More Fujitsu Goodies From CES

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by Jerry Jackson

Fujitsu might not have shown a ton of new notebooks at CES this year, but they certainly deserve credit for innovative prototypes on display in their booth. Anyone want a fabric notebook? How about one made from corn?

A Stitch Above The Competition

One of the most interesting reference designs or prototypes on display at CES had to be the Fujitsu fabric notebook (also called the “Fab PC”). In truth, it’s a thin UMPC consisting of a flexible LCD and fabric chassis wrapped around an even thinner plastic core.

Why wrap a notebook in fabric? Well, in addition to just looking cool the fabric is quite durable and helps protect the notebook from scuffs and scratches. Fabric also makes a logical choice for protecting the flexible e-paper display.

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The keyboard on the Fujitsu fabric notebook uses keys that are individually wrapped in the same fabric as the rest of the notebook, and an interesting touch was the use of a cloth tag (similar to what’s on the back of a T-shirt) as the only indication of the brand.

Specs on this fabric notebook were unavailable, but it is an UMPC designed to compete with other UMPCs on the market. Although it’s too early to tell if Fujitsu will actually bring a working version of this concept to market, we would love to get our hands on a review unit if they do.

Children of the Corn

Fujitsu’s first notebook featuring a biodegradable chassis was released in late 2007 and is currently available in Japan. Fujitsu is committed to developing “green” solutions for notebook users, and this corn-based laptop certainly got our attention.

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The main component is polylactic acid, also known as PLA, a resin that comes from the fermentation of the raw biomass from plants (corn). PLA by itself is biodegradable and does not generate dioxin or other harmful gases when burnt. Unfortunately the material still needs a small amount of fossil fuel (in the form of a polymer alloy) for it to be able to be used as a laptop housing.

Bottom line, the PLA-based plastic can be processed (mulched) after the end of use of the product and by doing so, the corn-based component can safely degrade. Fujitsu is currently attempting to get approval to sell these corn-based notebooks here in the United States. Apparently, the US has strict regulations about plastics used in electronics and Fujitsu has to cut through significant red tape here in the states before these green notebooks will be available in stores.




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