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Aurora 7 Prototype – 7 Screen Laptop (expanscape.com)
193 points by 882542F3884314B 62 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 185 comments



The memo initially said to design a 7" screen laptop, but the " character got lost in communication.

This is how this monstrosity was born.


Funny you should say that. I'm a blind screen reader user, and assumed this was some new 7-inch laptop. Since I don't need a huge screen, I'm always on the lookout for small, performant laptops. Seems this one is anything but. :) Glad I read the comments first.


One Mix Yoga 2S.

It's the smallest non-Atom, non-eMMC laptop. It's basically a 2018 Macbook Air folded in half both directions.


My god, the keyboard on that thing is hideous!


As I mention elsewhere, it's an emergency laptop for me. I am more or less constantly on pager duty but I only get paged like twice a year or so, thus the keyboard gets used perhaps two hours a year or less. It's good enough for that. Forcing me to slow down my typing in those situations is actually a boon.


For a blind user though, it could be a challenge, is all.


I'm curious how well the new Raspberry Pi 400 could be adapted as an effective screen-reader–optimized portable computer. No need to waste weight and battery power on the display.



A manager left a note for another manager to pay me .25 hours of overtime. I received 25 hours of OT pay. That's why you lead decimals with a zero. (I reported the discrepancy which is how I found out.)


I seem to remember about 10 years ago or so, when that kind of tiny 7-10" laptop was briefly popular. I don't know exactly how the marketing went, but I imagine it was positioned as "your on the go device for when your phone isn't enough." Or, maybe it was kind of like a "super PDA."

Who knows? I hated them. Never bought one.


Probably netbooks. I have a...I think 9.7" netbook from ASUS I bought for grad school that was quite frankly one of the best pieces of personal electronics I've ever purchased and served me for years.

It had a (for the time) a large 250GB hard drive, ran Windows 7 and pretty much everything you could think of available for Windows at the time (at least everything needed for a grad program). I ran Cygwin, putty, all of MS-Office, yED, did some Python stuff on it, some Protégé modeling, lots of research and websurfing. On downtime I watched movies, and played some light games on it.

720p screen, some USB ports, a usable keyboard, SD-card slot, VGA out, hard-line networking and wifi and decent battery life. It cost ~$350 and went around the world with me at least a dozen times as a photographer's computer -- still works just fine except the battery is fried. Dump the SD card from the camera into it and preview photos, do some minor editing and color correcting. It's not fast, but better than the camera and kept my entire kit down to a small sling bag so I could shoot on the go and keep my entire "studio" on me at all times.

My only complaint was I wish it had a bit more RAM and CPU power. But for something the size of a large paperback book it absolutely rocked.

Fun story, my wife launched her startup right after grad school and it was in a kind of testing phase. Things looked kind of settled for a while and we had a vacation overseas planned so we went. When we arrived she received an automated notice that her VMs were maxing out, which made no sense as nobody was really using the service. We brought that netbook with us to a coffee shop in Rome that had free wi-fi, downloaded the Google App Engine dev tools (including Eclipse!) and she was able to save her company right when it was picked up by some news agencies and was getting slammed with users, but needed more VMs allocated to scale out.


I've hoarded those computers and have 4 of them in the barn.


The original series of Macbook Airs seemed to be inspired be Netbooks as well.

It's a pity the small (10 and 11 inch) Macbooks seem to have gone.


I bought a Dell Mini 7 refurbished in high school to play with and it was an interesting device. I actually dusted it off just last week while talking to a coworker about how he got into iOS development on a hackintosh and I remembered that I had loaded OS X (now macOS) onto my Dell Mini. It still boots and is a trip to play with. My parents used it for a year or two to iChat video chat (this was before facetime) with me when I went to college (with a real Macbook).


I was in college around that time and I was very intrigued by the Dell Mini 7. I finally ended up with an HP Mini 1000, that ended up being a great little device too. I never did anything cool with it like make a Hackintosh, I just liked the nostalgia.


I have a One Mix Yoga 2S from 2018 and it's amazing for the emergency laptop purposes. BC we used to go out and I needed to carry a backpack large enough for a 14" laptop because I am on call pretty much permanently (but then again it's like I get paged twice a year, tops) and now I can just carry https://imgur.com/a/xmRmYSn


Even I have a very lightweight 13" notebook, I searched something smaller and bought a 10" from Lenovo (with "just enough power for the moment"). It was the smallest I could find around here. I would liked even something more small, but couldn't find something around here sadly. Before 2000 I used an Psion 5. I was a cool thing.


There are some really small sub-netbooks around with features on par with bigger laptops, search for "GPD micro pc".


I had an 8" or so laptop that was wonderful. Perfect size for travelling, and since it was a proper x86 running normal Windows it ran normal software and old games worked perfectly. Nowadays there isn't enough that my phone doesn't do to justify carrying a second device, but at the time it was brilliant.


I had the Toshiba AC100 "smartbook", one of the first and few Android netbooks... Even after overclocking the shit out of its Tegra 2, it's still slow as hell, mostly because of the low RAM and slow internal storage and SD card controller (swap just doesn't cut it). But the keyboard was really nice.


Anyone remember the Zeos Pocket PC? Had a usable, slightly-smaller keyboard. Ate AA batteries pretty fast, iirc.

http://oldcomputers.net/zeos-ppc.html


I purchased a Chuwi minibook last year. I have a lot of complaints about the device but I don't think the form factor would be one of them (although the usefulness is very situational)


I loved my mini laptop in middle school. I could carry it around in my pockets and get a full computer.


even before 'netbooks' existed there were much earlier attempts at very tiny laptops with 70-80% size keyboards.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_Libretto


I had one of those! The Libretto 70CT shown in the Wikipedia photo. Loved that little thing, right up until the screen failed.

I think it sparked my love of tiny computers, which I have far too many of today.


Probably replaced by tablets with external keyboards?


So, kind of the reverse of the Stonehenge gag from This Is Spinal Tap.


Inspired by Jurassic Park’s tar spitting Dilophosaurus


Hydra would have been a better name.


This is how I imagine Bad Place would torture Steve Jobs, with Bad Jony Ive bringing a version of this prototype to every other meeting to get feedback.


Upvoting because this needs to be higher :D


Perfect :)


Oh yes - he hee!


I'm caught between a couple of possible use cases:

* Perhaps this is similar to a potlatch or a peacock's tail: primarily a demonstration of social or genetic superiority. "If I can publicly waste resources on this sort of scale, imagine the sheer amount of pure nerd dominance I can summon!"

* A related use: Like clothing with an excessive number of pockets and ordinary household tools inexplicably machined from heavy steel and painted black, this is intended to convey the bearer's sheer tacticalness. In certain communities (those likely to append "-ops" to everything they do) this sort of thing can be extremely effective in establishing group membership and even invite grooming behaviour from strangers.

* "Hey, we all need to do our part to support global warming ... wait ... what do you mean we're against that?"


That’s a very bleak worldview. If something doesn’t serve an immediate, obvious purpose, it is a waste and a drain on resources.


You understand that "doesn't serve a purpose" is literally the defining criteria for waste, right?


Hence the qualification of 'immediate, obvious' in the comment.


Maybe you should think of this device as an art project?


It's unfortunate that this is necessary, but it seems that some are taking the above a bit too seriously (I had thought I offered sufficient signals that this was firmly tongue-in-cheek). So, for the record, I am thoroughly in the target market for this sort of thing, and even I enjoy a little frisson of delight at imagining unpacking this monstrosity in a student lab or at a client site. That said, I do also believe that it has little productive purpose---it is difficult to imagine a technical use case that couldn't be better and more easily served by carrying a largish spare monitor (perhaps in a blatantly ruggedized case replete with DefCon stickers to maintain the tone.)

However, I do not believe it is completely useless. I just think that the uses are primarily in the categories I propose above: conspicuous consumption, in-group signalling, or pure nihilism. And which of us has never made an extravagant purchase in support of those? Certainly not I.


I would simply like to have it since I love having all sorts of status displays and windows open at the same time.

But I'd cringe a bit folding out all those displays in public, and wouldn't want the attention it would draw, if people thought I tried to be a 'cool' member of the aforementioned groups.

At home, I could just have my seven regular displays.


He explains the target use cases in another comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25203662


For the use case of setting up shop on a comfortable desk in the morning without moving for a long work day, a laptop form factor is as unnecessary as small size, small weight and long battery life.

A large box with suitcase-like handles, mainboard and batteries at the bottom, a detachable keyboard in frontand foldout screens (larger than 17.3 inches!) on top would be more ergonomic and more difficult to tip over, and it would make using desktop/server parts easier.


I'm also not quite sure what I'm looking at, but hn_expanscape seems to be serious about this, so I'll bite.

hn_expanscape, what is the actual use-case for this device? You mention day-traders, but what about tiny screens sliding out from behind larger screens swiveling out from behind yet larger screens is helpful? Why is this better than one, much larger screen (i.e. a laptop with a 24" monitor or larger)? Why is there a screen embedded next to the keyboard? Was it just another place to squeeze a screen in, or is there an actual use-case for that? And is that a tiny little screen in the upper left portion of the bezel around what I would normally call the "main" screen? What's that for?

Are there digital nomad day-traders who are even interested in using a laptop in the first place? Where are they that they don't mind carrying this very heavy device around, where they have access to a power outlet to use it?

What is the purpose of the battery, actually? It doesn't sound like it's meant for practical use, since it seems it would last for less than an hour in ideal circumstances. Is it sort of a mobile UPS?


Hi Thomas,

Founder here.

Thanks for your questions:

- The use case of this is a portable multi monitor desktop with desktop class performance.

- I designed this to specifically facilitate my use case (DevOps, SecOps, SIEM, SOC/NOC stuff). I got frustrated and fedup waiting on the G Screen Spacebook and Project Valerie so one day I decided to just get on with making it myself. I am expected to respond to alerts for the many customer systems I manage so I usually have monitoring panels from Cisco, PRTG, Rapid7, Okta, Solarwinds, Vectra AI, open at the same time all day. Suffice to say this gets really stupid on a laptop with one screen especially when you sometimes have to spend whole days at customer sites or in the data center.

- Due to immense interest from people in the finance and content creation industries I decided to build these to specification.

- One crucial objective was that all the screens should slide out of the main chassis as this facilitates easy setup and folding down when leaving a customer site.

- The screen in the keyboard allows me test touch screen apps I'm writing for linux for another project that will be revealed shortly. The palmrest screen was originally designed to also support a WACOM pen but I'm still working on that.

- The tiny screen on the bezel is not connected to the GPU. It is connected to an Arduino micro controller and provides additional stats on battery life and system resource usage.

- YES to my surprise there are many digital nomad types, film studios, CEOs and other execs who are very interested in our prototypes.

- The battery in the Aurora 7 can be considered a mobile UPS however we are still working on that aspect. One of the big problems we have is Airplane regulations regarding the max Watt Hours for Lithium batteries...

There have been a few prototypes before this one and our latest that will be revealed shortly features various improvements.


It sounds like your use-case doesn't require battery power (at least when fully-deployed). Wouldn't it be better use a consumer laptop and focus your efforts on optimizing wall-powered monitors for packability?


The best thing to do about the battery life is probably to make it very flexible in shutting down things, i.e. every screen one by one and so on.


I can see use cases for this in film production, event management, various kinds of security work.

NGL I kinda want one to have a whole command station that fits in one box. This has nothing to do with my habit of having 3-400 open browser tabs at any given time.


That's the idea!


Ok, this is clearly a joke / fun project that metastasized / etc, and it's also clearly awesome, but I gotta ask - why 7 screens?

Why not 6? Or 8?

They said that they wanted to design a mobile Security Operations Center - do people doing this work normally need exactly 7 screens worth of information? I've seen pictures of "Operation Centers" which have tons of screens so it's plausible that someone would need "a lot" of screens, but I can't tell if this would actually achieve the goal of being a mobile SOC.

(My gut feeling is that they were trying to see how many screens they could put onto a single laptop, moreso than that small screen next to the touchpad actually being genuinely, uniquely useful, but I'd love to know for sure if each screen actually has a specific purpose)


Why not 6? Or 8?

Because 8 is too many and 6 is clearly not enough. This is what separates the Steve Jobs' of this world from the rest of us.


And the lord spake, "Then shalt thou count to seven, no more–no less. Seven shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be seven. Eight shalt thou not count, neither count thou six, excepting that thou then proceed to seven. Nine is right out."


This reminded me of the hitchhiker scene in There’s Something About Mary:

Hitchhiker: Think about it. You walk into a video store, you see 8-Minute Abs sittin’ there, there’s 7-Minute Abs right beside it. Which one are you gonna pick, man?

Ted: I would go for the 7.

Hitchhiker: Bingo, man, bingo. 7-Minute Abs. And we guarantee just as good a workout as the 8-minute folk.

...

Ted: That’s right. That’s – that’s good. That’s good. Unless, of course, somebody comes up with 6-Minute Abs. Then you’re in trouble, huh?

[Hitchhiker convulses]

Hitchhiker: No! No, no, not 6! I said 7. Nobody’s comin’ up with 6. Who works out in 6 minutes? You won’t even get your heart goin, not even a mouse on a wheel.

Ted: That – good point.

Hitchhiker: 7’s the key number here. Think about it. 7-Elevens. 7 dwarves. 7, man, that’s the number. 7 little chipmunks twirlin’ on a branch, eatin’ lots of sunflowers on my uncle’s ranch. You know that old children’s tale from the sea.

So, I think that clears up why they went with 7 screens.


Traders frequently use smaller monitors stacked up very high. The upper monitors usually have charts or heatmaps or live video feeds. They don't usually read the text from those screens. This product would have sold well to the finance crowd when monitors were relatively expensive.


Our prototypes are definitely geared towards day traders. We have had a lot of feedback from individuals in the finance industry and as such we are refining our prototypes accordingly.


Wait, you mean this is a real product? I took it for performance art or a very-well-done joke...


YUP - This is very real.



Every number carries special symbolism. It's all nonsense numerology.


Its six up top - the 7th is the one on the wrist rest...


That's correct.


Man, this thing and the TeenySERV are awesome. Good for you, hn_expanscape. I have no practical purpose for either of these, but I love them.

You mentioned elsewhere that you have a four-monitor variant... any public page for that? And what's pricing on these like? (the smaller) $20k? 30?

This right here is what Hacker News is really about. Somebody wanted a specialized computer, hacked one together, and is now looking at running a nice boutique device business. Best of luck and looking forward to seeing more of your designs!

PS: Typo -- 'third "interation"' at https://expanscape.com/the-aurora-7-prototype/a7-m3-prototyp...


They also have a 'teenyserv'. Handheld computer with 64GB RAM and an 8 core i7 processor. [1]

It really seems like these are variations of The Homer. [2] I don't see a use case in mind for them, and the designers seem mostly really excited about the designs. So it looks like these are pet projects that got taken a little too seriously.

[1] https://expanscape.com/teenyserv/the-teenyserv-prototypes/

[2] https://simpsons.fandom.com/wiki/The_Homer


Not quite. The designs are only part of the picture. We care mostly about utility. We're quite fedup with this trend of unsustainable, premature obsoletion [1] that is the current norm for hardware. Our design philosophy is very simple. [1] https://expanscape.com/about-us/the-3-us/


That's great to hear. Too often I get caught up in ideas for projects that fit my interests, but don't fit the rest of the world. This looked like that kind of project, but I'm glad it isn't.


> "A laptop with exactly zero compromises"

I mean the size, weight, awkwardness and small trackpad all seem like compromises to me. I'd suspect the battery life too. And some of the screens aren't placed in the most practical of locations.

That said it's a pretty impressive prototype.


I prefer the version with the printer: https://i.imgur.com/RCgJg6F.gif


Once upon a previous century I tested a laptop with a built-in printer for an article I wrote for a magazine. Paper was fed through a slit underneath the keyboard, ink was dribbled on it from a microscopically small ink cartridge and in only half a minute it worked its way through a single A4 sheet.

It was made by Canon under the name Notejet [1]. It did not come with a built-in desk though.

[1] http://laptop.pics/canon-notejet/


Not built-in, but https://youtu.be/2nR3dDVgAVQ?t=51 is someone using a HP 200LX MS-DOS based palmtop and battery powered portable battery powered small Pentax printer, in 2015.


What is that from?


I didn't recognize the movie but the two onlookers are John Turturro and Mel Smith - which pegs it as Brain Donors (1992) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103872/


According to the specs, this 12KG laptop gets 28 minutes at full power on batteries >_<

And it's not allowed on airplanes..


Why even waste weight on battery at that point. That is a built in ups, not a portable device.


A built in UPS is really helpful for moving from room to room around a home or office.

For a long time I've wanted something with all the properties of a desktop PC, but the ability to move it to another room while booted and without having to do multiple journeys.

A serious enough setup I could use it for work every day, yet still with the ability to take it to the living room to do stuff while supervising the kids...


Put the whole thing on a platform with casters and bolt the case and a UPS to the thing. With a solid metal base, you could put on a shelf for mouse and keyboard and a stand for a monitor.

This seems like a pretty achievable project if you have access to a workshop.


You can buy such a thing off the shelf. They're called "Workstations on Wheels" or "WoWs" and they're everywhere in medical facilities.


For a device that may be deployed in or from a vehicle or locations which may or may not have 100% stable power, a built in UPS is great.

Also, that 'ups' allows one to move the device around - it is called out as a mobile SOC.


Seriously? 12 kilos? That's heavier than an Osborne 1 [0], and that was considered a luggable computer rather than a laptop per se.

---

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_1


The venerable Osborne 1! Now that's a trip down memory lane!


This is due to regulations regarding max Watt Hour ratings for lithium batteries on planes. However we are still working on this.


Battery regulations are the weirdest goddamn thing. TSA forced me to stow batteries in checked in luggage when I literally pointed to the regulation (I had a copy on my phone just in case this exact scenario happened) that I had to bring it on carry on. Nope didn't care, I guess the battery looked scary

I had to pay like 80 bucks to check a random bag with those batteries.


Agreed - I understand the reasoning but it is frustrating.


And with the "Out of band always visible battery gauge" you can literally watch the charge tick down by 1% every 20 seconds!

I expect it's not a big deal for actual usage, with my controls engineering workstation I typically only use my batteries to transfer from the dock in my office to the dock in the shop and vice versa, and to hold the laptop in suspend when I go to and from work.


> And it's not allowed on airplanes

Is the battery limit just for carry-on or for checked too? Could you just check this in?


The limit is much tighter for checked-in luggage. You are supposed to carry the batteries with you.

This is due to fire safety.


YUP. This is correct.


Thanks. The palm rest screen is actually really useful in day to day operation.


I thought they meant that as a joke?


Zero compromise doesn’t mean you get what you want. Actually the opposite sometimes.


Yes it does. That's why "zero compromise" is usually a losing proposition, because there are often requirements that conflict with each other.

You can't have 7 screens, long battery life, and have it be light weight. That would be zero compromises.

It's basically the old adage: Fast, cheap, good - pick two.

They've sacrificed any kind of portability for more screens.


Believe it or not there are alternatives to our Aurora 7 prototype but those are too large to fit in standard backpack. They usually consist of monitors bolted on to a standard desktop chassis and don't feature integrated batteries. The Aurora 7 folds down then fits into a backpack.


Believe it or not, a 25 pound laptop you can't bring on an airplane isn't what anyone would call portable.

If that's portable, then so is any number of small PCs that could fit in a backpack.


I don’t get the outrage, a small 7L PC could weigh 25 pounds and is very portable.

You might be thinking ultra-portable.


Outrage or general non-acceptance of claim.


> Zero compromise doesn’t mean you get what you want

Yes, it does. If I don't get all of what I want, then, ipso facto, the product involves some compromise.

Now, if you mean “Zero compromise is almost always a marketing lie”, that's definitely true.


No, if the manufacturer decides to make the product however they want and not listen to any of the user’s needs or requests, that is zero compromise from them.


In my dream world, "decision makers" (gov officials, top managers) attend their fancy meetings with one of these, and have on-screen info, fed by an army of people in different parts of the world, to minimize the amount of bullshit said, and make government / admin more efficient. Yes, they could also have the setup at home, but I think they like the going around in black SUVs, having doors opened for them, shaking hands and all that.


I'm not sure if you are serious or not, because your dream world already exists. Maybe not with laptops like this, but most government entities and corporate boards do have software-driven processes to collect info and documents, provide them to the leaders, and run meetings to make decisions. Those who don't have specific software for it typically at least use something like google docs to share info.

I'm not sure if those of us who write such software are making governance any more efficient, but at least we are no longer printing massive binders of info every time someone has a board meeting.

BTW, most government is not feds in black SUVs - it is small local school boards, city councils, and special districts. There are tens of thousands of such government entities in the USA alone. Most of their boards are not in it for shaking hands and all that. Some are, but most are just local folk doing their jobs.


There is only so much information that a single brain can analyze and parse. This is why decision makers employ a team of brains to parse it for them, rather than attempting to do it all themselves. Delegation has very significant performance advantages. More screens isn't the solution -- better parsing and analysis is the need.


I dunno, I think there is value in having all the information actively available sometimes, without needing to scroll. Imagine having every single monitoring dashboard for your app displayed on the wall - you can't truly see all of it in detail at the same time, but you can still glance over it and notice oddities faster than you could by scrolling/clicking through things, and it should actually lower the working-memory requirements.


This is literally one of the primary reasons this was designed. Imagine having to monitor several instances of PRTG, Solarwinds, Vectra AI all at the same time and action multiple issues for multiple customers. All while sometimes spending all day onsite at customers or in the datacenter. Applying a SOAR strategy to SIEM can sometimes only go so far.


Reminds me of a bunch of "execs" in dystopian anime series, much like ghost in the shell or others where you have some super powerful cyborg executive


It's an interesting concept, indeed.

I think it would be really neat if all the screens were mounted with some form of a clever "multimonitor mount arm" kind of setup - it could have a really flat version of that in the back, such that when the laptop is opened, the screens' individual position could be adjusted along multiple axes.

One thing that I do notice about this design, however, is that the screens are all different sizes and are assembled a little bit haphazardly - I wonder if the screens were more uniform in size, and the aesthetic design more clean-looking, the unit would be less visually distracting and allow the user to focus more on the screen content, similar to the look of a homogenous array of monitors.


There was a line of ThinkPads with two screens. I'm not really sure who they were aimed at.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7r0ZlmLBCjQ


Hopefully the person sitting in front of it.


This reminds me of how I once needed to look at a bunch of screens at once, so I made an app for cardboard VR that put a sphere of virtual screens hanging in the air all around me. All I had to do was swivel in my chair. The resolution was a bit low, but it sort of worked nevertheless. That was a fun hack, but not nearly as fun as building this monster I bet.


This is the best realization of the 80s Anime supertech I've ever seen. I remember a 3 screen system I saw one time from...I want to say HP, but this totally beats it.


There was a Razer prototype with 3 screens [1] and another that comes to mind is the two screened Thinkpad w700ds

[1] https://www2.razer.com/project-valerie


We got fed-up waiting on Project Valerie... so we made our own.


Had I made that choice, I think I would have just tried to build the three horizontal screens. Is the screen layout of the Aurora 7 your ideal?

As a lone tinkerer who highly values utility and unconventionality, I think this thing is beautiful, in a horrifying way. Nice work.


They require you to sign an NDA just to find out what the price is...


This looks super-rough, and some of the screen look dubiously useful, but a more polished 4 screen variant of this could be pretty great.


Looks like your looking for our A5 15 or A5 13. send us a message on our website and we'll let you know when they are available.


Haha, I've used the poor and lazy man's version of this:

https://i.imgur.com/xPvcUnc.jpg

In Soviet Russia you become the task scheduler!

Back laptops are older Elitebooks, front ones ZBooks. Since I can't seem to sell my old laptops, I found a use for them. I had a better multi monitor setup, but unfortunately it would've been impossible to pack and move.

Works really well tbh, either as a multi-monitor setup for one machine or as separate machines for different tasks.

But what I really want is to shove some new hardware into an old Elitebook 8530w chassis, I love that design!


That actually looks quite nice. What's the keyboard?


That's a Rapoo e9060 combo. I bought it in ~2015, it's impressive that it lasted this long. The mouse is average, but I liked the keyboard so much I bought another one (English-only layout, sadly).

Everyone's talking about mechanical keyboards, but I like the laptop-like keys and the small footprint. There's a newer model with worse keys (mushier, less springy).


I've been looking for a keyboard like this for years, never heard of this brand. Do you know if they have one without the number pad?


I never heard of it either, I just saw it and thought it looks nice. And it is well built.

The e6080 is newer, with no numpad, but they use different switches, the keys are mushier/softer and have slightly less travel. Plus the spacing between the keys is bigger. Just doesn't feel the same.


I think I might be one of their primary targets. My main computer:

https://imgur.com/a/f5nj4pC


This looks like you just kept buying monitors without ever giving one away.

Although they all look like 24". I would have expected you to gradually buy better models


You're almost correct! The center monitors are 23" and the side monitors are actually 1440x900 in portrait mode. The middle 23's are yard sale monitors, the "wing" monitors were from a friend whose employer was disposing of them. My biggest expense was a second video card, since they are DVI/VGA, and that was only $50. Other than that, the monitor stand was about $40.


You definitely are!!


This put a smile on my face today. Thanks for making it, hn_expanscape. Is it possible to show a video of this opening up/closing? Curious how it's done.


Glad we were able to make you smile! We are currently prioritising refining out latest prototypes. However we will have video demos up soon!



Eh, I actually like this :D Unfolding [0] is quite something, I'd love to see this in video format

Also, nitpick: > Designed for for professionals

[0]: https://expanscape.com/the-aurora-7-prototype/screen-transit...


Hmmm. Thanks for the feedback. We will have a think about better phrasing.


Due to the fact that we are selling an exclusive prototype you will have to sign an NDA prohibiting you from discussing your pricing arangemments.

Pricing will reflect the costs and development involved and the fact that we are in the very early stages of our prototype's development.



I hear they offer a Black Friday discount if you use a coupon at checkout: APRL1ST


I wonder how many of the people who always complain about this and that every time MacBooks are mentioned will actually put their money into this thing that supposedly takes care of everything..


I was wondering how anyone who made this thing could afford an office on reagent street it turned out to be a virtual office space (basically a mail forwarding address)...


Weight: "10Kg max."

That's 22 lbs. About the same weight as a stack of 20+ thick books!

And unless my eyes are fooling me, when folded, the laptop's seven -- seven! --screens are held together with... velcro? See here: https://expanscape.com/the-aurora-7-prototype/screen-transit...

Is this thing for real?


It would be lighter to carry around 7 Macbook Airs.


This is why we need VR to get higher resolution


I thought that the newly-released HP Reverb G2 has a high-enough resolution for desktop work.

Could anyone with experience confirm?


The G2 is around 22 pixels per degree. But you lose a large chunk of resolution due to bilinear resampling. So a 22 degree virtual screen would be around 1320px wide, but have a lower usable resolution. Since people did develop with multiple 1280x1024 monitors, this is a usable resolution with the right setup.

See https://www.reddit.com/r/HMDprogramming/ for more examples of people trying to write code in VR.


We think the priority needs to be AR. The ability to see your surroundings is crucial. We have also have some ideas around this that we are hoping to demonstrate next year.


Is your productivity also a function of pixels? Sometimes, when I have a deadline approaching, I simply ask for more pixels.


It is if you are programming in LabView.


Pretty fun project! I also sometimes dream of building something more unique, but I don't have the tools and materials :/

Was thinking, dual screen laptop, "dual screen" smartphone (just 2 smartphones in a special case, kind of like what LG has done), smartphone built into the palmrest, and other stuff.


Thanks for the feedback. If you have ideas get on them!


Seems like a 17" laptop with some iPads attached to the sides for extending screens onto would work fine too.


Or just bunch of portable monitors

https://www.asus.com/us/Monitors/Portable-Products/


The screens on the sides are Thinkpad screens. There was one with a pull-out 800x600 auxiliary screen in addition to the 17" (IIRC) screen.


If you angle the hinges a little bit slightly back from straight vertical does the whole thing flop over?


It should be possible to place batteries and other heavy components as far as possible from the hinge to balance the screens up to a better angle than in the photo. Why they didn't prefer a less tall configuration (e.g. three landscape screens in a row like the frankly more sane Razer Project Valerie prototype) escapes me.


Thanks for the feedback.

We investigated the 3 landscape screen orientation but decided that 2x 17.3 4K Panels in portrait orientation is excellent for coding when paired with 2x 17.3 4K landscape.

It also takes up less horizontal space.

There are several other benefits when viewing large spreadsheets etc.

The heaviest components are actually placed as far as possible from the hinge. The base is also quite weighty so there is exactly zero chance of this tipping over.


I'm not sure if even lead acid batteries could provide balance for that tipping moment. Maybe a brick of pure lead.

Doesn't look as k-rad if it was more practical. Of all the "no compromise" design goals I don't think sane or practical was among them.


Reminds me of the "DIY lay-down desk" https://blog.luap.info/drafts/i-built-a-lay-down-desk.html


So, they make movie props, right?


We actually make real working prototypes.


>Weight 10KG MAX

The goal weight is 60% of the way there. Rounding to 50% for convenience, that means the prototype is around 20 kg or basically the weight of a large barbell plate. Imagine typing with that on your lap!


The weight is roughly 12kg. However there were other considerations/goals that it didn't meet that we haven't documented which is why it only met 60% of our target.


I am unemployed but very interested in this field...

Can I get a demo unit? (Ill return it to you, but I want to to do a noob-unboxing-to-functional-use in a documented session... Can we arrange this? (its a good use of my pandameic time))


Just what Stanley Jobson needs when he's dropping logic bombs through the trapdoor and coding multi-headed hydras to steal government slush funds from international banks on the go.


That touchpad is greasy and dirty. Might as well clean it before you make some marketing pictures. Other than that I doubt this gets used as a laptop, mobility-wise; more like a desktop.


Not sure what I'd use this for but it looks crazy awesome lol


> "Designed for professionals"

Shots fired Apple. Your move. :)


"Designed for for professionals"


"Designed for four professionals" with that many screens.


Interesting concept, as geek it was really hard to come up with use case for this. So far I don't have any.

What's the target market / clients usage ?


When I saw the obviously 3d-printed plastic, I thought it would include some kind of step by step guide to make your own, with a BOM etc. lame



Accessible link: https://archive.vn/gcbcT


I like that the laptop itself is cheap but the fact that you have to keep replacing all 7 monitors is where it gets pricey


That's insane on so many levels. I can sorta respect it though - like someone wanted this and made it happen.


I wonder what the thermals are like on it. Also how long you could have it on your lap before you have to tap out.


I think you could safely outlast the battery, but you might lose circulation from the weight.


Thermals are actually not bad at all. However it is better to use the Aurora 7 on a desk.


Wow that thing is ridiculous. I wonder what kind of power draw it takes under use. Probably over 100W!


The cpu alone takes more than that.


Under 370w all settings maxed out CPU/GPU etc.


This looks really cool -- I would love to have one (shame I don't have the funds right now)


This is insane and stupid in the best. possible. way.


Is there a video showing how you fold up the screens?


We will be uploading a videos soon. Until then you can see how the Aurora 7 folds down here:

https://expanscape.com/the-aurora-7-prototype/screen-transit...


Does it have a loud mechanical keyboard though...?


We customise the keyboard as required. The current keyboard in the Aurora 7 is not mechanical.


I figure anyone in the market for one of these is going to want the loudest, most mechanical keyboard available...


But why??


[flagged]


> they've committed to probably never getting laid for 7 lifetimes

> you would rightly deserve every glare and smirk received for presenting this thing

I think there's some valid criticism in your comment, and I don't think this design is very practical. That said, can we avoid this type of comment on HN? All kinds of geeks out there find things outside the norm interesting and I'm sure some community is interested in this type of hardware.

Shaming and insulting people who are interested in things you find impractical doesn't really fit with the spirit of HN, IMO.

EDIT to refer to guidelines:

"Be kind. Don't be snarky. Have curious conversation; don't cross-examine. Please don't fulminate. Please don't sneer, including at the rest of the community."


It's a valid concern, but please don't interpret the comment as snark. Speaking as an engineer, in absolute terms the competence of someone (or lack thereof) is clearly signalled with a setup like this. Perhaps it may have been better phrased in these terms.

Similarly, the second comment regarding what I believe many would agree are obvious social implications arising from a device like this could also have been better phrased. Isn't it also a rule on HN to treat all comments as being made in good faith where multiple interpretations exist? In any case I apologise for the phrasing, it was rather blunt and certainly somewhat off the point, but I also believe it captured important sentiments that would have been difficult to conjure with alternative phrasing.


@othercharles

Not to worry - no offense taken.

That's the thing though...

Not one person who has seen and used this in person responded in ways you've mentioned.

We've also had very positive feedback and suggestions from around the globe.

However we welcome any constructive criticism as it provides an opportunity to improve.

Quite obviously you can't see a use case - however from your perspective as an engineer your feedback is still very important to us.

Could you elaborate further on what you mean by "social implications arising from a device like this".

Also your feedback from an engineering perspective would be useful too.

For clarity - this is our design philosophy in a nutshell: (https://expanscape.com/about-us/the-3-us/)


"Social implications" angle is quite straightforward,

- to the informed, a device like this should not be necessary. It did not exist because it was never required, and where a desire for mobile screenspace is required, better solutions have existed for a long time. I define "better" as "less hinges", "more optional", "cheaper", and ideas along this dimension. A skilled engineer carrying this without an extraordinary reason would automatically strike me as a deeply impractical person, thus limiting the trust I would be willing to place in them. I appreciate trying to push boundaries, but the instant interpretation is that it could only be intended as something like a souped up Mini Cooper covered in blinking LEDs and under-the-hood neon lighting.

- to the uninformed, a laptop like this basically scares normal people away. One of the greatest accomplishments of the technology industry in the past 10 years is that regular people now carry laptops. There is no longer any reason to stand out, so it is even more noteworthy than ever before when one explicitly chooses to stand out (we lost our "special case" rights no later than 2010). You can pack an 8-core workstation with 16TB of NVMe in a perfectly useful and unobtrusive device the average person might only suspect were slightly outdated. The tone set by this device would be the same as wheeling a minicomputer into a coffee shop in the mid 1980s -- outlandish, curious, unaware of social norms. It would be as if you'd willingly dress in a neon pink 80s shell suit out of a desire to avoid being hit by passing cars, when the alternative is simply to stay on the sidewalk.

Social norms matter. They open doors just as easily as they slam doors shut. And this laptop most certainly would have people saying "no" more often in relative terms than they might say "yes" to you, much as turning up to a business meeting wearing that neon shell suit rather than a formal jacket would in most scenarios.

I hope this helps


Thank you for your feedback.

We respectfully have to vehemently disagree I'm afraid.

I feel that some of your analogies are somewhat odious and don't really make sense in the grand scheme of things - to me - but we can agree to disagree.

I also feel you put too much stock in what others think about you and what you might be doing rather than putting stock in what may help you to harmlessly achieve a goal regardless of these alluded to "social norms". - Please correct me if I'm wrong here.

Your envisioned "Social norms" also appear to demonstrate a potential reason for the complete lack of innovation in screen real estate in the laptop industry for the last decade.

With the exception of Asus no other mainstream laptop OEM/ODM has really pushed the envelope when it comes to additional screens when demand has clearly been out there for at least the last 10 years.

8 core/16 Thread laptops with 64GB RAM and Multi TB NVMe have only become available in the mainstream in the last 3 years. There are many, myself included who required this in portable form for many years previous to that. (My use case was GNS3 and EVE-NG labs when I'm out and about and internet was patchy)

I reached out to G Screen in 2010 with funds ready to purchase their dual screen laptop prototype and unfortunately wasn't able to.

I made my first quite basic prototype a little while afterwards.

When Project Valerie was announced I thought at last I can now buy the dream - alas it wasn't available - so I just doubled down on my prototypes.

I have personally and professionally had a need for more portable screen real estate since at least 2005.

Also you are definitely mistaken - No one cares what the engineers toolbox looks like as long as the engineer GETS THE JOB DONE in a timely effective manor. Those are literally the only metrics that matter.

Some people are more effective with a 1 screen laptop. Some prefer n screens. Bottom line is I am more effective and can react to anomalies faster if I can view multiple infrastructure monitoring tools without the constant tedious minimising and maximising especially when at customer sites or at the data center.

Some people don't mind balancing a laptop in one hand while tapping on the keyboard when resolving issues in a comms cabinet - I prefer using my TeenySERV Duo.

My "tools" are also personally fine tuned to my other particular use cases. (Granted my professional workload is a little extreme)

Note that we also have other prototypes with less screens for individuals with different use cases.

Imagine my surprise using my prototypes and being told by multiple people that they want it "yesterday" for their professional and personal use cases.

Our company inbox is literally overflowing with people trying to acquire the 7 Screen prototype in stark contrast with your world view.

The demand and diversity of these individuals, digital nomads, CEOs/Executives, lay people, finance specialists, content creators, developers, film studios did initially surprise me but it does make clear that they aren't concerned with your envisaged "social implications"

With the greatest of respect I think that your envisioned "social norms" don't quite resonate with the general direction or actual norms for laptops in 2020 or going forward in this particular instance.

I predict the trend will steer towards Multi screen laptops, laptops with rollable/foldable displays and finally augmented reality headsets capable of projecting very high resolution content directly into the viewers eyes simulating a multi monitor setup. (Some of these are already available and being actively developed in 2020 already...)




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