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A Few Baaaaaad Apples 321

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-for-that dept.
SONET writes: "Why aren't all laptops made like this? I'm always putting my lappie in my otherwise empty briefcase. Even if it's just Photoshop/GIMP vapor, I really like the idea of a more rugged shell ... and the design is exceptionally clean. I know there are ruggedized laptops for the military and the like, but they really aren't for the average consumer as I envision something like this could be. The page is in Japanese, but the images really speak for themselves." I'm assuming it's just a mockup, the nicer to be proved wrong about ;) For the Exacto knife-and-firesale crowd though, an anonymous reader whispers that "Some guy modded his G4 Cube to have a Propaganda tile mapped inside the case. Looks excellent. That it does.
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A Few Baaaaaad Apples

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  • Sweet design....but I think he invalidated his warranty... ;) Still would like one for myself, tho...as long as it was running OS X and not 9. :-D
  • A friend of mine once had an IBM 386 that was huge, and rugged as well. That thing was a monster, in that it was barely comparable to today's "laptop." This beast had a keyboard that pulled out and it weighed a ton. It seems to me that most laptop makers are going for smaller, not bigger/more rugged. Getting a bigger laptop seems to be going the wrong direction in their eyes...
    • Re:Old IBM Laptop (Score:1, Insightful)

      by jetgirl25 (261741)
      It seems to me that most laptop makers are going for smaller, not bigger/more rugged.

      And in complete opposition to recent trends in car manufacturing. Huge-assed gas guzzling SUVs anyone?


      Feel free to moderate me off-topic :-)


      • SUVs bother me. Why would you buy anything like that? Gas just shot up almost 10c a litre here, and this is where gas is "cheap"!
    • Well, I have to agree with the manufacturers in this case.

      My "rugged" three year old laptop has lasted me that long, and nothing ever broke in it... but it's barely portable. It's almost 10 pounds, and about 1.5 inches thick.

      My new laptop, a Sony Vaio SR33, is 2.9 pounds and about half as thick as its own external cd-rom drive. It's completely portable, and doesn't seem too flimsy.
  • by gUmbi (95629) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:05PM (#2194359)
    Bah, you call that rugged? Where's the waterproof keyboard and G-force ratings? Besides, a case doesn't protect hard-drives if they're not shock mounted.

    Check out the Panasonic Toughbook. [panasonic-toughbook.com]
    • They're in Japanese.
    • Apple shock mounts the hard drives in its portable computers. They are really tough, especially the iBook which is made for schools.

      This guy just used a PowerBook G4 for the look and because he's a Mac user. It's not that the PowerBook wasn't rugged to begin with. Of course, now it looks like it's indestructable.
    • Toughbooks rock, although the lack of a fan means that the magnesium-alloy case is USED for heat dissipation.. it can get uncomfortably warm sometimes.
    • by Telek (410366)
      I was working at Panasonic when they were developing that beast. The trials were fun. They didn't really tell us (my group, cuz I was in tech support at the time) much about this book (or at least they didn't tell us that this presentation was going to be about this book), and proceeded to do a normal meeting, brought up a simple powerpoint display and then some sort of movie producing sound as well (think it was a music video or something). Then the guy unplugged the notebook, poured the rest of his coffee on it, threw it on the ground, jumped on it a few times, and then plugged it back in just as the video was finishing and the "panasonic toughbook" logo came on (although I think it was called something different back then, but I can't remember, it was like 6 years or so ago). Made for one hell of an attention getter though.
      • Then the guy unplugged the notebook, poured the rest of his coffee on it, threw it on the ground, jumped on it a few times, and then plugged it back in just as the video was finishing and the "panasonic toughbook" logo came on

        Yeah ... I remember the day we had some GRiD computer salesmen stop by. (We already had GRiDs, they were selling us newer models.) Standing by the demo unit on a conference table, I gingerly opened its case, the way you normally should handle a laptop screen... especially one that doesn't belong to you yet. One of the sales guys snickered at me, grabbed it away, slammed the cover down, picked it up, and dropped it from a foot over the conference table. Wham! He flipped the top open and everything was running fine.

        Our sales force loved those GRiDs. And they weren't astronomically expensive, either.
    • Yeah, but the important question is, which one's going to appear in the next Mission: Impossible movie?
  • Does anyone remember the Osbourne?
    • by norton_I (64015) <hobbes@utrek.dhs.org> on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:08PM (#2194375)
      Yep. You can tell O1 owners because their right arm is slightly longer than their left.

      I still have mine around, somewhere.
    • Yeah I remember the Osborne. It was the very first self contained "portable" computer. Portable however, meant that you could carry it in the back seat of your car if you did not have back problems. I remember that it was truly heavy (although I was eleven at the time), but my guess is twenty five pounds or so with a tiny four or five in screen. Most of the ones that I saw were simply used for writing documents with a portable computer that the professors would take home from the university on weekends. Not very practical. I thought they were cool and all but after mowing lawns for a summer, I spent my money on an Apple II+ with 64k of RAM, dual floppies, one of those green phosphor monitors that was announced with the Apple III (dog that it was), and a printer for the same money that Osborne wanted for theirs.

  • Extremely cool. But if they ramp it up to mass production, they'll probably ruin it. Kind of the way they do with those very cool show cars that become lame by the time they hit the market.
  • Let's see, you just bought an Apple, where you are admittedly paying a premium for their high quality enclosure (desktop and laptop).

    So the first thing you do is rip it out of it's case into something you built? If you're going to risk destroying a computer, why not start with cheapo x86 hardware instead? You don't even have to buy a case!

    • Re:why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by piecewise (169377) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:19PM (#2194429) Journal
      Why does everyone say you pay a premium with Apple computers? My bro's iBook was $1299 and it's *great*. My own PowerBook Titanium G4 was $2,599. I couldn't find a single laptop for less money that could beat the Ti that I bought. A $599 15" LCD that is the BEST in the industry (even the biased CNET says that).

      I'm not trying to sell Apples here, I'm just saying, I work with them every day, and they're not overpriced, especially considering the greater number of features you get. Come on, even the Sony laptop doesn't have a standard CDRW (or even CD-ROM), you have to add that on.
      • Re:why? (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by jchristopher (198929)
        I agree with you, Apple's are great. The iBook in particular is a good value, except for two things:

        1. No PC card slots.

        2. Can't drive an external monitor at high resolution (1024x768). Apple has intentionally crippled this computer and it's a shame.

        As to the TiBook, sorry, it is overpriced. I'll even agree that the G4 is twice as fast as an equivalent x86. That makes it equal to the 800-1ghz range. A Dell with 1600x1200 screen, FireWire, ethernet, and wireless networking can be had in that range for $600 less than the Ti.

        • If you think the Tibook is overpriced, check out current educational pricing on the Tibook. They can be had for less than $2100. Of course you have to be associated with an educational institution, but its a pretty sweet deal.

          • At dell.com, I don't have to lie about being a student in order to get reasonable pricing.
            • Who said anything about lying? And besides, on dell.com I can't get a G4. Why would I go there? ;-) That said, we did however get a P4 with dual LCD's and W2K from dell.com. Its a decent box, but M$'s support of dual monitors it terrible. All of those damn log on boxes and error boxes come up right in the middle of the screen separation. And color support and sync only works on one display, not the second. Other than that, and the fact that every time I install new software, my internet settings are all screwed up, its a decent machine. Oh yeah, the fan did give up the ghost two weeks into ownership, and the replacement fan sounds like a jet taking off. Yeah, I think I will stick with my three display Mac workstation. Its relatively quiet with a good case design (something the Dell does not have), does everything I ask of it, all while being incredibly reliable. Its the best system I have ever owned (which includes: two Microns, a Compaq, an Acer laptop, two Dell machines including the aforementioned one, an HP workstation, an SGI O2, an SGI Octane, SGI Indigo, and five other Macs in addition to my first computer, an Apple II+.)

              • Uh huh.

                The thread is not about how crappy dell is (they are), the thread is about how the only way to get decent pricing from Apple was to buy through their educational store.

                • And my point is that, even though Apple systems are expensive, I am happy to pay more for a system that is well thought out and built with quality. It makes me more productive allowing me to actually get work done rather than screwing around with stuff trying to get it done. The work accomplished over cost ratio tends to be much higher with a decent system. And as far as Windows PC boxes go, in my experience, Dell systems are actually some of the better systems.
        • The $600 difference is definitely worth it for three big reasons:
          1. Mac OS X - If you don't know you better ask sombody (IMHO, the best desktop unix available)
          2. AltiVec - What geek wouldn't like 32 128bit registers to muck with, especially when they're hooked to one phatty vector processor?
          3. Titanium case, carbon fiber frame - Looks good, damn strong, damn light, and most imporantly, chicks dig it.
        • Re:why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by firewort (180062) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @08:30PM (#2195431)
          I must respond to this:

          1. Don't need PCMCIA cards on the iBook. It has USB, firewire (IEEE1394), 56k, and 10/100 ethernet.
          What PCMCIA would you commonly need besides this. (you say token-ring and I kill you. :-D )

          2. Incorrect. The iBook does drive external monitors at 1024x768. It does this in a video mirroring method where the same display on the LCD is echoed on the monitor. If you could turn off the mirroring function, the external display could get 1600x1200 at millions of colors.

          The Ti wasn't meant to compete with bland ole Dells, it was meant to show up the sleek VAIOs. Comparing Apple to Dell is like comparing apples and lemons. (yes, I meant lemons. Dells have consistently gone bad on me, in laptop, desktop, and server form. Lousy hardware that a Dell tech has to come running to replace while I sit in downtime.)
          • If you could turn off the mirroring function, the external display could get 1600x1200 at millions of colors.

            That's right, but you can't. Thus, you can only get 1024x768, no matter how big a monitor you have. Let's not dance around the issue, the issue is it should work, but it doesn't.

      • I was considering buying an iBook, but reconsidered after I saw the Sony Vaio SR33. It has a 600 mhz Celeron (a bit slower, but oh well...) 128 MB RAM, etc. etc.

        But it's best features are the fact that it's 2.9 lbs. and extremely thin. :)

        That, and its a few hundred dollars cheaper than the iBook... about $1063 after tax and shipping.
  • Mockup? Nah. (Score:3, Informative)

    by BitchAss (146906) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:07PM (#2194370) Homepage
    I'm assuming it's just a mockup, the nicer to be proved wrong about ;)

    It seems to be a working model. There's a picture of it working here [geocities.co.jp]
  • Why would anyone want a laptop that is more than half a foot thick and probably weighs 10-15 pounds? I want a laptop that is slim and durable and light. This thing looks like it fails miserable on two out of those requirements.
  • by 7608 (515533)
    I wouldn't call that a mockup, I'd call it a mockery.
  • by Ezubaric (464724) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:11PM (#2194390) Homepage
  • by Anml4ixoye (264762) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:12PM (#2194393) Homepage
    The company I used to work for, Root International [rootintl.com], sells these cases. I have one very similar to the one this gentlemen used for my laptop (thought it's just a case). They can build them to do just about anything, custom foam inserts, etc. They even sell cases just like that one for Palm Pilots, etc.
  • This is old news. For those with a historical bent, there have been rugged, nasty, heavy portable computers for a long time.

    Kaypro [ucdavis.edu] comes to mind, and you didn't have to worry about "sad mac" errors, StuffIT files, or all that jibber-jabber.

    Plus, it weighed so much, if you dropped it on anything or anyone, it was destroyed, period. Try doing that with your neat little Photoshop laptop!
  • The Apple Powerbook G4 [apple.com] is made out of Titanium. I have heard of stories of people running it over with their car and it still working, resulting only in screen damage. One guy did that, took it home and plugged an external monitor in and it was fully functional!
    • Go to a frys find a titanium and gently press on the back of the monitor while it is on. You'll see the screen deform, the titanium is so thin that just light pressure bends it, that can't be good, and definitely isn't rugged. 1/16" of titanium isn't that strong
    • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:31PM (#2194463)
      Don't be a moron. The PowerBook G4 is very fragile. I own one. I've had it since February 2001 and I always treat it with kid gloves. So far, I've smashed the screen latch by simply picking it up with one hand instead of two, I've ripped off all four rubber feet by dragging it a little ways across a tabletop, and I've nearly ruined the screen by grabbing it too hard. The PowerBook G4 is so flimsy that you can cause a short on the motherboard by lifting the machine in a particular way, and if you pinch the right side of the machine while a CD or DVD is spinning, you'll scratch the disc.
      • As an owner who's opened mine (had to install airport) the biggest problem with the design is lack of sufficient insulation between the cover and the motherboard. For some reason, my machine leaked electricity to the cover for a while. :)

        The main body of the machine is very very sturdy but unfortunately only cover the outer edge of the machine, not the bottom.

        A friend dropped his machine rather spectacularly and broke the screen and the titanium frame. Everything else survived but he had to pay $$$ to get the broken parts replaced.
    • Titanium in such minimal thicknesses is actually very flexible. (and also very lightweight). I'm no engineer, but look at the tubes of titanium bike frames. They are always oversized in diameter compared to steel, otherwise the bike would flex like a noodle.

      Check out the cool Ti bike stuff at Litespeed [litespeed.com]

      Ti is nice, but there is nothing necessarily indestructable about it.

      P.S. If you really ran a TiBook over with a car, it would be completely destroyed. You can flex the screen a scary amount by hand. (not that x86 laptops are any different).

    • since it isnt' shock mounted or anything, and the titanium isn't that great of a vibration dampener, all that would happen is you'd have some intact titanium encasing your crushed computer components
  • i modded my 1000mhz athlon tbird into this case: (case = $35, dremel = priceless)

  • I read on one of the mac news sites a while ago about this and it is actually an ibook in there, no mock up about it.
  • by jht (5006) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:16PM (#2194416) Homepage Journal
    They don't make 'em like that because very few people want one that ruggedized - therefore you can't sell enough to make the assembly line worth running. It costs a pretty penny to make a machine that tough - and laptops already cost more than desktops to begin with. Panasonic pretty much owns the rugged nighe right now with the ToughBooks, and Dolch (are they still around?) used to make some awesomely tough luggables that could be folded away easily but weren't really laptops (they mainly ran off AC, though I think they did a laptop or two).

    Most consumers want a small, light portable computer which pretty much eliminates ruggedness from the design (the current iBook and a few others being partial exceptions to the rule). You make up the difference with padding - ie, a really nice tote that provides the extra protection. It's a good enough compromise for most.
  • by jungwirr (249169) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:18PM (#2194428) Homepage
    I kicked myself when I bought my iBook SE (lime green - 340MB RAM, 10 gig HD, OSX) because Apple came out with the next generation iBook soon after. I would have really liked to have the bigger screen and external display support. But after working with it for several months I was consoled. This thing is rugged and convenient! Rubberized case and a reinforced handle make it quite close to what this fellow has mocked up.
    I stand firm behind my assertion that Apple makes the most durable and usable consumer grade notebooks available. OS X is still a little rough around the edges, but to have Mac classic and BSD running at the same time without major hakkij you can't beat it.
    • I would have really liked to have the bigger screen and external display support.

      Don't worry, you aren't missing much. The new iBook can only drive an external display at 1024x768, and no higher, even though the ATI video chip supports much higher resolutions.

      Why? Because Apple intentionally crippled it to make you buy the TiBook. Unlike Dell, Apple can't justify the cost of the higher end with faster chips (they don't exist), so they have to cripple the low end to make the top end look good. Shameful. Makes me sad to be a shareholder.

      • Unlike Dell, Apple can't justify the cost of the higher end with faster chips (they don't exist)

        The TiBook has a G4 chip. The iBook has a G3 chip. Even though they are both 500 MHz, the different architectures = a sizable speed difference. Also, Apple makes up to a 800? MHz G4 chip.

        Of course, this makes it all the more pathetic to dumb down the iBook in other ways. Not only is the display an issue, but also the slow bus. Apple is not a friendly company.
      • The iBook supports 1024x768 both internally and externally. jchristopher, you need therapy, man.
        • What's your point? That's exactly what I said above.

          To reiterate - the iBook will do 1024x768 on both it's internal and external display, but no higher, even if you have an external monitor capable of 1600x1200.

          Although the video chipset is capable of 1600x1200, Apple crippled it so it won't work at anything higher than 1024x768. That is a verifiable fact.

    • FYI, here is the link that lists the display resolutions: Apple support page. [apple.com]
    • I have both a clamshell ibook and a new ibook. The clamshell is a tank. The battery lasts long enough that I never take a charger, so I never had a case. Just grab the computer by the handle and go. I forget how long I've owned it (it is one of the first) and it has never been damaged by being handled and carried naked.

      I miss my handle on the new iBook. I understand that the display hinge precludes one, and given the choice I'll take the extra 1" the hinge gets me, but I still miss the handle.

  • As far as I can tell, this looks like it's a working mod. It also appears, that the guy (or gal) might not have a lot of details on how he did this mod, becuase he is selling a book [geocities.co.jp]. (look near the bottom).

    Also, the Japanese version of Mac Wire has an article [zdnet.co.jp] about it. (But I have no idea what it says)

    I did a search for "Halli Mac" on google. Apparently, the Japanese Mac-enthusiast sites are all over this. But I have no idea what they say either.

    Probably just another neat case mod.
  • Yes, it's real. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sakusha (441986) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:21PM (#2194435)
    Yes, it does function, and yes, I can read Japanese.

    But seriously, WFT is that "Bad Apples" story title? Seems to me this is a GOOD Apple, or is /. incapable of doing anything but bashing Apple?
    • Come on, didn't you live through the 80s? Bad is good!
    • You can read Japanese, but can you read American?

      "He's a bad mother--"
      "Watch your mouth!"
      "I'm just talkin' 'bout Shaft."
      "And we can dig it!"

      Dig a Shaft, get it.. wooboy.

      Do your best moderators! I'm woefully off-topic and I don't care!
    • Re:Yes, it's real. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by agdv (457752)
      WFT is that "Bad Apples" story title? Seems to me this is a GOOD Apple

      For some reason the word "bad" has started being used to mean "very good". As is "bad-ass". Ah, kids today...
    • But seriously, WFT is that "Bad Apples" story title? Seems to me this is a GOOD Apple, or is /. incapable of doing anything but bashing Apple?

      Well you're probably Japanese, so I'll cut you some slack. Go rent Pulp Fiction or Shaft, and picture Samuel L. Jackson saying, "Those are some Baaaaaaaaaaad apples!"

      Actually, he'd probably say, "Those are some baaaaaaaaaaaad motherfuckers!" But they can't print that on Slashdot.
  • Tupperware (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think computer cases, laptops especially, should be made of Tupperware, it's extremely durable. My mom has Tupperware bowels dating back to the 70's and the stuff still looks brand new.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You can buy commercially available PC architecture machines like this from Dolch.
    http://www.dolch.com [dolch.com]

    The metal briefcase style fall under their "rugged laptops" category. I haven't used the laptop, but I've used the "rugged portable with slots" style case, and can vouch that it is very high quality (filtered fans, shock mounted everything, etc.).
    -- Chris Caudle
  • by SlowCoder (99587) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @03:30PM (#2194462) Homepage
    Panasonics "ToughBook" series is a _tough_ notebook, made for outdoor and industrial use..
    Doesn't look too bad either..

    Some features:
    * Shock-restistance
    * Spill-resistance
    * Vibration-resistance
    * Dust-restistance
    * Magnesium casing

    http://www.panasonic.com/computer/notebook/Default .asp [panasonic.com]

  • Sure, neat, pretty. Practical? Not really... that'd be a complete bitch to type on unless you used an external device.
  • In the picture showing the guts of this machine, it looks like the airport cage is autographed and dated 2001-01-12, so I would think this mod is over 18 months old.
  • Someone mods their case with the Drempels [geisswerks.com] look. :)
  • I keep my laptop in an aluminum gun/camera case. Custom carved foam. Very rugged, easy, cheap.
  • by RainbowSix (105550) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @04:25PM (#2194637) Homepage
    My self contained portable Linux server... :)

    http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/~tw/serv.jpg [cmu.edu]
    • by shepd (155729)
      You know what works even better than a briefcase?

      The aluminum (well, metal covering some cheap fiberboard) cases they sell for $10-$20 at Home Depot. They are _exactly_ the width of the motherboard + 1" (leaving enough room for you to mount the motherboard backplate inside). They are tall enough for whatever peripherals you want inside, and are long enough to fit everything comfortably.

      They aren't too hard to cut up, and you end up with a sheilded, easy to lug about computer that only has to be opened (via the EZ-open latches) for servicing! :-)

      Best $10 I spent in quite a while.
    • Yes but to my knowledge, those are larger.. this briefcase is only around 5" high. I had to take the shielding off the power supply to get it to close. As a server, I don't need CD/floppy drives, only a network connection and power.

      Though for LAN boxen, yes, those large toolbox suitcases do work pretty well.
    • by FallLine (12211)
      I dare you to carry that through airport security! ;)
  • some translation (Score:2, Informative)

    by novastyli (450003)
    On the details ("detail") page [geocities.co.jp],

    CD-RECORDER DRIVE

    It has a cd-r drive for imac, CDR-I420/IM(SONY CRX510E), made by Melco.
    It is very useful when I work aborad. It makes it easy to transfer large data to Windows-using clients.

    POWER KEY

    The power key is solid aluminium. The same for the reset key.

    SPEAKER

    The speaker consists of a mesh of aluminium and a ring made of solid aluminium.

    TRACK PAD

    The button is made of solid aluminium. It feels wonderful when you click. Also, it prevents miss-clicks.

    SLEEP LAMP

    I made the sleep lamp out of a solid acrylic. It flashes when the mac is sleeping. Together with the apple mark, this is important for the look.

    APPLE MARK

    I made this apple mark by casting graphite-colored epoxy-resin into a mould I made with silicone by taking the shape of the apple mark on a blueberry ibook.
    It glows softly by the light of the LCD backlight. (put your mouse pointor on the picture --novastyli)

    PORT

    The USB connector, whose position is a shorcoming of an ibook, was moved to the back, beefed up to a four-port hub. Of course, all other connectors are also on the back.

    AIR MAC (Mech Mushroom)

    It contains an air-mac inside. It works great when I work at places near my home, such as a park or a cafe.

  • Something On Topic (Score:2, Informative)

    by Space Cow (93479)
    Can't believe all the unrelated crap getting modded up today.

    Anyway, some real info:

    First, I read through the whole thing including his guest book (BBS link) and it looks like the real thing. He claims that his making of section will be in the August edition of Mac Life (Japanese Mac magazine). I will see if I see it on the stands before I head back to the states. Ok, just searched the web real quick and...presto:
    Mac Life [bnn.co.jp] does have an article about this! So it is real.

    Also, in the guest book section he says that he is working on a Halli Mac 2 based on the new iBook.
  • It's a really cute idea. Consider that a friend and I were working on putting a PC-XT into a normal briefcase in 1984, and it doesn't look quite so cutting edge, though.
  • As it happens, the first company I started had a gig to build a portable machine which consisted of a Mac *and* a PC, sharing a keyboard, a plasma display, and hard disk, all packaged up in a Zero Halliburton briefcase with a cell phone and modem. (This was circa 1985.)

    AFAIK, we were the first people who ever hooked up a Mac to a plasma display (which tended to get pretty hot with nearly all of the pixels lit), and it looked *amazing*. We'd never seen discrete pixels like that, or a 200:1 contrast ratio.

    Unfortunately, the customer we did it for went broke and stuck us with a massive receivable.

    One drawback to packaging a machine in a briefcase like this, is that it's really uncomfortable to use when you put it on a table.

    -jcr

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada

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