Kangaroo Laptop includes two removable PC joeys

Let it never be said that InFocus sub-brand Kangaroo makes uninteresting products. We reported before on the original Kangaroo, a Windows 10 mini-PC that used an iPad for a display. Now the company is showing off the Kangaroo Notebook, which at first glance appears to be a pretty standard 11.6-inch Windows 10 notebook. Spoiler alert: it isn't.

The notebook itself is merely a shell that includes all of the parts of a portable computer—including keyboard, trackpad, speakers, battery, "HD" display, webcam, and microphone—without any of the computer bits. Those parts come from a stick-style mini-PC that slots into the bottom of the notebook.

The Kangaroo Notebook actually includes two of these mini-PCs in the box. InFocus says it's targeted at families with multiple children, or security-conscious persons who would like to keep their work data and personal data completely separate. Shut the machine down and according to Kangaroo, it's a simple process to remove the whole "computer" part of your notebook computer and slot in an entirely different one.

As you might expect, the specifications of the Kangaroo Notebook aren't going to set the world on fire. An Atom x5-Z8350 SoC with 2GB of LPDDR3 handles both CPU and GPU duties. A non-removable 32GB eMMC module is all the storage you get, although you can slot in a microSD card for up to 256GB more. InFocus says the Kangaroo Notebook will be on sale for $299 exclusively at Newegg in mid-October.

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    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    I want a Crocodile Laptop that bares its teeth and slams shut with 2,000lbs. of force if it detects someone aside from me meddling with my computer.

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    I have a few friends who work in government jobs with extremely tight security and they’ve been doing this for years by just having two drives for their laptops.

    When in a high-security location they are given a Dell quick-dock that contains a location-approved laptop OS and software, and they have to hand over their own quick-dock with any data on it; These are exchanged again when they leave.

    If they can’t forfeit their drive and use one of these substitute drives whilst on-site, they have to forfeit their own drive upon leaving and sort out getting a replacement drive from the IT department at their main office later.

      • ronch
      • 3 years ago

      I sometimes wonder if these funky government protocols are always followed. Or maybe some folks get to override them unofficially.

    • Blytz
    • 3 years ago

    Not to put to fine a point on it, but anything named after an Australian animal should be able to kill you in at least 1 interesting way.

      • NTMBK
      • 3 years ago

      Battery sourced from Samsung?

        • RAGEPRO
        • 3 years ago

        Sick burn, man.

        The joke, not the fire. Hopefully.

      • Neutronbeam
      • 3 years ago

      You should have seen the blue-ringed octopus prototype! UAT was quite terminal.

    • psuedonymous
    • 3 years ago

    This is exceptionally close to an idea ‘computing module’: replace the CPU with BGA-mounted desktop CPU (or a 6970HQ or similar) thermally joined to the metal chassis, and add a Thunderbolt port.
    When in the ‘laptop’ chassis the CPU downclocks to what the lapatops thermal solution can dissipate, and the Thunderbolt connection gets routed to an external port.
    Slot it into a ‘desktop’ chdasis however, and the case is not thermally coupled to a higher performance cooling system. The CPU can now turbo as normal. The Thunderbolt port gets router to a dedicated GPU.
    Add a capacitor that can power the unit in S3 sleep for a minute or two, and you can now hot-swap between chassis without having to shut down.

    You lose the selective upgradability of discrete components (have to upgrade RAM with the CPU, though drives and GPU can still be swapped independently) but you gain form-factor independence. Laptop, tablet, desktop (SFF) all from the same CPU and OS install.

    • just brew it!
    • 3 years ago

    Interesting concept. But not all interesting concepts ultimately make sense. As UberGerbil already noted, this seems like doing things the hard way.

    Why not just provide a SSD bay that allows quick and easy swapping of the system drive? They could’ve made a more capable system at the same price point… or a cheaper system with equivalent functionality.

    How often are you going to care about having different BIOS/EFI settings for different users or different use cases… on a notebook? Like, practically never. Unless I’m missing something, this thing is a solution in search of a problem. Or at least, a rather non-optimal solution to an existing problem.

    • ozzuneoj
    • 3 years ago

    Interesting idea, but it has got to be painful to use systems like these for normal every-day things on a full featured desktop\laptop operating system like Windows 10.

    I know passmark isn’t the be-all-end-all of benchmarks, but just as an example, the atom x5-Z8300 (only 80Mhz slower turbo clock speed vs the Z8350) manages a single threaded benchmark score of 383. The socket 754 Athlon 64 2800+ 1.8Ghz from 2004 manages 503. Sure, the efficiency and multithreading put them in a totally different league, but if anything requires more performance from a single core than would have been available 12 years ago, this system will crawl. TWELVE YEARS ago, a good CPU had 40% more per-thread performance than these Atoms.

    We’re not talking about running a stripped down mobile OS or applications that have been built from the ground up for extremely-low-performance CPUs… most people would expect to use the same applications on a Windows 10 netbook as they would on a Windows 10 laptop (within reason).

    I understand that there is a market for these platforms, but I can’t personally see myself ever “loving” a system that ran modern software on such a weak CPU.

      • LostCat
      • 3 years ago

      From my experience, Bay Trail was markedly more pleasant to use than you’d think it would be. I haven’t used Clover Trail yet.

        • malicious
        • 3 years ago

        Same here.

        While ensuring all the different parts of a new Bay Trail J1900 machine worked, I tried xfce on Debian and Gnome 3 – not exactly a nimble and lightweight GUI – on CentOS, and both ran perfectly adequately. Aside from occasional tiny pauses while playing HD YouTube videos, I don’t remember any obvious performance issues.

        The negative perception of Atoms may be a combination of older members of the family and more recent ones saddled with meager amounts of RAM and slow storage in all those ~100USD television boxes/sticks. The CPUs themselves are good enough for everyday usage when paired with memory and storage of decent performance and size.

          • just brew it!
          • 3 years ago

          Debates about Atom performance aside: What does this system solve, that couldn’t have been addressed more cost effectively and/or more performantly with a slot which allows the system SSD to be easily and quickly swapped out instead of an entire CPU/RAM/SSD module? How to do a proper drive dock is a problem which was solved years ago.

            • LostCat
            • 3 years ago

            I’m assuming you can use the modules as separate computing devices as well, where you’ve got an HDMI port and battery and everything. I didn’t look that closely.

            I’d definitely prefer a Kangaroo to most/all other streaming devices I’ve come across.

            • just brew it!
            • 3 years ago

            That’s a pretty big stretch. How many people are going to bother to rig up a rat’s nest of adapters/cables/battery, just to put cobble together an under-powered system using one of the modules? And that’s assuming it is even possible; the display output might not even be HDMI, it could be low-level signals designed to drive the bare LCD panel.

            The cost is also way more than most streaming devices.

            Again, what’s the use case for this thing?

            • LostCat
            • 3 years ago

            People do buy Fire TV/Stick/Chromecast/related much less useful devices all the time, don’t look at me.

            Also it has Bluetooth, so it’d only really need one cable after it’s set up.

            • just brew it!
            • 3 years ago

            Those devices cost significantly less than this thing does.

            At a minimum you’ll need a power and display cable, so your “one cable” argument doesn’t hold up either. And that’s assuming you already have a Bluetooth keyboard, mouse, and headphones/speakers.

            Even after jumping through those hoops, does it even have network connectivity when not docked? Or will you only be able to access locally stored data?

            Again, what’s the compelling use case for this thing?

            • MrJP
            • 3 years ago

            Perhaps they do a docking station for the stick part? Supplying two in the box would then make more sense as one person could be using one as laptop while another uses the other as a desktop. That’s probably the only way this could make sense.

            • LostCat
            • 3 years ago

            I was comparing them with the Kangaroo PC which is separate and was about $130ish, so about the same ballpark as the Fire TV or other set top boxes. This laptop thing specifically I could see using as two separate computers and taking mine with me whenever I needed to, assuming it is what I think it is.

            (I just looked it up and it doesn’t look like the computing module is described anywhere fully yet, so dunno.)

            • Chrispy_
            • 3 years ago

            +1
            See my previous post.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      And you’ll still hit snags even in basic web browsing that are fundamentally single threaded that won’t even be helped by the extra cores over that Athlon 64.

        • LostCat
        • 3 years ago

        Most web browsing is GPU accelerated these days so…shrug.

          • tipoo
          • 3 years ago

          Compositing layers, smooth scrolling, etc, sure. Javascript doesn’t run on GPUs nor do many other web scripting languages.

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    So this is basically like those PCs on a stick that includes a portable docking station with a battery.

      • Sargent Duck
      • 3 years ago

      Pretty much.

      • LostCat
      • 3 years ago

      The battery is actually in the modules.

    • willmore
    • 3 years ago

    I really like this idea. If they were smart about the connector layout and loose some docs on us, I’d love to see other CPU modules for this.

    Project Aura for the laptop.

    • UberGerbil
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]security-conscious persons who would like to keep their work data and personal data completely separate.[/quote<]So I was doing this back in the late 90s, with a Dell laptop (166MHz Pentium w/MMX!) that had swappable drive bays. I'd shut down, pop open the door, pull out the 2GB Win95 HD that stored my personal desktop, shove in the 1GB NT 4.0 HD with my work setup, and be booting up again in just a few seconds. Dell sold the drives in their proprietary chassis for this kind of cold-swapping; they even had a little fabric tab hanging off the end to make it easy to pull them out of the bay. That seems like much better way to go with this; after all there's nothing "personal" about the CPU or other peripherals (unless the "joeys" offer different configurations, eg a discrete GPU for the "play" one vs the "work one). It's all on the drive -- and a laptop with a quick-swap SSD "socket" would actually be kind of interesting. This sounds like one of those things that seems cool on the surface and then when you actually get it, or seriously think through the use cases, you can't really come up with a scenario that isn't handled better in another way.

      • Takeshi7
      • 3 years ago

      Maybe by doing it this way they can prevent BIOS rootkits from infecting the whole computer…Or something.

      • LostCat
      • 3 years ago

      I know someone who uses their laptop like three times a year maybe…and I don’t use mine often either, so it’d be great for us I think. But we already have kit so eh.

      • Theolendras
      • 3 years ago

      A standard like this would be fantastic tough. I could see myself buying a deluxe lapdock and as I upgrade my internals I could use the old mini PC for purpose built server, NAS, Media center PC, Webserver… As it is since it’s one compagny I salute the effort but I’m not seeking a propriatary connector to a subpar laptop (common full-hd would have gone a long way).

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