Today we need your input as we have some hard choices to make!
Having your cake…
Throughout the development process we often ask you what you think of certain specifications or features, and of course we always try to implement as many popular features as possible in the products we create. But every now and then, it’s not as easy as adding function A and function B and calling it a day. Some things come at a cost. That can be an increase in the product price, but sometimes that cost is the removal of some other requested feature. We’ve tried to get as much information as possible ahead of time, so we can tell you what the trade-offs are. Now it’s time to see where the community’s priorities lie!
Ports and bezels
Over the years, phones, laptops, monitors and just about everything with a screen, has been getting smaller and smaller bezels. Because of this, a high screen-to-body ratio (how much of a device’s surface is covered in screen in stead of bezels) is often seen as more modern. Of course it also means that devices can be made smaller with the same screen size, or that larger screens can fit into a device of the same size, which is great when dealing with mobile hardware.
So obviously we want bezels that are as small as possible, and one needs but look at modern smartphones to see bezels all but disappear. So why do all design concepts for the new V still have thicker bezels than other devices?
Well, they’re not there without reason, of course. The top bezel houses things such as cameras and speakers. The bottom bezel allows for the keyboard to be lifted at an angle. The side bezels house things like the USB ports.
You may have noticed that the headphone jack has been pushed to the top of the device on these concepts. This way it can be hidden in the top bezel, which already allows for smaller side bezels. We’ve tried coming up with a design that does the same with the USB Type-A ports, the next largest component, but the bezels are simply not large enough to make that work.
Now, when we surveyed the community about ports, we were surprised to find that over a quarter of respondents said to no longer need USB Type-A ports. This got us thinking… Replacing the Type-A ports with more Type-C ports allows for smaller bezels. Of course, we would never do that without running it by our community first, so here’s the deal:
We can have 2x USB-A, 2x USB-C, and larger bezels, or we can have 4x USB-C, and shrink the bezels by up to 25%!
- I need USB Type-A ports, losing them is a dealbreaker for me!
- I prefer keeping the Type-A ports
- I don’t care either way
- I prefer up to 25% smaller bezels
- I need up to 25% smaller bezels, large bezels are a dealbreaker for me!
The cost of custom
Keyboards are always a challenging topic, as everyone has their own preferences. Especially in a laptop keyboard where space —and therefore the number of available keys— is limited, compromises must be made that not everyone always agrees on. Which keys to cut, and which to leave in? Which keys are allowed to be moved or resized?
Our suppliers have offered us some keyboard modules that had us scratching our heads, wondering if whoever designed them had ever actually used a keyboard. But even among the good ones, we were not able to find layouts better than the ones we used for the first-generation V. But we feel that it should be possible to do better, and judging by the passionate discussions about keyboard layouts going on in the community, we think that you feel the same.
If an off-the-shelf keyboard module doesn’t tick all of our boxes, we can develop our own. This will allow us to add additional keys, avoid some of the challenging trade-offs, and fix some of the quirks we’ve come across. And of course we’ll do a deeper dive with you guys to make sure we get everything just right. But ‘good’ versus ‘awesome’ isn’t much of a challenge, and this is a topic about hard choices. The cost for this improvement is paid in cold, hard cash.
Creating a custom keyboard module is a costly endeavor, from research and development all the way to the custom tooling machinery. We’ve tried to get a good estimate of the cost as to best reflect how this will affect your wallet. Keep in mind that the final cost per unit will depend largely on how many units are ultimately sold. It may turn out that the cost is lower than this, but we can’t make any promises so we’ve gone with conservative estimates.
- A good keyboard layout is good enough for me, I don’t want to spend extra
- I don’t care either way
- I’d pay more for a better keyboard layout, but it’s not worth $ 40 to me
- I’ll happily pay up to $ 40 more to get a better keyboard layout
We’re not there yet
As the project goes on, there are more decisions to be made. And of course we will continue to call on our community to make sure we nail all the hard choices!