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Dell Froot screenless concept PC

Dell Froot screenless concept PC

The Dell Froot - merely a concept for now - dispenses entirely with such outdated peripherals as 'keyboards' or 'monitors.'

Dell has released renderings of its latest concept PC - a system with neither keyboard nor monitor.

Okay, that might be perhaps a little misleading: what the Froot concept PC actually offers is a single-box system featuring a pair of projectors - a traditional pico-projector in the rear to turn any wall into a display, and a laser projector in the front to turn any flat surface into a keyboard.

Described as "a biodegradable, sustainable computer concept" on the Behance Network design portfolio site - via Gizmodo - the renderings provide a glimpse into one of the directions the box shifter sees things going.

The robust-looking unit is clearly designed for developing nations, where too many moving parts - as found in keyboards - have a tendency to break down with nobody nearby able to repair them. From that perspective, the system would appear to have promise.

On closer inspection, the concept is sadly flawed: as anyone who has used a keyboard laser projector as an input method will know, typing directly onto a hard surface is murder on the fingers - and the laser light used to mark the keys is often difficult to see in anything but dim lighting conditions.

The system's eco credentials are also questionable: while described as "biodegradable [and] sustainable," the simple fact is that projectors draw more power than a standard LCD display. Couple this with the fact that the unit will also require a replacement lamp - usually every 2,000 hours or so with standard projectors - and you're left wondering just how sustainable the design really is.

Objections aside, it's a neat unit - and one that certainly shows promise. While it's unlikely to replace anyone's primary PC, as a guest system which takes up a minimum amount of room and has a certain 'wow' factor it can't be beat.

Sadly for those who'd like to get their hands on one, it's merely a design concept with no plans for commercialisation - for now, anyway.

Can you see this representing the future of home computing, or would you need a real keyboard at the very least before you took the Froot seriously? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

29 Comments

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liratheal 18th January 2010, 11:27 Quote
Err...

No.

You ever used that keyboard projection thing that thinkgeek sell?

Hurts like hell for extended use - I expect that would be much the same.

Stay as a concept.
proxess 18th January 2010, 11:32 Quote
Where's the mouse?
Phil Rhodes 18th January 2010, 11:35 Quote
Oh yes fantastic. Projection! High cost, high power consumption, high maintenance, delicate, dim and tricky to set up - let's send them to the developing world!

To be fair, though, I suspect this is probably one of those little LED-based micro-projectors or something, which does alleviate a lot of the concerns with doing it. And means it'd be even dimmer.
Bursar 18th January 2010, 11:37 Quote
In theory it wouldn't need one. They could just reserve an area of the keyboard projection for you to doodle your finger around in to move the mouse cursor.
Fruitloaf 18th January 2010, 12:08 Quote
Rubbish for the developing world but great for mobile presentations? Small atom PC built on semi decent pico projector with touchpad surface on top and laser keyboard. No wires at all for those mobile presentations except for power. Maybe not this prototype but its not far off.
mi1ez 18th January 2010, 12:17 Quote
Can it play video at a decent resolution?
PureSilver 18th January 2010, 12:25 Quote
Why on Earth would you want to send a biodegradable computer to the developing world, where rough conditions and the aforementioned lack of support will ensure it rapidly... biodegrades?
bodkin 18th January 2010, 12:25 Quote
Why XP?
wgy 18th January 2010, 12:37 Quote
this is silly...

this is less practical that a full desktop pc and requires more variables and conditions to be considered.

want to reinvent the way we interface with tech? dont dress up a typewriter and mouse limited to 2 axis with lasers and light shows and call it the future.
BLC 18th January 2010, 12:44 Quote
I agree with most here - this is quite possibly the daftest idea I've seen in a long time... If you want to help developing nations with computers, then get behind the OLPC or one of the other schemes already underway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fruitloaf
Rubbish for the developing world but great for mobile presentations? Small atom PC built on semi decent pico projector with touchpad surface on top and laser keyboard. No wires at all for those mobile presentations except for power. Maybe not this prototype but its not far off.

Mobile presentations could be one use, but this is sort of over-engineering the solution to a problem that doesn't really exist - they'd be hard pressed to market it to anyone other than those interested in a sleek looking gadget with money to burn. VGA projectors aren't that expensive or bulky these days, and neither are low-power netbooks - I've used my Mini 9 for the odd presentation in work, it's incredibly handy.
Drexial 18th January 2010, 13:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bodkin
Why XP?

Apparently the future of PC's is XP....
l3v1ck 18th January 2010, 13:13 Quote
So you have to be sat in front of a blank wall to use it. Useless.
Bauul 18th January 2010, 14:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
So you have to be sat in front of a blank wall to use it. Useless.

Or pay a starving orphan to stand there holding up a big blank sheet.

This PC increases employment, it must be good!
pizan 18th January 2010, 14:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
Can it play video at a decent resolution?
can it play Crysis?
Cyberpower-UK 18th January 2010, 14:28 Quote
A nice add on function for a high end phone or camera but I can't see this taking off.
Xir 18th January 2010, 15:59 Quote
Quote:
a biodegradable, sustainable computer concept
...well I'm really interested how they are going to replace silicon with something biodegradable...
...carbon interconnects? (could work as long as you fill up on liquid nitrogen) :D
...non-precious (poison) metal barriers/gates?
ooh..how to manufacture a biodegradable LED-pico-projector?

Don't Dell have..well...anything BETTER to do?
Bursar 18th January 2010, 17:28 Quote
Chances are Dell haven't done very much on this at all. They probably just hired a 'creative agency', gave them some buzzwords and basic ideas and the result is the above render.
Farfalho 18th January 2010, 17:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pizan
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
Can it play video at a decent resolution?
can it play Crysis?

You beat me to it xD
Azayles 18th January 2010, 18:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bodkin
Why XP?

XP has been found to be well suited for low power SFF applications like netbooks and "all in one" devices such as this horrendous purple monstrosity. That's why Microsoft have extended the support lifetime for the product.

Also it's better than Vista
http://xkcd.com/528/
Azayles 18th January 2010, 19:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bursar
Chances are Dell haven't done very much on this at all. They probably just hired a 'creative agency', gave them some buzzwords and basic ideas and the result is the above render.

I think they shoulda shopped around a bit more and not simply gone with the first search they found on yell.com
Cptn-Inafinus 18th January 2010, 19:34 Quote
Gosh darn. Someone beat me to the XP comment.
SMIFFYDUDE 18th January 2010, 20:49 Quote
why dont they make the top of it flat and then a proper keyboard can go on top instead of using that laser projection that noone seems to like.
metarinka 18th January 2010, 21:09 Quote
If they are thinking ruggedized computer for the developing world than i feel one of those laser keyboards is a poor choice both cost and usability wise.

perhaps a membrane keyboard (like the type on microwaves or dishwashers) that are a little more impervious to water and rage bashing.
LordPyrinc 18th January 2010, 23:15 Quote
"Couple this with the fact that the unit will also require a replacement lamp - usually every 2,000 hours or so with standard projectors "

2000 hrs? I'd have to buy a new bulb once a year. Some of those bulbs for projectors can cost into the 100s of $. Don't sound like a bargain to me.

As for the laser keyboard, I think thats a bit overkill. Should stick with a good ole tride and true keyboard. I still use a keyboard that's over 10 years old because the keys have just the right amount of resistance. Have to use an adapter for it because the plug is still the big round circle before the smaller PS2 plugs came about.
dark_avenger 18th January 2010, 23:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
"Couple this with the fact that the unit will also require a replacement lamp - usually every 2,000 hours or so with standard projectors "

2000 hrs? I'd have to buy a new bulb once a year. Some of those bulbs for projectors can cost into the 100s of $. Don't sound like a bargain to me.

As for the laser keyboard, I think thats a bit overkill. Should stick with a good ole tride and true keyboard. I still use a keyboard that's over 10 years old because the keys have just the right amount of resistance. Have to use an adapter for it because the plug is still the big round circle before the smaller PS2 plugs came about.

AT Keyboard
woodss 19th January 2010, 10:37 Quote
Is a cool concept though, when pico projector's get to HD this sort of thing will be huge, not sure about the keyboard part, touchscreen I would say would work better.
dyzophoria 19th January 2010, 14:46 Quote
dunno, id go with a tablet than that, xp better than vista? yup, but there is 7 :p
Sparrowhawk 19th January 2010, 21:39 Quote
Wow. Ugly as sin, and looks to be about as functional as a speaker for the deaf.
The_Beast 19th January 2010, 21:45 Quote
It's a cool concept but I don't see it coming to light any time soon
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