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Twin-Screen Vista Laptops 176

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the even-i-think-that-is-kinda-stupid dept.
An anonymous reader writes ""Asus has shown off a prototype of the first dual-screen laptop, the W5Fe. These laptops, bearing the Intel codename 'Newport' have a standard screen on the inside plus a smaller, additional colour display on the outside of the lid. The second display is capable of showing video, flight departure information, movie show times, alerts, games, movies, images and MP3s, all while the laptop is switched off. According to CNET, the battery requirement for such a screen is minimal — with standard laptop batteries providing hundreds of hours of use."
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Twin-Screen Vista Laptops

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  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @10:57AM (#16306715) Homepage Journal
    The second display is capable of showing video, flight departure information, movie show times, alerts, games, movies, images and MP3s, all while the laptop is switched off.
    Unless that second display is driven by a second motherboard, I don't see how it can do all that while the laptop is "switched off".

    Unless the author thinks that "closed lid = computer is turned off".
    • by SirCyn (694031)
      A second motherboard is not necessary. But some kind of logic board is if you want the information on the second screen to be dynamic. A static display doesn't need any processing ability.

      I'm a little concerned with the hundreds of hours of display time. The display is one of the leading power suckers in laptops (the cpu is ususally the prime culprit). Unless it's a reflective lcd display (think calculator type where there is no backlight) it should drain the batter in a few hours.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Why a few hours? You can get around 8 hours of time out of a Nintendo DS with it's dual screens while playing games. I would imagine that a laptop battery is considerably more powerful than the DS battery.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by The MAZZTer (911996)

          A DS is specialized for playing games in a handheld form. As such it was designed to draw as little power as possible so the battery life could be prolonged.

          On the other hand, you have laptops with USB ports, hard disks, GBs of memory, large screens (these are the real power drainers I hear), disc drives, etc etc etc all which need power. And being PC compatible they can't really be too optimized to perform specific functions because they are general-purpose PCs. And when selecting a battery (plus the

          • by ePhil_One (634771)
            I imagine this second screen is driven by a Pocket PC type PDA that updates a small cache of info while the system is on and piggybacks on the WiFi to identify available network connections.
      • by x2A (858210)
        It's really not that far fetched. My mobile phone is more than capable of providing such information... if I were to power it from a laptop battery, and remove the transmitter (which drains a fair chunk of the battery power), it could probably reach those claims. I bet you could fit that much circuitry within a laptop case without too much problem either.

    • by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @11:06AM (#16306887) Journal
      Unless that second display is driven by a second motherboard

      If I remember correctly when these were first discussed years ago, that is in fact exactly the case. If memory serves its almost like an onboard PDA included with the laptop. When the laptop is on data is synched between the harddrive and the "pda" boards solidstate memory. I think there are some shared components like networking, etc but for the most part the PC is completely off and the "PDA" type functionalty runs almost completely seperately. Its been awhile so I could be remembering this incorrectly, but thats the basics of what I recall.
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      Unless that second display is driven by a second motherboard, I don't see how it can do all that while the laptop is "switched off".

      Unless the author thinks that "closed lid = computer is turned off".


      Way to go brainiac. But it does in fact have a (very little) second board that is powered independently indeed.
      • by Yvan256 (722131)
        But that's my point. If there's a second motherboard (no matter the size) and a 2nd battery for it, it's still part of "the laptop". If the laptop is off, it means all its components should be off.
        • by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @12:09PM (#16307983)
          But that's my point. If there's a second motherboard (no matter the size) and a 2nd battery for it, it's still part of "the laptop". If the laptop is off, it means all its components should be off.

          Oh sorry I didn't know you're after a bitchfest, I would've brought my heavy dictionary so we can be pedantic together on what "turned off laptop" means.
          • by Yvan256 (722131)
            We both know what we're talking about here (two computers in one case), but for most people it's gonna be a problem. Never mind the "dual-core laptop" vs "laptop with a built-in PDA-like device" confusion for the general public.

            Let's just wait until we see something in a newspaper about a passenger who had to miss his flight because he couldn't "turn his laptop off" and was taken for questioning by airport security.
          • by rucs_hack (784150)
            pardon me while I wade in:

            part of laptop == anything inside or permenantly attatched to the laptop case.

            turned off == all power utilising items fitting the above are receiving no power

            therefore, if the laptop were turned off, the second screen could not display anything. So, the laptop does not have a display whilst turned off.

            What we have here is a clash of the marketting buzzwords, and some severely twisted logic.
            The laptop is not off while the second display is running and the case is closed, it is opera
            • part of laptop == anything inside or permenantly attatched to the laptop case.

              turned off == all power utilising items fitting the above are receiving no power

              Even the real-time clock? Do you want your laptop to lose the time of day every time you shut it down? What about the circuitry that recognizes when the user has pressed the switch to turn the power on? Fact is, "on" vs. "off" in personal computers since the 1990s is not so black and white.

            • by x2A (858210)
              You're totally right, for a laptop to be called "turned off", there shouldn't be a *single* electron moving inside it... that's why I dip mine in liquid hydrogen before taking it anywhere. I know anyone could bitch that unless it's absolute zero, there's still gonna be /some/ electrons moving, but liquid hydrogen's all I could get without it being a real PITA.

            • by rucs_hack (784150)
              "If you have the lights on your car turned on but the engine is not running, is the car turned on? "

              yes of course, it's not moving along, but it is active

              "Even the real-time clock?"

              well, if that's on then the laptop is powered isn't it, it's not off....

              You're totally right, for a laptop to be called "turned off", there shouldn't be a *single* electron moving inside it...

              kind of my point really.

              A laptop is never 'off' while there is some item in it receiving power. It's in a lower power mode, it's not 'off'
              • You're totally right, for a laptop to be called "turned off", there shouldn't be a *single* electron moving inside it...

                Doesn't that violate physics? The electrons are sort of always moving in matter. Does that mean a rock is "Turned On" because it contains moving electrons?
                • by rucs_hack (784150)
                  violate physics? What, you mean as in grooming physics in a chatroom and getting it to meet you 'in a private place'?

                  Or do you mean violate a *law* of physics?

                  And having no electron moving wouldn't violate any physical laws that I'm aware of (even though the quote in question was someone elses, I was responding, but forgot the quotes). It would just mean a very low temperature.
              • by LocalH (28506)
                So, by your definition, no modern PC is ever turned off? Not even if you remove the mains cord? All because of a little battery on the mobo that keeps the clock going?

                Wow.
                • by rucs_hack (784150)
                  how can something with power operating some of its core hardware be considered off?

                  Consuming power == on.

    • Its all down to semantics. Basically this is like the existing portables which play video and MP3 while the portable is 'off'. In all reality the 'off' element only describes the main OS not running. Existing solutions that play MP3 and video actually use an embedded Linux to do the job. Since the embedded Linux is small enough to put on a chip and is embedded it not described as system, since from the average user's point of view, its as much system as you find in your average stereo system.

      The truth is th
      • by x2A (858210)
        You gotta understand that most people will be running windows on the laptop; this will save them having to run that to use their computer ;-)

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Sideshow uses a second device - your phone, a PDA, these secondary screen devices, simple dot-matrix devices, etc. to display the cached data. There is no need for the two to be connected (as syncing can be done wirelessly). So, if on your notebook you have an email you want to quickly read, you can use your phone to read it without having to turn your notebook on. So, basically, the screen is a second, really low-power computer.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @10:58AM (#16306723) Homepage Journal
    Not using Sony batteries.
    Hundreds of hours of smoking hot performance.
  • Abuse (Score:5, Funny)

    by Daemonstar (84116) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @10:59AM (#16306743)
    Great, now when you go to a website, it will infect the laptop so that it shows ads or porn on the screen. :P
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by debilo (612116)
      Great, now when you go to a website, it will infect the laptop so that it shows ads or porn on the screen. :P

      You call it abuse, I call it service!
    • by x2A (858210)
      Put a mirror behind your laptop, you can watch the porn on BOTH screens at once!!!

  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @10:59AM (#16306747)
    And the best part: it can run for "hundreds of hours without draining your notebook battery," according to the PortalPlayer site.

    I'd like to see some real world numbers for this. Watching video and using wifi (to access the flight schedule information) would certainly drain the battery a bit faster than "100s of hours" before delving into your notebook battery.

    Mmmm, marketingspeak.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      I believe they're saying that the small screen uses the notebook battery, but that the notebook battery is such a ridiculously overpowered power source for such a tiny device/screen that you can use it for hundreds of hours without making much of a dent to the battery's overall charge.
  • Sure, the battery use is minimal to display info to the screen. But how am I going to get my flight departure time, weather, movie times, news, whatever-else-it-wants-to-show-me? Magic? I'd imagine it would need some processing and networking. Probably wireless networking, which likes to eat battery life. Does it need to turn on the processor, too? Does it have a separate processor for computing this information?
    • But how am I going to get my flight departure time, weather, movie times, news, whatever-else-it-wants-to-show-me?

      Here's how I'd guess the PDA in the lid works: You put the URLs of RSS feeds on the PDA, and every 30 minutes or so, the PDA connects to the Wi-Fi chip, associates to the network, grabs the RSS feeds, and turns off Wi-Fi.

      Probably wireless networking, which likes to eat battery life.

      Not if it's on for 2 percent of the time.

      Does it need to turn on the processor, too? Does it have a separa

    • by dave420 (699308)
      You can read about it here [microsoft.com]. The Sideshow idea is designed to support a multitude of devices with different power, display and processing capabilities. The sideshow device manufacturers can define what their device is capable of, and then vista provides the information.
  • by Monokeros (200892) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @10:59AM (#16306759)
    The second display is capable of showing MP3s? That's handy.
    I like watching audio; cuts down on noise pollution.
  • I envisioned dual screens, where both screens are full-sized. This is hardly a new concept, having a smaller screen on the lid. A lot of flip phones sport "dual" screens. The extra screen also seems add a significant amount of thickness to the laptop. It would be nice to have a laptop with two full screens though...
    • by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @11:04AM (#16306853) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, then two people could play a game of Battleship with only one laptop!
      • by Pop69 (700500)
        Brilliant idea....

        Rushes off to patent it
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Dang it, I've been thinking about this for the last week or so, and now here it shows up on /.

        Mainly brought about because my wife and I have only one laptop to share, I considered putting a second LCD display on the back of my laptop's "lid", cutting away the cover so both LCD's could share the same light source. (Okay, so I'm not even sure the light is two-sided, but this is mostly theoretical anyway, I don't have the guts to start performing major surgery on my computer)

        The only other question I had
    • by mspohr (589790)
      My (somewhat) old Dell Inspiron 700m has the Intel Extreme Graphics 2 chipset (82852/82855) which has two display adapters (second one is connected to the external monitor port) so I have it hooked up to a second monitor which gives me twice the pixels... very nice.

      This does require that the computer be turned on and using power... I'm not sure how Asus manages to run the second screen without using power.

      • by QMO (836285)
        What you do is trace something from the main screen onto a PostIt(TM) and stick it to the outside of the case.
        External display with no power required! (The refresh rate does leave something to be desired.)
        • by mspohr (589790)
          The twin screen Vista machine sounds about the same as pasting a Post-It note on the case. It seems to be a regular PC with a PDA glued onto the back of the case... this makes a big heavy PDA with a small screen and as a bonus, you can't see the PDA screen when you're using the computer... this is real rocket science... I can't wait to get one of these... I could have my dog watch the back of the screen while I work.
    • by SScorpio (595836)
      I also originally thought and had my hopes dashed that it would be a laptop with a second screen that folds out. At work we have LCDs attached to very desk that you plug into, and I also have an additional LCD at home. However, at a customer's site it's always painful to be stuck on the single laptop screen and having to keep flipping between windows. Come on, I know some laptop maker can get it right and lead the market into offering dual displays which will takeoff when people use them.
      • by Sancho (17056)
        I don't want notebooks to get any larger than they are, thanks. And two full screens will suck up an enormous amount of battery life, too. I'd rather have longer battery life and a more portable device than a dual-17" (or 20" (single) as Dell is making now) monster of a notebook.
        • by SScorpio (595836)
          Dual 15" displays where the screens would fold out of the notebook should be able to keep the same overall size, but make it thicker because of the additional screen. And nobody says you need to get one, when dual screen notebooks come out I'd be very surprised that they would stop making single display notebooks. So for each their own.
          • by Sancho (17056)
            Except that it's harder and harder to get the specs I do want.

            About a year ago, I searched and searched for a notebook which was smallish (15") but had anything resembling a decent 3D accelerator card. No such beast. 15" was the smallest you could get. I started looking later on and even 15" started to become less common. The higher end 3d cards only came in notebooks with 17" screens.

            Luckily this trend is subsiding. Dell now offers a 12" notebook with a decent 3d card. But your assertion that 'choice
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Just install SUSE or Mandriva with the new 3D Desktop. Put your windows on separate desktops. This way, you still have to switch between windows, but the 3D desktop makes it more fun.
        • by SScorpio (595836)
          That would end up being even less efficient. Sure you get the cool looking eye candy, but I know it will get old the hundreth time you need to switch apps. I'm sure the flipping of the 3d cube takes longer than the a different window just being drawn on the screen.
    • I am pretty sure that I saw something with two screens, either of which can be turned around to present information to the person on the other side...can't remember the name though...
  • by wonkavader (605434) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @11:09AM (#16306949)
    "We can't wait for this to hit the streets (probably some time after Vista's release) -- not necessarily because we want to use any of the functions, we're just complete posers. Imagine the looks you'd get on the train! -RR"

    Comments like: "That's the biggest damn PDA I've ever seen." or "Shit, guy, you should buy a video Ipod."
  • by VidEdit (703021) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @11:12AM (#16306983)
    The second, cell-phone-style screen on the outside is cute, but what would be really useful would be one or two additional laptop screens that would swing out like a two fold restaurant menu. While a triptych screen laptop might be a little heavier and need strong hinges, it would be great for video editing and such...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DarthTaco (687646)

      The second, cell-phone-style screen on the outside is cute, but what would be really useful would be one or two additional laptop screens that would swing out like a two fold restaurant menu. While a triptych screen laptop might be a little heavier and need strong hinges, it would be great for video editing and such...

      I think a good head mounted display would be the better option. They aren't there yet, but I expect they will be before long. Something like the glastron with higher resolution and some mini

    • by feepness (543479)
      but what would be really useful^H^H^H^H^H^H heavy and short on battery life

      There, fixed that for you.
      • I can get better than 9 hours out of my Thinkpad with one display, and the display certainly isn't using 100% of the power (a couple gigs of RAM and a dual-core CPU eat a little power). Another display would still be well within a reasonable usage period, considering that the Thinkpad (with more viewable area than the 17" CRT on one of my desktops) replaced a P2-based Dell that wouldn't run for more than an hour, and the Dell weighed more than twice as much. I work with people who would be excstatic if th
    • by ednopantz (467288)
      I'd be happy if laptops carried a couple of external video ports so I can hook it up to two external monitors.

    • by houghi (78078)
      A second screen inside would be nice as well. One does not exclude the other. Below the keyboard there is plenty of room for a small screen. Should be large enough for a terminal screen.
  • this is not new... (Score:5, Informative)

    by chasingporsches (659844) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @11:12AM (#16306985)
    this is just an implementation of the windows sideshow technology shown atleast over a year ago by microsoft. more info here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/features/for everyone/sideshow.mspx [microsoft.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QRDeNameland (873957)
      I've heard it comes complete with a suite called Sideshow Bob.
    • So I can buy one of these new laptops with dual screens from MS too? Or were they just showing off the possiblity? This is the first real product I've heard of that actually implements the technology that MS provides.
  • Obviously they aren't exactly "off" when the second display is being used - they are in some kind of special lower power mode. However, I think this is a cool idea. I have definiately heard of it before this (possibly it was mentioned at WinHec?), although I haven't seen one before.

    Too bad I can't get an OS X laptop with this feature.
  • by iSwitched (609716) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @11:14AM (#16307043)
    Yo dog, we took your boring laptop and added a 7" monitor!

  • Dual-screen? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThinkWeak (958195) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @11:16AM (#16307077)
    When I talk about dual-screens, I typically refer to the ability to utilize two screens at the same time to accomplish tasks. Having a screen on top of my laptop would just one more thing to replace when someone slams their overpacked suitcase up against my laptop case in the overhead.

    Now show me a laptop that folds open to have two 19" screens side-by-side and you have yourself a deal.
  • I wouldn't mind having a decent interface to my mp3player that's easy to use while the laptop is closed.

    Also being able to scan for wifi coverage without walking around with the laptop open like an idiot would be a nice change.

    Overall, seems like a good idea.
    • you're still gonna have your laptop open like an idiot...
  • Oh No!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by mahesh_gharat (633793)
    Now my boss will expect twice the amount of work from me.
  • Yes, they are off (Score:4, Informative)

    by hacksoncode (239847) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @11:23AM (#16307173)
    Wow, I shouldn't be surprised to see Slashdot blithering on about something it knows nothing about, but every time I see it I still am... almost makes me think I might be an optimist.

    Try reading the fine manual on Sideshow.

    Anyway, yes, the laptop is off when this thing is running (at least in the most classic implementation). They have their own ARM9 processor and memory. They work a bit like a PDA stuck to your laptop that syncs with the laptop when it's on and then can show information when it's off.

  • by grumpyman (849537)
    Wouldn't a tablet be doing it now?
  • Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @11:36AM (#16307387)
    This is not a "twin screen" laptop your title-inventing fact-bending fact-manglers!

    This is an "aux" display which is part of the native Vista featureset, and FAR from being the first laptop manifactures with this facility.

    There you go [pcworld.com]

    And those that said it can't work with your laptop off: that's the whole point. Or you think I'm gonna spin my laptop all the time to see both displays?

    Yes, the aux display has standalone electronics, it wastes very little power, and it can sync with Vista and work with the laptop off. Only when you need to access the HDD (like, listen to mp3-s) the laptop powers up when you use the aux display.

    What kinda geeks are you, waiting for my sorry ass to explain all of this to you!
  • According to the "PortalPlayer" site, this is, in effect, a PDA built into the lid of a laptop.

    - It is a seperate QVGA display, but relies on a system-on-a-chip and custom board to drive it. It derives power presumably from the laptop battery, but more than likely at lower draw.
    - It is updated with new information when the laptop's main OS is on (ActiveSync, anyone?).
    - It runs XML-based "gadgets" -- my guess is something like Confabulator widgets -- that perform certain functions.

    My question is, why on eart
    • by dave420 (699308)
      That is one incarnation of Sideshow out there. Others include phones and PDAs, or pretty much any device with a small processor, some storage, and connectivity. You can have the notebook in your bag, and read your inbox on your phone. I've seen people with notebooks having to get them out to check details (such as hotel bookings, travel information, etc.) when they haven't printed it out. This Sideshow incarnation would allow them to quickly access their info without having to turn on their notebook and
  • I'm sure I saw a laptop where someone had glued an iPaq to the outside with a usb cable to their laptop. that thing was horrendously bulky!

    a bit of JFGI and I found it:

    makezine article [makezine.com]

  • From around 1983:

    http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c =499 [old-computers.com]

    (small 2nd screen above the keyboard, in case it isn't obvious)

    I always thought that it was a daft idea then...
  • When I first saw the photo I thought they had a PDA sitting on top of the computer. Which made me think, why not have a PDA that can be "docked" into the top of the laptop in the same way this display and controls are? It cant take up too much more space then this current design. The device would allow people much more freedom (remove it from the laptop, conntect to your desktop) and always have the files,contacts/information updated to the PDA. Also many people who I think would use a feature like this
  • This is along the lines of those calculator mousepads. Utterly useless, but someone thinks people want to pay extra for it.

    So... you can get an iPod for $200 - $250 or you can buy a whole new laptop with this Thingy on it... I'd rather not drag my laptop out to do what I can do with an iPod + looking at the plane schedule on the wall.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      If you read what the technology is, you'd see it's not just a "screen on the notebook". You can have the info on your PDA, phone, smart watch, whatever. It automatically syncs with your inbox (and other data sources), so you don't have to worry about that. But, as with so many other people in this thread, don't bother to read up about it before you condemn it :) It is more fun that way.
  • twin screens... psh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by awrz (1009247)
    Honestly. Why not have the keyboard be it's own full resolution touch screen. That'd be hot beans. Have it display a digital keyboard... with neat GUI overlays. It' be like the Matrix! :)
  • So we are going to rely on fly times and e-mails displayed while WiFi is off? A cellphone this day is not more difficult to use than that second screen and it can get up-to-date information through GPRS. In any case, if that second screen is that useful, why not make it detachable from the laptop's cover so that we can show friends our photos without lagging around the powered off laptop? If it replaces the dell's round badge, even I will see the utility.
  • So now I can have a PDA that weighs the same as a laptop? If I'm not going to use the laptop, I'd prefer to stash it somewhere rather than lug it around.
    And if I've got the whole laptop with me anyway, why mess around with a tiny screen and no decent input method if I can have a 14" monitor and a full keyboard, just by opening the damn device ?

    Also, the damn laptop now has an unsightly bulge, making it twice as thick so it won't fit in my laptop bag. Keep the mongrel, I'll use my current laptop plus a separ
  • Just stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @02:24PM (#16310143) Journal
    Am I the only person that hates the little screens put on the outside of the shells of flip cell phones?
    The reason I buy a flip phone is because I want to protect the screen when it is in my pocket. Now, insted of a nice protective plastic cover, I have another LCD screen which can get broken. Now they want to do this to my laptop? No! The last thing my laptop needs is a screen that will get destroyed the firt time I accidentally hit a table with my laptop bag.
    The clamshell top has a purpose, to protect the screen, it is not just wasted space which could use another fragile part.
    • by Mr2001 (90979)

      Am I the only person that hates the little screens put on the outside of the shells of flip cell phones?
      The reason I buy a flip phone is because I want to protect the screen when it is in my pocket.

      That's not the only reason to buy them. Flip phones are smaller (at least in the dimension that counts) than bar phones with the same screen size and button count, and they protect the buttons from being pressed in your pocket. I like being able to see who's calling, or just check the time, without unflipping the

      • I will admit that the ability to use my cell phone as a watch is nice. My current phone (Samsung SGH-c417 [samsung.com]) has the front screen, which I do use to check the time. And size was an important factor in my choice.
        The problem is, one good bump and I expect that I am going to lose that screen. In order to keep that from happening I now use a belt holster for my phone, and I always make sure to put the phone into it with the screen facing my hip. I figure that my body will have more give than a table or chair
  • You've produced the world's largest iPod.

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