Hoping Apple’s ‘Brick’ Is First All-Screen Laptop



Here’s hoping that Apple’s feverishly-anticipated “Brick” project is the world’s first all-screen laptop — like this mockup of the OLPC version 2 by designer Yves Behar.

There’s slim chance, of course, but I for one would love a computing device like this: A hybrid iPhone-meets-Macbook-Air that would put hot netbooks like the EeePC to shame.

Apple’s “Brick” would be a hybrid laptop/tablet/ebook that dispenses with a physical keyboard and trackpad in favor of a virtual, adaptive UI that blends multitouch, gestures and its own orientation to switch between different modes:

Laptop — When the Brick is held horizontally with the two screens at an angle, the bottom screen turns into a virtual keyboard and touchpad. There’s no tactile feedback for touch typists, but never mind, corrective text handily makes up for the myriad errors. The top screen acts like a regular laptop screen, except that it also is touch sensitive, and is responsive to multitouch gestures like double-tap to zoom, pinching and scrolling.

Tablet — When the two halves are opened fully they snap together in the middle to make a tablet with a continuous touch-sensitive screen. This mode is best for surfing the web, browsing and editing photos, and displaying mind-altering music visualizers.

eBook — Like laptop mode but held vertically. Each screen transforms into an electronic page for easy reading. Displays eBooks, eMags or specially laid out websites. Readers navigate by swiping the screen to turn the pages.

Tabletop — Like tablet mode but for two people. When an onscreen button is pushed, the screens are oriented for two users sitting opposite each other. Great for collaborative tasks and especially games.

And why’s it called “Brick”? Because it smashes Windows!


More pictures after the jump.

Inspired by Computerworld columnist Mike Elgan.

XOXO_share_map150dpi.jpg XOXO_pong150dpi.jpg XOXO_laptop_150dpi-1.jpg XOXO_ebook_150.jpg

Picture by Yves Behar/OLPC.


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88 responses to “Hoping Apple’s ‘Brick’ Is First All-Screen Laptop”

  1. Bill Olson says:

    “There’s no tactile feedback for touch typists,”

    Not in the traditional sense of keys being pushed down and humans feeling the sense of pushing keys down and releasing them.

    There is a different way to get feedback. I’m easily not the first to suggest this and there are more than a few test systems that have been produced that give electrical sensations to your fingers as you touch the “keyboard.”

    LCD screen can detect force so you don’t get feedback unless you are putting more pressure on the screen than just putting your fingers/finger tips down on the screen.

    The nerves in your fingers can be fooled into thinking they feel movement in your fingers like when you press down the buttons on your keyboard.

  2. C Rolls says:

    As much as I hate reading from computer screens, I would love the vertical ebook function — especially for PDFs. This would be an amazing device — the only way I would ever consider getting a portable computer is if (1) it was actually portable and (2) it was actually affordable (Mac Air doesn’t meet this requirement).

  3. Seth says:

    Shouldn’t you publish the original source of the Brick?


  4. Sean says:

    Your list of features left out a 10 hour run time on battery power. That would make it truly ultra portable.

  5. Leland says:

    “Shouldn’t you publish the original source of the Brick?


    Your link doesn’t work – where can I find the above article?

  6. TerryL says:

    No doubt a price that will keep it out of the reach of most users, so smashing nothing.

    The iPhone is the Brick – it has the same functionality.

  7. Crow says:

    This may be wishful thinking, but the “Mac Book nano” is not. Both of my teenage daughters are leaning towards netbooks as their primary social computing interfaces, though the older ended up with a standard HP laptop, as she needed it sooner rather than later. The younger will probably “need” an LG MOMO from the first day we can buy one.

    As a frequent traveler who carries a company-provided ThinkPad in addition to my Mac (currently the MBP), Apple can likely count on a chunk of my disposable income from this product transition with an updated Mac Book–lighter, MBA keyboard, LED display, and a price point under $1000–but what I’d like better than anything is a 10″ nano, with all linkages save for a lonely USB port confined to the “brick.”

  8. Alberto says:

    And how much would this cost? Another $3000 toy like the Macbook Air?

  9. Torley says:

    Extended battery life is always a blessed feature.

    @OlsonBW: Intriguing, first I’ve heard of that. Presumably that could also be used if the screen was remapped into a game-like controller with some sort of force feedback?

    I’m very much a touch typer so I’d appreciate similar suggestions.

    It does look very, very cool.

  10. heyyo says:

    man I can’t believe it… People have already copied this idea from Apple. I saw a similar PC at BestBuy the other day. It also had no keyboard.

    Companies should stop ripping apple off!!! Apple invented the computer!!!

  11. Teymur says:

    emm… isn’t this the second version of the 100 $ laptop? there was some coverage on engadget —> http://www.engadget.com/2008/0

  12. Shaun Johnson says:

    I just can’t imagine this being practical. It looks cool, but I can’t think of one time where I’ve been sitting at my laptop thinking “Wow, I’m running out of space, wouldn’t it be cool if I could swap out my keyboard for another screen?”

    As for collaborative tasks with the Tabletop mode, uh, what? What collaborative tasks are the writers doing that DON’T require some form of keyboard? Maybe it would appeal to graphic designers, but it still doesn’t seem anymore useful than a conventional laptop.

    It just sounds like a toy that, while it sounds neat at first, would eventually have the “hey, neat!” factor wear off and just be a very expensive laptop. With no tactile feedback. As far as that simulated feedback, I’ll believe it when I feel it. Even if it worked as well as they make it sound, you’d still have to look everytime you need to line your fingers up with the keyboard.

  13. dd says:

    link to original article:


  14. A says:

    No way will a virtual keyboard ever fly for a true hardcore typist…. Just not enough feedback.

    Try this, place your fingers on the home row, then move them 1/2 millimeter to the left. You know you’re not square on the keys…. Now try the same thing on a desk, move your fingers 1/2 inch to the left, no feedback, no good.

    Electrical impulses fooling your fingers? Yeah right, not now, not combined with a touch-screen, and not affordable for the first 5 years when/if it is developed.

    And finally, who can type on a perfectly flat surface? My non-ergonomic keyboard is sloped, as are nearly all standard keyboards….

  15. A says:

    No way will a virtual keyboard ever fly for a true hardcore typist…. Just not enough feedback.

    Try this, place your fingers on the home row, then move them 1/2 millimeter to the left. You know you’re not square on the keys…. Now try the same thing on a desk, move your fingers 1/2 inch to the left, no feedback, no good.

    Electrical impulses fooling your fingers? Yeah right, not now, not combined with a touch-screen, and not affordable for the first 5 years when/if it is developed.

    And finally, who can type on a perfectly flat surface? My non-ergonomic keyboard is sloped, as are nearly all standard keyboards….

  16. Dirtyrobot says:

    “…would put hot netbooks like the EeePC to shame”

    Uhh, price wise these wouldn’t even be in the same class.

  17. Tim says:

    This would be a killer app of organic led displays. They would be thin enough and efficient enough to make this really, really awesome.

  18. lockerhaxor says:

    Wouldn’t it be iBrick? Also the price would be through the roof on that. So much that It probably wouldn’t sell.

  19. AiDz says:

    Anybody else get the idea of popups on your keyboard?
    if i can think of it some jerk with time/ability to do it can….

  20. Stuart Jones says:

    An all screen laptop…? Where have I heard that before…? Oh wait… It’s a Slate Tablet PC! They’ve been out for years and are in no way revolutionary. As a die hard Tablet PC and Mac user, I have to say, there’s a reason that the convertible form factor is so useful. It lets you have only a screen when you just want to touch, but then also lets you type away emails all day long. Between the iPhone and an “All Screen Laptop”, maybe Apple’s just trying to cut down on the server load of Mobile Me by making sure we all keep our messages under three sentences long.

  21. Mike Willner says:

    The holy grail for truly mobile computing is to duplicate the functionality of a desktop computer which, for many users, requires the ability to type and play games fast with all your fingers on full-size keys. With haptic feedback, the Brick may be able to provide this capability. The only drawback then is the requirement to get to a stationary location to enjoy full functionality. If the Brick gave you high speed, ten-finger control of full-size keys when you are in any location in any position – while standing, walking, riding or reclining – then it would be the only mobile computer to duplicate a desktop computer’s functionality while being truly mobile.

  22. Dreamery says:

    Not sure whether I would like this. Hard enough keeping my iPod Touch screen clean from finger prints and as a graphic designer, I never let anyone touch my Apple Display.

  23. Tony Ward says:

    I’d like the touchscreen keyboard if I’m really on the go, but I’d hope this thing would come with BT so I could use a wireless keyboard and mouse at the desk.

  24. Jake says:

    I dunno if it puts the EeePC to shame. At 10 times the price EeePC puts the Brick to shame…

  25. Sachin says:

    its simply breathtaking…I will buy one even if I need to sell my car

  26. Alistair says:

    Completely impractical. If anyone out there actually tried using a touch screen for any length in time, they would realize that it makes zero ergonomic sense. Yes, I have an iPod Touch, which is great for casual browsing, but if you want to use this for anything more than that, you need to have a keyboard.

    Imagine sitting at your desk trying to type. With only a touch screen (especially one that has no hinge), you are either going to have to lay it flat and type on it or try to prop it up. Either way, it’s uncomfortable to say the least.

    As a developer of software for kiosks, I have a fair degree of experience watching people use touch screens for entering data. The error rate is absolutely huge, even for people that could manage 40wpm on a traditional keyboard.

    Where does an all-touch screen make sense? Data-gathering jobs like inventory. Having a touch screen that has large, easy to use buttons allowing a stock person to count inventory, select orders, route packages – that all makes sense. Does Apple want to be in this space? Nope. Not at all.

    Finally, having used a number of tablets, I find them all to be horribly lacking in user interface. Too many of them try to mimic using a normal UI that has a keyboard and mouse as primary inputs. In every case, it fails.

    If Apple does come out with a tablet, it will not be a replacement for a computer, but a browsing device that doesn’t expect you to be typing on it for any length of time. That is left for the best device so far invented: the keyboard.

  27. crazy says:

    It’s a very good concept. Why dont u apply a patent and implement it yourself.

  28. kshitrak says:

    This thing is already done by HP labs. so try to fool around.

  29. Derek Adams-White says:

    I hope that this is it too but it needs to be dirt cheap like the eeeeeepc.

  30. Alex Kerr says:

    For all those saying you couldn’t get haptic (force) feedback, good or otherwise, I suggest waiting for the imminent release of Nokia’s S60 Touch, which is almost certain to have haptic feedback – the 1st handset is released tomo in London, the XPress Music 5800 “Tube” (which may or may not have the haptics). I saw an independent review of an early version of Nokia’s tech (it gets put behind the screen) and they said it was localised, shapeable and so convincing that you literally could not tell by feel that you were not pushing a real key. Impressive stuff.

  31. Ryan says:

    As far as tactile feedback is concerned, if you pick up the LG Voyager on Verizon and use its touchscreen, it has a slight vibration feedback. It doesn’t quite give the sensation of pushing a physical button, but it’s closer to achieving that then what the iphone has(one thing I hate about my iphone, can’t type worth a darn!).
    Also, doesn’t it seem a little odd that apple would market this latest and greatest all screen laptop with 10 year old models? Also take a look at their hand size compared to the computer. Too small for me! No thanks.

  32. A Name says:

    To “A” above:

    Actually: the “incline” on the keyboards issued with iMacs is almost non-existent and it feels fine. Additionally, there is NO incline on keyboards issued with laptops, so that negates that part of your argument.

    This would be ANOTHER laptop with the normal NON INCLINED keyboard.

  33. geekazine says:

    What POOR WRITING!! There is no mention on a source where this is coming from. There is no mention of the rumor stating Apple is going to announce it on Oct. 14th.

    Plus: How can you justify putting up OLPC pictures and talking about the Mac?

    I think when you spend time to bring up a subject like this, maybe a little research is in order.

  34. JT says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. If these were to go in production, I would be among the first to get one. Absolutely gorgeous, I’d pay as much as $5k providing it had multi-touch and decent specs.

  35. web says:

    I don’t mind the idea of no feedback for a keyboard, but I really l like being able to put my fingers on the keys and think about what I’m going to type, before I start. There would have to be some pretty smart software being able to distiguish between ‘resting’ fingers and ‘typing’ ones.

  36. Bob The Tyrant says:

    Here it is:

    Next Apple moves will be Books and Games…

  37. Eddy says:

    I “HATE” touch screens and touch mouse technology… I can never get the things to work for me. The ones in public places are the worst case… I will hold up a line forever. They just do not respond to my touch…

    Maybe I’m dead.


    what i am waiting for a long time, it’s here now :)

  39. nunya says:

    Quoting heyyo:
    “””man I can’t believe it… People have already copied this idea from Apple. I saw a similar PC at BestBuy the other day. It also had no keyboard.

    Companies should stop ripping apple off!!! Apple invented the computer!!!”””

    You are a typical Apple fanboy. Where do you think OSX came from? It is a direct rip off of BSD Unix and the Mach kernel. They ripped that off there chief.

    This will just be another overpriced Apple product with a keyboard that will never work properly without feedback. It will turn into an expensive toy for kids to play games and read books on.

  40. kp says:

    For all of the people saying that this concept (may or may not be actually in production) will fail, think about the future.

    Do you really expect people to still be using keyboards 10 years from now?

    10 years ago, when cellphones had monophonic ringtones, who could have imagined something like the iPhone existing?

    The fact is, technology changes. Apple is most likely developing something that will revolutionize notebook computers.

    Keyboards with physical buttons are on their way out.

  41. Jimmy Rogers says:

    Wow, this guy actually scraped about half your article and then changed enough of the first part to make it seem like Apple actually created this mock-up…talk about terrible blogging….


  42. Andrew says:

    I would buy one in a Sydney Second… Similar to a NY Second, just a little slower! haha

    Imagine playing backgammon on that thing!

  43. Cool music house says:

    Go here and check: https://www.beatport.com/en-US

  44. chris tackett says:

    The full screen would be awesome for some tasks, but annoying for others. Would love to have one for that map feature though. that’s awesome.

    I wanted to pass this along. I work for TreeHugger.com and we were wondering what the environmental impact of the new Brick manufacturing process would be, so we look at some pros and cons here:



  45. Kamil H. Kesicki says:

    that’s great, I can’t even instantly find a picture of a brick with an apple logo because even this name has a rumor about.. xD