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Apple pushing for patent on versatile tablet docking station

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
Apple continues to file for patents on a versatile docking station that would be ideal for a tablet computer larger than the iPhone and offer the option of charging the device through either metal contacts or induction.

A 23-page filing made in February and published this week represents more of a brainstorming exercise than a specific plan, providing examples of over a half dozen potential docking interfaces ranging from cavity-oriented designs to those configured like an easel.

The objective behind each of the designs is to allow for positioning of the tablet in a variety of orientations -- such as landscape and portrait -- while also delivering improved techniques for both transferring data and powering the device through the docking station.

The docking station would also provide a platform for quickly and easily coupling of the tablet to another system, monitor, or keyboard, in such a way that the user does not have to separately connect each of peripherals to the tablet itself.

Another focus of the filing is to present examples on ways in which the docking station can charge the tablet while still freeing the user to manipulate and change the orientation of the device at his or her will.

One mechanical approach would have the docking station include a circular metal recess and the tablet include a circular protrusion that could be inserted into the circular recess, thereby maintaining a electrical connection while offering the user 360 degree flexibility.

Alternatively, Apple proposes the idea that the two components could each sport planar surfaces, and therefore relying exclusively on an inductance-based system for power and data transfers, or a combination of an inductance-based system and popular wireless technologies.

"With regards to non-contact platforms, inductive coils can be placed in each device to transfer both power and data," the company said.. "The inductive coils are typically hidden from view behind the housings of each device and therefore they are more aesthetically pleasing than electrical contacts, which need to be exposed in order to operate effectively. Furthermore, inductively based systems are more robust than electrical contacts. For example, there are no contacts to wear out and/or oxidize."

"In inductive based systems, the docking station includes the primary coil and the portable electronic device includes the secondary coil," Apple continued. "In wireless systems, both the docking station and the portable electronic device include their own transceiver that both transmits and receives data."



In one implementation, both data and power could be transferred via the inductance-based system. For example, low frequency electrical current may be passed from the primary coil to the secondary coil in order to power or charge the portable electronic device and high frequency current may be passed from one coil to the other in order to send/receive data.

"The data and power inductors may be separate, integral or they may be superimposed on one another," Apple added. "In another implementation, power is transferred via an inductance-based system and data is transferred via a wireless system. The combination of inductance and wireless provides an efficient way to transfer both power and data while keeping both the docking station and portable electronic device fully enclosed."

According to the filing, in small handheld computing device such as cell phones, PDAs or media players, the inductive coils are generally configured to transmit between about 3-5 Watts of power. On the other hand, larger handheld computing devices such as Tablet PCs would have inductive coils that are generally configured to transmit between about 15-25 Watts of power.

"One advantage of planar like electronic devices is that larger inductive coils may be used, spread across the planar surface," Apple said.

The filing, which is reminiscent of some filed last year, is credited to Apple employees Steve Hotelling and Gus Pabon.
post #2 of 35
I hope we see inductance used. Apple have been barking up that tree for a while now, and it's simplicity is befitting the company.
A couple of magnets to attract the device to the correct position (and also give it a 'feel' ) would be nice.

Would be good for in-car use, (entertainment/navigation etc) a market I'm fairly confident apple will be aggressively targeting with a multi function device slightly larger than the iphone at some point.
post #3 of 35
...and, cue Ireland..
I don't see how an anti M$ stance can be seen as a bad thing on an Apple forum I really can't!

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I don't see how an anti M$ stance can be seen as a bad thing on an Apple forum I really can't!

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post #4 of 35
Please let 2009 be the year of the tablet.
post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walter Slocombe View Post

...and, cue Ireland..

Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #6 of 35
Oh what I would give to have a Macbook docking station...
post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by bpatton View Post

Oh what I would give to have a Macbook docking station...

I like Apple's current svelte docking solution which is a USB, DisplayPort, and Power cable coming from a 24" ACD in one bundle.
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post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I like Apple's current svelte docking solution which is a USB, DisplayPort, and Power cable coming from a 24" ACD in one bundle.

It is nice, but in a work environment, it would be so nice to just plug the macbook into a docking station that already has a the keyboard and mouse and monitor connected, along with extra usb ports for the printers and hard drives, and not to mention the network cable.

As much as I hate to admit it, I actually like how Dell has things set up.
post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

Check this out:

Next Apple moves will be Books and Games…
http://spidouz.wordpress.com/2008/09...ooks-and-games

Yep, Books, Games, Light Browsing, & Navigation could all be nailed with one 7 incher
post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by bpatton View Post

Oh what I would give to have a Macbook docking station...

The dock described here would initially be only for tablets and pods. Apple's view is that you only need a dock if you are syncing the computers. An auxiliary screen or keyboard is simply an auxiliary screen or keyboard.
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #11 of 35
Apple, here is what you should do.

An Atom Silverthorne-based mini Mac tablet that is 6" x 3.5" x .7" with a 5" 1024x600 touchscreen and auto screen rotate, 16gb SSD, 1gb RAM, SDHC slot, Bluetooth2.1,Wireless802.11b/g, only one button-power button placed upper right backside, one USB 2.0 charging/port, one docking port, one headphone microphone port, small stand built-in for propping up, stylus and stylus slot, slim faux leather sleeve, and usb to AC charger.
Retails for $499 or $599 for the 32gb SSD model.

Everything else, like wired ethernet and display port, can be added to a mini docking port that the user carries at their whim.

post #12 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmm21 View Post

Apple, here is what you should do.

An Atom Silverthorne-based mini Mac tablet that is 6" x 3.5" x .7" with a 5" 1024x600 touchscreen and auto screen rotate, 16gb SSD, 1gb RAM, SDHC slot, Bluetooth2.1,Wireless802.11b/g, only one button-power button placed upper right backside, one USB 2.0 charging/port, one docking port, one headphone microphone port, small stand built-in for propping up, stylus and stylus slot, slim faux leather sleeve, and usb to AC charger.
Retails for $499 or $599 for the 32gb SSD model.

Everything else, like wired ethernet and display port, can be added to a mini docking port that the user carries at their whim.


What... no 802.11n?
7" diag is the ticket.

I really like the circular spinner tho. Feels very "Plan 9 From Outer Space" retro.
post #13 of 35
This indicates why tablets are such a problem.

A laptop format automatically supports a raised screen.
With a tablet, you either lay them flat.... which is not a great way to work...
Or need a stand of some kind. Which undermines portability.

If you are writing on the tablet, or poking it with a finger, the stand would have to be substantial.

Perhaps the best solution is a tablet you hold in one hand and poke at with the other.
But Apple already make one of those.

C.
post #14 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

What... no 802.11n?
7" diag is the ticket.

I really like the circular spinner tho. Feels very "Plan 9 From Outer Space" retro.

"Circular Spinner"?
802.11n when it becomes available and cheaper.

Any bigger than described and it might be not be pocketable, which is the goal here. Think more robust features than an ipod or iphone. They can always make a 10" Tablet, but I was thinking of those who want smaller size and toteability like a student or anyone tired of lugging a bag around. \
post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post

This indicates why tablets are such a problem.

If you are writing on the tablet, or poking it with a finger, the stand would have to be substantial.

Perhaps the best solution is a tablet you hold in one hand and poke at with the other.
But Apple already make one of those.

C.

A small built-in stand is already used in the Samsung Q1u for when watching a movie or propping up for external bluetooth keyboard use.
My idea would allow some real note taking along with real computer use with Leopard or Windows through visualization. No need to blackberry your fingers.
post #16 of 35
Interesting to note that according to his linkedin profile Gus Pabon left Apple after 13 years and took his power expertise to a startup http://www.greenplug.us
post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walter Slocombe View Post

...and, cue Ireland..

Don't forget moi.

*ahem..clears throat*

MACTOUCH FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!111
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmm21 View Post

Apple, here is what you should do.

An Atom Silverthorne-based mini Mac tablet that is 6" x 3.5" x .7" with a 5" 1024x600 touchscreen and auto screen rotate, 16gb SSD, 1gb RAM, SDHC slot, Bluetooth2.1,Wireless802.11b/g, only one button-power button placed upper right backside, one USB 2.0 charging/port, one docking port, one headphone microphone port, small stand built-in for propping up, stylus and stylus slot, slim faux leather sleeve, and usb to AC charger.
Retails for $499 or $599 for the 32gb SSD model.

Everything else, like wired ethernet and display port, can be added to a mini docking port that the user carries at their whim.


Apple will never touch the Atom. I think with the PA Semi acquisition and them trying to get Papermaster onboard its kinda obvious now (Steve even said so) that Apple wants to design their own chips for ipods and iphones. Perhaps down the line they might even kick intel to the curb when it comes to chips for the macs and macbooks.
post #19 of 35
Figure 3 looks pretty cool. The docking station essentially turns the tablet into a mini iMac.
post #20 of 35
post #21 of 35
Induction please, and while they're at it a 50/60Hz passive inductor so I can recharge while standing/sitting next to any operating electrical device - cheap but hey!

McD
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post #22 of 35

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #23 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post

This indicates why tablets are such a problem.

A laptop format automatically supports a raised screen.
With a tablet, you either lay them flat.... which is not a great way to work...
Or need a stand of some kind. Which undermines portability.

If you are writing on the tablet, or poking it with a finger, the stand would have to be substantial.

Perhaps the best solution is a tablet you hold in one hand and poke at with the other.
But Apple already make one of those.

C.


I don't want a giant iPhone. I want a laptop with a multitouch screen that can be rotated and folded all the way down to cover the keyboard. Perhaps bundled with a stylus that uses Apple's Ink technology. But that's called a convertible tablet. Mac users who dismiss tablets seem to forget that there are 2 types of Tablet PCs: Convertibles which are regular laptops with rotating touch screens, and Slates which have fixed screens and no keyboard.
post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post

This indicates why tablets are such a problem.

A laptop format automatically supports a raised screen.
With a tablet, you either lay them flat.... which is not a great way to work...
Or need a stand of some kind. Which undermines portability.

Exactly! If somebody where to add a built in stand It would by necessity have to be rather large. So why not go the laptop/netbook model. AT least then the keyboard and the weight of the hands can balance the screen somewhat. Of course if the screen was OLED the balancing might be a bit easier.

Quote:

If you are writing on the tablet, or poking it with a finger, the stand would have to be substantial.

If you are trying to write/type on a tablet sitting in a stand I'd have to say food luck to you. The use of a BlueTooth Keyboard might be helpful but you still need a stand. If one goes to all the trouble of making a built in screen stand then where does the portability go as such devices add considerable bulk.
Quote:

Perhaps the best solution is a tablet you hold in one hand and poke at with the other.
But Apple already make one of those.

C.

Well yeah they do but it isn't the be all end all device many make it out to be. The problem is the screen is TO small. Which comes back to my favourite theme an iPhone Maxi / Newton 2. The primary goal of this device would be to deliver a larger screen in a device that is still portable. This device would also support massive amounts of storage, ideally 128GB right off the start for the low end model and 256GB for its big brother.

In any event the idea with the screen is to provide HD quality in a device close to the size of a bank check. Yeah the actual ratio might be a little off and I'd honestly side on wider being better than higher. This puts us in the 6 to 7" diagonal screen size. The idea is to maintain a size that can still be put into a pocket, with at least as much ease as a fat check book but provide for a much wider screen on the portable device. The idea with the wider screen is that it works much better with the web than going a lot higher does. The simple fact is that almost every web site is designed to be wider than the current iPhone screen can accommodate and that won't change because of iPhones existence nor the existence of any other similar device. Check book size does allow for an increase in screen hight which would do wonders for horizontal keyboard mode, it might even help apps used in vertical mode. In any event the challenge for those that want to take it is to grab you check book and imagine a really nice touch screen on the face of it. Slip it into your pockets, carry it around a bit and just "use" it as you would an iPhone but imagine the screen is like much more useful. Think about having more than twice the pixels on screen. Think about this with a battery that lasts 24 hours on a charge while surfing the net.

As a side note you might not want to do that above with your check book in public. It might result in a white padded wagon coming to pick you up.



Dave
post #25 of 35
2 touchscreens, one top, one bottom and make the top one so it completely flips over so u can use it as a tablet.
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post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olternaut View Post

Apple will never touch the Atom.

Yep; in its current form ATOM is a joke for the sorts of products most of us here seem to be interested in. I'm not sure Apple would even use it in a larger tablet of the sorts that is often suggested here by one person. The processor simply delivers to little to the party for what it costs in power.
Quote:
I think with the PA Semi acquisition and them trying to get Papermaster onboard its kinda obvious now (Steve even said so) that Apple wants to design their own chips for ipods and iphones.

Well I'm not to sure Papermaster was being hired for anything more than management experience. Right now Apple has way to many top flight engineers than it needs for engineering tasks. I think what Apple was looking for was a person able to guide these individuals in the right direction on complex and bleeding edge products. A visionary of sorts.

Lets face it many of us have visions of what the perfect portable handheld device would look like and do. the question is how many of us could lead groups of engineers spread all over the world to a common goal. This is Papermasters job to structure and build a team that can continue to turn out sate of the art devices that fit in your hand.
Quote:
Perhaps down the line they might even kick intel to the curb when it comes to chips for the macs and macbooks.

This I truly doubt. The problem is simply this i86 compatibility is a big thing for 'PCs". As long as Apples "devices" are marketed as things other than PCs, Apple has the door wide open in how and what they build them out of. The minute that they become a PC then the freedom goes out the door, this is a huge distinction. So I don't expect to see anything PC like on these new devices. In fact I don't really expect to see anything Mac OS/X like that we don't already see. Being free to use ARM gives Apple significant advantages over anything using INTEL hardware right now. Due to ARMs core size they should be able to keep those advantages for a very long time. At 45 nm Apple should be able to place a GPU, a quad of ARMs, System RAM, Video RAM, USB I/O, PCI Express I/O and misc I/O all on one chip. That means lots of board space for FLASH. Also given a really low power process and advanced power engineering they should be able to cut power usage while running at 2 to 3 times the current clock rate.

What I'm trying to say is that we are only starting to see what is possible with respect to iPods/iPhones and the like. Papermasters goal would be to put all this together in a package people like you and me would buy. What is interesting with these patents is that it is obvious that Apple is well on its way with ideas for future devices. Maybe they have a problem where they are producing more ideas than they have people to develop them.

The thing with companies like Apple is that patent applications like these don't in and of themselves mean much. In the case of this specific patent I'm not sure what they are even trying to patent as I can't believe that transfer of power by induction could be considered patentable any more. Even the design of the supports don't strike me as unique at all, I mean really how long have pivoting monitors been around. For Apple it is more a case of do we have the technology today to deliver this device, which is something that has to be phrased in the context of what they already do with iPhone. I'd say we are awfully close.

Dave
post #27 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Exactly! If somebody where to add a built in stand It would by necessity have to be rather large. So why not go the laptop/netbook model. AT least then the keyboard and the weight of the hands can balance the screen somewhat. Of course if the screen was OLED the balancing might be a bit easier.


If you are trying to write/type on a tablet sitting in a stand I'd have to say food luck to you. The use of a BlueTooth Keyboard might be helpful but you still need a stand. If one goes to all the trouble of making a built in screen stand then where does the portability go as such devices add considerable bulk.

Dave


Well, if the device is propped up with its small built-in stand like the Nokia N810 or Samsung Q1u, then you would not use it with a stylus. You would use the bluetooth keyboard and mouse for input or as a screen for video viewing only. I don't know why this isn't obvious as several posters mentioned it would need to have a heavy duty stand for touching while in vertical desktop mode.

You would of course use the stylus or a finger when it is in regular note pad use like a tablet pc in your hands, not on a desk, and when done, put it in your pocket unlike a big convertable touchscreen that requires a nice padded carry case. The iPhone and iPod are merely accessory tech with internet browsing and downloadable $ apps, while the mini-tablet I mentioned would be a full, non-compromising computer. \

As for Atom, it is available now, today and not some blueprint specs that might make it to some assembly line worker's hands in a few years. I don't understand why this hasn't been made by ANYONE. It's feasable and everything in it is realistic and marketable and wouldn't cannibilize what Apple has because it's more of a top tier portable replacement for netbooks, which Apple doesn't manufacture.
post #28 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmm21 View Post

Well, if the device is propped up with its small built-in stand like the Nokia N810 or Samsung Q1u, then you would not use it with a stylus. You would use the bluetooth keyboard and mouse for input or as a screen for video viewing only. I don't know why this isn't obvious as several posters mentioned it would need to have a heavy duty stand for touching while in vertical desktop mode.

If you attached to bluetooth keyboard to the screen, the screen wouldn't need a stand.
And.....we invent the laptop!

C.
post #29 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Yep; in its current form ATOM is a joke for the sorts of products most of us here seem to be interested in. I'm not sure Apple would even use it in a larger tablet of the sorts that is often suggested here by one person. The processor simply delivers to little to the party for what it costs in power.

Well I'm not to sure Papermaster was being hired for anything more than management experience. Right now Apple has way to many top flight engineers than it needs for engineering tasks. I think what Apple was looking for was a person able to guide these individuals in the right direction on complex and bleeding edge products. A visionary of sorts.

Lets face it many of us have visions of what the perfect portable handheld device would look like and do. the question is how many of us could lead groups of engineers spread all over the world to a common goal. This is Papermasters job to structure and build a team that can continue to turn out sate of the art devices that fit in your hand.


This I truly doubt. The problem is simply this i86 compatibility is a big thing for 'PCs". As long as Apples "devices" are marketed as things other than PCs, Apple has the door wide open in how and what they build them out of. The minute that they become a PC then the freedom goes out the door, this is a huge distinction. So I don't expect to see anything PC like on these new devices. In fact I don't really expect to see anything Mac OS/X like that we don't already see. Being free to use ARM gives Apple significant advantages over anything using INTEL hardware right now. Due to ARMs core size they should be able to keep those advantages for a very long time. At 45 nm Apple should be able to place a GPU, a quad of ARMs, System RAM, Video RAM, USB I/O, PCI Express I/O and misc I/O all on one chip. That means lots of board space for FLASH. Also given a really low power process and advanced power engineering they should be able to cut power usage while running at 2 to 3 times the current clock rate.

What I'm trying to say is that we are only starting to see what is possible with respect to iPods/iPhones and the like. Papermasters goal would be to put all this together in a package people like you and me would buy. What is interesting with these patents is that it is obvious that Apple is well on its way with ideas for future devices. Maybe they have a problem where they are producing more ideas than they have people to develop them.

The thing with companies like Apple is that patent applications like these don't in and of themselves mean much. In the case of this specific patent I'm not sure what they are even trying to patent as I can't believe that transfer of power by induction could be considered patentable any more. Even the design of the supports don't strike me as unique at all, I mean really how long have pivoting monitors been around. For Apple it is more a case of do we have the technology today to deliver this device, which is something that has to be phrased in the context of what they already do with iPhone. I'd say we are awfully close.

Dave

All I know is that Steve doesn't like having to use intel i86 CPUs. He felt he was forced because of POWERPC's poor performance when used as a personal computer cpu. Yes, he is benefiting (Apple I mean) in the short term because of compatibility and crap like that. But ultimately I truly believe that he wants his products top to bottom to be totally apart from the rest of the industry.
We all know he likes to plan things years...YEARS in advance so I really think down the line he will want his company to design custom CPUs for Apple's products including the full on macs/macbooks.
In fact, I think this plan has already been set in motion for a couple years already and perhaps in 2 or so years Steve will be ready to get rid of intel and their hardware from all future Apple products.
Go ahead and call me crazy.

p.s.: And by the way, the iTablet IS coming! MACTOUCH FTW SUCKAS!!!!!1111111
post #30 of 35
Cocoa Touch is the key not the hardware. Apple needed Intel because PPC was never going to deliver in a portable in time, 4.7GHz sure but definitely non-portable and intel gave Apple marketing leverage due to public brainwashing. The iPhone and apps store show a new development model which outpaces the incumbent. The only question is, will it be an iPhone on steroids or a modified MacBook.

I'm with the former as it plays to their advantage and everyone else has tried the latter.

McD
Android proves (as Windows & VHS did before it) that if you want to control people, give us choices and the belief we're capable of making them. We're all 'living' the American dream.
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post #31 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by McDave

The only question is, will it be an iPhone on steroids or a modified MacBook.

I'm with the former as it plays to their advantage and everyone else has tried the latter.

Really, I didn't realize everyone else had tried to develop a device running OS X touch.
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post #32 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Really, I didn't realize everyone else had tried to develop a device running OS X touch.

His comment seems to include a touch version of OS X for each option, but his comparison is with the HW. I think he has a point. Tablet PCs and notebook/tablet convertible PCs have taken off despite the coolness factor, but neither have larger MIDs.
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post #33 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Really, I didn't realize everyone else had tried to develop a device running OS X touch.

Of course nobody else has OSX but do they do what's been tried before or do they create something new? Apple have unique positioning to pull the market in their direction and possibly replace the consumer 'PC' with something else entirely. The question is how and what steps they'll take to get there.

McD
Android proves (as Windows & VHS did before it) that if you want to control people, give us choices and the belief we're capable of making them. We're all 'living' the American dream.
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post #34 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by bpatton View Post

It is nice, but in a work environment, it would be so nice to just plug the macbook into a docking station that already has a the keyboard and mouse and monitor connected, along with extra usb ports for the printers and hard drives, and not to mention the network cable.

As much as I hate to admit it, I actually like how Dell has things set up.

Nice fantasy, if you think companies are going to foot the bill for this dream set up.

The prior poster's DisplayPort, Mac monitor and more is more plausible but still living in a fantasy.

Problem: Enterprises aren't deployed on DisplayPort. Enterprises aren't deployed on Docking Stations.

Solution: Bring your own adaptor cable if you have to hook into the display and connect the USB keyboard/mouse and close your laptop while you work on-site. Same old, same old.

If a company is Mac specific, they aren't interested in you bringing in your laptop as they would prefer you to be on-site using their network mapped Mac systems which keeps your work ''on-site'', secure and safe from being transported "accidentally" back to your place with your laptop.

If you work in a place that allows your laptop to do this they either don't know about security, don't give a crap about their business or they have nothing worth stealing.
post #35 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Nice fantasy, if you think companies are going to foot the bill for this dream set up.

The prior poster's DisplayPort, Mac monitor and more is more plausible but still living in a fantasy.

Problem: Enterprises aren't deployed on DisplayPort. Enterprises aren't deployed on Docking Stations.

Solution: Bring your own adaptor cable if you have to hook into the display and connect the USB keyboard/mouse and close your laptop while you work on-site. Same old, same old.

If a company is Mac specific, they aren't interested in you bringing in your laptop as they would prefer you to be on-site using their network mapped Mac systems which keeps your work ''on-site'', secure and safe from being transported "accidentally" back to your place with your laptop.

If you work in a place that allows your laptop to do this they either don't know about security, don't give a crap about their business or they have nothing worth stealing.

The previous posts have been about making the macbook (or pro or air) suitable for a business environment. The way laptops are used in many modern enterprises, is that the employee is given a laptop, and takes it around with him on business trips, home, for work while commuting, etc.

As soon as such an employee gets to the office, he pushes the laptop into the docking station, which is already connected (via adapters if necessary) to a screen, a keyboard (sometimes), a mouse (usually) and the Ethernet cable (mostly). This is not insecure. There is such a thing as disk encryption.

If said employee has a Mac (like myself), he's stuck with a somewhat less optimal version:
  • Put the computer on the desk
  • Get on your knees, and pull the Ethernet cable from under the desk. Plug it in.
  • Plug the mouse in (that's easy, it's on the desk)
  • Connect the magsafe and drop the brick behind the desk
  • Crawl under the desk and connect the brick to the wall
  • Pull the display cable (adapter already connected to the cable) and connect it to the computer.

My co-workers just click the Lenovo laptop in, and everything works. Much easier IMO, so yes, I would like a future macbook to have a docking station of some kind.
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AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Future Apple Hardware › Apple pushing for patent on versatile tablet docking station