Luggable Media Center PC and Hi-Res LCD?

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I want to put together a luggable Windows Media Center PC and I'm
looking for a lunchbox system something like the Polywell QBox
NF3B-MCE, at , and a
17-21" hi-res LCD that will fold flat or separate from it's stand for
transport in some sort of padded hard case along with keyboard, mouse,

I'd appreciate any suggestions on either of these. I'll be recording,
playing and editing video and audio. I'll also be doing 3D CAD,
drawing, Photoshop and general MS Office stuff.

I'd like to have a lot of screen room, something like 1600x1200 or
1680x1050. The key thing would be for the monitor to easily fold or
break down pretty flat for transport. If I can get a flat panel that
can be permanently separated from the base I could make a simple
folding easel to stand it up on. The only thing I've found so far that
clearly would work is the 20" Apple Cinema Display, at /#, which looks about an inch thick
without the stand and accepts DVI PC video. I've seen a few PC-oriented
LCDs on the Web that look fine as displays but I can't tell which, if
any, could be cleanly disconnected from their stands, either for
transport or permanently, and end up as a thin flat panel.

Thanks of any suggestions,

Re: Luggable Media Center PC and Hi-Res LCD?

Why not just get a 17" notebook like the Toshiba Qosmio or the Dell Inspiron
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Re: Luggable Media Center PC and Hi-Res LCD?

get yourself a shuttle barebones kit.  integrated 9100 graphics on an
sn61g will be media center compatible, or use another with a geforce
5200 card.
you *have* to have hardware on the compatibility list for MCE2005 to
the other option is an asus pundit-r.

for the screen, any modern TFT will probably do: most have tiny
footprints now.  shuttle actually do some nice ones that are an easel
design and meant to be portable.

in the uk i get my stuff from who'd be worth looking at
for specs even if you're not buying it from there.  the digimate LCDs
are also tiny and have a foldable stand that folds flat against the
rear when needed.
note that virtually all LCDs are detachable from bases as they normally
have standard VESA mounts, but some bases have a transformer in.  you
want the "power brick" type.

hope this helps,  mail me (replace publicmail with anything else) if
you want any detailed pointers.


Re: Luggable Media Center PC and Hi-Res LCD?

Just finished designing some luggable prototypes, so timely...

It's Make or Buy...
o Customised v off-the-shelf v hybrid.

That is a function of 2 areas...
o Application mix
---- Photoshop = good display + good CPU + multi-GB of RAM
-------- bigger your dataset (images) the more RAM needed
-------- ideally a 3.5" HD over 2.5"
---- CAD = good display + comfort is critical
-------- ideally reliability as number one
o Usage mix
---- luggable means portable, but not laptopable
---- so I suspect you mean multi-location with power point
---- I also suspect weight isn't #1 re idea of >=19" TFT

Now, solutions...

Laptop (Off-The-Shelf)
o +ve
---- Capable = 17" screen + 7200rpm 2.5" HD + as many GB as possible
---- UPS integral = true mobile usage, compact, relatively light (<12lb)
o -ve
---- Single point of failure = Expensive repair
---- Higher ownership cost = Lose more sunk cost when you u/g

Micro-PC + TFT (Off-The-Shelf)
o +ve
---- Powerful = Pentium-M CPU possible in 250x150x65mm box (StealthComputer)
---- Lightweight = 20-25lbs for Micro-PC & TFT, compact
o -ve
---- UPS possible only if external battery source
---- Limited u/g path = very proprietary box/mb/system (basically industrial SBC)

Shuttle + TFT (Off-The-Shelf)
o +ve
---- Powerful = Desktop CPUs + 10,000rpm 3.5" HD + multi-GB
---- Easily upgraded & repaired = easy desktop parts, cheap repair & easy u/g
o -ve
---- Weight = around 28-35lb for Shuttle & TFT
---- No UPS = power off means data-lost
---- Limited form-factor = no dual-CPU, semi-proprietary u/g path
---- Big box even tho it is a Shuttle

Micro/Shuttle-PC + Luggable-TFT/Keyboard (part customised)
o +ve
---- PC part is off the shelf
---- TFT/Keyboard a) linked or b) simply custom carry-case
o -ve
---- designing a TFT/keyboard enclosure isn't easy

True Luggable (DIY Customised)
o +ve
---- Powerful Desktop & TFT with a handle on it
---- Rugged if you wish, multi-SCSI RAID, dual-CPU, 22"-TFT
o -ve
---- you design it, you build the enclosure, you fit it, you fix it
---- requires CAD or wooden mockup capability

To make the choice, needs some consideration of the other options.

TFT monitors are not portable:
o Weight as a luggable or inn a case is an issue with a TFT monitor
---- 17" TFT laptop = 12lbs
---- 17" TFT monitor = 18-22lbs
o Considering a 19-22" TFT this rises further
---- so transportable, or luggable in the true sense is the reality

TFT monitors are not rugged, or compact:
o TFT Laptop has a screen about 12-15mm deep
---- friction hinges at base, invertor & signal convertor in base
---- sometimes invertor behind the screen, or at the base
o TFT monitor has a screen which peaks at 50mm deep
---- edge-thickness is often not the maximum depth

TFT monitor construction:
o TFT monitors use a laptop-thin glass TFT panel
---- metal contacts are directly onto glass
o TFT-panel is fitted to a pressed-steel frame (heavy) for stiffness
---- the glass is relatively weak
---- laptops use edge-on flat-bar to give bending stiffening
---- laptops are bad 1-sided bending (close in middle or 2 hands)
o Invertor-Board & Signal-Convertor sit on the back
---- hence the typical 1.25" / 35-38mm minimum thickness
o ABS case sits on the front & rear
---- that pressed-steel frame screws to the ABS front
---- the ABS rear screws to the front & has the VESA mount

TFT monitor fixing:
o Small monitors use VESA plate - 4 holes set 75x75mm or 100x100mm
---- plate fixes to the ABS monitor rear, not the TFT steel structure
o Large monitors use custom plates & more bracing
---- which disproportionately increases their weight re more steel

So check the "packaging" of the TFT monitor from factory specs.
o You either have the invertor/signal board behind the TFT
---- so contribute to depth, but not L+W dimensions
o Or you have the invertor/signal board beside the TFT
---- so do contribute to L+W dimensions, but not to depth

The other factor here is the TFT monitor PSU:
o Externalising the PSU makes it thinner - or you need a mains feed
o Externalising the PSU often means 12V brick - powered from the PC PSU

o Transporting the TFT in a case needs protection
---- simple custom flight-case from any maker
---- ideally 5mm alloy double-angle, edging & 5mm ABS/PP
---- go see under "hardware" section
o Luggablising a TFT with a PC in a case needs protection
---- same applies - only you are joining the two

Tilting a TFT...
o A true luggable is PC+TFT bolted together
---- typically the combined intentity tilt via tiltable feet
---- those tiltable feet are not off-the-shelf (custom)
o Making true luggable with tilting TFT is difficult
---- hinge TFT at base = huge friction hinges re sheer weight
-------- laptop TFT hinges are countering 1/2 Mass @ C-o-F x distance
-------- desktop TFT hinged at the base has a vastly higher mass
---- hinge TFT at middle = tiny friction hinges re positioning
-------- but increases luggable enclosure depth re tilt space

Tilting a TFT-Keyboard combo
o If you are thinking of housing just a TFT & keyboard, hold
o It would make a semi-laptop scenario, with a power-box elsewhere
o Unfortunately it is a heavy solution - unless you rehouse the TFT
o Rehousing desktop TFTs isn't so easy
---- depth is near fixed -- re invertor/signal-board position/cables
---- weight is near fixed -- re requisite steel frame integrated in
---- you can't just stick it in a sorbothane sock sway-space
o Laptop TFTs are LVDS - so power & signal are combined
---- desktop are still 2 cable - and far higher backlight power (25W+)

With those provisos, creating a true luggable:
o Enclosure
---- Flight case h/w - double-angle extrusion, edging hybrid, latches, corners
-------- under Hardware
-------- you want 5mm parts, using 5mm PolyPropylene or ABS re weight/strength
o Ruggedise
---- Simplest is shock-mounts - commercial off-the-shelf stud-mounts
-------- do anti-vibration grommets to shock mounts
-------- "anti vibration solutions" under google is another company (big
---- Complex is Sorbothane goo - sheets creating custom mounts, or stud mounts
-------- this is a high-CAD, high effort solution
---- Cheapest is 1" of Polyethylene foam around a frame
-------- or ConFor foam, an E-A-R shock absorbing foam -
-------- you do not use off-the-shelf polyurethane foam which rebounds 40G into
---- Need is re 1) TFT glass 2) re CPU heatsink mass on high G coming off the m/b
o PC & TFT mount
---- PC - either vertical m/b tray & another tray for 1U PSU & HDs
-------- or alloy PC skeleton re-used if you want more than 1 card (1U riser)
---- TFT - posts to another plate to mount the TFT on
-------- no tilting capability, just hardmount
o Foam surround
---- don't cover the TFT vents, but closes the design re airflow
---- side-port the airflow thro the chassis
---- use panel mount & flying tails to internal connectors ideally
-------- Bulgin do panel mount ruggedised USB & RJ45 in pass-thro, and Power
-------- no-one does ruggedised (sealed) RJ11 so the military aren't on 56k :-)
o Keyboard loose in front of case
---- IBM USB Travel Keyboard -- touchpad & trackpoint in 22mm laptop style
-------- great for loose keyboard, hard to build into a design re shape/design
---- Cherry G84 Trackball Keyboard -- trackball in 22mm laptop style keyboard
-------- easy to build into a design - commonly chosen for 1U TFT/Keyboard units
o Tilting feet
---- because making the TFT tiltable is not easy
-------- re size of friction hinges needed (bottom/top mounted hinges)
-------- or re space taken up by friction hinges (mid mounted hinges)
-------- or re stabilising the TFT in transit (re TFT slapping around)
---- look around other commercial designs here, adapt, improve, innovate

Look up BSI Computer & Dolch and others for ideas.

Luggable allows:
o 22"-TFT Dual-CPU, multi 3.5" drive (SCSI, 10k-rpm SATA), Multi-GB, 1U PSU
o 10.4"-TFT, Mini-ITX P-M, 12V supply that is light yet rugged

So a luggable for some users has benefits over a laptop.

Overall, you need to:
o Carefully ID the usage - re actual application
o Carefully ID the potential solutions - re laptop to shuttle to luggable
o Cost out those potential solutions - re now & lifecycle cost

In many ways a Luggable is just a "Panel PC" - like a Mac/TFT combo.
However you can go far beyond that and create something truly luggable,
do it right and it will last a very long time - easily upgraded.

Note if you go redundant PSUs it will rocket the weight up, not that a
22"-TFT on a luggable is probably immovable - most stop at 17", 19" maybe.

Luggables use LVDS displays rehoused as a rule - ConFor foam gasket around
them (EAR have a whitepaper on that design) or Sorbothane/Poron Gel stuff.
ConFor foam is very good - F1/Indy crash use, but goes like concrete at a
low temperature environment, so do consider that. Military, Big Business &
many others now use luggables increasingly - 200M market is now 7B.

Frankly, the simplest for a power-luggable is this:
o Lightweight portable PC
---- Shuttle, StealthComputer, that sort of thing
o TFT in a custom flight case
---- keyboard pocket, TFT sits in a foam lined case you just buy-in

Going for tiny portable PCs moves you into proprietary - so you end up in
the laptop TCO & single-point-failure area with less options & features. The
key sticking point re weight/portability will be the sheer weight/size of TFT.

Whilst you can find laptops with 1400+ resolution in 15", in TFT monitors or
LVDS panels (which need an interface to desktop boards) it is just unavailable.
Dorothy Bradbury for quiet Panaflo fans

Re: Luggable Media Center PC and Hi-Res LCD?

Hi Dorothy and Ric,

The U.K. to the rescue! Thanks for the suggestions.

Dorothy, may I say Good God!, what a wealth of information. It will
take me a while to work my way through it all, but you have certainly
made a thorough study on the subject and I'm glad my timing was so


Re: Luggable Media Center PC and Hi-Res LCD?

My pleasure.

Re friction hinges if you need them:
o Generic bolt-on -- / Hinges / Door Positioning Hinges
---- Adjustable Friction Hinges -- big is good for edge-hinge TFT
---- Adjustable Friction Hinges -- small is good for middle-hinge TFT
o Dedicated -- do a google
---- problem will be edge-hinging a TFT re basic torque (re TFT weight)
---- also min order qty may get involved, and difficulty in fitment

A supplier of high displacement rubber donut mounts (RLF) is:
RLF are the best of its kind anywhere
o Gives ~10mm linear sway space -- for shock it is 17mm in reality
---- consider E-A-R ConFor foam in a mobile phone LCD gives ~3mm
o Tolerates use in tension ok -- as in 2 above, 2 below re "contained-tension"
---- the rubber-to-metal bonding is very good indeed
o Cheap as chips -- around 2-3 a mount
---- Paulstra & other shock/vibration mounts can run 3-15 each

There is even a silly-size Hex-donut from them - gives about 80mm sway space,
but that is for when you want to shock-mount a TFTto a HummVee's frame I guess.

RLF are a great mount for shock mounting - but for vibration (re camera) use the
Sorbothane mounts (Indy/F1 cameras). Stuck in Google as so little info out there.
Sorbothane is best for HD shock mounting - eg, 200G into 35G without difficulty.
Poron is one other material to use (now used on Toughbooks), can be bought in
thin sheets from footwear & medical suppliers - blue to salmon to grey densities.

Since you are using CAD, makes an interesting project :-)

You will need to try both the IBM Trackpoint/Touchpad & Cherry Trackball
keyboards re CAD/photoshop use. I suspect the Cherry may be better - pricey.
Dorothy Bradbury

Re: Luggable Media Center PC and Hi-Res LCD? wrote:

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Just a comment with regard to the Media Center requirement--if that's what's
keeping you from a laptop, the Hauppauge PVR-USB2 works fine with Windows
Media Center Edition 2005--make sure you get PVR and not one of their other
USB tuners--MCE requires the hardware encoder.

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