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Apple designing 'collapsable connection receptacle' for ultra-portable systems

post #1 of 43
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Apple Inc., which is expected to introduce a widescreen ultra-portable in the coming months, may compact the notebook's I/O ports into a collapsible connection receptacle on the rear of the unit in order to conserve space, a new design patent has revealed.

"Mobile devices such as notebook computers are becoming increasingly thinner," Apple explained in the 11-page filing published for the first time Thursday. "As a result, connections systems need to be reduced in size to accommodate smaller form factors."

However, the Cupertino-based systems designer notes that one limitation when reducing the size of a connection system is that the reduction is limited by the size of the largest port (which usually include Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, FireWire ports, RJ-11 ports, and RJ-45 ports).

For example, RJ-45 ports are relatively large and thus may be a challenge to accommodate, Apple said. To remedy this situation, the company has proposed a "connection system" that includes a connection receptacle comprising a first component coupled to a chassis and a second component coupled to the first component.

"The connection system includes a connection receptacle that is implemented as two separate components. One of the components is fixed in that it is coupled to the chassis, and the other component is rotatable or coupled to a moving mechanism," the company explained. "The combination of the fixed and rotating components are adapted to receive a plug when the connection receptacle is in an open position, and the fixed and rotating components are collapsed into a compact configuration when the connection receptacle is in a closed position."

Under Apple's design proposal, the ports maintain their original form whether the connection system is in an open or in a closed position. When the connection system swings to the closed or stowed position, the ports also swing into a stowed position such that they are flush with the mobile device chassis.



Although the filing primarily describes a concept where multiple ports are integrated into a single connection system, it may also apply to other configurations. For example, Apple said each port (e.g., the RJ-45 port 122) can be separate from other ports such that a single port can be moved into open and closed positions independent from other ports.

In general, and by minimizing the space requirements of the stowed position, larger ports such as standard RJ-45 ports no longer limit the potential reduction in connection systems, the company said.



"Accordingly, this collapsing function enables a substantial reduction in the size of the connection system and thereby enables a substantial reduction in the form factor of a device implementing the connection system," Apple added. "For example, a notebook computer may have a highly tapered chassis shape."

The April 17, 2007 patent filing -- credited to well-known Apple interface designers Gavin Reid, Chris Ligtenberg, and Bartley Andre -- could hint at design concepts that may make their way into Apple's upcoming ultra-portable notebook design.

Sometime later this year or early next, Apple is expected to introduce its first ultra-portable notebook in some time. Sources have said the unit will lack a traditional optical drive, include on-board NAND flash, and sport a 13-inch widescreen LED-backlit display.
post #2 of 43
A 13" display with flash, no optical drive and awkward port setup would be a very stupid design when Sony make UMPC devices at 10" with an optical drive and standard ports including ethernet and hard drives.
post #3 of 43
am i the only one who doesn't understand how this works?
i'll give it a second read...

UPDATE: ok, sorta understand it now, thought not fully...i can imagine this causing a lot of mechanical problems unless they get this down perfectly. each port having it's own collapsing/rotating mechanism would add a lot of moving parts and may take away from the flash storage/no optical drive simplicity. but, it looks interesting, i just don't understand it completely. if anyone can pull this design off, its apple.
post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

A 13" display with flash, no optical drive and awkward port setup would be ...

GREAT!
post #5 of 43
I am sure Apple will deliver a stunningly thin laptop. But screen-size and the need to play DVDs are an absolute must. I would rather have an extra 4mm of thickness and an in-built DVD player than a razor-thin machine with an attachable player. The first Sony VAIOs had a separate drive and these were a pain. Whatever Apple decides, I think this machine could be as big as the iPhone. Nobody really gets just how significant NAND-Flash drives are.
post #6 of 43
Look, Apple doesn't need this nonsense to deliver an ultraportable notebook. The tech is already there to do so. Just look at all the sub-1.5kg or so notebooks by Windoze makers on the market (Panasonic, Sony, Fujitsu, Toshiba to name a few - heck even ASUS makes one).

The lack of a truly portable computer is killing Apple's sales in Japan, the number 2 or 3 consumer market in the world. Five pounds doesn't cut it in a country where >80% of the people commute by train. Any further delays in a replacement for even something like the 12" G4 PowerBook (which itself is overweight) is unacceptable.

I'm all for innovation, but excuses for the delay are pathetic.
post #7 of 43
No optical drive is hardly an issue for Apple, they want a world where you buy your movies from iTMS and you transfer files not on CD but on .mac accounts.

As for ports, 1 each of FW USB enet audio video seems reasonable for an ultra when you have your camera, mic and wireless built in. I could drop the phone and one usb from by ibook today and not notice.

Given what they've shown they can do with a hinge to date makes this promising.

Given what they did with a half-hearted Moto phone ahead of the iPhone, you want to get it right the first time.

It does need to be a widescreen, not a 10" sony clone. I think if you look at the new keyboards, they're already testing the limits ahead of an ultralight design.
post #8 of 43
Even if Apple doesn't end using this patent, they have at least given themselves the option of doing so, and ensuring no one else gets it before them.
post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

But screen-size and the need to play DVDs are an absolute must. Whatever Apple decides, I think this machine could be as big as the iPhone.

I am trying to imagine an iPhone with a built-in DVD player ...
post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

I am trying to imagine an iPhone with a built-in DVD player ...

An ultraportable doesn't need an optical drive. If you want to watch movies on the go, rip 'em. As for connections, pack it full of every wireless technology that is useful (BT, 802.11b/g/n, and maybe IR for once) and you won't need wires most of the time.

Collapsible ports will likely reek of reliability problems unless thoroughly tested. I have seen an ethernet (RJ45) connection, that has a flip-up top for retaining the larger connector. It's like a port on a stick.
post #11 of 43
'Collapsible connection receptacle'??

Am I the only one that thinks that sounds a little... y'know... *funny*?

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more?


No one else? Ooooookay...
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post #12 of 43
13" is far from ultra-portable. I was hoping for something in the 8" to 10" range weighing under 800g. As described, this is more luggable than portable.
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post #13 of 43
If Apple does go the ultra-portable route, I REALLY think it'll be less than 13". And I REALLY think it'll be a tablet.

If Apple is worried about shaving fractions of inches off of already slim ports, why wouldn't they want to eliminate all the extra space used on two layers of chasis, not to mention keyboard thickness? They could easily make a light-powered, light-weight, ultra-thin, multi-touch tablet on a 9-11" screen for a reasonable price.

If you need to plug it in, flip down the port interface and voila, ports that are wider than the unit... or whatever it may be.

Okay, so it might not be a tablet, but I'm confident it'll be under 13". If Apple is going to play the "ultra-portable" game, they're going to play it right. They're not just going to ship a laptop that just barely makes it under the specifications of "ultra-portable." They are going to shock and awe and put all other so-called "ultra-portables" to shame.

-Clive
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post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post

'Collapsible connection receptacle'??

Am I the only one that thinks that sounds a little... y'know... *funny*?

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more?


No one else? Ooooookay...

Your wife, does she like... 'photography'?

moving on:
13"=portable
10-ish"=ultra-portable.

Thin is nice, but it needs to have a small base too.
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post #15 of 43
I would like an "ultraportable" that is closer to 8" in width. I want it to be a gadget that is better and bigger than a PDA, but that is really light and could be carried in a large purse. Touch screen, wifi, lots of flash or a small harddrive. Lots of iPhone functionality without the phone.

Dreams are good.
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post

am i the only one who doesn't understand how this works?
i'll give it a second read...

It seems like what Apple is talking about is like a popup flap that will complete the port if the port is needed. At other times it can be folded against the surface so it does not take up space.

Personally, I think this is a fantastic idea. The one problem is that it will look weird with that one part sticking above the rest of the laptop. Apple solves this by putting the ports on the back of the laptop. Which brings in the other issue, that I find ports on the side far more convenient than in the back. Apple's beautiful port layouts is one of the major things that makes me pick my ibook everytime I leave home rather than my Toshiba (Obviously OSX is THE major reason. Unfortunately, it not being windows is also what has forced me to acquire the PC.).
post #17 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

A 13" display with flash, no optical drive and awkward port setup would be a very stupid design when Sony make UMPC devices at 10" with an optical drive and standard ports including ethernet and hard drives.

Is that device as thin and light as Apple's? Call it stupid after you know that

And size is not the only benefit of flash storage.
post #18 of 43
I think the most important news about this connection receptacle is that hint that Apple might indeed have a ultra portable coming hopefully very soon.
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post #19 of 43
I really don't understand the description very well to see what the difference is.

I know that Cardbus and earlier cards were available with little pop-out connectors which you could connect a phone or network plug through the little pop-out "hoop". I really don't see how it would be a benefit for something like Firewire 6 or 9 pin connectors.

edit: I see now, the images didn't show up before.
post #20 of 43
The macbook is very portable but IMO ultra portable is 11-12 inches. Very compact but still reasonable in size to be used during a long period for word processing ans surfing.
post #21 of 43
I'd bet money it will be 11", and really really slim. I really wanted a multi-touch Mac tablet though
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post #22 of 43
Where is the cassette player? How will i play my cassettes on this??
post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by murphyweb View Post

Where is the cassette player? How will i play my cassettes on this??

Buy en external 5.25 enclosure, insert the casette player before and connect it to the laptop via USB and you're good to go.

post #24 of 43
I hope Apple never releases a laptop with the ports on the back, like those drawings show.

One of the things I like about my iBook is that I can press it up against the cubicle wall on my desk without fear of pinching any cables. I've seen far too many Dell, HP and Sony laptops with damaged ports because a large cable (like a video cable) got pinched and bent at an unnatural angle.

Play all the games you want with trying to cram ports into a small place, but keep them on the side of the computer, and away from the back panel.
post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamino View Post

I hope Apple never releases a laptop with the ports on the back, like those drawings show.

One of the things I like about my iBook is that I can press it up against the cubicle wall on my desk without fear of pinching any cables.

An ultra portable will most likely be lying in your lap or very close to you while placed on a table, and will not even be close to the wall thanks to it's small footprint.

At home or at the office you will most likely be using another computer as your workstation or hooking the ultra portable up with a bigger screen, keyboard and proper mouse. With that being said cables won't be a problem with an ultra portable. Most of the time it won't even be connected to anything at all. The main point of an ultra portable is freedom. They are small and light in order to be used on the go.
post #26 of 43
imagine the new imac keyboard with a screen attached via a hinge. that thin...
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post #27 of 43
seems like an evolution of the design of the back of the pismo:



Quote:
Originally Posted by shamino View Post

I hope Apple never releases a laptop with the ports on the back, like those drawings show.

(has been done - cf pismo above!)

as someone who has used an iBook g4, PB G4 and currently (still) has a pismo, i definitely prefer the ports on the back. it may be slightly less convenient to get to get to in the first/last instance (plugging/unplugging) but i can't stand having wires coming out the side of the computer - a) it interferes with mouse usage, and b) looks like a dog's breakfast - mouse, network/ethernet, at least one often 2 firewire cables, audio out to speakers or headphones and so forth.
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post #28 of 43
Looks messy. Why not just have an external, multiport, induction-powered gizmo which converts to a Gbps highly localised (<1 metre) wireless protocol. This would mean the ultraportable's design or reliability wouldn't be compromised and, with the proliferation of wirelessly connected devices, it would ultimately become redundant.

They could start with an iPod dongle (with 802.11n/g support) that'd get the ball rolling.

McD
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post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamino View Post

I hope Apple never releases a laptop with the ports on the back, like those drawings show.

They won't be in the back if it's a tablet, they'll be on the side.
I believe those pictures are to make sure everybody's expecting a laptop while they're working on a sensitive screened ultra thin tablet, probably slightly reminicent of the iPhone. If this is the case, though, I don't know how the keyboard (even a virtual one like on the iPhone) won't spoil the size of the screen.
post #30 of 43


Didn't the Apple Duo have an all in one connector on the back? Doesn't really seem like anything new.
post #31 of 43
13 inches is not ultra portable.

If i'm gonna go and buy a 13 inch laptop, i'll get one with all the extras thanks.

8-10 inches is ultra-portable.
post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post

'Collapsible connection receptacle'??

Am I the only one that thinks that sounds a little... y'know... *funny*?

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more?


No one else? Ooooookay...

It's time for your medicine. Drink up!
post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by McDave View Post

Looks messy. Why not just have an external, multiport, induction-powered gizmo which converts to a Gbps highly localised (<1 metre) wireless protocol. This would mean the ultraportable's design or reliability wouldn't be compromised and, with the proliferation of wirelessly connected devices, it would ultimately become redundant.

They could start with an iPod dongle (with 802.11n/g support) that'd get the ball rolling.

McD

What are you talking about?
post #34 of 43
i want a light machine that runs OSX. period.

i don't care what plugs it has
i don't care if it doesn't have an optical drive
i don't care if it is 13" or 12" or 10" screen..

just lighter!!!
post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWintoxication View Post

i want a light machine that runs OSX. period.

i don't care what plugs it has
i don't care if it doesn't have an optical drive
i don't care if it is 13" or 12" or 10" screen..

just lighter!!!

iPhone.

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post #36 of 43
When are they going to put in the updated HDMI?



It is the tallest port on the Macs it comes with, except for ethernet. That too needs to be smaller! Yikes, things are going to get tiny.

I wish there was one port, like the new shuffle uses, that all the cabled technology in the world could use. Then you could just have 5 or so of those tiny holes to deal with.

-=|Mgkwho
post #37 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

I am sure Apple will deliver a stunningly thin laptop. But screen-size and the need to play DVDs are an absolute must. I would rather have an extra 4mm of thickness and an in-built DVD player than a razor-thin machine with an attachable player. The first Sony VAIOs had a separate drive and these were a pain. Whatever Apple decides, I think this machine could be as big as the iPhone. Nobody really gets just how significant NAND-Flash drives are.

So buy a MacBook. This product is (potentially) aimed at people who don’t need to play DVDs. Remember Jobs’ recent keynote, in which he downplayed the significance of the DVD. He clearly wants to move on from optical media, though he’s ahead of his time.
post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by max_naylor View Post

So buy a MacBook. This product is (potentially) aimed at people who dont need to play DVDs. Remember Jobs recent keynote, in which he downplayed the significance of the DVD. He clearly wants to move on from optical media, though hes ahead of his time.

"Ahead of his time," that's rubbish. I've written about moving on from rotating optical media since 2003. It's large, scratch prone, and slow.

-Clive
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post #39 of 43
Guys, guys, guys!

There is NO product!!!

No one can say what this product is aimed at, when we don't know what, if anything, Apple is doing.

We've been discussing an Apple ultra-portable for at least two years now.
post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Guys, guys, guys!

There is NO product!!!

No one can say what this product is aimed at, when we don't know what, if anything, Apple is doing.

We've been discussing an Apple ultra-portable for at least two years now.

You can't get any more ultra-portable then not existing. Dang, Apple thinks of everything!
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