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Sustainable Laptop

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Introduction

As a computer programmer, the only tool I find that I could not work without is a laptop. I used to use a desktop, but regular travel put an end to those golden days and modern laptop specifications are comparable to their desktop equivalents. Anything more than simply compiling or testing code would normally need to be run on some dedicated hardware anyway so that other projects can be worked on in the meantime.

Use of devices such as phones or tablets for programming has so far been a terrible experience, touch screens are not effective programming tools. The feedback from a keyboard allows for much higher rates of typing in my experience, although some younger generations could begin to challenge that notion. I distinctly remember that even with T9 keypads, some people were able to reach incredible speeds.

That said, a programming device I would be happy to use on a regular basis for programming would need (along with an indicator for how regularly they are used):

Because of how regularly they are used, I would be happy for the Low use devices to come in the form of attachments. Mid use I wouldn't mind them being embedded or attached.

Problem Description

Our problem is not that laptops aren't readily available and that they don't come with most of the features we want, nor can they be considered too expensive for what they offer. The problem(s) I have with current laptops are:

Additionally, personally I would like to see:

Existing Solutions

We'll run through some positives and negatives of existing platforms:

Netbooks

Positives:

  • Any OS can be used for the device.
  • Compact form factor.
  • Relatively cheap.

Negatives:

  • Typically poor battery life.
  • Hardware is not open or changeable.

Chromebooks [1]

Positives:

  • Multiple choices in device available.
  • Compact form factor.
  • Very lightweight design.

Negatives:

  • Tied to Google OS, requiring continuous Cloud connection.
  • Relatively expensive (currently $249 or more) for what is being provided.
  • Under powered for programming tasks such as compiling.
  • Difficult to make modifications to the hardware.

PiTop [2] [3]

Positives:

  • Can swap main boards relatively easily, as long as it is approximately the same footprint.
  • Open source.
  • Has all required parts included.

Negatives:

  • Expensive (currently $319.99) for what is being provided. Even the original is $299.99.
  • Battery life could be much longer (currently 8 hours) given it's low power nature.
  • Form factor doesn't match the "aeroplane seat" requirement.

Proposed Solution

Design one from scratch.

Of course this will be a lot of work, but the results should prove worth it. Essentially we want the result to be something similar to the PiTop, but that is less expensive, has longer battery life and has a more convenient form factor.

Addressing our requirements made above:

From this we have several requirements of the main board:

Conclusion

NOTE: To be continued...

References

[1] Link: https://www.google.com/chromebook/find-yours/

[2] Link: https://pi-top.com/products/pi-top

[3] Link: https://pi-top.com/products/pi-top-original/