As someone who uses multiple screens when I'm working (or playing games) the idea of having a laptop with some extra screen space as portable as the unit itself is really exciting. Sure, that extra space would come in the form of folding, side-mounted monitors that have a break before the main screen — annoying for some — but some extra, segmented workspace on a portable platform is music to my ears.
And portable the triBook is: the conceptual rendering, picked up by Mac|Life, calls for a notebook that's 10 inches wide and a little over six inches long. Click on through for more information than you'd ever want to know about the triBook concept.
The MacBook Air is about as sexy as a notebook gets. Just try pulling one out in a crowd. First comes the oohing, and then the ahhing, and thensorry, but yesthe borderline-inappropriate fondling. There's just something about the Air's katana-thin profile that demands hands-on attention. People need to touch it, and open it, and prove to themselves that it is indeed a functional computer.
But the honeymoon doesn't last forever. The Air is the perfect computer for a very particular user, but it's not perfect in toto. No optical drive. No FireWire. The hard driveanemic. And while the Air's height is essentially nonexistent, its width-depth footprint is still a bulkmeister. In a lot of book bags and backpacks, the Air is as awkward a fit as any traditional notebook.
Thus the triBook. At first glance, it's not quite as spectacular looking as the Air, but its amazing story literally unfolds as you put it to use.
At a mere 6.75 inches deep, 10 inches wide, and about an inch tall, the triBook strikes a modest profile--it easily slips into most purses and man bags and completely disappears inside any book bag or backpack. But while portability is nice, it's typically achieved at the expense of utility, and this is where the triBook is a triumph. When the triBook's lid is closed, the two side screens tuck in neatly, sandwiched between the main display and the keyboard/touchpad. And when it's time to use the machine, you lift the lid and unfold the side panels, just as if you were unfolding a cardboard box.
When the two side screens are fully unfolded to form a flat plane with the center screen, you're left with an ultrawide landscape display of 21 diagonal inches. Indeed, not only is the triBook more portable than the Air, it also offers much more screen real estate. But have fun, play a little. The sides don't have to pivot by a perfect 180. Cocked at a jaunty angle, each side screen can be set to form a little privacy barrier.
Now, we could claim that the triBook is Apple's much-anticipated entry into the "netbook" market, but using the term netbook doesn't do the machine justice. Netbooks are teeny, tiny notebooks stuffed with underpowered parts, including the most insubstantial of screens. In other words, they're imminently portable, but really only good for surfing webpages and typing out email.
Not so with the triBook. Besides no-compromise screen real estate, the triBook comes with an 8x SuperDrive, a kick-ass hard drive, an array of I/O connectors, and a MacBook Pro-caliber CPU. All that plus a generous keyboard and an expanded multitouch trackpad that supports a whole new complement of touch gestures.
So this is it, the so-called "brick" notebook that's been rumor-mill fodder for the last three months. An exceedingly simple but effective conceptin short, Apple to the very core.