Over the past few years the bezels around laptop screens have shrunk to the point where I’ve stopped paying attention when PC makers claim that they’ve stuffed a 14 inch display into a 13 inch laptop body. That’s just what a 14 inch laptop looks like now.

But there’s only so small a laptop can get before you have to start making compromises on the keyboard.

Or maybe not.

The Compal Voyager laptop takes an unusual approach to fit a 13 inch keyboard into a notebook with a 12 inch display (and an 11 inch chassis, if you believe the company’s claims).

Here’s the idea — lift the lid of the laptop and you’ll notice an unusual keyboard with a split down the middle… and the keys set to an unusable 90-degree angle to the screen.

But that’s just how the keyboard is stored when you’re not using it. When you want to type, you can rotate the left and right sides so that the keyboard actually extends beyond the edges of the laptop’s body.

While Compal says this allows a 13 inch keyboard to fit into an 11 inch chassis, the bigger benefit may be the fact that there’s room for a split keyboard with the keys set to a more ergonomic angle than you’ll find in most laptops.

Compal is a Taiwanese original device manufacturer, which means the company is a contract manufacturer that builds products for other companies. So if the Voyager ever ends up on store shelves it may have a different name and a different logo on the lid. But the laptop recently won an IF Design Award, which is how it showed up on my radar.

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10 replies on “Compal Voyager laptop puts an expandable 13 inch keyboard in an 11 inch body”

  1. DOA without a touchpad or trackpoint. No point in trying to make this compact device if you have to carry a mouse with you as well.

  2. Still waiting 4 my voice linux shell so i rarely have to type at all, but of course voice control is so friggin tightly controlled as intellectual property to chain you to a corporate ecosystem, or decent open source voice transcription purposely made to be painful engineering challenge that only the savviest dare. my fingers hurt from arthritis or carpal tunnel maybe both so im screwed but seems nobody gives a damn about enabling.

  3. How about a detachable butterfly keyboard on rails that sweeps out with a fixed triangular touchpad in the middle?

  4. Clever. Of course you lose the trackpad. But I use a mouse with my laptop anyway.

    1. As a further development of this idea, they could use a TrackPoint on one of the two keyboard parts.

      1. TrackPoints (aka ClitMouse) were good alternative back when TouchPads were kinda crap. I’d take the 3D-TouchPad from a Mac any day of the week.

        The actual touchscreen isn’t a bad alternative, as long as it’s fast, accurate, good quality, etc etc.

        But an actual mouse is not an alternative. That’s just excess bulk, which defeats the purpose of this design.

        1. They could put a trackpoint for those of us who like it without needing the extra space a touchpad would need. 🙂

  5. IBM solved this problem in 1995 with the butterfly keyboard. The GOOD butterfly keyboard.

    1. I’d love a modern version of that. (Of the laptop; the keyboard was just fine. 👍 Add a middle mouse button for the trackpoint and negative inertia from the III-IV versions, and they’re good to go… though I don’t dislike the modern style too much either.)

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