New Apple docking patent app shows portable sliding into side of display, iMac

An Apple patent application (20080002350) for “Integrated monitor and docking station” published today shows an Apple portable (looks like an ultra-thin, ultra-light one – hint, hint) sliding into an Apple monitor (or iMac-type computer).

MacDailyNews Note: This patent was filed quite some time ago: on July 3, 2006 and just published today.

Apple’s Abstract:
A docking station is disclosed. The docking station includes a display and a housing configured to hold the display in a manner that exposes a viewing surface of the display to view. The housing defines a docking area configured to receive a portable computer; The docking area is at least partly obscured by the display when viewed from the viewing surface side of the display at an angle substantially orthogonal to the viewing surface.

Apple’s description:
Traditionally a portable computer docking station requires a separate external monitor to be connected (e.g., by cable) to the docking station when a display other than the integrated display of the portable computer is desired to be used with the docking station. Often a significant amount of desk space is required for placement of this docking station and separate display. Attempts have been made to conserve the required amount of desk space by allowing the external display to be stacked on top of the docking station. However, the stacked combination still occupies a large amount of space and is cumbersome to move and transport. Therefore there exists a need for a docking station and display combination that is configured in a more efficient form.

The full patent app is here.

Gizmodo has a nice image of how this might really look here.

[Attribution: Gizmodo. Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Davey” and “Linux Guy And Mac Prodigal Son” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Aren’t we (long over)due for a new monitor lineup right about now? And an ultra-portable, too? Do you think this is something Apple might actually be pursuing or is it just a ruse intended to throw competition off-track?

75 Comments

  1. Gizmodo has it wrong. This is not for a Macbook. The Apple logo on the slide-in part confused them.

    Read the description! The dock is just a “shell” that a slate computer slides into: it’s like an iMac with no innards: you slide it in and use the screen of the tablet, but have all the ports you need.

    This implies a (maybe) 17″ widescreen tablet Mac, but with no keyboard and presumably a multi-touch screen.

    Genius.

  2. There are two drawbacks that I see with this idea. One is that the screen of the docked computer is no longer visible, the other is that most of the things you might dock a computer for can already be done wirelessly.

    Even though the screen on the docked Mac is small, it’s still useful to have that additional display area available for menus and other windows.

    As far as wireless is concerned, one of the things I love about AirDisk is that in many ways it feels like my PowerBook is docked, even though it’s in a different room. BlueTooth keyboards already talk to Macs wirelessly, the network access and storage can be wireless, all that’s needed is to drive an external display wirelessly and then you don’t need to physically dock the unit. It would only need a cable to supply power.

    Three or more years ago, this would have been a nice idea, but unless I’m missing something important, we shouldn’t really need to physically dock computers any more..

  3. If the new subnotebook is sans optical drive (as rumoured), then the drawing shows a MacBook since one can clearly see the slot-in drive.
    I think it’s a neat idea. I always hook up a 20″ cinema display to my MacBookPro when I am at my workplace. To simply slide the MacBook into the dock/screen combo would make for a clutter-free work space. The only problem I see is compatibility with former and future notebooks. If they can come up with adapters for different models, they may have something neat. Even a 15″ MBP would fit easily into the housing of a 24″ display/dock.

  4. Perhaps that Dougless was right.
    Maybe the sub-notebook is not a folding notebook.
    A slate… just a monitor.

    OMG… imagine this is why the 17″ iMac was discontinued.

    The NEW “MacSlate” DOCKS right into the 17″ housing.
    But wait – I thought the shipment of LCD displays for the sub-notebook were only 13.3″. That would be a SUCKY desktop environment… SO WHY the hell do I want to dock the device.

    Hmmmmmm

    Because the sub-notebook is 17″?
    Hmmmm, maybe the sub-notebook is 15″?

    Ok – maybe I want to dock the sub-notebook so I can use it as a regular computer, or transfer the data, backups, etc.

    Ahhhhhh – maybe BY DOCKING a sub-notebook the UE is no longer MUTI-TOUCH once inside the iMac enclosure. That could be cool.

    OMG – then the MacSlate is really ALL MUTI-TOUCH…

    hurray – I hope this is true!!!!

    I got to hope this MacSlate is a slate-like machine using multi-touch.

    No KeyBoard. No Mouse.
    But with WIFI expandable HD.
    Maybe WIFI enabled DVD or CD…

    The OPTICAL drive could possible be for installing the OS.

    But… as a ultra-slim cool Apple device… bridging Laptops to iPhones… I think one would have no need for any internal device spinning.

    And this maybe why the Dock would have purpose.

    HOWEVER, imagine having a lovely this device with a lovely multi-touch user interface; using it all day; then coming home to dock it into this small iMac Desktop station. And NO LONGER BEING ABLE to Multi-Touch with it while in the DOCKed machine.

    NO – I am not liking this DOCKability. Ewwwwwww. No no no.

    Got to have better reason then to turn my sub-notebook into a regular computer. But what would that be?

    w8nc

  5. At least this way we might get some ports on the side where they can be reached, unlike the current iMac with the ports on the rear, where they cannot be easily reached!

    Does anyone at Apple use USB Flash drives????

  6. I need desk-space, and might I add that if that were to come out, apple can earn my $3k or what ever it might cost.

    I think it’s a great idea, provided, that it still provides the option to have the portable computer on the outside with extended display mode.

  7. Just my 2 cents but I say NO. If you want to dock something, use a cable and set it on the side, back or what ever. Hey there is an idea, make a clip so the ultra portable sits on the back of the iMac stand. A fire wire connector allows the two computers to become one. Auto sync, NO cooling problems and you have a functional desk top for the folks at home and a portable for those on the go.

    Now that idea I like. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> HEY, wait until I patent it. Stop, its mine, you heard it here first, I have witnesses. ….. right?

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