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

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,213moderator
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 42
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 42
    ak1808ak1808 Posts: 108member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


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



    GREAT!
  • Reply 4 of 42
    tailpipetailpipe Posts: 345member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 42
    umijinumijin Posts: 133member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 42
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 42
    ajmasajmas Posts: 555member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 42
    noirdesirnoirdesir Posts: 1,027member
    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 ...
  • Reply 9 of 42
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,114member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 42
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    '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...
  • Reply 11 of 42
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 42
    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
  • Reply 13 of 42
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    doroteadorotea Posts: 323member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 42
    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.).
  • Reply 16 of 42
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 42
    gugygugy Posts: 794member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 42
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 42
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 42
    irelandireland Posts: 17,569member
    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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