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Portables Hardware

Barebones Notebook 311

Posted by michael
from the some-assembly-required dept.
Gsurface writes "The first barebones notebook makes its appearance. The barebone notebook features no display, no CPU, no RAM and no HDD, but only the case, with keyboard and touchpad."
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Barebones Notebook

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  • No Display? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rprata (99340) on Friday February 28, 2003 @05:59PM (#5409661) Homepage
    Where would one buy a display?
  • It makes a really great prop for my couch... I really needed to take those videos back to Blockbuster.
  • ok..... (Score:2, Redundant)

    by exhilaration (587191)
    I know I get most of the components anywhere, but where the hell do you get the LCD????
    • Re:ok..... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by will592 (551704)
      I haven't been able to open the link, but I know eBay is full of LCD screens designed for laptops. I don't know how interchangeable the LCD's are but that might be a good source.
      Chris
    • Re:ok..... (Score:5, Funny)

      by kfg (145172) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:11PM (#5409795)
      From an electronics jobber. Where you'll also find everything you need to design, build and test everything from an old fasihoned crystal radio set to a mainframe computer.

      You need only supply your own money and intelligence.

      These days the answer to "Where do I get. . ." is almost always, " At the store."

      You want a small particle accelerator? People sell them over the counter, or all the parts to build your own.

      The only trick is to find the store. Trust me, it's there.

      KFG
    • Try here (Score:2, Informative)

      by OECD (639690)

      Try here [lcdtft.com].

      They also have very small screens for your next port-linux-to-small-kitchen-appliance project.

  • Interesting, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by InterruptDescriptorT (531083) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:01PM (#5409679) Homepage
    Where, I wonder, would one buy individual parts for a notebook?

    It's pretty easy to go to your local dealer and pick up an Athlon, mobo of your choice, some cheap RAM, hard drive, etc. I have to say that I've never seen notebook parts available a la carte like with regular computer paraphernalia.

    Besides, even if you could get those things, I have a hunch it would be far more expensive than getting a brand-new notebook from Dell or Gateway. They buy their parts in bulk and can therefore pass the savings on to the consumer.

    I'm totally in favour of self-building, don't get me wrong, but I wonder if the economics of the whole deal doesn't favour just buying a new notebook outright and spending the savings on some accessories.
    • Re:Interesting, but (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ComputerSlicer23 (516509) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:09PM (#5409779)
      If buying in bulk was really all there was to the price, I wouldn't be able to build a machine cheaper then Dell. As a general rule, I normally can (I haven't tried lately so maybe I can't). The difference is in who does the labor. The really big savings is that you get no labor, and you get no replacement parts, you get no support. So build your own can be cheaper if the bulk parts discount, doesn't overcome the labor/support issues.

      I wouldn't build my own laptop, just because laptops are touchy little beasties. Heat and airflow are really important. Docking stations, and port replicators are nice. Not to mention the wear and tear due to abuse, and move moving parts (the hinges on the screen), and the various clips that I wouldn't get the right kind for, especailly not if I'm buying on the cheap. Batteries and removable parts are a problem. Power consumption, and LCD quality. Just lots of little issues that I wouldn't get right, that Dell would.

      Kirby

      • by Mephiska (49638) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:52PM (#5410093)
        For most people it's not so much the electronic bits on a laptop that go out, but it's screens that get cracked, keys that start sticking, touchpads that get, well, touchy and on and on. If there was some sort of laptop spec that manufacturers built parts to fit inside some specific dimensions then when a key breaks or hinge gets loose you don't have to ship it back for an expensive repair. You can just go down to Fry's and pick up a newly updated shell.

        This would also be great for just keeping a laptop system up-to-date. With the way motherboards and hard disks and cd drives have been shrinking now's the time when I hope we'll see home built laptops of the same breed as home built PC's.
        • by ComputerSlicer23 (516509) on Friday February 28, 2003 @08:52PM (#5410748)
          Yes, and no. Wear and tear is a lot of why it doesn't achieve critical mass, they break down way to easily. In fact, I'd conjecture that cheap desktops, and fast internet everywhere, are why a lot of people I know don't have laptops. Most of them just spend $300 put a machine together, and put it everywhere they would want a computer. One in the living room. One in the bedroom. One at a friend's house (I have several computers at other peoples houses to make LAN parties easy).

          Laptops are nice, but they will never be as cheap as regular desktops due to space, heat and power consumption constraints. The wear and tear, and high replacement parts is what drives people to desktops. They aren't as fast. They can't store as much, you can't put as much RAM in them. They can't do a lot of things a good PC can. Now if they become terminals to bigger faster stationary equipment, now your talking. Then, I'm still not building my own, all I need is one with a good screen, a good video card, and a decent keyboard, nothing else matters on a terminal.

          If laptops became extemely common, I could see a vicious cycle of increased sales, which increased production volume, which lowered prices, which increases sales. I don't see a way to transition to there as long as desktop PC's are a cheap as they are. A good laptop is also a lot harder to put together, especially out of commodity parts. Running cabling the right way, and using thin bundled cables instead of ribbon cables is a good idea. Having fans that turn on at the right tempatures, and blow on the right parts is critical. Getting the LCD cable snaked thru is important. Getting the tension right on the hinges. Ensuring that the screen didn't weight too much to put too much stress on the plastic while sitting open. A dozen little things. It'd be simpiler then having DIY car's, but I'm not sure there is that much public interest in it. Most people simply don't need laptops. I've never needed one. I don't travel, and when I want a computer there is one handy. I can't use one in my car while I'm driving, and most other locations I go that don't have a computer, I'm going there to get away from my computers!

          Kirby

      • Perhaps more to the point, if you have control
        over a set of components with standardized
        interfaces, you can upgrade, so your investment
        doesn't end up a hand-me-down-to-grandma in 6
        months. That's a big savings.
      • Re:Interesting, but (Score:4, Interesting)

        by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:12PM (#5410248) Homepage
        If buying in bulk was really all there was to the price, I wouldn't be able to build a machine cheaper then Dell. As a general rule, I normally can (I haven't tried lately so maybe I can't)

        It depends. I'll assume you buy parts from reputable dealers. I've seen great deals from dealers with the lowest prices at Pricewatch, but then have looked them up at Reseller Ratings [reserllerratings.com], and found that they sucked. So, let's use prices from dealers that rate well, so we actually get our parts, and if we have any problems, can exchange them in less than six months and two lawsuits. :-)

        Under that assumption, you can beat, or come close, to the prices you get when you simply go to Dell and configure a good medium to high end system.

        On the other hand, Dell usually has various coupons and specials that you don't find just going to the site. If you spend a while watching places like Techbargains, and pounce on the specials, you can't come anywhere near Dell's prices by building your own--even if you throw sanity to the wind, and buy from the cheapest lowball places you can find for parts.

        For example, they had their best 19" LCD for something like $600 with the right coupons and rebates for a couple days. A comparable LCD from most places was $1200, and could be found for $900 on sale at the time.

        Of course, this assumes starting from nothing. When you take into account that most of us building our own salvage many parts from the system we are replacing, the long term cost of building your own might be less.

        • Re:Interesting, but (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Zach Fine (12869) on Friday February 28, 2003 @08:33PM (#5410695) Homepage
          I've built many a system for waaaaay less than a Dell, Gateway, or the like (comparisons to the cost of a prebuilt LCD screen [purchased with stacked coupons and discounts] to a fictitious homebuilt large LCD screen is amusing but, um, I don't get it). It's laughable to think that I'd have been able to buy a AMD 1.4Ghz Dell with 40Gb hard drive, Radeon dual-monitor support, CDRW drive, DVD-Rom drive, and a half gig of ram 2 years ago for around $500 from Dell, Gateway, or any of the majors. But with parts bought from Fry's, Compgeeks, Newegg, and other vendors I was able to cobble together a nice little system for that price. I added a KVM switch and used the 19" LG 995 monitor, mouse, and keyboard from my Mac to complete the project. For someone lacking those parts they could have been purchased (sans KVM) for under $300 altogether. I'd guess that an equivalent system from Dell would've cost more than $800 before the addition of a 19" monitor.

          In general, you can buy all the parts and spend an hour putting it all together for at least a few hundred dollars less than a prebuilt system. You can also save extra by using equivalent but less costly parts, and by skimping on parts that aren't important to you. Find a local or online computer parts store that's reputable and has good prices, and there's no way the parts will cost as much as the total of the parts included in a prebuilt system from Dell or whoever.

          The value of buying a prebuilt is not that you're getting any of the benefit of Dell's bulk orders of computer hardware (they keep that benefit in the form of profits), but that you get support and a single warranty provider rather than having to deal with all the different manufacturers when encountering a problem. You're not just paying for the brand name, although that's part of it.

          Since I can build and support my own, none of my computer's parts were defective, and I don't think it's that big a deal to work with manufacturer's warranties, I will probably never pay extra for Dell brand equity and support. For my Grandma I'd probably recommend she buy from one of the majors, I'd advise her to go with Apple but she already bought herself a Gateway.

          As for building my own 19" LCD monitor, I suppose that might be a worthwhile endeavor if the cost of LCD monitors were high enough to justify the millions of dollars of R&D I'd need to spend before manufacturing one.

    • Re:Interesting, but (Score:2, Informative)

      by kfg (145172)
      You are used to shopping in stores that cater to people who *assemble* computers, and only stock those things that those people buy.

      In the stores that cater to people who *build* computers you'll find everything you need.

      KFG
      • You are used to shopping in stores that cater to people who *assemble* computers, and only stock those things that those people buy. In the stores that cater to people who *build* computers you'll find everything you need.

        Umm, your distinction is silly. "Assemble" means putting together premanufactured pieces. That's what the pieces of the laptop would be also, unless you are talking about buying raw materials like silicon, gold, oil, etc, designing everything, and fabricating the chips and boards yourself. And refining the oil into plastic. And...

        • by aminorex (141494)
          His distinction may be silly, but English is a silly
          language: His distinction was *clear*, and
          meaningful. I think everyone who read his comment
          understood what he meant, and understood it to be
          a true statement.

          Lighten up.
        • Re:Interesting, but (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kfg (145172)
          Ok. let me clarify for you and the others then. I sometimes forget what a Brave New World it is, so bear with me.

          Whan I say assemble I mean what a poster says I mean by build. You can go into Best Buy and purchase a HD, a motherboard, a case, memory, etc. and then you put it all togeher, kit wise. No biggy. If'in I'm under the gun I can do that in under 15 minutes these days from the starting gun to popping in the OS install CD. I know people who can do it in under 10, but I'm not as driven to impress as they are. That is not building a computer. That is assembling one, and Best Buy will not sell you a raw laptop display screen because that isn't something assemblers buy.

          No, by build I don't mean buying gold and raw silicon, but I do mean buying *individual* memory chips, a blank board, acid etching your own traces, soldering the chips to the board. . . and then putting it aside, because you haven't built your motherboard in similar fashion yet.

          Yes, there are people who do things this way. Who *build* their own board, of their own design. Purchasing the individual chips and discrete componants and then soldering them together. Usually to make a special purpose computer or sound device, or a PC expansion card that performs some nonstandard function.

          This is how the first Apple computers were *built.* This is how Sinclair worked in the design phase. This is how many expansion card manufacturers first got a handle on the business while making neat things in the garage.

          And there are stores that cater to these people. Radio Shack used to be one of these stores. Now they sell little plactic helmets with swirling lights on top and model Trans Ams that tumble across the floor.

          But in many a fair sized town, tucked down some back alley, there is a little shop that most people don't know about, and if you go in their front door you wont see a little plastic helmet anywhere.

          You WILL see a display of oscillicopes to the ceiling. Soldering stations. Raw, unetched general purpose circuit boards and PC expansion cards. Thousands of individual chips. Wire of all possible description. Resistors. Capacitors. Trasistors.Breadboards. Etc.

          All that stuff that can be used to *make* something, rather than just assemble it by plugging pre made things together.

          This sort of shop will also sell you a display for a laptop. They're used for things other than laptops.

          Like the display on a custom programable audio synthesizer.

          Yes, people still hand craft those too.

          Some people are funny and don't just go to K-Mart for everything.

          Go figure.

          I build most of my own furniture, rather than purchasing premade or *assembling* the stuff that comes out of the box from Home Depot or BJ's. Usually that means a trip to the lumber yard, but yes, *sometimes* that even means going out to my wood lot and cutting down a tree and making my own boards.

          Try it. It's fun as all hell. You can buy an attachment for your chainsaw that lets you rough cut your own boards without an expensive mill. After seasoning you run them through your power planer, or even maybe scrape them by hand, depending on what you're building.

          But I'm not so pedantic as to imply that to "build" a computer you need a chem lab to make your own raw expoxy from chemicals you extracted from sea water and scraped off your forehead.

          That would be silly.

          KFG
    • Re:Interesting, but (Score:5, Informative)

      by bytesmythe (58644) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ehtymsetyb'> on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:56PM (#5410122)
      I have a hunch it would be far more expensive than getting a brand-new notebook from Dell or Gateway. They buy their parts in bulk and can therefore pass the savings on to the consumer.

      Actually, they buy them pre-assembled and slap a name badge on them, then screw you with a huge mark-up. [toplaptops.net]

    • in days oy yor, it was more expensive to build your own desktop.
      if it gets consumer demand, it will get cheaper. Plus labor is removed from the equation, and support is spread out to different companies.
    • ...would be kinda nice. I think this "barebones laptop" that you could assemble/have assembled to your specs is a fantastic idea, however an industry standard would be required for it to REALLY take off as it has for desktop PCs.

      Desktop users are blessed with a standard form factor (ATX and variants) describing physical specs for motherboards, cases, power supplies, peripheral connectors and so on. Wouldn't it be tremendous if there was a widely recognised standard for laptop/notebooks? Being that the featured article is slashdotted, I cant say if that was the idea, but links posted in the comments included the "barebones" concept as offered by ECS, and I got the impression the components were ECS-specific...

      Imagine if there was an "MPX" standard (Mobile...PC...X...whatever--just to pick a 3-letter designation as an example). You could buy a generic laptop caseand power supply and load it with an MPX mobo and your choice of keyboards, touchpads, trackballs, displays, etc. These could be obtained from most any source, form a multitude of manufacturers.

      The MPX spec. would specify how these components interconnected--one could go so far as to include notebook variants of PCI or AGP (whereever PC Card devices couldn't fit the bill, such as video card upgrades--not sure but does Intel's new Mobile CPU/chipset architecture not touch on that?). Perhaps devices like keyboards and touchpads would use internal USB-based connections, and there would be a standard display connector and sizes (to correspond with a selection of standard laptop/notebook case sizes).

      Mmmmmm... MPX would be nirvana, and as prices came down it couls supplant ATX and it's variants. Well, I suppose not TOTAL nirvana if having Apple iBook looks is really important to you. It wouldn't be UGLY, but an MPX form-factor laptop made from a mix of Taiwanese parts might very well be as sexy as the beige box in Dilbert's cubicle. HOWEVER, there is a big market out there for boring-but-practical, and I'm sure the uber-geek case-modders and companies like VooDoo would find ways to make cool cases within the constraints of a standard like "MPX"...

      If I'm ignorant of something like this already in existence, please share info!
  • by Grim Grepper (452375) <Andrew275@gmail.com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:01PM (#5409688) Homepage
    Why back in my day, all you needed were some LED's.

    And why use a hard drive when you have perfectly good cassette tapes laying around?
  • by jmulvey (233344) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:02PM (#5409693)
    ... because 2 posts into the Slashdot thread, and the website is done-for?

    I think it's their webserver that is running without a CPU.
  • AKA (Score:5, Funny)

    by endoboy (560088) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:02PM (#5409698)
    etch-a-sketch
  • They should have installed the memory, HDD, ect. before posting the link on slashdot
  • by siberian (14177) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:03PM (#5409711)
    Finally, something I don't WANT to make into a Beowulf cluster..
  • by CoyoteGuy (524946) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:04PM (#5409720)
    Now all I need is a high resolution color printout of a desktop, a bag to match, and I can sit at the coffee shop pickin up chicks for a much lower price than buying an actual laptop :P

    Slashdot - Sarcasm, Trolls, and Ego... All under one roof
  • Finally (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ekarjala (446184)
    A notebook that comes without the dreaded "Microsoft Tax" (unless they can come up with a pre-emptive "potential-use" licensing fee.)
  • First off, I'd simply like to say that I haven't had a chance to read article (damn ./ effect).

    But from what the little blurb said, this looks like an excellent way to avoid paying for Windows and all the other bundled software that people don't want or need. Though the cost of parts and installation may offset this just a bit.

    • by jo42 (227475)
      Good point. When I tried to buy a Dell Inspiron without Windows Xtreme Poop, the Dell sales rep told me they have a deal with Microsoft that every machine they sell has to have a Microsoft OS on it. Pffhht! Talk about your evil empire monopolists shite suckers.

      Anyway, why would I want to get a barebones notebook when with some judcious picking and choosing, you can have a killer laptop for not too many pesos: 1.8GHz P4M, 512Mb RAM, 40GB 5400RPM HD, CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive, 1394, 64Mb Mobility Radeon 9000 and a flat out awesome 15" 1600x1200 display. How much? Only $1750 US. Dell Inspiron 8200. Even came with that lump o' shite XP Pro from Messysoft.

    • by dprice (74762)

      this looks like an excellent way to avoid paying for Windows and all the other bundled software that people don't want or need.

      As a middle ground, it would be interesting if vendors would sell you a notebook computer with everything but the hard drive. I just upgraded my notebook hard drive, and it was very easy to do. Without the hard drive, there can't be any software pre-installed, so no MS Tax.

  • Woo...a cyberdeck (Score:2, Interesting)

    by anachattak (650234)
    For those of us who remember Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun, it sounds like we're prepping ourselves for a cyberdeck here. Don't need no stinking LCD, just my wetwire neural headjack!!! Bring it on: I'm ready!!!
    • Already available, sans wetware neural headjack:

      Latte [thinkgeek.com].

      Another couple of caveats: hella expensive, video is crappy onboard SIS Vampire Video with no way of swapping it out.

  • Website (Score:2, Funny)

    by GMontag (42283)
    Apparently they are running the webserver on one of these things.

    Tech tips: add a motherboard, processor, ram, ethernet and HDD. Might want to add some software and an OS also.
  • The site that speak of this notebook looks like its hosted in one of them, no disk, no cpu, no bandwidth, no network card, and no monitor to see that nobody can access it right now :)
  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06 @ e m ail.com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:06PM (#5409755)
    Why in my day, we used to get up at 2:00 am, eat a plate of hot gravel, crawl to the office over broken glass, and when we got there, we'd have to pound on the computer with our foreheads in place of typing. Keyboard? Kids today have it easy.
    • If they replaced the keyboard with an extra PS/2 socket, or an extra USB port I suppose, and if the microphone input was shielded well enough and sufficiently audio-capable (I've seen sound cards without 16,000/s sampling rates, and the first SoundBlasters were 8-bit), then I would be more interested.

      Someday, many agree, as speech input matures, the microphone will become more important than the keyboard.

      So, my question is: What year do you think the microphone will surpass the keyboard in importance?

  • ...but how am I supposed to get any work done on a laptop without any RAM or a CPU? :)
  • Here's my picture of a real barebones notebook









    Pretty neat, isn't it?

  • by corsec67 (627446) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:07PM (#5409763) Homepage Journal
    Will more laptops sold like this open a market for laptop parts?

    Maybe this will cause laptops to be more similar to desktops, as parts are standard?
  • Their site [xbitlabs.com] has been hosted on one!!!

    Already slashdotted ;)
  • Buttons? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:10PM (#5409789) Homepage Journal
    Nobody has asked the big question yet:
    How many mouse buttons do you get with that, or do you add it/them, too?

    (from my iBook, with USB 3button mouse plugged in!)
    • Or even better, does it have those evil 'finger pad' mouse things.

      I much prefer the older laptop's that had the trackerball. Much easier to control and they didn't go crazy if you pressed to hard.
      • Re:Buttons? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ppc970 (649008)
        PowerBook 1XX

        Most brilliant layout--EVER.

        Could type, AND "mouse" without moving your hands.

        Two mouse buttons, above and below trackball, the top one basically flush to the keyboard. You could have you fingers on the home row, move the 'ball with a thumb and click with the other thumb. Was great for word processing. It's no wonder that there are still (admitadly somewhat nuts) people out there who still do a lot of writing on their PowerBook 170's and whatnot. Plus, Word 4 and 5.1 were quite nice as were MacWrite Pro and some other classics...
  • by Michael_Burton (608237) <michaelburton@brainrow.com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:11PM (#5409791) Homepage
    No CPU, no RAM, and no display. But on the plus side, your Windows installation opens fewer security holes than on other laptops.
  • by g_adams27 (581237) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:13PM (#5409803)

    I'm all for bare-bones, but I at least want all the bones!
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Strange Ranger (454494) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:15PM (#5409821)
    barebone notebook features no display, no CPU, no RAM and no HDD,

    And the damn thing STILL runs Linux. Wow!


    Oh. nevermind..
  • by pyros (61399)
    Maybe they're using their barebones laptop as a web server. Probably not a good way to market it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My guess would be that it is about the ECS DeskNote line of products, probably the A980. http://www.ecs.com.tw/products/a980.htm
  • The barebone notebook features no display, no CPU, no RAM and no HDD, but only the case, with keyboard and touchpad.

    Only on Slashdot would these be considered features. :)

    In saying that I think it's a great idea! All my desktop machines are custom built, would be a shame to have to get a branded laptop now!
  • by Archie Steel (539670) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:22PM (#5409876)
    ...if I remember correctly, it was called a ZX81... :-)
  • google (Score:4, Informative)

    by gearheadsmp (569823) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:25PM (#5409901)
    google [216.239.39.100] cache for Xbit labs home page
  • For Sale (Score:3, Funny)

    by dupper (470576) <adamlouis@gmail.com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:27PM (#5409910) Journal
    1 barebones server - case, slightly fire damaged. Used to host www.exbitlabs.com.
  • Asus (Score:5, Informative)

    by dlur (518696) <{dlur} {at} {iw.net}> on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:31PM (#5409941) Homepage Journal

    Actually it's been possible for some time to get an Asus [asus.com] notebook similar to this, with just the case, motherboard, and LCD on it. I'm not sure Asus really wants you to be able to get them this way and they come in a "white box".

    One of the guys at work got one of these, went to Intel's channel partner site, got a PIII mobile CPU for next to nothing, snagged a decent 2.5" HD from one of our retailers, and threw in some SODIMMs that we had in stock and he got a really nice notebook for hardly anything (this was a year or two ago).

    He was even able to call up Asus and tell them the stickers wore off his notebook, and they sent him out some new ones for free, so you can't even tell it's not the real deal.

    On the other side of things, I do believe from opening up quite a few notebooks for repairs that the vast majority of notebook components are somewhat standardized. The batteries tend to be the most varried components inside the notebooks. Consider that there are only a very few manufacturers of notebook computers that are outsourced by the major computer vendors, and that makes for some pretty standard stuff. It's even possible to get the "white box" version of most of Dell's notebooks direct from the company that manufactures them for Dell, last I checked anyways.

  • Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Junta (36770) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:34PM (#5409954)
    I wonder what the deal is. I've hated having to buy laptops as a whole system bought from a single source. I've came to just accept that I have to live with it...

    Why, you ask, do I care so much? Is it just to be 'elite'? Hell no, it is because I *hate* dealing with any problems that crop up in the warranty period. In dealing with my desktops, a part breaks under warranty, I contact that particular company, send in that *one* part, and have a replacement back in short order. Some people say they are afraid of hardware manufacturers trying to blame other pieces of equipment to avoid servicing, but that has never happened to me. I send it in, they test and verify that it is broken, and they fix it or send a working part. Has always been smooth for me, thankfully.

    With the whole systems approach, something under warranty breaks. I call and say 'this portion of the laptop is broken, I want to send in this part, or at least remove the hard drive so some idiot tech doesn't see Linux, freak out, and reformat with Windows'. They say 'Linux isn't supported, you must include the hard drive, it *will* be wiped and replaced with Windows so we can run our test software to verify the problem is fixed, and if we cannot do this we will not repair it'. I've been fighting for weeks to get warranty repair without losing data. The problem is easy to test, if you press the power button and the power light comes on, the problem is fixed, end of story. If the power light stays off even though AC is connected, it is still broken. The problem with it has *nothing* to do with the drive, and they don't need to run any software to figure out if they fixed it or not. Why should it be any of their business what I run, when it clearly didn't cause the problem? Guess I got spoiled when I would call this same company regarding a business laptop and had them bend over backwards to kiss my ass regarding the very same request about not shipping a hard drive.

    Also, come a year and a half after purchase, say my memory has a problem. Well, the system is out of warranty. With my desktop, the memory happens to have a lifetime warranty. Having a system where everything is at least a year warranty, with some parts longer is much better than having the whole thing end after a year.

    A memory manufacturer has never threatened to deny me service because of the software I run, as long as I don't overclock. A video card manufacturer has never said they can erase my drive contents if they want to run tests. Why should I have to deal with this treatment for laptops? Why is it that I can even build PDAs from parts, and to this day I cannot build a real laptop from parts?
  • Almost a good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 3ryon (415000) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:36PM (#5409981)
    Actually, I've wanted something real similar to this for a long time. What I want is a Mouse, Keyboard, and video (which this doesn't have) in a laptop footprint. If I had one of these I could stop buying expensive KVMs and just plug one of these up to a machine when I needed a direct console. Not only that, but I wouldn't lose 10U to a Monitor/Keyboard in every rack (Yes, you can get a rack mountable LCD/Keyboard tray but you still need a KVM, and they are *expensive*).

    Free start-up business idea.....
    • What machines are you using in racks that require monitor/keyboard hookups?

      Even with XP/NT you should be using some remote desktop software. Then you have a single monitor/keyboard on a small cart that you wheel around in dire emergencies when nothing else would do.
  • Lunchbox! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Valiss (463641)
    So it's a keyboard glued to a lunchbox? I'll make one and sell it to you for half of what they want.
  • Text of the Story (Score:5, Informative)

    by daddymac (244954) <{cory} {at} {coryonline.com}> on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:39PM (#5410003) Homepage
    First Notebook Barebone Ever

    Posted 2/28/03 at 10:00 am by Anton

    ECS announced recently its DeskNote i-Buddie A980 mobile desktop PC, the first ever mobile barebone computer. It features no display, no CPU, no RAM and no HDD, but only the "case" with keyboard and touchpad. The indisputable trump of the novelty is that you are free to install the most high-end and cutting-edge hardware, or you may buy not really expensive components that are enough for your needs.

    Here is the list of i-Buddie A980 technical peculiarities:

    * Supports Socket 478 Pentium 4 / Celeron processors with 400/533MHz FSB with 3.06GHz clock-speed and above;
    * SiS650 chipset with SiS962 I/O controller;
    * 1 DIMM slot for up to 1GB of PC2100 or PC2700 DDR SDRAM memory.
    * Integrated graphics core, ability to install NVIDIA GeForce4 Go420 mobile graphics card.
    * 2-channel ATA-100/66/33 integrated controller;
    * Includes an 8x DVD-ROM drive;
    * Free bay for 2.5" HDD;
    * 4 USB 2.0 ports;
    * FireWire (IEEE1394) port ;
    * IR port with transfer rate up to 115.2Kbit/s;
    * 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet adapter and connector;
    * Integrated 56K modem;
    * 6-channel audio solution and built-in speakers;
    * Size: 342mm (W) x 300mm (D) x 34mm(min)/50.5mm(max);
    * Weight: 1.8Kg.

    End-users have a lot of opportunities to expand and configure such computers, they even now can choose between 14" and 15" TFT panel, what should allow ECS' customers to get the most cost-effective solutions possible.

    According to this French web-site, such barebones will be priced at $300. Not expensive, I believe, but remember that you will need to get a display, a microprocessor, a memory module and a hard disk drive to make it functional. It seems that the DeskNote i-Buddie A980 will hit the stores quite soon, as certain European local resellers of DeskNote computers already promote it and it seems that the only thing that stops them from starting the sales is the absence of appropriate LCD displays for such computers.

    Last year ECS did not achieve its full-year shipment targets on the DeskNote line of products (see this news-story). Elitegroup Computer Systems decided to follow its usual strategy of offering the cheapest products possible and in order to achieve this it needs to buy as few expensive devices as possible. Since LCD panels seem to be the most highly-priced parts of DeskNote systems, the Chinese company decided to sell the DeskNote PCs without LCD panels in order to keep the inventory level of such units low. This seems to be the right idea in order to keep the lowest prices possible; however, I doubt it will help ECS to skyrocket the sales of its DeskNotes in Europe or the USA, because not a lot of customers want to build notebooks on their own. On the other hand, a lot of companies sell already functional DeskNote computers, which purchase seems to be more interesting.

    Time will tell if ECS is able to boost its sales of portable desktop computers by selling display-less DeskNotes.

  • ...I was just trying to find something like this recently. I wanted something that would mostly stay put, run off AC, and use a real monitor...but that was also *quiet* and small enough to move around occasionally. Various small-form-factor PCs would fit the bill, but so would a laptop would a broken display, so I actually got as far as seeing if I could find one for sale. Now there's a third option.

  • So how is it better than a cappuccino pc that has been out for years?
    http://www.cappuccinopc.com/ [cappuccinopc.com]

    ==>Lazn
  • Barebones Laptop (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Proteus80 (528632) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:48PM (#5410057)
    While i'm all for the learning experence of building a computer (I built my last desktop) I also have to take into account the cost. Curiously I went and found a few of the parts the laptop needed to just work. I had to assume alot of what it required but I figure the prices wouldn't be too far off.

    CPU: 1.8 GHz Mobil P-4 $445.00

    RAM: PC133 128MB $37.97

    HDD: 20GB $149.00

    DISPLAY: 14.1 LCD Screen $749.00

    TOTAL: (APPROX) $1380.00

    On top of the cost of the "Barebones" system. (which I don't know thanks to the /. effect)
    A quick vist to a certain well known retailer sells a Toshiba Satellite for 999.97.

    "I wasn't even supposed to be here today!"
    -Dante Hicks

    • Re:Barebones Laptop (Score:5, Informative)

      by OneFix (18661) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:47PM (#5410453)

      CPU: 1.8 GHz Mobil P-4 $445.00
      Yes, but you can get a Northwood 1.81 GHz for $136.99 from pricewatch (this is the low-ball figure)...I'ld never buy from a low-ball vendor, but it should put you in the ballpark

      RAM: PC133 128MB $37.97
      Don't forget it has to be SO-DIMMs...

      But...close...$33.05 from Axion Technologies...

      HDD: 20GB $149.00
      $105.00 for an IBM 30GB ATA100@4200rpm

      DISPLAY: 14.1 LCD Screen $749.00
      $589.00 for a Sony VAIO PCG-FX370 15.0" TFT LCD [laptopparts.com] or $395.00 if you're willing to go with a 12.1" Compaq

      TOTAL: (APPROX) $1380.00
      More like $670.00 - $864.00

  • Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

    by ohzero (525786)
    A completely secure mobile computing solution...
  • Oh crap, there is nothing to mod!!! Maybe I can use my dremel on the case.
  • by theCat (36907) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:50PM (#5410075) Journal
    I've got on my desk here an old Toshiba that someone sat on, broke the LCD all to hell. It was sitting around and I needed a linux server...yadda yadda...so I plug in an external LCD. Now it has a display, a nice big one, but the busted one is in the way all the time while I type and use the track pad (lid is open you see) and that busted LCD is just butt ugly besides.

    Scene 2: I remove the busted LCD, sew the laptop back up, fire it up on the external monitor and then I notice something; this is groovy. Sure it needs an external monitor, but I just created a fairly cool portable desktop computer out of a piece of junk. Keyboard and track pad built in. And still easy to take else where I need it, like home (where I have another monitor I can use) or a presentation, and even has a nifty built in 2 hour UPS. And it's real quite.

    So would I actually buy something like that? Maybe not right away...but if the price was right I might. I'm telling you, sitting here looking at it, it looks cooler than you might imagine.
  • by djkitsch (576853) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:51PM (#5410077)
    Here's a direct link to the manufacturer's website:
    http://www.ecs.com.tw/products/a980.htm [ecs.com.tw]

    and here's a mirror for the ineviatable slashdotting:
    http://www.meatspace.co.uk/ibuddie/ [meatspace.co.uk]
  • Can be found here [flexbeta.net].
  • You can do the "VectraNote" Notebook Configurator on here, and get it with no processor, Memory, or hard drive. www.actonlinestore.com [actonlinestore.com]
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:06PM (#5410202) Homepage Journal
    runs at 150F...
  • by xScruffx (546751) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:29PM (#5410354) Journal
    Mead has been selling barebones notebooks FOREVER. You just have to provide an input device.

    High-end Mead notebook: $3.00 USD
    Run of the mill input device: $1.00 USD

    xScruffx
  • by _ph1ux_ (216706) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:46PM (#5410449)
    Totally Bare bones System BLOWOUT!!!!

    For only a nice even $1000.00 !!! You get the following Barebones Laptop:

    No Display!
    No RAM!
    No Battery!
    No Extra Battery!
    No CPU!
    No Keyboard!
    No HDD!
    (1) Laptop Carrying Case.

    You get to pick all the compnents you want in your barebones system - and each can be added at an additional cost.

    ACT NOW! While supplies last!!!
  • One Small Problem... (Score:5, Informative)

    by OneFix (18661) on Friday February 28, 2003 @08:09PM (#5410563)
    This is a "DeskNote"...not a Notebook...there's a small difference

    [actonlinestore.com]

    This product differs from a notebook in that it does not include an integrated battery. An optional external battery is available. (emphasis mine)

    I don't think so...

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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