A PORTABLE COMPUTER
exact right size to contain a large screen, a keyboard, and fold
nward to protect both from damage and dust.
Three problems with laptops
They usually have non-standard layouts, the keys don't have good
trackpad positioned under the palms invariably ends up sending
the cursor to another part of the screen while I'm trying to
type. In short, I'm completely spoiled by the premium "clicky"
mechanical keyboards I use with my desktop computing setups. I
n order to get the typing experience I desire.
(I'm well aware that not all laptop keyboards are created equally
and that some are quite good. I have also used them enough to
know that I *can* get used to the layout.)
Well, that's just silly. Of course they're not hard to carry!
You just fold them up and put them in a carrying case...
But I usually find myself in one of two situations:
Situation One - a "temporary desktop": I'm actually using a lap-
top at a location for an extended period of time (a day or more).
ball to get "real" work done.
Situation Two - an "on-the-move" computing device: I'm actually
moving around with the laptop - a lot. (This is largely at home
carrying around laptops for note-taking. (I rely on paper for
this task, but admit that having a full computer can have *enor-
mous* advantages and understand why people do it.)
lot, I find the laptop quite unsuited for convenient carry! I
(and I've seen plenty of other people doing this) try to balance
an open laptop in one hand and another object (a cup of tea, a
book, etc.) while also navigating doors or tripping over children
These things (typically) have no carry handles, the keyboards and
make awkward holding methods...well, even more awkward.
Bear with me. So my final complaint about laptops is that
they're typically loaded with proprietary firmware (that is often
a nightmare to work with outside of the version of Windows it was
ntended to be used with), are difficult to service, have limited
able, and customizable as a desktop computer.
the *cheap* laptops I've used. And yes, I'm aware of the gaming
laptop by MSI with a mechanical keyboard - I couldn't *afford*
that laptop and I don't *want* that laptop. I want something
light and portable with modest computing power.
What I want
So in an ideal world, I would have something that is:
like experience in terms of hardware support)
When I first starting thinking about my ideal device was probably
command line, my desires grew to encompass a sort of "portable
terminal" which would also work for programming and even light
There are some things that have become much cheaper, better, and
easier to purchase since that time.
control or retail kiosk purposes.
Mount these these items and a mechanical keyboard to a board with
a carry handle and you've got the start of a portable computer -
The computer has an Intel Celeron N3160 with a TDP (Thermal De-
Ethernet ports, 2 HDMI ports, 1 Display Port (and yes, it sup-
WiFi, and even a *COM port* for goodness sake!
mounting method that will make the screen handy for use, but fold
out of the way for "long distance" travel (I'm thinking the whole
thing might fit in a laptop case or messenger bag.)
The widest component will be the mechanical keyboard - but even
my full-size "ten-keyless" (meaning it doesn't have the number
We'll see how it goes. Both the computer and screen have been
total expense so far is just $174 for the computer and $45 for
My plan is to make it work off of wall power first and attempt
battery power later. Most of my actual day-to-day uses are near
an outlet anyway. It would be nice to at least be able to get
from one outlet to another without having to shutdown and restart
the computer. Of course, it would be *awesome* to get some real
to plug in at night as with my phone and my electric car.
few attempts at anything beyond that deviates from the standard
modern laptop configuration.
For much of my inspiration, I have to look back to the old "lug-
Most (all?) of the modern "DIY laptops" (with, say, Raspberry Pi
nnards) use a *worse* keyboard than a typical commercial laptop
for the sake of compactness. Now, I love my little eeePC 701,
but that keyboard is seriously pushing the limits of usability
for my full-sized fingers!
Anyway, here's to pursuing your dreams and never giving up on