HP’s just revealed a new prototype laptop that’ll be hitting the public view at CES. It is curiously designed: the Firefly has not one but two LCDs–the smaller display sitting beneath the main screen–and the trackpad is repositioned to the right of the keyboard.
The smaller screen is just 4.3-inches in size, versus the 17-inch conventional display atop it, and it’s intended for small, simple tasks like having an IM chat without interrupting the main screen action–particularly useful if you’re into gaming in a big way. The Firefly is in fact being pitched as a gaming machine, with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Extreme mobile quad-core processor and twin Mobility Radeon HD 3870 GPUs to give it some processing beefiness. There’s also 4GB of memory and a webcam with infra-red mode–for generating suitably creepy video chat imagery at night, presumably.
The trackpad is unusual too: It’s a gesture-sensitive multitouch version, but it’s been relocated from the traditional front-and-center slot to the right of the keyboard. While that’s reportedly a more comfortable position, and no-doubt negates the occasional problem when the cursor repositions as you accidentally brush “normal” pads as you type, it’s really not very good for left-handers.
Still, that’s not really a problem with this particular machine–it’s never going into production in its existing format, with HP intending it to light the way into the future of laptop technology, which it sees as replacing desktops. Interesting stuff, and since it represents a few “tweaks,” versus a radical re-thinking of the notebook PC concept, it has the sort of features we may see on real machines soon.