Ditch The Laptop For The Tabletop

dual screen cyberdeck

The idea of a cyberdeck is simple. A relatively portable case that is primarily a keyboard with some screen attached. Cyberdecks often try to hit a particular aesthetic or vibe rather than focusing on usability or practicality. [Carter Hurd] took a step back and asked himself what would be a cyberdeck-like system that he could practically use every day.

[Carter’s] build is a prototype that allows him to try out the form factor and use it as a daily driver, so many decisions were made to speed up the build and get something functional. For example, rather than spend the time tweaking and printing his own keyboard, he used an off-the-shelf keyboard he knew he liked. While a framework motherboard would have been perfect for something like this, they, unfortunately, weren’t available when [Carter] started the build. So [Carter] used a used gaming laptop for the task. He had hoped to drive the display directly from the motherboard as many laptops use embedded DisplayPort internally. Unfortunately, this didn’t work as the motherboard didn’t support the resolution he was trying to drive at, so he just used the external port to drive the screen. A 3d printed base fits underneath the keyboard to hold the laptop motherboard with little extensions for bits that don’t work well, such as the wifi card. The chassis also has a slot that allows a secondary display to slot right in.

Ultimately, it is something of a modern-day typewriter and something like a cyberdeck. Either way, we love it. Video after the break.

42 thoughts on “Ditch The Laptop For The Tabletop

  1. Kind of cringe that he went through all this trouble because he needed it to run Windows. Seems like it would be a lot easier to just learn something new, but this is also a dude who cut an NVME drive in half with a pair of tin snips, so…

    Then again, he’s got half a million views on his video and I don’t. So who’s the fool.

      1. I game and I abandoned modern Windows a long time ago. If it won’t run on the penguin I won’t play it, it’s that simple and I think many more people should think alike.
        Release your game for Linux or at least make sure it runs in Wine/Proton, it’s not that hard.

        1. These days, there is little excuse to release a game for the PC that doesn’t run in both Windows and Linux, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t such games. But I’m not a gamer; there are only two reasons I have Windows on one of my computers: 1) To make sure that programs that I write will build and run on both platforms, and 2) because there are insufficient maintenance tools in Linux for repairing broken exFAT and NTFS filesystems in Linux.

          1. That’s clearly not the only thing an OS is today. Nowadays an OS is first of all an environment, with well-known functionalities and softwares, that lambda people choses because they just know it.

            A vast majority of people chose Windows even if another OS would better fit their needs, just because they know it and they’re afraid to change.
            Same with Apple users, they don’t ask themselves “which software will I have to run on this?” no. They want Apple environment, they buy it. Even if there’s plenty of softs that do not run on Mac. They’ll only use the ones who work.

            So yeah, if you like Linux, work on it and use it everyday because it’s more convenient, and don’t like the Big Five data gathering, or any other good reason to prefer Linux over big corps, then having the state of mind “if it doesn’t run on Linux I do not play it” seems fine to me.

        2. Bastet babbled: “…If it won’t run on the penguin I won’t play it, it’s that simple and I think many more people should think alike…”

          Ha! If we all thought alike, then it would be a sad world, indeed. The point of creativity is to think in different ways *and* think of your needs. People want to play games and use software that either doesn’t exist on Linux (yet) or works poorly on Linux, even with breakthroughs like Proton or Wine.

          The creator here didn’t want a laptop, and didn’t want a cyberdeck, but it needed to run Windows. Nothing wrong or shameful in that. ( That said, I tend to run stuff that doesn’t exist or work on either Linux or Windows :D )

        3. I almost never play new releases, and old stuff vary rarely works in linux/wine/proton. To me “doesn’t run don’t play it” would mean throwing out 90% of my library, including the three favorites that I need to play at least once a month, cuz else my sense of self and personality start fading away

    1. I’m no Windoze fan, but if you need x in your machine that is your choice – no matter what it is, we can disagree with the choice but ultimately if they wish to be shackled to M$ or Apple it is their choice, and maybe they actually do have good reasons!

      Plus it doesn’t take away from the value of this things, its a computer run what you like on it.

    2. In his defense, some people do need Windows for certain things. For example, I need it for certain software that I use in my Computer Science classes, so I keep it around even though I’d rather run Linux. Though cutting the NVME drive definitely hurt a bit to watch😅

  2. “I promise to never sign up to Grammarly because all their ads drilled into my eyes taught me to HATE Grammarly!”

    I passionately hate grammarly too! that’s a huge marketing failure (or it’s paid by competitors…)

  3. I’ve ordered the parts to make something very similar. Just when you think you’ve got an original idea it’s already been done. I’m happy without windows tho so I might stick with the rpi4

  4. It is of no use to you. Go home; nothing to see here.

    What this IS, is an example of modifying a manufactured product to optimize it for one person’s own use. I.e., it is a HACK. You can call it a youtube arts and crafts project video promotion site, but just what are you ON Hackaday for, if not the hacks?

    1. What this is depends on the age of the beholder. For the near-sighted young folks it’s probably a really useful hack. But if you’re 50+, even thinking about using this torture device makes your eyes and carpal tunnels hurt.

      1. 50++ here. Not sure what you mean by “torture device”. The keyboard has full-size keys and is placed at an angle that may be less of a problem than most laptops. As for the eyes, the screen is the same width as the huge screen that can be slotted in, so you just might have to scroll more, which I don’t see as a problem. In fact, with the 1280×480 screen augmenting the full-size screen, this allows for things like having editing toolbars that don’t take up space in the image or video you might be editing, and since the big screen is directly above the little one, and closer to eye level, there’s less neck movement necessary. So it may not be as portable as the laptop from which it was made, but it’s probably less of a torture device.

    2. You know, it’s kind of dumb do remove all of the text from a comment, without also removing the responses to that comment. I was under the impression that we do not have the ability to edit our comments, but now that HaHa’s comment has been emptied (for no good reason that I can see), mine makes no sense. Whoever deleted the text from HaHa’s comment, please do the same for mine.

  5. Lolololol! Haven’t seen a YouTube ad in over two years, despite spending a couple hours most nights watching YouTube videos, courtesy of the Brave browser. I wouldn’t even know how invasive YouTube ad and popups have gotten.

    That said, I remember the Grammarly ads from before I switched to Brave, and despite having not seen or heard one in over two years, I still will never sign up for it.

  6. There really are some prescious people posting here these days. Perhaps a soundproofed play area repleat with soapboxes for folk to opine on their perceived peccadilloes of others. Might even use it myself on occasion.

    Anyway, I like the look of this build, especially the slot on larger screen option.
    Nice idea with the clear case/UV adhesive too. There are too many times I struggle to get the UV in to get it to cure
    Having the prototype/prop approach appeals to me too – the look ends up being part of the charm.

    1. Agreed, on both counts.

      I don’t think I’d want something quite like this, but its got merit – a really nice computer for portability without the massive ergonomic downsides of a laptop (with the extra screen on anyway), or the always subpar keyboards (the best laptops can do is passable, thinkpads of old are kinda alright but still fall short).

      It really is something close to the ideal lanparty and portable work machine – being something that will actually be nice to use as soon as you find a desk for it. Maybe add a built in trackball for those folks that don’t know how to use a keyboard well enough they can forgo a mouse entirely (if often with some inconvenience)

      I also entirely agree the look is part of the charm – its a hacked together pile of parts done to test an idea in a functional way, and that has a charm and is an essential first step to making something like this ‘properly’ later if you want to – you don’t want to triple (and more) the build costs sourcing ideal parts, making adapter pcb and building the case out of sleek well finished materials until you have proved the build concept works. Fancy renders might look nice, but don’t tell you anything about if its actually nice to use.

      The only time you should build something that looks like a finished product first time is if its primary function is to be a prop, to look the way you want and any functionality is just a bonus…

  7. One funny things about adds: I’m from outside the US. Browse youtube and Spotify in their free plans – see no compelling reason for paying for either.

    Normally I see very few adds, a short clip before every other YT video, a 15min add on Spotify every 30min or so.

    If I connect a VPN to the US (which I do often for work), then YT will triple the amount of adds I see, and starts to include the annoying mid-video adds (which I otherwise don’t see). Same goes for Spotify, apparently it starts to play adds every 10min more or less, and American adds are louder / more obnoxious.

    Serves me well as an indicator that I have the VPN connected, LOL.

  8. Recently I bought a Toshiba T6600C computer. This is a real old product which perfectly fits the tabletop concept.
    I think the most valuable part of a tabletop should be expandability. The T6600C has 2 full ISA slots + weird slots for RAM cards + other weird connectors. Is amazing how much is cramped into a briefcase size computer from mid 90s.
    And the best part of all, a real keyboard that can be detached!

    1. We had a T6600C at a company I used to work for.

      The Toshiba had a Stac AD416 full size EISA card for precision audio measurements. We had a LabView installed on the Toshiba.

      I used LabView and the AD416 to make measurements of the equipment we worked on.

      I think the Toshiba had a screen resolution of 640×480. It didn’t have true color. I think it only had 8 bit color or something low like that.

      It had (I think) a 66 MHz processor and some bastard version of Windows 3.1. It wasn’t quite Windows 3.11, but it had some kind of 32 bit subsystem something in it that didn’t officially come out until Windows 3.11.

      Real time FFT, cross correlation, all kinds of fun DSP stuff. I implemented a wavelet transformation on it, and a voice quality measurement set up to compare two way radio communications systems.

      1. It is good enough to run Win95 on it. The screen supports 256K colors, but it has a VGA adapter so it can only show 256 at any given time.

        Sounds like you had a lot of fun with it. I am mostly using it for playing DOS era games and retro development.

  9. I’d be happy with a laptop that has no keyboard and just a flat spot where the keyboard goes, so any modern laptop as I use an external mechanical keyboard anyway.

    1. Surely in that case you just want a tablet format device that can be held on a stand or slot in your keyboard? – Why bother with the two parts and hinge if you don’t have an need for the HID part that usually goes on the bottom half.

    2. Laptop without a keyboard: we call that a tablet. So really you just want a bracket to mount on your mechanical keyboard into which you can slot the tablet.

        1. yeah it happens, I’m sure I’ve done the same, and who objects to a random stranger on the internet thinking the same as them, its dealing with different opinion that can be challenging, and hopefully rewarding…

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