updated 11:00 am EST, Thu January 3, 2008
iMac-like notebook dock
An Apple patent application, disclosed by the US Patent and Trademark Office, may point to a radically new notebook docking station. The submission is entitled Integrated monitor and docking station, and depicts a device that solves two problems of current docks, namely the space and lack of convenient transport posed by having to hook up separate dock, notebook and display components. The Apple invention is essentially a "hollowed-out" iMac, into which users insert a MacBook completely from a side-facing opening.
Doing so lets users continue to access critical ports on the side of a MacBook, such as the optical drive. In turn, the Apple dock extends options with not just a larger display, but also battery charging, extra ports, liquid cooling and a "telephonic handset." The dock further substitutes for inaccessible notebook features such as the iSight webcam and a memory card reader.
The timing of the patent's revelation may suggest that Apple plans to showcase the dock as this month's Macworld expo, where it is widely accepted that the company will already be presenting a new subnotebook system. Whether a dock would be exclusively designed for the subnotebook is not hinted at in the patent submission's diagrams.