Apple may be focused on reinventing the phone with the iPhone, but that doesn’t mean that it has forgot about it’s notebooks. Recent Apple’s patent filings (see here and here ) show that they put their R&D types on one insurmountable problem that limits the possibilities of ultraportable laptops to get thinner and smaller. And that problem is – ” Where to put the Optical Disc Drive (ODD)? ”
The drive itself is a pretty bulky thing. With all the necessary EMI shielding and structural integrity elements it gets even bigger. It is the biggest component of ultraportable laptop apart from LCD and keyboard. And it wastes even more space because it has to be mounted along one side edge of the computer, usually in that precious space in front of the keyboard where a lot of other goodies might be stuffed in. Right? Right?
Not necessarily. Apple thinks that it has found a much better place to put the Optical Disc Drive: at the bottom of the MacBook:
Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? The first thought that comes to mind is -”How on earth I will access my disc if it’s underneath my laptop?”. But it’s not as stupid as it appears in the beginning.
Think about it. How often do you really need the optical disc access? And when inserting or taking out the disc you stop other things you are doing on your Mac Book anyway. So is it really that much more trouble to close the lid, turn over you notebook and then insert the disc?
If implemented the right way it really might work. And if anyone can do it right, it’s Apple. They will go about it the following way:
- Implement mobile motion module (MMM) that detects the orientation and movement of the computer, so you can not open ODD accidentally.
- put the optical drive underneath the laptop just behind the keyboard area thus saving a lot precious space in the front area of the notebook.
- put an active user interface to operate the ODD. The active user interface includes:
- The actuation button which may be, for example, a capacitative sensor for user contact to initiate opening of the door.
- The indicator light may illuminate (e.g., blink) to provide a warning that the door is about to open.
- In order to keep the surface of the bottom of the portable computer smooth, the actuation button and the indicator light may each be mounted flush on the bottom surface
The motion sensor determines the position of the laptop and keeps the ODD door closed when computer is in normal operation mode. When you turn it over and press the “Open” button, the door pops up. Or you can give “disc eject” command with a keyboard shortcut and mouse command. After giving such a command you close the lid, turn over your ultraportable and the door is released automatically. You put in or take out the disc. Close the door and resume your work. That’s it.
And you don’t even have to remember to put the disc in upside down, as is the case with many of the slot loading drives today.
If this makes my ultraportable Mac Book thinner, lighter and smaller then any PC around and the only difference is that I have to turn it upside down when changing DVD’s…
Well, I think Apple is on to something here.
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