Something I have always felt there would be a good market for would be a compact an inexpensive LVDS (TFT-LCD connector) to some sort of driver (small FPGA or maybe SOC). You could then salvage displays from "dead" laptops (where the display works) and build up some pretty awesome sorts of deca-panel UIs :-) I'm thinking 'home star trek bridge' to a whole new level.
Of course, the same thing is true of iOS and OS X software, which is precisely the reason "Retina" (as distinguished from arbitrary 200+ DPI hardware) displays are always shipped in resolutions that exactly double those of pre-existing devices. So even though the legacy software doesn't handle it Apple, by controlling the framework, is able to make it work more or less seamlessly.
Dell and HP don't have that freedom, they need help from Microsoft, and Microsoft, well... At least Windows 8 does high DPI natively, though the MS decision was basically to jettison legacy visuals and hope no one runs the old software anymore.
This is more or less the crux of everything there is to love or hate about Apple.
However, the one that connects to my display(s) is simply a tool for running Chrome, Skype, FaceTime, Mail.app, TweetDeck, Spotify, and SSH, and, as such, should not ever break or otherwise hinder the incredibly simple tasks which ARE ITS ONLY JOB.
This is why the only computers I own that I touch on a regular basis all have fruit on the back. It's a very simple calculus.
 Hangouts are luckily the VoIP of choice for most I work with
Think about what your laptop is doing that we would have had no hope of doing with desktop Linux just a few years ago (if ever, depending on the hardware).
Sharing access to video capture and audio hardware between software written (sort of) by Apple, Microsoft (Skype, so -ish), Spotify, etc. would have been unthinkable. You would have been restarting your primary machine if you made the mistake of starting any two apps that tried to grab your QuickCam at the same time.
Interesting. My personal workstation runs Windows and I too effortlessly SSH and RDP into many headless or virtual machines to dick around and (occasionally) to do actual work. Hey, I also run Chrome, Skype, TweetDeck, Spotify, SSH and the like and I have been for years...on the same install of Windows. It's like your calculus doesn't work at all in my universe.
Actually...I don't think you're doing calculus at all.
Also, have you ever seen the source of Chrome? It's not that simple. Lay-people think it's simple, but software developers know better.
My workflow would work on Windows, too, aside from the fact that it'd suck. (Example: Unplug an external USB audio interface while a song is playing. OSX skips a beat and then plays via internal speakers, at the previous internal-speaker-volume-level.)
I could travel with luggage that isn't Pelican/Incase, too— but I don't.
Need I say more? :-)
I think there is simply no excuse for the regression in laptop resolutions - I can't even find a laptop that will give me 1200 lines anymore, they give me "full HD" at best, which is less. And we can see proof in all the comments saying that they would buy this guy's hack to plug a hi-res screen into a laptop.
Sadly Lenovo appear to want to destroy the Think brand, and they're really the only other laptop that would have used a similar display.
Exotic features like swivelling a display to be portrait rather than landscape add a lot of cost to the product, and are rare.
Edit: Guess what Toshiba just announced? 2560x1440 touchscreen panel in an ultrabook: http://us.toshiba.com/kira
2X (as in the Toshiba) is much easier to upscale transparently (2x being a power of 2), but its not really valuable until apps start supporting that resolution natively.
Edit: as pointed out below, N just has to be an integer, not a power of 2.
I was more concerned with 1.6, 1.8, 1.4. Definitely, as long as N is an integer, scaling will work correctly.
What legacy app do you think won't work well? I'll be glad to try it out. Everything I've thrown at it so far has worked great. Even the desktop apps work well with touch or the pen.
Some other desktop apps I have installed: VLC Media Player, Notepad++ and Balsamiq Mockups. All work well but you are forced to use the pen (or type cover/touchpad) at times to grab little drag handles (if you're trying just to use touch).
I'm genuinely curious.
search ebay for "lvds dvi" (without quotes), you'll find inexpensive LVDS drivers. For about 30 bucks you get DVI in, LVDS out.
Batch-PCB ( http://www.batchpcb.com/ ) takes longer (they have the boards made in china, at a reputable manufacurer), but cheaper.
Itead Studio ( http://imall.iteadstudio.com/ ) China, Very cheap (they buy empty spaces in fabs, you get 5 (or 10) PCBs buts its possible that one or two arent working.
Bilex-Lp ( http://www.bilex-lp.com ), Bulgaria I think.
Multi-CB ( http://www.multi-circuit-boards.eu/ ) I think they are a british company.
I have no personal experience with any of those companies, though. Small batch PCB manufacturing is always expensive. Get in touch with a local hackerspace and etch it yourself ;-)
You'll have to buy the connectors and solder them on yourself.
It sounds like an adapter kit might have a little market when shipped with a displayport plug, a small power supply, and a fully assembled PCB. Small kickstarter?
Just FYI, those SMT flexible-printed-circuit connectors are a bitch to get soldered onto a PCB correctly. You might survive with a lot of flux and a very thin tip (and a microscope since the plastic will melt at a pretty low temp. No mistakes allowed).
You might do a little better with a hot air gun. But this is not level-1 soldering.
From what I gather the boards are actually made by Amitron outside Chicago.
Unlike most quickturn PCB fabs they don't bury you with options. The standard options give you everything you need (ENIG, double mask+silk screen, either 2/4 layer, etc.). The OSH Park ordering wizard is a case study in how PCB orders should be done, and for the quality the price can't be beat. Best of all, it's just a "Fred in a shed" operation in Oregon that came out of a hackerspace there.
Compact, portable screens seem like a no-brainer to me. My MBA display is less than half an inch thick. Why does my desktop screen need to be significantly thicker? Why not use the same panels from laptops to build a display that can be used both on the desktop and for portable use? I love to use one large/two smaller screens when coding - and I want a display that I can pack into my bag along with my main display and use at a coffee shop. The panels themselves are generally cheap (it's something of a commodity market, but depending on the display size/specs they run $35 to $90)
When I originally started researching this, there were two problems, both of which have been (pretty much) solved:
1 - Connectivity. Laptop panels generally use LVDS, which from my understanding are bit-reversed versions of DVI, possibly with some extra baggage. So you needed to have some intermediary processing, which was then (and is still) possible using a DisplayLink chip. The DisplayLink chip basically uses CPU power to create a virtual DVI/LVDS port over USB. The advantage of DisplayLink is that it negates the necessity for even using the Thunderbolt/DVI/Displayport output of your laptop, and allows you to simply plug in via USB and go. But the chips cost ~$15 each, require non-trivial integration, and use up CPU. As Andrzej mentions, displays are moving towards eDisplayPort, which means you can pretty much plug them in directly.
2 - Power draw. For the display to work well as a portable device, it should be possible to power it via USB alone. USB 2.0 standard is 5V and 0.5A, so 2.5W, which isn't sufficient. But USB 3.0 is 0.9A, bring the total up to 4.5W. As Andrzej mentions, the iPad display can be powered off the Displayport power (3.3W, 0.5A, ~1.9W), and with a step-up convertor you should just about be able to power the backlight up to max brightness from the USB port.
Both those problems are now fixed. You can now build an external display, either using an iPad panel, or that from a 13" MBA or (possibly that of a MBP Retina, not sure about the power requirements there). Then you have an extremely slim, awesome external display that's completely portable and powered by USB.
Some companies have been building crappy versions of this using DisplayLink chips, but I really want to see something with a clean, minimal design and way higher resolution. I'd try at it myself, but I'm busy trying to build software to enable better online political activism. If anyone out there is interested, I'd love to help, either with funding or advice.
A few examples of products that do this (not very well) using DisplayLink chips:
However DisplayLink now uses an encrypted signal and has shown nothing but contempt for Linux, declaring that they're not satisfied with the state of affairs and unwilling to do anything to bring support to Linux. Which is a shame, because DMA-PRIME was more or less invented explicitly for DisplayLink's sake, to allow these external displays to be backed by the primary video card and have it's buffers shipped over to the DisplayLink, and DisplayLink packed it's toys, sealed the documentation, and left the party. The USB3.0 product which was launched advertising Linux support has never materialized any support.
If one is interested in attaching displays these days, I recommend RTFA, and using eDP, embedded displayport. It's built in to monitors, and it'll plug into the badass display protocol of today that nearly all GPU's expose, and often run through PHY's to convert into lesser protocols.
Hopefully we see more use of the Aux channel in DisplayPort, for transporting USB or ethernet. And hopefully we see some display controllers for monitors coming out that support daisy chaining, so we can connect multiple displays to a single DisplayPort without a hub.
And Intel followed up by removing LVDS from Haswell:
Their discrete mobile GPUs and embedded GPUs still have all six eDP ports as found on their desktop kit. Would that someone step up with a laptop that brought 5 of them out the back! It's a niche feature, but a ragingly awesome niche feature.
In addition, the laptops that use eDP (Chromebook Pixel, which uses https://www.revo-sys.com/prodimages/LCD-Display-Panel/LG-12....) are using those lanes (and probably the aux lanes) for the primary touchscreen display. The external display interface is going to be pretty vanilla (mini-DP IIRC).
At the moment it's just me, so a little developer strapped as I try and both code and navigate getting an unlocking (+ DMCA hearings) bill through Congress. If anyone's interested in helping out, please please get in touch.
Seriously though, I really want one. At 70 USD it's incredible.
Dreaming of all the places I want a screen in my future house
Assuming you're brave/handy enough to cut the necessary holes to expose the connector
I've used it to combine macs and pc's as one big display and it worked pretty good.
There are no other parts of the tablet, only a screen.
Also, Surface RT does not have much in the way of drivers for peripherals. It's a really broken ecosystem.