Is there a laptop interface for a desktop computer?

Oct 31, 2018
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I would like to have a desktop computer because of their longer lifespan, upgradability, lower cost, and greater power. I don't need major in home portability, as I generally use this computer from one place and rarely need to move it.

Unfortunately, I do not have a place in my house where I could put my desktop where I would want to use it, mostly because of the monitor and keyboard.

If I could put these in my lap, then I could put the desktop next to the couch (which I would have to clean regularly to remove dust, but is decently ventilated), and use the desktop like a non-portable laptop. Then, the structure of my shared living area wouldn't have to change and I could still play my game.

My thinking is that if I could have a monitor and keyboard that look like a laptop, but are actually just a monitor and keyboard connected to the desktop computer, then I could solve this problem without having to buy any new furniture or having to convince the others who live with me to change the shared living area.

It has been suggested to me that I could use something like in home streaming or remote desktop, but we have a lousy modem and lousy internet that suits our needs at home, but I don't want to bog it down. In my experience in-home streaming makes the network slower for everyone else.

It has also been suggested that I use a TV across the room, but I am nearsided and can not read any in game text on the screen.

I would also like to be able to put it away conveniently when I am not using it, so a vesa mount with a frame isn't a good option. With a laptop interface, I could just close the lid and put it to the side.

Basically, a laptop interface that I could plug in to a computer would be a perfect solution to my problem. Is there a place I could get one?

Also, it would make the entire setup more portable than a standard desktop setup, as the monitor would be about 17 inches ideally and the keyboard would be attached, so moving that would be like moving a laptop, then I would just have to move the tower.

Ideally, the laptop would actually also be a machine and there would be a source mechanism that could switch it back and forth from the laptop's system to the desktop's system, but that system seems more unlikely to exist.

Currently, I use a gaming laptop to solve this problem, but I would rather not use a gaming laptop for this purpose. Plus, they aren't upgradable and are less durable (If I use it as my portable computer) and more expensive. I would also like my computer to have a decent battery life, and gaming laptops are not designed for that.

Essentially, is there a place where I can buy a monitor and keyboard connected by a hinge, like a laptop, that I can put on my lap that can be plugged in to a desktop computer as a monitor and a keyboard?
 
Oct 31, 2018
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(For some reason, I can't post something that is not a "solution")

I can't use a TV because that would require either a new piece of furniture which wouldn't fit in the area I wish to use my computer OR it would have to be mounted on an opposite wall, which I couldn't read from because I am near sighted. Plus a large enough TV would be far more expensive than a laptop screen. Which is why a laptop interface where the monitor can be in my lap, close to my face and requiring no new furniture is best. Plus, a TV would be intrusive. I would prefer to game or work or watch Netflix at least somewhat privately and without shoving it in other people's faces.

The people I live with quite reasonably do not want to alter the layout of this room, so I am looking for a non-intrusive solution. The easiest solution is a laptop because it comes with a laptop interface, as it is a laptop. But gaming laptops are expensive and they break faster if you use them as a laptop. So, if I could have a computer whose monitor and keyboard are on my lap, like a laptop, but the actual computer is nearby, then that nearby computer could be a desktop computer.

I've seen some stuff about portable consoles for servers which look like the right thing, but they have lousy screen resolution and are absurdly expensive.

A secondary question is "Is this something I can reasonably ask someone to build out out of a dead laptop with a good screen and keyboard?" Or "Is this something that a person could reasonably build for themself?"
 

Saga Lout

Olde English
Moderator
Would you consider an All-in;One PC. Internally, it's an overgrown laptop but it has a large screen and a keyboard sits right in front of it so teh whole ensemble is not much larger than a laptop.

Put "All-in-One" in a search in the Computer section on e-Bay to get an idea what's available. As a PC fixer, I hate them because gaining access to the internals is difficult but that's no reason for not buying one.
 
Oct 31, 2018
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The issue remains that I actually don't have a table. That's why I want it on my lap. I have a place to put a tower, but no space for the monitor or keyboard except my lap.

Are there all-in-one computers that can be put on a lap?

Also, one of my desires is to be able to upgrade it as tech improves. I don't know much about All-In-Ones, but I don't think you can open them up and replace internal components.

I recently found that there is a market in portable second monitors for laptops. This seems like a step in the right direction, where I would use this as the primary screen for a desktop. Though I would prefer to be able to put my monitor at any angle I choose and put it on my lap, like a laptop.

There are also server consoles that look like what I want, but they are absurdly expensive and have poor resolution screens.
 

Saga Lout

Olde English
Moderator
I think having a keyboard, mouse and screen on your lap could end in damage to your eyesight and you wouldn't be able to get up very quickly for whatever reason.

How about a PC hiding somewhere in a corner, cabled via HDMI to a large screen TV set and a Bluetooth keyboard and wireless mouse on your lap?
 
Oct 31, 2018
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That would imply that my laptop is hurting my eyes, but I have been using a laptop like this for years without any issues. In fact, my eyes are much better than anyone else in my family. The only real issues are eye strain. I only get eye strain or anything like that when my screen is much brighter or darker than the surrounding room or there is a bright light behind the monitor or there is glare. I can avoid all of these things.

I'm fine with the keyboard and mouse being wireless, but the large TV would be an issue because I can't read small text on a screen that far away (I would want to be able to read academic papers on it), I don't really have a place to put a large TV (which I didn't say before, but is still true), and I would be forcing my activities on others in a shared space. That's why I like the laptop interface, it makes my computer activities naturally non-intrusive.

Also the mouse can be a normal mouse next to me. I have a setup that works for my laptop.

My goal is to have the desktop hiding around the corner and having something that looks just like a laptop, with a keyboard and a monitor, plugged in to it so I can have the benefits of a desktop, while not losing the benefits of a laptop. I personally prefer using a laptop to a standard setup desktop for most purposes, (though having some sort of clip-on second monitor could be nice sometimes).

My ideal would be for it to be wireless but not through the router, as I don't want to trust the operation of my computer to the stability of the router.
 

Saga Lout

Olde English
Moderator
I apologise but when I suggested the TV as an external monitor, I meant one on a stand just beyond your knees. I suggested that to a disabled customer who's sight was failing because of spending hours on his laptop.

Moving his TV from eight feet away to right in front of him, he could see his PC far better and less uncomfortable on the eyes. He'd given up watching TV, calling the output rubbish.

Here in England, twenty something inch TVs are almost giveaways when folks switch over to fifty somethings.
 

Dave D 77

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Aug 19, 2015
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Only option is to convert a existing laptop to a device you want. Cause these don't exist (to my knowledge). But converting a laptop to that would be a challenge. The solution for the screen is a module that enables you to create a external screen. Since you have then a suitable case for the screen the real challenge would be the keyboard. I never heard someone reusing a laptop keyboard on pc's. Should be possible but I don't know how.
 
Oct 31, 2018
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Yes, this is helpful. I do have a dead computer lying around. I could replace the screen with a decent one (at least 1920x1080) and find a keyboard controller for it. But it does sound like he did a lot of guessing to find a compatible controller. I do hope there is a solution that doesn't require me to buy and rip apart large numbers of keyboards to find the appropriate part. Unless, of course, I get the exact keyboard and computer chassis he has in the video. Then I can just do exactly what he did.

I've also read that many touch pads are actually basically USB devices, in that they have the 4 component USB cables, and you can just attach the component cords to the appropriate internal cords of a USB cable if you know what you are doing. Unfortunately, I do not know what I am doing with that. Fortunately, the touchpad is not necessary for me, as I am happy with an external mouse.

I do hope some company decides to just start selling devices like this though, as I doubt any rig I build will be very durable. It makes me sad that they don't.

A second option, that just occurred to me today, would be to get a monitor controller for a laptop monitor and just have a standard USB or wireless keyboard mounted on to it in some way (where the laptop's keyboard would be). Basically, just use the chassis as a lap-based monitor stand and put a keyboard on top of it. I would probably find such a scheme to be acceptable for my needs.

Because the monitor being in my lap is actually the most important aspect of my computer interface. As long as the keyboard is present in front of me as well and not moving around (any more than a laptop keyboard does), I think I can be happy with the setup.
 

Dave D 77

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Aug 19, 2015
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If you are using a standard monitor, I suggest that you use a detachable stand. This enables you to create one your self and use a hinge to make it foldable. Attache a keyboard to the base and your done. But.... A converted laptop would be a cool concept.
 
Oct 31, 2018
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That could work, but I don't know if I trust my crafting skills with a $150 - $200 monitor in the long term.
 
Oct 31, 2018
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I looked up all in one's and they seem to be a computer that has to be on a table or mounted to something. I couldn't really see myself comfortably using it on my lap. And being able to use the computer on my lap without any other furniture is my #1 requirement. If there is a variant I haven't seen that meets this condition, I would be happy to have a look at it.

Also, All-in-ones appear to be sealed and not easily upgradable, which is also one of the main reasons I want a desktop instead of a laptop.

I could see myself wanting an all in one for some situations, like my work computer so I could have more desk space, but not for this use case.
 

Saga Lout

Olde English
Moderator
Iv'e repaired several All-in-One machines that appeared to be sealed. There's always a way in.

You simply aren't going to find something the size you want that can sit on your lap and if you did, it would killl your eyesight in weeks.
 
Oct 31, 2018
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I should note that I don't actually need the computer itself to be small or in my lap, as then I might as well get a laptop. It can be a tower, and I have an out of the way nearby area to put a tower. The computer itself could be quite large. I just want the monitor and keyboard to be in my lap.

According to WebMD, "There's no proof that computer use causes any long-term damage to the eyes. But regular use can lead to eye strain and discomfort." The discomfort goes away after a time of not being on the computer. I can prevent eye strain with screen brightness and lack of glare.

I've determined that there is probably only one way to have this kind of interface. I have decided that I am going to build this myself. These are the components I have in mind.

    ■ I will purchase an empty used laptop chassis from a local computer repair store. Preferably, a bit thick and 17 inch so I have space to work with (plus I want a 17 inch screen). (probably cheap, as it will probably be used: <$10).
    ■ I will purchase a 4k laptop monitor that fits the chassis. I will also need a monitor controller. (~$150) I want the high resolution because I do a lot of reading and coding, and having more lines of code on the screen is helpful.
    ■ I will trim the chassis to fit a back-lit laptop-style USB keyboard. (~$20) I might mount the keyboard or glue it in, I haven't decided yet. Hopefully, I can put it in so that it can still close.
    ■ I will purchase an internal microphone to put in the screen (~$20)
    ■ I will fill any unused holes for the ports and add some bracing, as the housings for some things are probably expected in a thick chassis to help stabilize it. (probably $0, I have some scrap lying around I could use)
    ■ There will be probably 5 cords: Power for the monitor, HDMI, USB for keyboard, a headphone extension cord, and a microphone cord. These can all be bundled together pretty easily. I will have them leave on the left side or the back of the chassis so I can use my mouse on the right. All permanent connections will be made within the chassis.

I will not include a webcam or a touchpad unless I can get them for free, as that would just be more money for something I don't use. I am also probably fine plugging things like USB drives in directly to the tower, but I am open to having USB extensions to I can plug things in from the monitor. I also use a wireless mouse.

I think I will not need any active cooling for this setup.

With my estimations, the thing itself should cost around $200 without cables.

I have never undertaken a project like this before. If I am missing anything important, or you have any ideas that could help, I am open to suggestions.

When I do this, I will attempt to document it, as other people have asked about this before.

An extension to this project would be a wireless option (without software), but that isn't necessary for my use case. This would need a wireless HDMI connection or something like that, and I probably wouldn't use it for gaming, but might be nice to be able to move it a significant distance without worrying about cables.
 

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