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#1
Old 12-30-2003, 03:52 AM
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Why no standard laptop form factor?

I started another thread about cleaning a laptop that my damn cat pissed in. Upon removing the motherboard I see a lot of corrosion around a few chips (bad enough to eat all the way through the legs on one of them) apparently from the piss shorting it out.

Anyway - this has me thinking - the ATX form factor has been pretty standard for a long time in full size PCs. Why no standard for laptops?

It would be sooooo nice to be able replace this mobo with an upgraded one, but no, I'm stuck buying refurbished, proprietary, and soon to be obsolete parts off of Ebay.

It would also be nice for techy types to build laptops from scratch like we do with PCs. I think most people wouldn't mind paying a little more for the ability to upgrade in the future.

Why can't we? Is any company planning to step up to the plate with open architecture? Is that the correct terminology? Is that what needs to hapen? What would it require?
#2
Old 12-30-2003, 05:59 AM
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The simple answer is that you can make it smaller and cheaper if you make it custom, instead of conforming to any particular standard. There have been several companies who have attempted to make interchangable laptop parts, but of course each company wants their version to be the standard and no one else wants to re-tool their lines to make someone else's standard. Cost also tended to drive them out of the market. If people really were willing to pay more, then these companies would have done better over the years.
#3
Old 12-30-2003, 06:08 AM
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Well, I'm sure theres lots of money to be made in a non-open architecture, but I do know that one of the reasons is thermal design. It aint easy to make a laptop small, sleek and have it actually run without overheating.
#4
Old 12-30-2003, 01:05 PM
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Sorry about the laptop. Was it an H-Pee?

:flees:

As for the laptop, take out the hard drive and pray it didn't get wet. Everything else is expendable. If you're lucky, the battery, optical drive, LCD, etc. are OK. By the sound of it, the motherboard is hopeless. Keep your fingers crossed that the CPU and RAM are undamaged.
#5
Old 12-30-2003, 02:57 PM
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Laptops are the $ segment of the pc market. Desktops are generic commodities. There's no money there. You can make money in laptops since people are willing to pay more. In fact, they are willing to pay more in order to have certain non-computational advantages. E.g., lower weight, size and longer battery life.

So it pays for laptop makers to squeeze a little something extra out of a laptop to make it a bigger seller, the fact that it adds to the cost is part of the market.

Most laptops are made by a small number of Asian makers. You generally never hear the actual names of the laptop makers. For a given maker, its laptops are quite similar across "labels". E.g., the Gateway version and the Dell version will be similar. (Making up brands here. But neither company makes their own laptops.) But even then, the labelling company makes certain requests of the maker that inevitably results in the differences being big enough that part interchangability is low.

(I recently worked on a Gateway desktop motherboard OEMed by MSI. But the Gateway version was "gutted" and had several features missing from the MSI version. Probably saved 50 cents in manufacturing the board.)

If you need laptop parts, go eBaying for them. I regularly do that. Just make sure you set your max bid at the "assume that it has problems" level rather than for a "definitely will work" level.
#6
Old 12-30-2003, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
It would also be nice for techy types to build laptops from scratch like we do with PCs. I think most people wouldn't mind paying a little more for the ability to upgrade in the future.
I think most people who peice together a computer do it to save a few bucks, and would ssay it's the mind set of most who DIY. This would be a total about face to pay more for the 'luxerary' of building a laptop themselves (where parts are smaller and much harder to 'fit' in).
#7
Old 12-31-2003, 02:04 AM
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kanicbird, I disagree with that assertion wholeheartedly. It's next to impossible to build a computer cheaper than you can buy one from Dell, Gateway, or Walmart, due to economies of scale. People build their own computers so they can get exactly what they want, and perhaps have the latest motherboard overclocking the latest CPU, and it usually costs quite a bit more.


I guess the answer is, "If there were money in it, somebody would be doing it", but I still can't fathom why there'd be no money in it.

There's obviously money in it for all the PC motherboard manufacturers who cater to the aftermarket, not to mention custom cases and various cooling solutions.

Didn't IBM win over Apple because of open architecture? Why is this not now a good strategy for Dell?

The laptop in the OP (a Dell Inspiron 8000) could very well be one of two or three standard form factors based on size. The motherboard is screwed into the case, and the video card, sound card, and network card attach to it like a PC. If the cooling system is also modular (in this case two fans with radiator attached to copper tubing running to the CPU, apparently liquid cooled), then that becomes a non-issue as well.

But then is this laptop even really closed architecture? Could another company legally build the proprietary replacement parts for a Dell laptop? I say proprietary to mean things like the case and motherboard, not obvious standard issue like hard drives.
#8
Old 12-31-2003, 02:22 AM
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Sorry, due a server fluke, my post went through but it failed to bump the thread.
#9
Old 12-31-2003, 03:07 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Eleusis
[B]kanicbird, I disagree with that assertion wholeheartedly. It's next to impossible to build a computer cheaper than you can buy one from Dell, Gateway, or Walmart, due to economies of scale. People build their own computers so they can get exactly what they want, and perhaps have the latest motherboard overclocking the latest CPU, and it usually costs quite a bit more. [\quote]

Only in the past few years. Go back 10 or 13 years when companies could still charge big bucks for a desktop machine and you'll find that there was a huge savings in rolling your own. There were also many small companies assembling no-name clone PCs for much cheaper than the IBM, AST Research, and other more-or-less premium brands.


Quote:
Didn't IBM win over Apple because of open architecture? Why is this not now a good strategy for Dell?
Nope. The PC architecture won out over Apple, but IBM took it on the financial chin. They desperately tried to regain the proprietary highground with the PS/2 architecture, but people weren't having any of it. I suspect it wasn't until the ThinkPad came out that IBM started making any real money from PCs. And a lot of companies [AST Research, for example) lost their shirts trying to compete -- it's brutally difficult trying to differentiate your product when it's essentially a commodity.
#10
Old 12-31-2003, 09:02 AM
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Eleusis I was going to add somethign about being able to pick and choose the parts, but it seemed elementry. On the low end you can pick up a premade sub $1000 (even sub $700) box, but I contend that you CAN build a computer cheaper and better on every spec, but the incremental cost of some 'bump up's' are really no brainers, but do drive up the cost, then again make a much faster box. If you look to build an exact model of low end computer, including shared video - something a DIY'er would rarely do, I think you could save m,ore then a few bucks.

Now if you include the cost of software which is bundeled then you have something, but if porting software from an older system then that advantage is nulified.

On the high end, the advantage of picking your own parts, exactly what you want, come into play, but for the most part that computer you build is not available from any manufacturer. If you try to build one close to the one you homebuild, I would say that it would cost possibly $500 - $1000 more from the Dell site.

If I had time I would look at the costs to do a compairison, but I don't, plus surfing on a 14.4 connection is not al that fun.

Many companies still don't offer many (if any) AMD options, which a DIY'er can peice together at a substantial savings over Intel for hte same 'power' or get more 'power' for the same price.
Another point

Laptops still come in 2 main catagories, desktop replacements and ultralights. The 1st catagory is not made to be all that mobile, but have some of the luxeries of the desktop (floppy, big screen, bigger keyboard) would be more condusive to standard parts the ultralights where energy conservation and space are prime issues.
#11
Old 12-31-2003, 10:24 PM
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Eleusius:
Quote:
Didn't IBM win over Apple because of open architecture?
As Kanicbird said, nope.

IBM won over Apple in large part before there were any PC clones. They did so mostly for no reason other than the fact that they were IBM. Apple nowadays may seem like a solidly established company, but in the late 1970s a corporation might have considered them to be a new trendy company that might disappear like mist when the sun came out. IBM wasn't going anywhere, though, and they already had corporate accounts with them to keep a supply of Selectric typewriters on their secretaries' desks. The Apple of the time was actually the Apple II, the Mac having not yet made its debut, and there were several other brands out there at the time. The IBM Personal Computer was not a substantial technological leap forward, but it was an offering from a solid (stodgy, even) company, a known corporate quantity.

Oh, and it wasn't open architecture. IBM did not, at any time, publish the specs so as to enable Compaq and the other copycats to start making competing boxes that the same software would run on. Not in the slightest. IBM got hacked. Reverse-engineered, to be precise. Other folks figured out how to put together an array of chips and ports and drives and whatnot in such a way that the same processes would run on it. An accomplishment that did no good for IBM's bottom line.

The only thing (aside from making office equipment for decades rather than being an upstart company that only did small "personal" computers) that IBM did that Apple didn't do was put out a computer sufficiently simple that it was easy to reverse-engineer. (Well, OK, they also refrained from putting forth stupid commercials that insulted corporate computer users by calling them "lemmings").
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#12
Old 12-31-2003, 10:26 PM
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Oops, make that "as Finagle said.

Pardon my misattribution.
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