Laptops

Laptop innovation flop: Detachable displays

Laptop innovations, like the trackpad and built-in webcam, have been hits. But, these US patent drawings show a definite miss--detachable displays.

Not every invention becomes a successful product. Some failures are just a matter of timing, while others weren't fully baked ideas to begin with. Laptop innovations, like the trackpad and built-in webcam, have been wildly successful. Nearly every modern laptop has both.

But, not every portable and laptop computer "improvement" has caught on with consumers. The US patent drawings in this gallery showcase a definite miss--removable displays. Check out these early detachable display designs from tech heavyweights like IBM, Toshiba, Unisys, and others.

While they were a novel concept in the early 1990s as laptop sales were heating up, detachable displays never found a niche within either the business or retail market. It wouldn't be until tablet and convertible laptops appeared in mid 2000s that the concept would catch on.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

3 comments
Mavric102
Mavric102

A laptop is specifically designed to be operated on your lap. This begs the question, "why would anyone want a detachable display"? The mobile computing environment is a perfect example of where a detachable display makes sense. Unlike portable and desktop computing, a mobile computer is specifically designed for use in a vehicle. In this environment, the display is mounted directly on the dashboard outside of the airbag deployment zone and tethered to the computer, which is installed in the trunk or the glove compartment. Safety conscience agencies such as Police Patrol vehicles employ this technology specifically designed for use in the vehicle. A laptop mounted on a stand in a petrol ehicle is a poor choice which leads to workers compensation claims and officer injuries. The alternative laptop design literally turns into a projectile in the vehicle during a collision. Ouch ! So, while the detachable display may have been a flop in the laptop market, it is a life saver in the vehicular mobile computing market. For more detailed information on this design, visit my website at www.Data911.com. Ric T.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Laptop innovations, like the trackpad and built-in webcam, have been wildly successful. Nearly every modern laptop has both. But, not every laptop "improvement" has caught on with consumers--like detachable displays. Did you ever own or support a laptop with a detachable display? Check out these early detachable display designs and take the poll: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=2029

Jaqui
Jaqui

and I wouldn't want one of the new ones with the swivel displays either. there are frequent enough failures with hinges on the displays that just open and close, making it more complex is just asking for more problems.