Title:
Multi-sectioned arm for portable electronic devices
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
One or more multi-sectioned arms are used as a basic mechanism to couple the display and the base of a portable electronic device. With this mechanism, a single portable electronic device can support all or a selected subset of the following capabilities. The display unit can move up, down, backward, forward, and left and right, relative to the base. The viewing angle of the display can be tilted, up and down, and sideway; and the display can be set to portrait and landscape viewing orientations. The base can be lifted and tilted forward for improved heat dispersion and better typing comfort. When the device is either in a close position, or in a conventional open position in which the display is not elevated above the base and is about perpendicular to the base, each arm can be folded and parked alongside the device in a closed position; and each folded arm can also be turned away from the side of the device. Each arm can also be detached from the base and the display. It is also possible to control how the base and the display face each other when they are stacked together, enabling multiple configurations.



Inventors:
Chen, Shaofen (Plano, TX, US)
Wen, Zhaofang (Plano, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/725294
Publication Date:
07/12/2007
Filing Date:
03/19/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
361/679.57
International Classes:
G06F1/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILSON, ADRIAN S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Shaofen, Chen (4428 Cranwood Drive, Plano, TX, 75024, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A portable electronic device comprising: (a) a base having one or more input surfaces; wherein said base has a predefined usage orientation; (b) a display having a screen for viewing; (c) one or more arms, each said arm including a plurality of arm sections linked together; and (d) at least one said arm having at least one of its sections connected to said base and at least one of its sections connected to said display; wherein with the arm support, said display can open from and fold against said base; and said base can be tilted forward.

2. The portable electronic device of claim 1, wherein said display can be set to a portrait viewing orientation or a landscape viewing orientation; and optionally said display can be set a slanted viewing orientation.

3. The portable electronic device of claim 1, further supporting at least one feature selected from the following group: (a) the forward tilting angle of said base can be adjusted; and (b) at least one said arm can be used for preventing said device from tipping over.

4. The portable electronic device of claim 1, wherein when said display is open for viewing, the viewing angle of said display can be tilted; and wherein with the arm support, said device supports at least one capability selected from the following group: (a) Said display can move up and down in elevation relative to said base; (b) Said display can move left and right relative to said base in usage orientation; and (c) Said display can move forward and backward relative to said base in usage orientation.

5. The portable electronic device of claim 1, wherein at least one of the following conditions is true: (a) Wiring between said display and said base runs inside said at least one arm; (b) Said at least one arm is controllably detachable from said base or said display; and (c) There is locking mechanism for preventing said arm sections from leaving their chosen relative positions.

6. The portable electronic device of claim 1, further supporting at least one feature selected from the following group: (a) when said base and said display are folded together, each said input surface of said base can be arranged to face away from said display; (b) said display is allowed to overly said base, with said screen facing away from said base; (c) in a conventional open viewing position in which said display is not elevated above said base and is about perpendicular to said base, each said input surface of said base can be arranged to face upward; (d) when said display and said base are folded together said arm can be folded alongside said display and base, and optionally said folded arm can be turned away from said display and base; (e) in a conventional open viewing position in which said display is not elevated above said base and is about perpendicular to said base, said arm can be folded alongside said display and base, and optionally said folded arm can be turned away from said display and base.

7. A portable electronic device comprising: (a) a base having one or more input surfaces; wherein said base has a predefined usage orientation; (b) a display having a screen for viewing; (c) at least one arm, each said arm including a plurality of arm sections linked together; and (d) at least one said arm having at least one of its sections connected to said base and at least one of its sections connected to said display; wherein with the arm support, said display can open from and fold against said base, and said display can be set to a portrait viewing orientation.

8. The portable electronic device of claim 7, wherein said display can be set to a landscape viewing orientation, and optionally a slanted viewing orientation.

9. The portable electronic device of claim 7, wherein said base can be tilted forward; and optionally the forward tilting angle can be adjusted.

10. The portable electronic device of claim 7, wherein at least one said arm can be used for preventing said device from tipping over.

11. The portable electronic device of claim 7, wherein when said display is open for viewing, the viewing angle of said display can be tilted; and wherein with the arm support, said device supports at least one capability selected from the following group: (a) Said display can move up and down in elevation relative to said base; (b) Said display can move left and right relative to said base in usage orientation; and (c) Said display can move forward and backward relative to said base in usage orientation.

12. The portable electronic device of claim 7, wherein at least one of the following conditions is true: (a) Wiring between said display and said base runs inside said at least one arm; (b) Said at least one arm is controllably detachable from said base or said display; and (c) There is locking mechanism for preventing said arm sections from leaving their chosen relative positions.

13. The portable electronic device of claim 7, further supporting at least one feature selected from the following group: (a) when said base and said display are folded together, each said input surface of said base can be arranged to face away from said display; (b) said display is allowed to overly said base, with said screen facing away from said base; (c) in a conventional open viewing position in which said display is not elevated above said base and is about perpendicular to said base, each said input surface of said base can be arranged to face upward; (d) when said display and said base are folded together said arm can be folded alongside said display and base, and optionally said folded arm can be turned away from said display and base; (e) in a conventional open viewing position in which said display is not elevated above said base and is about perpendicular to said base, said arm can be folded alongside said display and base, and optionally said folded arm can be turned away from said display and base.

14. A portable electronic device comprising: (a) a base having one or more input surfaces; wherein said base has a predefined usage orientation; (b) a display having a screen for viewing; (c) at least one arm, each said arm including a plurality of arm sections linked together; (d) at least one of said arm sections is elongated; and (e) at least one of said arm sections is connected to said base and at least one of said arm sections is connected to said display; wherein the arm motion is capable of opening and folding said display from and against said base, moving said display up and down in elevation relative to said base, and when said display is open for viewing, the viewing angle of said display can be tilted.

15. The portable electronic device of claim 14, wherein said display can be set to a portrait viewing orientation or a landscape viewing orientation; and optionally said display can be set a slanted viewing orientation.

16. The portable electronic device of claim 14, wherein said base can be tilted forward; and optionally the forward tilting angle can be adjusted.

17. The portable electronic device of claim 14, wherein at least one said arm can be used for preventing said device from tipping over.

18. The portable electronic device of claim 14, wherein when said display is open for viewing, the viewing angle of said display can be tilted; and wherein with the arm support, said device supports at least one capability selected from the following group: (a) Said display can move left and right relative to said base in usage orientation; and (b) Said display can move forward and backward relative to said base in usage orientation.

19. The portable electronic device of claim 14, wherein at least one of the following conditions is true: (a) Wiring between said display and said base runs inside said at least one arm; (b) Said at least one arm is controllably detachable from said base or said display; and (c) There is locking mechanism for preventing said arm sections from leaving their chosen relative positions.

20. The portable electronic device of claim 14, further supporting at least one feature selected from the following group: (a) when said base and said display are folded together, each said input surface of said base can be arranged to face away from said display; (b) said display is allowed to overly said base, with said screen facing away from said base; (c) in a conventional open viewing position in which said display is not elevated above said base and is about perpendicular to said base, each said input surface of said base can be arranged to face upward; (d) when said display and said base are folded together said arm can be folded alongside said display and base, and optionally said folded arm can be turned away from said display and base; (e) in a conventional open viewing position in which said display is not elevated above said base and is about perpendicular to said base, said arm can be folded alongside said display and base, and optionally said folded arm can be turned away from said display and base.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/252,671, filed on Oct. 18, 2005 (Oct. 18, 2005), entitled “Portable Computer with Multi-Sectioned Arms to Support Display Position Adjustment and Multiple Configurations” which is incorporated herein by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISC APPENDIX

Not Applicable

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to a computer and other electronic devices. More specifically, the invention relates to a portable computer or a portable electronic device having an adjustable display, at least one input device, and one or more configurations.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Technological advancements have enabled portable electronic devices to be built in various forms such as notebook computers, tablet PCs, personal digital assistants (PDA), and portable DVD players. It can be useful to unify some of these forms in one single portable electronic device with multiple configurations.

Portable computers or notebooks typically comprise of a computer base and a display screen. The computer base generally holds electronic circuitry and other components, such as a keyboard, a disk drive. Typically, the base is hinged to the display in a manner in which the display folds down on the base, as shown by the computer (900) in FIG. 5. This design is referred to as the clam shell type enclosure. The display screen is typically connected to the base in such a way that the screen is hidden when the clam shell is closed. That is, the screen faces the upper side (typically, the keyboard) of the base.

There are several disadvantages of the clam shell design. One disadvantage is that the screen and the keyboard are next to each other. If the screen is placed at a comfortable viewing position, it will make the arms and shoulders uncomfortable for typing. On the other hand, if the computer is placed at a comfortable typing position, it would make the neck uncomfortable when looking at the screen. This problem can cause serious computer-related work injuries. Another disadvantage is that it requires sufficient room to fully open the clam shell computer and position the display screen at an angle of about ninety degree (90°) or more with respect to the base for normal viewing; and this can be very difficult when operating in tight space, for example, on the pull-out tray on the back of a declined airplane seat. Therefore, the clam shell design is insufficient for comfortable use. Furthermore, in the clam shell design, the display is mechanically coupled with the base in such a way that it is only suitable for a landscape viewing orientation. Electronic technology is now available to enable a screen to support both portrait and landscape orientations. (In portrait orientation the length of the display screen is vertically oriented; and in landscape orientation, the length of the display screen is horizontally oriented.) Therefore, the conventional mechanical for coupling display and base is insufficient.

In general, it is useful to be able to arrange a single portable computer into various configurations as follows.

    • (1) Improved Notebook configuration: The display screen can be adjusted to a desirable viewing angle, and to a position by height (up or down relative to the base) and optionally also by depth (forward or backward relative to the base's usage orientation).
    • (2) Shared viewing configuration: This is configuration (1) plus display adjustment by width (left or right of the space above the keyboard). (This can be useful when more than one people are looking at the screen at the same time.)
    • (3) Tablet PC configuration: The portable computer is closed with the base stacked underneath the upward-facing screen to be used as an input pad. (The keyboard in this configuration can either be facing down or up. But it does not matter.)
    • (4) Stylus input configuration: The portable computer is open with screen up in normal viewing position; but the bottom side (opposite to the keyboard) of the base is up and used as an input pad.
    • (5) Space saving configuration: The portable computer is closed with the display stacked underneath the base, so that the base can be used as a desktop machine together with a desktop display unit, typically with a bigger and better screen.
    • (6) Desk note configuration: The display is completely detached from the base so that the base can be used as a desktop machine together with a desktop display unit. (Both this configuration and the Space saving configuration can get the built-in display out of the way of the desktop monitor screen.)
    • (7) Flexible display orientation configuration: The display screen supports both portrait and landscape viewing orientations.
    • (8) Base tilting configuration: The base can be tilted forward.

There have been numerous attempts to address various subsets of these configurations. Many of them are focused on the screen viewing position adjustment using various approaches, which are all different from the multi-sectioned arm approach in the present invention. Some others are focused on mode transitioning between conventional notebook and tablet PC. There has been no single invention until now that can solve all configurations in a single portable computing device.

The purpose of the present invention is to devise a basic mechanism for supporting all or a selected subset of configurations (1)-(8) in one single portable computer. The invention also has some additional features.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is capable of supporting, in one single portable computer, all or a selected subset of configurations (1)-(8) as specified in the Background Section. The invention also supports some additional features.

A portable computer according to the present invention generally includes a computer base and a display, which are connected by one or more multi-sectioned arms. Electronic and electrical wiring runs inside the arms. There are attachment mechanisms on both the computer base and the display for connecting with the arms. The arm sections are linked together by flexible joints, which allow the attached sections to rotate or turn around them.

The arms can be folded and park alongside the portable computer in closed positions. At the conventional screen viewing position in which the display is not lifted and about perpendicular to the base, the arms can be turned away so that they do not block the computer base's edges for other uses, such as DVD and other outlets.

The arms can also be flexibly stretched to allow continuous adjustment of the screen's spatial position by height (up or down relative to the base), depth (forward or backward relative to the base's user edge), and width (left or right away from space above the base). (See configurations (1) and (2) in the Background section.)

To see the range of screen position adjustment, consider the middle point at the lower edge of the display. In the conventional clam shell enclosure design (as shown in FIG. 5), this mid-point travels along a pre-determined curve with a semi-diameter about the height of the hinge connection between the base and the display. In contrast, a portable computer of the present invention allows such a mid-point to be position at any location in a 3-dimensional range with a diameter about the height of the fully stretched multi-sectioned arm.

The arms are connected to the attachment mechanisms on the base and the display. The screen's viewing angle can be adjusted; furthermore, the portable computer can be set to various configurations by arranging how the display and the base face each other.

With the support of the multi-sectioned arm extension(s), the screen can be lifted and tilted forward for better heat dispersion and typing comfort. The flexibility of the arms and the attachment mechanisms on the base and the display allow for the display to be set to both landscape and portrait viewing orientations.

The arms can be detached completely from both the computer base and the display. This not only allows for the computer to be set for the desk note configuration (6), but also makes the arms substitutable (for damage repair, or for alternative arms of varying shapes and sizes). Alternatively, many of the configurations can be obtained by detaching the arms, rearranging the display and the base, and then re-attaching the arms (if necessary).

Friction or locking mechanisms at the joints can maintain selected spatial positions of the arms and the display. There are mechanisms at the joints to limit how much the attached arm sections can rotate or turn. (This can prevent potential wiring and other damages from unlimited rotating and turning.) There are also locking mechanisms to prevent the arms from unintentional detachment from the connection pivots.

For illustration, three embodiments of the present invention are presented, based on the number of arms. For simplicity of presentation, drawings of the embodiments are done using several notations representing basic parts such as basic arm section joints. These parts can be implemented mechanically based on current mechanical manufacturing capabilities in the field.

In the preferred embodiments, the base has two sides and four edges: the keyboard side, the bottom side (opposite to the keyboard), the left edge, right edge, the front edge (user edge), and the back edge. The display also has two sides and four edges: the screen side, the back side (opposite to the screen), the left and right edges, and the upper and lower edges (from the user's point of view).

In the first embodiment, one single multi-sectioned arm is connected to the back edge of the base and the back side of the display, respectively. In the second embodiment, two arms connect the base and the display by their side edges, with one on the left and the other on the right. The third embodiment is an extension of the second embodiment by replacing the two-sectioned side arms with side arms using combo-joints, thus enabling the display to move sideway.

In summary, a portable electronic device according to the present invention is capable of supporting all or a selected subset of the configurations listed in Background Section. These configurations are implemented by relative rotation and turning of arm sections, the display, and the base; and alternatively, the portable electronic device can switch among some of the configurations by arm detachment and re-attachment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Drawing Notations: Basic Building Blocks

FIG. 1 is a list of notations used in the drawings to represent one of the sections in a multi-sectioned arm in various scenarios.

FIG. 2 is a list of notations used in the drawings to represent a joint connecting two arm sections. They show how the attached arm sections can rotate relatively to the joint. (By relative, we mean that it can also been seen as the joint rotating while the arm section remain still.)

FIG. 3 is a list of notations in various scenarios an arm can be attached to and detached from the base and the display.

FIG. 4 lists the base and the display of a portable computer. In the drawings of all the embodiments, the base and the display will always use the same labels. (FIG. 4A denotes the display of a portable computer. FIG. 4B denotes the base of a portable computer.)

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a conventional clam shell enclosure design of a portable computer, in an open position for viewing.

First Embodiment

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the first embodiment of the computer (4100) of the present invention with a single back multi-sectioned arm, in a partially open position.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a position in which the display is lifted and set to a horizontal position with screen facing down.

FIG. 8A is a perspective view of computer 4100 in an opened position, in which the display is lifted and set to portrait orientation.

FIG. 8B is a perspective view of computer 4100 in an opened position, in which the display is lifted and set to an orientation between landscape and portrait orientations.

FIG. 9A is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a closed position.

FIG. 9B is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a closed position.

FIG. 10A is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a conventionally opened, screen-up position, with the folded arm and parked alongside the base's back edge 82.

FIG. 10B is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a conventionally opened, screen-up position, with the folded arm placed away from the base's back edge 82.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a position where the display is up, screen facing the opposite direction from the keyboard's usage orientation, with the folded arm parked alongside the base's back edge 82.

FIG. 12A is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a position, in which the display faces upward and overlays the base, with the folded arm parked alongside the base's back edge 82.

FIG. 12B is a split view of the display in FIG. 12A, in which some legs are added on the back side 97 of the display.

FIG. 12C is a split view of the display in FIG. 12B, in which the foldable legs can be used as alternatives.

FIG. 12D is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a position, in which the display faces upward and overlays the base, with the folded arm parked alongside the base's back edge 82. Legs on the back side 97 keep the display stable on top of the base, and provide room for the arm sections 4131 and 4132 underneath the display.

FIG. 13A is a perspective back view of computer 4100 in an opened, screen-up-lifted position, in which the base is lifted and tilted forward by the arm extension.

FIG. 13B is a split back view of the base which uses a separate multi-sectioned arm to replace arm extension 4122 as an alternative base tilting mechanism.

FIG. 13C is a split back view of the base which uses two separate multi-sectioned arms to replace arm extension 4122 as an alternative base tilting mechanism.

FIG. 14A is a perspective side view of computer 4100 in an opened, screen-up position, in which the base is tilted forward by the arm extension.

FIG. 14B is a split view of the display, where the L-shaped end section of the arm in FIG. 14A is substituted with two sections linked by a joint.

FIG. 15 is a perspective side view of computer 4100 in an open position, in which screen is lifted; the base is tilted forward by the arm extension; and the screen is tilted to the left-side (relative to the conventional pre-defined usage orientation.)

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of computer 4100 in an open position in which the viewing screen 98 is facing the front, and the whole display is lifted and positioned towards to the right edge of the user (suitable for view sharing.)

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a closed position with the base sitting on top of the display (for the space-saving configuration).

Second Embodiment

FIG. 18A is a perspective view of the portable computer (4200) of the second embodiment of the present invention with two side arms. It is in a position where the screen is lifted and facing the user.

FIG. 18B is a perspective back view of portable computer 4200 in an open position, in which the screen is lifted and facing the user; and the base is tilted forward by the arm extensions.

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of computer 4200 in a closed, arms folded position. It also shows how the arms can be detached.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of computer 4200 in conventional open position.

FIG. 21 is perspective side view of computer 4200 in a position, in which the screen is up-lifted and facing the user; and the base is tilted forward by the arm extensions.

FIG. 22 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in a conventional open position, in which the arms are folded and lifted up to avoid blocking side edge 84 of the base for other uses such as a DVD player and other outlets; and the base is tilted forward by the arm extensions.

FIG. 23 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in an unconventional open position with arms partially stretched to reach behind the back edge of the base. (This is to show how flexible the display's viewing position can be.) In this position, the arm extensions also reach behind the back edge of the base to prevent the computer from tipping over.

FIG. 24 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in an open position with display 90 up-lifted and the keyboard faced down (for the stylus configuration (4)).

FIG. 25 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in a conventional closed position with arms folded and screen facing the keyboard.

FIG. 26 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in a closed position with arms folded, screen facing up, and the base stacked underneath the display. (This is a version of the tablet PC configuration.)

FIG. 27 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in a closed position with arms folded and screen facing up. (This is an alternative design to support the tablet PC configuration.)

Third Embodiment

FIG. 28A is a perspective view of a portable computer (4300) of the third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 28B is a split view of arms 4231 and 4232 of computer 4200 and an alternative pair of arms. Substituting the arms leads to the third embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIG. 28A.

FIG. 29 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in a closed position, with the arms folded.

FIG. 30 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in a conventional open position, with arms folded and parked alongside the edges of the base (80).

FIG. 31 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in an open position, with arms folded and reached out from the back of the computer.

FIG. 32 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in an open position, with arms folded, reached out from the back of the computer, and also turned sideway away from the computer. Base 80 is tilted forward by arm extensions 4323 and 4324. The arm extensions 4323 and 4324 respectively bend backward at joint 4347 and 4348 to help prevent the computer from tipping over.

FIG. 33 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in an open position, with arms partially stretched, and with the display partially up-lifted and reached out towards the right hand side of the computer (from the user's point of view.) Base 80 is tilted forward by arm extensions 4323 and 4324. The arm extensions 4323 and 4324 respectively bend backward at joint 4347 and 4348 to help prevent the computer from tipping over.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED AND ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS

Drawing Notations: Basic Building Blocks

FIG. 2 is a list of notations used in the drawings to represent a joint connecting two arm sections. They show how the attached arm sections can rotate relatively to the joint. (“relative” means that it can also been seen as the joint rotating while the arm section remain still.)

FIG. 2A denotes a joint which allows the two attached sections to rotate around the joint; and they rotate on two parallel planes.

FIG. 2B denotes a joint which allows the two attached sections to rotate around the same axis; and they rotate on the same plane. (The point of view dictates which one of the two pictures to use in the drawings.)

FIG. 2C denotes a joint which allows the two attached sections to independently rotate around the joint on a common plane; and the sections will not overlap in a folded position. (The point of view dictates which one of the two pictures to use in the drawings.)

FIG. 2D denotes a joint which allows the two attached sections to turn independently in relatively opposite direction.

FIG. 2E is perspective view of a combination of two joints and three arm sections. The purpose is to show how simple joints can be combined to allow more flexible rotations of the end sections. Around joint 841, arm section 831 can rotate in any selected plane; and the selected plane can change when arm section 832 turns (relative to arm section 833) around joint 842. If we look at the combination as a whole, the end sections 831 and 833 can turn independently on separate planes. That is, even when arm section 833 stays still, arm section 831 can turn on its own on a selected plane; and furthermore, this selected plane can change even when section 833 does not move. (In engineering implementation, if the middle section 832 is short, it may help to think of such a joint combination as just one combo-joint mechanism which allows the two attached end sections 831 and 833 to rotate independently. Therefore, we also have the notation of FIG. 2F.)

FIG. 2F denotes a joint which allows the two attached sections to rotate independently around two separate axes, and they rotate on two separate planes. There is more than one variation (two being shown here). The point of view dictates which variation to use in a drawing. In general, this type of joint is marked by a block circle containing two of the three symbols: a white vertical bar, a white horizontal bar, and a white circle, which are used to indicate the planes for the associated arm sections to rotate on. We generally use the white horizontal bar to indicate the associated arm section that can rotate on a plane parallel to the base of the portable computer. We use the white vertical bar to indicate the associated arm section that can rotate on a plane that is perpendicular to the base of the computer, and that the plane is invisible or reduced to a line from the perspective view point of the drawing. And we the white circle to indicate the plane that is also perpendicular to the base of the computer, but the plane is at least partially visible from the perspective view point of the drawing. (This notation is somewhat analogous to the 3D coordinates. But it is not the same because the three planes here do not have to be perpendicular to one another. In engineering implementation, this type of joint can be substituted with a combo-joint such as FIG. 2E.)

FIG. 2G denotes a joint that allows arm section 821 to rotation around section 834.

FIG. 2H denotes a joint that allows arm section 822 to rotation around section 835.

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of the display of a portable computer in an upward position. Display 90 generally has two sides and four edges: viewing screen side 98, back side 97, upper edge 91, lower edge 92, left edge 93, and right edge 94 (from the user's normal view point).

FIG. 4B is a perspective view of the base of a portable computer. Base 80 preferably includes electronic components and at least one data entry member, such as a keyboard. Base 80 generally has two sides and four edges: upper side (keyboard) 87, bottom side 88, front or user edge 81, back edge 82, left edge 83, and right edge 84 (from the user's normal view point). The bottom side 88 can sometimes be used by an alternative data entry member, such as stylus input. Base 80 has a predefined usage orientation, for example, the usage orientation of the keyboard.

First Embodiment

Figures FIG. 6 to FIG. 17 show a portable computer (4100) according to a first embodiment of the present invention. Computer 4100 has one single back arm.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the portable computer (4100) of the first embodiment of the present invention. This embodiment includes a display 90, a base 80, and a multi-sectioned arm 4130. One end section 4131 of the arm is connected to the display at pivot 4151; and the other end section 4135 is connected to the based at pivot 4152. Pivot 4151 allows the display to rotate in order to adjust its orientations, such as portrait and landscape orientations, and even some slanted orientation; and pivot 4152 allows base 80 to rotate relatively to arm section 4135, so that the bottom side 88 (not shown in the figure) of base 80 can be set to face up (for stylus input configuration, see Background Section). Sections 4131 and 4132 can rotate relative to each other around joint 4141, so that the display can tilt horizontally (turning the screen left and right). One of the functions in combo-joint 4142 (denoted by the white vertical bar inside the block circle) allows arm section 4132 to rotate vertically, so that the display can be turned vertically in order to close (in a horizontal position), to open for viewing, and to adjust viewing angle. When the display is positioned horizontally, the portable computer can be arranged into various configurations by controlling how display 90 and base 80 face each other. (Alternatively, such configurations can be obtained by simply detaching the arms, setting up the display and the base to the desired configurations, and re-attaching the arms again.) Arm sections 4133 and 4134 can be adjusted independently around joint 4144, as assisted by joint 4143 and joint 4145 (a function denoted as a white circle in the black circle), respectively. Together they allow the arm to control directly the continuous movement of joint 4143 (and indirectly the screen) within a selected plane. Besides, this selected plane can be changed continuously using a function of joint 4142 (denoted as a horizontal white bar inside the black circle) together with its counterpart in joint 4145. Therefore, as measured by the mid point on its lower edge 92 relative to base 80, the display's viewing position can be adjusted continuously within a three dimensional space of semi-diameter about total length of arm sections 4133 and 4134. There are locks to prevent the end sections 4131 and 4135 from unintentional detachment. There are also mechanisms to control how much the end sections of the arm can rotate at pivots 4151 and 4152, respectively. Arm 4130 has an extension 4122, which can rotate around section 4135 at joint 4146 to an almost vertical position to support forward tilting of base 80; extension 4122 has multiple sections used to adjust the forward tilting angle of base 80; and in such a position, some end sections of extension 4122 may bend backward, to a predefined horizontal level, so as to prevent the computer from tipping over when the display leans backward, as shown in FIG. 14A. There can be many ways to maintain extension 4122 in a position to provide stable support for the forward tilting of base 80. One preferred implementation is to make joint 4146 in such a way that it allows extension 4122 to rotate in only one predefined direction; and in such an implementation, extension 4122 can support the forward tilting of the base by rotating to and stopping at an almost vertical position.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a position in which the display is lifted and set to a horizontal position with screen facing down. This position can be reached from a position in FIG. 6 by turning arm section 4132 around joint 4142 (using a function denoted as the vertical bar inside the black circle).

FIG. 8A is a perspective view of computer 4100 in an opened position, in which the display is lifted and set to portrait orientation. From a position in FIG. 6, turning display 80 at pivot 4151 can reach the portrait orientation in FIG. 8A and slanted orientation in FIG. 8B.

FIG. 9A is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a closed position with the arm folded. This position can be reached from a position in FIG. 7 by folding arm sections 4133 and 4134, and then turning arm extension 4122 around joint 4146.

FIG. 9B is a perspective view of computer 4100 in another closed position with the arm folded; and this position can be reached from a position in FIG. 9A as follows. A function of joint 4142 (denoted as the horizontal white bar inside the black circle) together with its counterpart in joint 4145 can turn arm 4130 horizontally, to the left side (from the keyboard usage orientation), or to a position away from the back of the computer (as shown in FIG. 10B).

FIG. 10A is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a conventionally opened, screen-up position, with the folded arm placed alongside the base's back edge 82. This position can be reached from a position in FIG. 9B by turning arm section 4132 around combo-joint 4142.

FIG. 10B is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a conventionally opened, screen-up position, with the folded arm placed away from the base's back edge 82 (to avoid blocking the back edge 82 of the base for other uses, such as various cable outlets.)

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a position where the display is up, screen facing the opposite direction from the keyboard's usage orientation, with the folded arm parked alongside the base's back edge 82. This position can be reached from a position in FIG. 10A by rotating arm section 4131 around joint 4132.

FIG. 12A is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a position, in which the display faces upward and overlays the base, with the folded arm parked alongside the base's back edge 82.

FIG. 12B is a split view of the display in FIG. 12A, in which some legs 4171, 4172, 4173, and 4174 are added on the back side 97 of the display.

FIG. 12C is a split view of the display in FIG. 12B, in which the foldable legs can be used as alternatives.

FIG. 12D is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a position, in which the display faces upward and overlays the base, with the folded arm parked alongside the base's back edge 82. Legs on the back side 97 keep the display stable on top of the base, and provide room for the arm sections 4131 and 4132 underneath the display.

FIG. 13A is a perspective back view of computer 4100 in an opened, screen-up-lifted position, in which the base is lifted and tilted forward by arm extension 4122. Extension 4122 bends backward to a predefined horizontal position at joint 4148; this not only controls the tilting angle of base 80, but also provides support for computer 4100 against tipping over. Alternatively, we can make extension 4122 separate from the arm, as in FIG. 13B and FIG. 13C.

FIG. 14A is a perspective side view of computer 4100 in an opened, screen-up-lifted position, in which the base is tilted forward by the arm extension. Extension 4122 bends backward to a predefined horizontal position at joint 4148, to control the tilting angle of base 80, and to support computer 4100 against tipping over.

FIG. 14B is a split view of the display, where the L-shaped end section of the arm in FIG. 14A is substituted with two sections linked by joint 4149. This allows for even more flexible tilting of display viewing angle.

FIG. 15 is a perspective side view of computer 4100 in an open position, in which screen is lifted; the base is tilted forward by the arm extension; and the screen is tilted to the left-side (relative to the keyboard's pre-defined usage orientation.)

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of computer 4100 in an open position in which the viewing screen 98 is facing the front, and the whole display is lifted and positioned towards to the right side of the user (suitable for view sharing.) This position can be obtained by moving display 90 towards the right side of the user in FIG. 13A, and by turning extension 4122 to a horizontal position.

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of computer 4100 in a closed position with the base sitting on top of the display (Space-saving Configuration, see Background Section). This position can be obtained by from FIG. 13A in the following steps: turn extension 4122 to a horizontal position; rotate base 180 around arm section 4135 (connected at pivot 4152) to let the keyboard face down; close the computer; and turn the computer down-side-up.

Second Embodiment

Figures FIG. 18 to FIG. 27 show a portable computer (4200) of a second embodiment of the present invention. Computer 4200 has two side arms.

FIG. 18A is a perspective view of the portable computer (4200) of the second embodiment of the invention. The computer has two side arms. It is in a position where the screen is lifted and facing the user. The portable computer 4200 generally includes a display 90, a base 80, and two side arms 4231 and 4232. The left arm 4231 is connected to the display at pivot 4251, and to the base at pivot 4253. The right arm 4232 is connected to the display at pivot 4252, and to the base at pivot 4254. The viewing angle of the screen can be tilted by rotating the display around pivot 4251 and pivot 4252. The arms can be adjusted synchronously through joints 4241 and 4242, thus allowing continuous adjustment of the display's position by height and depth (see Configuration (1) in the Background section). The range of adjustment can be as far as the length of the fully stretched arms. The portable computer can be arranged into various configurations by setting how the screen 98 and the keyboard 87 face each other; and this can be achieved by turning the base and display around the connection pivots (at 4251, 4252, 4253, and 4254). There are locks to prevent the arms from unintentional detachment from the base and the display. There are also mechanisms to control how much the end sections of the arm can turn at pivots 4251, 4252, 4253, and 4254. Arm 4231 has extension 4223 linked by joint 4243; and arm 4232 has extension 4224 linked by joint 4244. The design and usage of the arm extensions is similar to that in computer 4100. Therefore, we will not repeat the details here.

FIG. 18B is a prospective back view of computer 4200 in an open, screen-up-lifted position in which base 80 is forward tilted by arm extensions 4223 and 4224, both of which bend backward to predefined horizontal positions at joints 4247 and 4248, respectively; this not only controls the tilting angle of base 80, but also provides support for computer 4200 against tipping over.

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of computer 4200 in a closed, arms folded position. It also shows how the arms can be detached. This position can be obtained by turning the screen face down and then folding the arms.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of computer 4200 in conventional open position, in which display is up but not lifted.

FIG. 21 is perspective side view of computer 4200 in a position with the screen up-lifted and facing the user. It shows how the upper and lower sections of arm 4232 can turn independently around joint 4242. It also shows how the display can rotate around arm at 4252. (The left arm is not shown in this view.) These mechanisms allow the portable computer to transition from its current position to any of the configurations as shown in FIG. 24-FIG. 26.

FIG. 22 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in an open position with arms folded and lifted up to avoid blocking the edge 84 of the base for other uses (such as a DVD player). The computer base is forward tilted by the arm extensions (only extension 4224 is shown in this view).

FIG. 23 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in an unconventional open position with arms partially stretched to reach behind the back edge of the base. (This is to show how flexible the display's viewing position can be.) In this position, the arm extensions also reach behind the back edge of the base to prevent the computer from tipping over.

FIG. 24 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in an open position with the display up-lifted and the keyboard faced down (for the stylus configuration (4)). This position can be obtained from FIG. 21 by two steps: turn the base around pivot 4254 to a face-down position; and then adjust arm 4232. (Corresponding adjustment of left arm 4231 is not shown in this view.)

FIG. 25 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in a conventional closed position with arms folded and screen facing the keyboard.

FIG. 26 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in a closed position with arms folded, screen facing up, and the base stacked underneath the display. (This is for the tablet PC configuration.) This is position can be obtained from FIG. 21 in the following steps: flip the base to make the keyboard face down (by rotating the base around pivot 4254); fold the arm towards the right hand side in FIG. 21 (i.e. in the opposite direction to how the arm is normally opened and closed in the notebook configuration); and close down display (with screen facing up); and park extension 4224 alongside edge 84 of the computer base.

FIG. 27 is a perspective side view of computer 4200 in a closed position with arms folded and screen facing up. (This is an alternative design to support the tablet PC configuration.)

Third Embodiment

FIGS. 28 to 33 show a portable computer (4300) of a third embodiment of the present invention. The third embodiment is an enhancement of the second embodiment by substituting the side arms in computer 4200 with an enhanced pair of arms, in order to allow the display to move left or right relative to the base.

FIG. 28A is a perspective view of a portable computer (4300) of the third embodiment of the present invention. The third embodiment enhances the second embodiment by substituting the side arms (4231 and 4232) in computer 4200 with a different pair of arms as shown in FIG. 28B. The left and right arms have extensions 4324 and 4323, respectively. The design and usage of the arm extensions is similar to that in computer 4100. Therefore, we will not repeat the details here. The left arm has two additional combo-joints 4341 and 4345; and the right arm has two additional combo-joints 4342 and 4346. These additional combo-joints allow the middle sections of the arms to swing away from the side edges of the computer (4300), and consequently enabling the display to move sideway, as shown in FIG. 33. This swinging movement uses the functions of the joints denoted by white horizontal bars inside the black circles (joints 4341, 4345, 4342, and 4346). And the white circles inside the black circles are for cooperation with middle joints 4343 and 4344 in folding and stretching of the long sections (4333, 4335, 4334, and 4336). In addition to sideway movement for the display (or adjustment by width as specified in Configuration (2) of the Background Section), computer 4300 of the third embodiment retains all the allowable positions and configurations of computer 4200 the second embodiment.

FIG. 28B is a split view of arms 4231 and 4232 of computer 4200 (as shown in FIG. 18A) and an alternative pair of arms. Substituting the arms leads to the third embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIG. 28A.

FIG. 29 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in a closed position, with the arms folded.

FIG. 30 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in a conventional open position, with arms folded and parked alongside the edges of the base (80).

FIG. 31 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in an open position, with arms folded and reached out from the back of the computer. This position can be obtained from FIG. 28A by respectively folding the arms around joints 4343 and 4344 in the opposite direction from the way they are normally folded when the computer is in a conventional close position as shown in FIG. 29.

FIG. 32 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in an open position, with arms folded, reached out from the back of the computer, and also turned sideway away from the computer. Besides, base 80 is tilted forward by arm extensions 4323 and 4324. The arm extensions 4323 and 4324 respectively bend backward at joint 4347 and 4348 to help prevent the computer from tipping over. This position can be obtained from FIG. 31 by turning the middle sections 4333 and 4335 around joints 4341 and 4345 on one arm, respectively (and also sections 4334 and 4334 around joints 4342 and 4346 on the other arm, respectively) This position places the sections 4333 and 4335, and 4334 and 4336 all on the same plane. This is a preparation for the position in FIG. 33.

FIG. 33 is a perspective view of portable computer 4300 in an open position, with arms partially stretched, and with the display partially up-lifted and reached out towards the right hand side of the computer (from the user's point of view.) Besides, base 80 is tilted forward by arm extensions 4323 and 4324. The arm extensions 4323 and 4324 respectively backward at joint 4347 and 4348 to help prevent the computer from tipping over. This position can be obtained from FIG. 32 by moving the arms sections simultaneously, 4333 and 4345 on one arm, and 4344 and 4346 on the other; and this simultaneous movement is possible when these four arm sections are on the same plane, a condition set up in FIG. 32.

The foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention have been presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed, and obviously many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the Claims in subsequent patent application(s).