Redesign the laptop

For a while I've already been thinking that we might have to redesign todays laptops, but never got to write about it. About a week ago when Microsoft showed some Windows 8 explorer redesigns my idea surfaced again and now finally I got some time to share some of my thoughts.

In my office I work on a large, 2560 * 1440 resolution, screen and that is approximately four times the resolution of the laptop I'm currently using to write this article. The screen is so large that it's not comfortable to work with full screen applications, except for photo and video editing. When dealing with text, the lines get to long and become difficult to read. My usual set up is to divide the screen in 2 sections with for instance 2 browsers running side by side. One for keeping track of email, news and social status updates and the other for real work that involves writing documents. Working this way makes sure the width of the applications is still comfortable for reading lines, they don't get too long and I really appreciate the height and overview of the documents I'm looking at. When working on a laptop I don't really miss the additional width, but I do miss the additional height and overview of the document.

For me the vertical screen real estate has become more important than the horizontal screen real estate and I do anything to maximize the vertical viewing area. This involves turning off task- and toolbars, menus, etc. So when Microsoft announced the increased usage of the ribbon in the Windows 8 user interface I immediately got worried about the available vertical screen real estate.

It's time to rethink laptop designs, why not creating a laptop with a portrait oriented screen. I doesn't have to be any bigger than a current model 13" laptop, because that would be large enough to hold a reasonable sized keyboard and the screen would still be wide enough for comfortable viewing. There would be more space for a larger trackpad so it could combine keyboard and touch interface very well.

Call to action for all laptop vendors that want to created a competitor for the Apple Macbook Air: Don't try to compete by doing more of the same, but really rethink the design. When you do launch, be cool and give me some credit.

Credit for the image: Sie-Hang Cheung, a great interaction designer too.



'When Microsoft announced the increased usage of ribbon... "  I go to buy a Mac.. :-)  Seriously, I think the idea is nice but with some exceptions for some oldskool secretaries I have not seen the vertical tft screens catch on in the last ten years. I think you would quickly miss that little extra on the side that give you a feel of what other apps are on the desktop open or as even your own blog, it has banners and stuff, so having less screen estate than my Macbook Pro screen has now vertically, would make me claustrofobic I think..   But you only know it when you have prototyped and tested it :-)


It's excellent to be able to see them all according to your research in this way, Julie. I don't think there is one perfect answer yet, but one day maybe!
this is all new information to me, thank you!,My pleasure, Melissa! Have fun playing around with them. :),Thanks for spotlighting and clarifying this point, Adrienne. :)  
I can't wait to play around with Symbaloo some more--just not for the purposes I originally tried it.
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Once you have the larger screen you can't go back to a smaller one. It's weird but you just can't work as well, after being exposed to better tech. 

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