Noahpad – Face the Interface

The Taiwanese company “E-lead” chose to reveal its newly developed “Noahpad UMPC” at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las-Vegas. The Noahpad is a miniature laptop computer with a unique interface designed to allow users to “unchain themselves” from desks, that are usually necessary when using a modern PC or laptop.
Noahpad - typing backwards
Noahpad – typing backwards

While the majority of today’s notebook computers adopted the touchpad to replace the traditional ‘mouse’, Noahpad sports a clickable touchpad that can act as both a keyboard and a cursor controller. When chosen to be used as a cursor controller, the 70×70 mm area acts as a touchpad surface large enough to allow users to move the mouse cursor between any two spots on the screen with a single finger stroke.

One of the inventors’ primary goals was to develop a product that will be both compact and convenient to use. In order to reduce the size of the laptop, the engineers chose to focus on its screen, rather than on the keyboard, since even a slight further decrease in the notebook-computer’s standard keyboard size makes typing very uncomfortable. While it may seem that the reduction of screen size might lead to the same problem, E-lead’s engineers solved this problem with what they call “virtual screen technology”. Noahpad’s screen can display selected portions of the standard 10’’ window on a 7’’ screen, all the while maintaining a resolution of 1024×768 pixels. Users can control this mechanism through their keyboard, on which each letter represents a certain portion of the screen to be displayed.

Noahpad  - Touchpad/keyboard interface
Noahpad – Touchpad/keyboard interface

Some of the product’s other features include the ability of the screen to be flipped all the way around, up to almost 360 degrees against the keyboard. In addition to adding to the product’s portability, this feature is exploited for another purpose – Noahpad’s palmtop operation. Under the palmtop mode, users can flip the semi-transparent screen over the keyboard, and get an illusion that they are seeing their fingers and the keyboard underneath it while never having to divert their sight from the screen they are working on. According to the developers, this technology leads to a new typing method, which could be learned in under 20 minutes (we are slightly more skeptical, however).

The developers suggested a number of potential uses for the Noahpad – the compact laptop can serve as a screen for in-car GPS systems, as well as a portable entertainment device that can be placed virtually anywhere – “Whether you are cooking, bathing or even gardening, simply hang the multi-media player at the appropriate spot and watch your favorite programs”.

Due to a unique positioning of the various keys on the keyboard, it is possible to hold the laptop with both hands and use these to type or navigate the cursor at the same time – “It is the ultimate balance between utility and sleekness” – say the inventors.

TFOT has previously written about Estari’s dual touch screen laptop. You can also check out our article on the “Easy Desk” – a portable “desk”, specifically designed for laptop computers. TFOT’s coverage of CES 2008 can be found here.

More information on the Noahpad can be found on the product’s official website. You can find videos demonstrating this product here.

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