Future modular configuration suggestion

I love what you are doing with this laptop, and it revived a hope I had for a very special configuration.

An easel touch screen with configurable Keyboard, num pad and touchpad…

Several years back, Acer created a unique easel laptop the Acer R7-572 15” touch screen easel laptop.

The value of the easel turned out to be way more useful than I expected, not only because of the ability to flip the screen or flatten the laptop in a tablet, but most importantly because of the ability to move the screen forward, making the laptop extra compact when working in small spaces like a plane or on the couch.

That was made possible because the Keyboard had been moved to the front, and the touchpad to the back.

What I (and all the people who fell in love with that laptop) found out is that when doing serious production work, I actually prefer a mouse to a touchpad, and when doing more casual work, the combination Keyboard Touch screen was all I needed. And so, I could pretty much always use the laptop in its most compact configuration, with the screen moved forward right above the keyboard.

Unfortunately, not enough people gave it a chance because of that touchpad being at the back, and the laptop did not survived.

The easel was brought back with the keyboard at the back by both Acer and Microsoft, but in that configuration, you lose the most useful configuration. When the screen is moved forward, you lose the keyboard and keep the touchpad, which is just not the most practical.

At the link below, you can see a 3D mockup of a version I then dreamed to bring back the easel laptop, using magnetic modular attachments for the keyboard, the num pad and the touchpad. I first created these in 2014, and recently refreshed them into a 17” screen size.
So naturally when I see what you did with the framework, it gives me hope :slight_smile:

Here is the 2014 Online folder

And the latest 17 inch refresh

With your system, you could go one step further, by allowing the keyboard to be positioned either in the back with touchpad in the front for those you need that, or with keyboard in the front and either a num keypad, or a touchpad next to the keyboard as shown in the 3D renderings.

So here I am, suggesting you consider an easel version of your modular framework.

Thank you for listening


Oh interesting. Hadn’t seen/heard of this particular system/form factor. I wouldn’t be surprised if it couldn’t mostly be a custom chassis for standard FW parts. Not going to be something they tackle anytime soon, sadly for you, but perhaps in a year or two putting together some kind of dedicated group to try and get to a minimum order size to get just the chassis/hinges/etc put together, and the rest standard FW16 parts might be doable.

Here is the full set of modules so we could have the touchpad in the front when used as a regular laptop, or the keyboard and mini touchpad in the front when used in compact mode

Folder with pictures from all sides

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I can’t say this configuration works for me, but one way forward here is to break the project up into blocks. One piece would be a touchpad that fits in the “middle” input module size, to allow putting the touchpad beside the keyboard as you’ve drawn. Unfortunately, I don’t think the lower (“touchpad”) module on the FW16 is the same size as the upper (‘keyboard’) module, but as a proof of concept at least another subproject might be a keyboard+touchpad combo that fits in the lower “touchpad” module size.

The display hinge is the hardest part, but probably not impossible for someone mechanically inclined, and the ability to rotate the screen 180 would probably be useful even for those who weren’t interested in shifting it forward.

Right now there’s also the problem, that the input modules and the touchpad modules/spacers have different heights, so you can’t put the keyboard to the front, or the touchpad to the back.
If you’re talking about having a different chassis already, this could obviously be adresses pretty easily.
The easiest way would probably be, to try to accommodate the existing modules and creating a higher touchpad module that also fits in the input module slot. Then the back and front sections could just be identical and users can freely mix and match.

I honestly wonder a bit, why FW themselves didn’t go that route. It would have enabled a truly gigantic touchpad and the possibility to put the keyboard at the front, like discussed here. Maybe there are ergonomic reasons or just simple space constraints.

This would probably have to be a different chassis to accommodate the easel touch screen display.

I think the positioning of the modules is just a function of the midplate. With a different midplate you would probably be able to use symmetric modules top/bottom or shift the “taller” space to the bottom. The latter would probably be preferable since I think you’d want to reuse the standard keyboard if possible. So: new midplate, and a touchpad fitting in the “medium” space. Maybe in that configuration you’d want to fill the “top” area with an extra display, like the apple touchbar but much wider. That version might broaden the userbase to folks who might not be interested in the hinge mod, but prefer a keyboard at the front of the chassis.