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Apple developing next-gen ODD module for ultra portable notebooks

post #1 of 76
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As notebook computers become increasingly smaller and thinner, Apple in its design labs is turning to new methods of placement for optical disk drives (ODD) in an effort to optimize the rapidly diminishing real estate of the portable systems, a pair of company filings has revealed.

In two separate July 2005 patent filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, published for the first time on Thursday, the Cupertino-based Mac maker a discloses ongoing development of a "disk drive media access system" that would be mounted inside the undercarriage of a MacBook Pro. The system would open "a media access door to the interior of a disk drive sufficiently for ejection of disk media from the disk drive but insufficiently for manually engaging and removing disk media that is operationally positioned within the disk drive."

Existing notebook designs contain ODD modules that are self-contained units having their own enclosures and their own electromagnetic interference shielding. When placed within a notebook, the ODD modules have traditionally been mounted along one side or perimeter edge in order to provide user access for inserting and removing a optical discs (CDs or DVDs). But as notebook computers continue to become thinner and thinner, placement of the ODD is becoming increasingly problematic, the filing notes.

"For example, the available area on the perimeter edge surfaces of the base of the computer housing (available "real estate") diminishes as the thickness of the portable computer diminishes," Apple wrote. "Such real estate consequently becomes increasingly valuable as other services compete for use of the same diminishing resources. However, relocating the ODD away from the perimeter edge of the computer housing base poses problems and dilemmas that require solutions that have heretofore been deficient."



One important consideration in the placement of the ODD, Apple said, is the convenience afforded to the user of the portable computer when inserting and removing a disk from the drive. It noted that users have become accustomed to intuitive user interfaces and convenient access to the ODD through the real estate along the side edges of the portable computer housing. "Any reconfiguration, therefore, of the user interface for the ODD must take into account user expectations, efficiency, and convenience," the company wrote. "It must not be unintuitive or counter-intuitive."



Apple pointed out that "edge access" to optical drives involves moving a disk horizontally, parallel to the plane of the disk. Therefore, it said, removal of the disk from a notebook computer or other portable device is thus relatively simple -- even a person with large fingers -- because major portions of the flat surfaces (top and bottom) of the disk can be easily presented to the user.



"However, when disk access is provided through a door which does not shift or move the disk laterally out of the portable computer, it can be much more difficult for the user to engage and remove the disk," the company made clear in the filing. "Also, the disk access mechanism itself may be vulnerable to accidental damage. Therefore, to enable the user to grab the disk, such a portable device must present an opening that is large enough for the user to grasp the sides of the disk and pry it off the hub latch of the ODD."



The Mac maker said that the "opening" in an ideal next-generation ODD must therefore be large enough to accommodate both the disk and the fingers of the user, with additional appropriate clearance to accommodate the disk removal action. "This can be a substantial design burden as portable computers and portable devices become smaller and smaller," it wrote. "As sizes shrink, it is increasingly costly both from a design standpoint and from a functionality standpoint to have an unnecessarily large access door and open, wasted space around the periphery of the disk."

At the same time, Apple cautioned that an access door that opens outwardly from a notebook computer can also be particularly vulnerable to damage, especially damage to the door hinge mechanism. In its filings, the company therefore proposes several solutions to the problem, such as a breakaway hinge (shown in the majority of the images), a drop-and-slide door, a pop-and-rotate door, an iris door, a garage door, and sit-and-spin door.



The break-away hinge, Apple said, would be a "very robust hinge that is designed to permit the door to break away from the housing base and not to be damaged when subjected to a force that would otherwise damage a conventional hinge."

Meanwhile, a drop-and-slide door solution would open "by dropping slightly inside the housing base and traveling along a track parallel to the bottom surface. In this manner, the door is protected because it is positioned inside the housing base when in the open position."

The filings say a pop-and-rotate door option, upon opening, would rise above the bottom surface of the notebook and then rotate on a pivot, while an iris door would be composed of several separate pieces that open up like the iris on a camera.



The garage door option would be sectioned similarly to a folding garage door, such as a series of metallic strips connected to one another by a fabric or other flexible carrier underneath the metallic strips, Apple said.

And lastly, the company added that a sit-and-spin door would feature a locking configuration similar to a bayonet attachment, with tabs that pass through slots. "The sit-and-spin door is then rotated between locked and unlocked positions, and when removed from the housing base, is entirely separated therefrom," it wrote. "The sit-and-spin door thus has the advantage that it does not have a vulnerable hinge and does not require space for protection inside the housing base."

The July 20, 2005 filings are credited to Apple industrial design chief Jonathan Ive and other members of his team, including Chris Ligtenberg, Gregory Springer, Bartley Andre and Brett William Degner.
post #2 of 76
Terrible, terrible design. Seems more like something DELL would do. Anyways, check the grammar in the first paragraph. I mean, run on sentence.
post #3 of 76
It would be OK in an ultra-portable. Most of these don't even have optical drives, so if Apple made one that did, that would require some creative thinking. I'm guessing this would be intended for ultra-portables.
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post #4 of 76
it is not as bad of a design as it seems. the rumor was that this "ultraportable (UP)" notebook was to have flash drives as the main storage drive. moving bodies up and down and flipping wouldn't damage the drive, although that was the case when Apple implemented shock-proof hard drive anyway.

and if this is such a bad design, where can you actually put the drive? this is the most logical choice. Also, because this is supposed to be very light, it wouldn't require you to hire Hans brothers to lift the computer up for you or anything like that.
post #5 of 76
Eww... and I thought Apple was famous for its simplicity and beautiful design... as someone has said, this is probably what Dell needs to climb out the hole. Even if they implemented this, you'd need to flip the notebook upside down (In my opinion, this is not recommended when a computer is on) and one way or another, the computer still needs 8x8cm space to house the disk (you can't get smaller than that unless the disk is smaller..).
post #6 of 76
That is a TiPB, not an MBP.
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post #7 of 76
Quote:
mounted on the undercarriage of a MacBook Pro that "opens a media access door to the interior of a disk drive sufficiently for ejection of disk media from the disk drive but insufficiently for manually engaging and removing disk media that is operationally positioned within the disk drive."

I don't get it. The drive would mount to the underside of the notebook, be IN the underside of the notebook, or neither? I don't get it.
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post #8 of 76
Common guys it's not about optical drives anyway. It's about appealing to the female market by including a compact mirror.

And it is odd they used a TiBook in a 2005 filling.

None of those designs is nearly as elegant as the slot-loading drive. They only need to solve the small disk issue.
post #9 of 76
I can't buy into the idea that this is a better design than the typical slot drive. It would be more inconvenient under the computer, there's a large potential for damage, and it doesn't solve the problem of 'valued real estate'.
post #10 of 76
I agree with the skepticism here.

How many people will want to close the lid, put the machine to sleep, just to insert, or remove a disk?

Not many.

But, at least they are thinking.

Perhaps notebooks are getting TOO thin to be practical.
post #11 of 76
I just don't buy it

How can the Designer of the Year and the best industrial design team in the world come up with something that clearly I could have done in my bedroom? I mean its only gonna save like a millimetre or two

And why would they show it on TiBook? Its almost as if they were trying to hide the true final use of the patent or something

This is just crazy and Apple sux!!!
post #12 of 76
A patent filing doesn't mean they are developing it. It's kind of unfortunate as this allows for patent trolls, one can patent a good idea but never actually sell a product based on it, or, given the lax checking, really have to do any real development work other than a few drawings and the filing. This is unlike trademarks when you actually have to use a trademark within a certain time period for it to hold value.

If it's for an ultraportable, I can do without a built-in optical drive. I would have no problem using an external drive. If you need to move files, you can use a USB flash drive or a network. The only times I use an optical drive is for installing an OS, installing a purchased app (both are rare) and importing media. Once all that is done, I can leave the optical drive at home, where it's not bulking up the actual device or the carrying bag.

If it had to be a top-loading or bottom loading, I would agree that bottom loading is the worst of the two, I'd rather a top loader like many portable DVD players and Panasonic notebooks. I really don't think either has a worthwhile advantage over a side-loader. An exception may be if you want to add more slots, but I think there are some tough issues there too.
post #13 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinney57 View Post

I just don't buy it

How can the Designer of the Year and the best industrial design team in the world come up with something that clearly I could have done in my bedroom? I mean its only gonna save like a millimetre or two

And why would they show it on TiBook? Its almost as if they were trying to hide the true final use of the patent or something

This is just crazy and Apple sux!!!

It's just a drawing. Don't you remember those patent drawings for the iphone? It will be interesting to see how this actually turns out if they decide to make it
post #14 of 76
Might not be such a bad design in a tablet. Just sayin...
post #15 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavallo View Post

Might not be such a bad design in a tablet. Just sayin...

Exactly. Mind you, I can't imagine needing/wanting an optical drive on a tablet type device.
post #16 of 76
I don't like the idea of under the computer, but it is an overall good idea. Perhaps if the door were under the keyboard so you didn't have to flip the computer over to change disks. Either in a design similar to the ones shown with the door visible after the keyboard is lifted, or with a slot loading drive attached to the keyboard bottom that raises up. On the other hand, having an iris door on my laptop would be really cool, if it weren't hidden on the bottom.
post #17 of 76
This could easily migrate into a design where the keyboard lifts up to reveal the opening for the ODD.
post #18 of 76
we should be using mini cds and mini dvds (8 cms) and slot loading mini cd/dvd drives on our computers. they still hold a lot of information and if one disc is not enough, use two. they are still very inexpensive.
post #19 of 76
Or, put it in the display.
post #20 of 76
Slot loading disc drive mechanisms need both a servo to move the disc laterally and a servo to raise and lower the central spindle into place. This design needs neither. It's probably a saving of more than a few mm

In a <1" thin laptop optical drive thickness is the limiting factor. Other manufacturers haven't tied themselves to slot loading mechanisms and this is Apple's insurance if they lose the 'thinnest 3 spindle device' crown.
post #21 of 76
Q.

1. Which surface of any notebook gets the most abuse?
2. Which surface of any notebook bears the most weight?
3. Which surface of any notebook gathers the most detritus?
4. Which part of your notebook should you never put any force on?

A.

1. The bottom.
2. The bottom.
3. The bottom
4. The optical drive.

Given the increasing robustness of networks, impending downloadbility of movies (iTMS, Netflix) and the increasing capacity of flash drives, I'd give as much credence to a model with no optical drive as the next direction to focus on. Hope they're working on that too!
post #22 of 76
This way of accessing the disk will be used in a tablet-computer, where one is already holding the computer in one arm and stylus or other (finger?) input device with the other arm.

It also seems ridiculus to keep making these laptops ever more thinner. They are thin enough as the need to be, withouth getting lost in a stack of paper. I would prefer they kept the same size and crammed technology into the case faster (and cheaper) instead of reducing the volume and keeping out of the computer some essential elements (modem, battery, iPod connector etc).
post #23 of 76
Who needs the future MBP to be less than 1" thin? If it gets to thin it'll be too fragile for practical use anyhow. I'd like to see a MBP that could stand a bit more rough and tumble.
post #24 of 76
the odd is under the keyboard and mouse pad, I agree thie design here may just be for patent use and not find it's way into final product. If it does, well I don't think many people would go for that, after the slot loading drives it looks too cumbersome and it looks like a copy of a portable cd player type. Cheap.
post #25 of 76
some of the diagram looks like Panasonic's notebook optical drive, hope they will do it better and some "wow" factor in it.

ultra portable coming, good reason why we did not see 12" PB oops 12" MBP

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post #26 of 76
Yeah,

I'd have to say this will likely never be produced. I agree with previous posts that highlight Apple's attention to detail and convenience. It's just so far off base from their typical production designs. If they do produce an "ultra-portable" my vote is for an external ODD solution. Although they are awkward to carry around if you travel, it's sort of balanced by the fact the a lot of users don't use the ODD super-often.

On a personal note, If this does end up getting produced in the described fashion, it will be a sad day for Apple's design department and myself as a user. One of the things that caused me to switch is the simplistic/elegant combination of Apple's hardware and OS. I think that it's one of those things where, put together, they are more than the sum of their parts. Take away any one thing, and it doesn't fly.

Just my $.02...
post #27 of 76
Why can't the whole thing pop out? Like there's a circular plate and the whole mechanism is attached to it and can move up and down, and when you open it, the plate just pops a bit and there's a little button lever in the middle that allows you to slide the disc out just a little to grab it from the side. No?
In other words, currently you have horizontal eject in Macs, why not do a vertical one?
post #28 of 76
How about a variation on the pop and rotate door? Forget the pop. Just mount the motor and spindle on a section of the underside. When you need access, just swing it out horizontally to the side, using a pivot located on one of the back corners of the notebook. This way, users wouldn't have to flip the notebook upside down. Well, maybe flip the disc upside down, so that the pickup assembly can remain in the main chassis and not on the swing-out portion.

Whatever the form factor, I wish it were a Blu-ray burner, but that probably won't happen for another year or two.
post #29 of 76
Or build it into the back of the LCD in the center top region. Not a bad location for a top facing slot-loading drive. I'd rather add .35" to my display thickness then have to juggle my notebook when trying to install a disc.

or they could do an LCD/side load variation on the iMac theme...
post #30 of 76
I think the pop and rotate idea is a great one. This notebook would be about 3/4" thick and about 11" widescreen. Picking it up and turning it over would be as easy as turning a slice of toast over to butter the other side (if you were into that). I'm right-handed, so I'd grab with my left hand flip it over, rest on my left arm, press the door with my right hand, rotate out of the way, pop in the disk, and pop the door closed, I think that would be easy peazy and more than acceptable.
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post #31 of 76
as someone said, i don't see a reason to go much thinner.... just yet.

the goal should be lighter and lighter.... and if we go thinner we also have to reduce the thickness of the battery.....

although this is something to be pursued eventually, there are bigger fish to fry.

i think one thing that adds unnecessary thickness is the different connectors: RJ45, USB, FW400/800, DVI etc.

i'd like them to adopt maybe industry-wdie standardizations for all these that are smaller and thinner. if they were smaller and thinner we could reduce the space they take up in the machine which would allow for other stuff or more connections (goodbye USB and FW hubs)

The DVI connection is unnecessarily thick.... they could move towards hdmi which would also carry sound too.

could you make the motor have less volume and thickness by rotating the disc at the edges.... i.e. you use the center hole to pull the disc out but the motor becomes a thin periphery and the disc snaps in.... i don't know much about motors but it's a possibility to explore. i assume a motor would have to be thicker if it is center mounted than distributed at the edge of the whole disc....

smaller discs based on Blu-ray

movement towards flash memory as a replacement for optical discs- i would love if 4-8GB flash memory got cheap enough to replace DVDs/CDs... this one isn't happening for a while.
post #32 of 76
I love the garage door version!! We might even be able to use the Apple remote to open and close it!

This is either a way of getting Dell to pay for patent liscences when they try to implement these awkward designs

or

like the tablet folks, this is for a future ultra-portable device that is not shown in the drawings.

I think the subnotebook people should be at least VERY happy that this is even on Apple's radar.
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post #33 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by intlplby View Post

i think one thing that adds unnecessary thickness is the different connectors: RJ45, USB, FW400/800, DVI etc.

The connectors are fine. If they desperately needed to make it thinner while keeping the current connectors, they could make a section for them along the back that is the full thickness of the laptop. Sort of like the really early laptops like the Grid Compass and Mac Portable, although obviously not extending that far behind the machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by intlplby View Post

could you make the motor have less volume and thickness by rotating the disc at the edges.... i.e. you use the center hole to pull the disc out but the motor becomes a thin periphery and the disc snaps in.... i don't know much about motors but it's a possibility to explore. i assume a motor would have to be thicker if it is center mounted than distributed at the edge of the whole disc....

Then you're talking about higher rotational speed for the motor and bearings, increasing cost and stress on the components. At any given RPM, the tangential speed goes higher the further away you get from the center. Rim-drive is almost never a good option in the field of engineering.
post #34 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinney57 View Post

And why would they show it on TiBook? Its almost as if they were trying to hide the true final use of the patent or something

The filing was nearly two years ago, and it is possible that the drawings were made two years before that.
post #35 of 76
The idea is interesting if they go with the camera iris one but damn this would be expensive to make, apple could no longer turn to other companies to supply the optical drive for them. This idea gets even crazier when thinking about next-gen disk formats, while not as elegant it'd be better if they simly just bundled in an external optical drive, or a docking station. A lot road warriors are used to not having optical drives on the road anyways and do that in either a hotel room or at home. I don't see it as so much of a problem that we need to insanely up the costs by doing stuff like this.

JeffDM the panasonic type drive is interesting but that still puts it along the edge and panasonic probably has a patent for that anyways.
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post #36 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by crees! View Post

I mean, run on sentence.

[English teacher]Actually, that first sentence is grammatically correct, not a run-on. A run-on is not a long sentence; it is two independent clauses not separated by a period, conjunction, or a semicolon.

This however is a fragment.

And "run-on" is hyphenated. [/English teacher]
post #37 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinney57 View Post

I just don't buy it

How can the Designer of the Year and the best industrial design team in the world come up with something that clearly I could have done in my bedroom? I mean its only gonna save like a millimetre or two

And why would they show it on TiBook? Its almost as if they were trying to hide the true final use of the patent or something

This is just crazy and Apple sux!!!

Er.. OK. I was joking. (badly obviously)
post #38 of 76
Bullshit.
post #39 of 76
I don't know if this idea has been posted before. However here is what I thought. Why not have the cd drive under the keyboard? Press the eject button and part of the keyboard opens up like a door on hinges or perhaps a section of the keyboard raises up and moves to the side so you can access the drive. Place the cd inside and close the drive. They would have to figure out a way to have the keyboard still function but it's better than putting the drive on the bottom.
post #40 of 76
Methink that Apple has a stack of ready-to-submit patent requests for ludicrous things that they never intend to use; this serves 2 purposes: take attention away from what is really going on as to add shock and wow to the next Stevenote and to build an insain arsinal of patents to use for the present cold-war like state where people like Creative can sue them for a product that has been shipping for 6 years and is the de-facto market leader.

It is all about throwing off the guessers and foiling patent lawsuits.

For the record, that drive is the stupidest idea ever...
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