. It doesn't matter because the only way you can screw up is by trying to jam the USB connector into a non-USB port.
"The Double USB has two contact layers which are both stretchy," Xuan explains. "This always promises one layer to touch the contacts of the fixed interface, no matter which side is up. At the same time, the other layer is pushed in."
You get the gist of it from the photo below. Our only real reservation comes from the spring action, which we could see wearing out over time, especially for devices that are frequently plugged and unplugged. Otherwise, we're completely down with a reversible USB connector concept.
Razer, best known for its line of gaming mice, sometimes uses CES to launch a product seemingly out of the company's realm. One year it was the Mako 2.1 speakers, which is still the only speaker set in Razer's product portfolio. And this year? Meet the Switchblade, a "mobile PC gaming concept design."
The Switchblade is basically a netbook of sorts custom tailored for gamers and built around Intel's Atom platform, likely Oak Trail. The idea is to bring a keyboard, mouse, and touchscreen display to mobile gaming, a combo that doesn't really exist with today's handheld consoles.
"The main problem with mobile PC gaming so far is that no one has been able to port the full mouse and keyboard experience onto a small size portable solution," said Min-Liang Tan, CEO and Creative Director, Razer. "By combining adaptive on-the-fly controls and display, we managed to maintain the full tactile keyboard in a miniature computer while saving valuable screen estate."
Not just an everyday netbook, the Switchblade comes with an "intelligent user interface that adjusts the configuration and key layout on-the-fly based on game content and user requirements" (the key graphics change, somewhat similar to the Optimus Maximum OLED keyboard), and it sports a custom overlay on top of Windows 7.
Designer Dave Hakkens said he was inspired by a hamster ball when he came up with the idea for his Dustball, a giant robotic vacuum cleaner that rolls around the floor sucking up dirt.
"I created a little friend just rolling around and which you could push or kick in a direction to clean," Hakkens explains. "It has no trouble with cables or anything like that, it's strong, and when it rolls before your feet you just kick it out of the way."
When the Dustball gets its fill of dirt, it rolls back to its original destination and glows, letting you know it's time to empty the dust bucket inside.
We have to admit, it's a cool looking design, and maybe even functional for large open areas, but the shape could be problematic when it comes to vacuuming near walls, under tables, and near furniture.