Friday, July 11, 2008


Parts standardization and compatibility issues

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Current compatibility problems in the laptop trade are reflective of the early era of personal computer hardware, when there were many different manufacturers, each and every one of them having their own connectivity and mounting systems and incompatibility was the norm. While there are accepted world standards of form factors for all the peripherals and add-in PC cards used in the desktop computers, there are still no firm worldwide standards relating to today's laptops' internal form factors, such as supply of electric voltage, motherboard layouts, internal adapters used in connecting the optical drive, LCD cable, keyboard and floppy drive to the main board. Most affected by this are users uneducated in the relevant fields, especially if they attempt to connect their laptops with incompatible hardware or power adapters.
Some parts, such as hard drives and memory are commodity items and are interchangeable. However, other parts such as motherboards, keyboards, and batteries are proprietary in design and are only interchangeable within a manufactures brand and/or model line.
A significant point to note is that the vast majority of laptops on the market are manufactured by a small handful of Original Design Manufacturers (ODM).[4] The ODM matters more than the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). Major relationships include:
Quanta sells to (among others) HP/Compaq, Dell, Toshiba, Sony, Fujitsu, Acer, NEC, Gateway and Lenovo/IBM - note that Quanta is currently (as of August, 2007) the largest manufacturer of notebook computers in the world.
Compal sells to Toshiba, HP/Compaq, Acer, and Dell.
Wistron (former manufacturing & design division of Acer) sells to HP/Compaq, Dell, IBM, NEC, Acer, and Lenovo/IBM.
Flextronics (former Arima Computer Corporation notebook division) sells to HP/Compaq, NEC, and Dell.
ECS sells to IBM, Fujitsu, and Dell.
Asus sells to Apple (iBook), Sony, and Samsung.
Inventec sells to HP/Compaq, Toshiba, and BenQ.
Uniwill sells to Lenovo/IBM and Fujitsu.

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