(Photo: Croab)Laptops have been getting slimmer and slimmer over the years, but there’s always been a minimum thickness required just to accommodate I/O ports such as USB, headphone jack, etc. Even Apple, which is notorious for making its products smaller and lighter by minuscule amounts, still has two USB C ports and a headphone jack in its super-slim MacBook Air. But what if you removed all the ports in an attempt to make a laptop stupid thin? That’s exactly what a company named Croab has done with its recently announced Croab X ultrabook; a super-thin 7mm notebook with no I/O ports whatsoever. If only Steve Jobs were alive to see it.
Although these types of products often appear as “pie in the sky” concepts, sort of like when we read about next-gen memory technologies that never materialize, the Croab X actually looks like a real product with some true innovation under the hood. For starters, its 7mm thickness is extremely thin. For example, the MacBook Air’s tapered design starts out at 4mm, but ramps up to 16mm where the base meets the display, so it’s more than twice as thick as the Croab. Most ultrabooks are around that thickness as well, including models like the HP Spectre and Asus Zenbook. The reason is simple: they all offer I/O ports. The Croab X’s ridiculously thin design helps keep the weigh down too. At just 1.9lbs it’s about one pound lighter than your typical ultrabook.
Instead of putting ports in the chassis, Croab decided to move them onto a wireless charging puck that attaches magnetically to the back of the lid to charge the laptop. The puck resembles a square USB hub with ports on all sides, including USB-C, USB-A, Thunderbolt, an SD card slot, and a headphone jack. What’s also pretty slick is the top of the charging puck can be lifted up to create a gap, which is used to wrap the power cord around it for safe travel, which is similar to the “wrap around” feature Apple has long offered on its laptop charging bricks. The charger communicates with the laptop wirelessly when it has devices connected to it, using Wi-Fi 6E.
It actually has rather decent specs too, as CPU options are listed as, “Up to 12th Generation Intel Core i7-1280P Processor,” which is a 28w Alder Lake chip with 6 performance cores and eight efficiency cores. Graphics power is provided by the onboard Intel Iris Xe chip, and it can also have up to 32GB of LPDDR5 memory. The display is a bezel-less 13.3″ 4K panel with a pinhole camera, and it offers up to 2TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD storage too. We’re not really sure how it keeps all that technology cool, because this system doesn’t seem to have any fans. Laptops can use passive cooling, but the CPUs used for this kind of system don’t typically use more than 5W – 10W of power. The 28W Core i7-1280P is well above the typical passive limit.
Sadly, there’s no information on the Croab website about when this wonder of technology will launch or how much it will cost. If we had a nickel for every glorious piece of PC technology that appeared out of nowhere with the tagline “coming soon” we wouldn’t need this job anymore. Also, glancing at the spec sheet again with our rose-tinted glasses aside, it does kind of look to good to be true. That judgment is partly based on the number of times a little-known company has disrupted an industry as mature as the mobile PC market.
That said, Croab definitely has some interesting innovations here, especially the wireless charging puck and its associated ports. That’s something we could see a company like Apple adopting at some point. The Croab X could be impressive if it ever sees the light of day.