Here are my top 10 most innovative/coolest mobile computers. Note: I define mobile computers as anything that is portable or can fit in a luggage bag – and runs on a desktop OS. No iPads or mobile phones here.
10. Dell Adamo XPS (2010)
Dell came up with the thinnest laptop on the market in 2010 and one of the thinnest all time – only 10mm thin. They accomplished this by having the keyboard recess into the lid, the lid acting as a kind of ‘storage’ for the keyboard. And also a heat strip where the laptop opens with the swipe of a finger. pretty cool.
9. Dell XPS M2010 (2006)
The father of the desktop replacement, this massive 20 incher weighed 20lbs! but folded into a briefcase so technically it was ‘portable’ and thus qualifies for this list. Still the fact that Dell thought up such a beastly machine over 13 years ago, is why it belongs on this list.
8. Asus ROG Mothership (2019)
One of the coolest laptops unveiled at this year’s CES, the Asus ROG mothership is basically a battery powered all-in-one PC with high end specs. Core i9, 144hz display, RTX 2080, its all there – and the keyboard is detachable so that gamers can use their own keyboard/mouse without the built in one taking up space like in most gaming laptops.
7. Porsche Design Book One (2017)
Yes its similar to the Microsoft SurfaceBook – but it has one key difference which is a 360 degree Yoga hinge. This means the Book One combines the Lenovo Yoga’s convertible form factor with the Surface Book’s detachable hinge. It’s the only computer with this design.
6. Acer Aspire R7 (2013)
A laptop that looks like the Starship Enterprise – this laptop has a screen that can be lifted upwards and moved closer much like an easel – this is geared towards artists and creators, but the screen can also flip backwards as well – and the touchpad above the keyboard. Very unique.
5. Acer Iconia 6120 (2010)
A dual touchscreen notebook where you can use pretty much anything on the bottom screen, including a custom keyboard. This predates the Lenovo YogaBook by several years and is still an interesting design today.
4. Sony Vaio UX (2006)
The ultimate UMPC, the Vaio UX is still a marvel of design and engineering. It ran Windows XP (can be upgraded all the way to Windows 10) and can fit in your pocket! It was the first computer to have an SSD and had a fingerprint scanner over a decade before it was commonplace on notebooks. Truly an amazing piece of tech.
3. Razer Edge Pro (2013)
Razer Edge Pro was a gaming tablet that ran a Core i7 with a GTX 640LE and paired it with a console grade gaming controller. This idea was very unique and allowed users to play Windows games on the go in a form factor much smaller than gaming laptops – and way before the Nintendo Switch as well.
2. Asus Zenbook Pro Duo (2019)
Just announced at this Computex 2019, the Zenbook Pro Duo packs a 15″ 4K OLED display along with a secondary 14″ 4K display AND a third numpad/trackpad display AND a RTX 2060 graphics card. This thing is the coolest computer I’ve seen in quite a while, and I’m excited!
Onkyo DX (2010)
Technically this would belong to Razer’s Project Valerie if they ever made that laptop, but since they didn’t – this netbook gets it. It has a dual display – one display slides out from under the other – and its also a convertible display on top of that! I have no idea why this design idea was not adopted by other makers but out of all PC makers – Onkyo – an audio equipment maker was the one to come up with this. Surprising.
HTML5 has of course been the hot technology as of late, which I regret not using more HTML5, because my company has to support legacy browsers like IE6/7 (which of course cannot support HTML5).
“But Tong, why don’t you use Modernizr or another shim to take advantage of graceful degradation?”
Well, the fact is that we are lazy, so we don’t want to rewrite a lot of our code for graceful degradation / progressive enhancement. And I’ve also noticed new templating technologies such as HAML, Jinja, JST, Mustache, and Handlebars, which uses JS to compile Handlebars templates, which itself is built on top of Mustache.
Another area is CSS. Of course my company can’t use CSS3 for much of the same reason as HTML5; support for legacy browsers. Take note that like HTML5, CSS3 is continually expanding and browser support is very inconsistent (so just look to W3C for guidance for now). However, there is also much innovation in the realm of styling as well. There’s LESS, which extends CSS with variables, mixins, operations and functions, much like a scripting language, and SASS, which adds much of the same things. Then we have frameworks that build on top of LESS/SASS, like Compass.
Notice how alot of new technologies are themselves improved or extended by even newer technologies, and so forth.
Hence, where we are at now. Ajax took off, and JS libraries (some may say polyfills) came out that significantly expanded JS’s use in everyday browser scripting. My company uses Prototype.js and Scriptaculous for UI. And certainly there were other popular libraries at the time like MooTools, and widget libraries like Dojo and YUI.
But the most popular JS library that came out in 2006 that really started web 2.0 computing was jQuery. Every web developer knows it, and 91% of websites probably use it. Jquery made ajax applications and dynamic application scripting as easy as cake. Hence my point now is that 90% of libraries today is built on top of, using, or extending jquery. It’s so ubiquitous. Want some boilerplate for your code? Bootstrap uses it. Want to add some structure to your single page app? Backbone.js uses it. How about mobile? Well jQuery mobile has got you covered. And jQueryUI has most of your UI needs down. jQuery has become a foundation of modern JS frameworks and libraries.
Thanks to my friend Chris (the Polish juggernaut) for this tip:
[Unix commands] use xmllint –html *.html to check if your html document is well formed, but use tidy *.html for full on HTML validation. Little known unix commands, but useful.
And in other news, I’ve been having a terrible year so far, compared to last year. So far, in just January alone, I had:
-At the very start of the year, the power on my Mac went out and all the pictures I took in San Diego on the Mac guest account were deleted and cannot be recovered (this is a “feature” of unix guest accounts and works differently than windows guest accounts).
-alot of my good Korean friends went back to Korea.
-lost 6k in stock market options (each time the market went the other direction – go figure)
-pay $1340 in parking fines and traffic fines (because I had high beams on? geez)
-had to come in late for work or missing from work many times due to the stress of my new apartment, mortgage loans, escrow, new bank, etc.
-Didn’t get internet for two weeks due to no cable wiring
-Didn’t have electricity in the living room for two weeks due to faulty circuit breaker.
-Toilet cannot flush – now have to use the lobby restroom until a repairman fixes it.
-washer and dryer doesn’t work – all my clothes come out smelly and unwashed
-After doing tax returns, found out I owe the government $2600 in taxes.. ugh…
So yeah. In one month, I had more bad news that all of last year. Happy year of the snake.