Laptops basically all look alike. However a group of intrepid designers and engineers are doing something about the 'sameness syndrome' that permeates laptop design.

They're working on groundbreaking concept designs that not only turn heads but also point to new ways to work and play on the road.

Just as car shows give us a sneak peek into the next big thing in automotive technology, concept and prototype designs provide a crystal ball to see what tomorrow might have in store for mobility.

"Design concepts allow us to stretch our imaginations and ask 'what if'," says Murali Veeramoney, head of the concept PC programme at Intel.

"They help us see the future of computing."

Get ready for a revolution in laptop design, including laptops with multiple screens or slide-out keyboards as well as computers that can be folded into different shapes or even rolled up when not in use.

How about a laptop that can be charged without being plugged in? Even the definition of 'laptop' is changing, with lines blurring among traditional laptops, netbooks, convertible tablets, iPad-style slate tablets, smartbooks, e-readers, ultramobile PCs and other mobile internet devices.

A couple of years back, I took a look at what kind of laptops we might be using in the year 2015, but they required a technological breakthrough or two to become reality.

In contrast, the 12 innovative laptop designs here - some actual working computers, others wooden mockups or CAD drawings - are for the most part producible within the next two years.

"Folding screens, wireless charging, rollup computers - it's all coming in the next couple of years," says Leslie Fiering, a research vice president at Gartner.

"Designers are getting more and more creative and innovative."

Here's a peek at the not-so-distant future.

NEXT PAGE: Four-screens, no waiting

  1. Introduction
  2. Four-screens, no waiting
  3. Transformer
  4. Fold here
  5. The key to computing
  6. Roll out the PC
  7. Leave the keyboard at home
  8. Two concepts that never made it
  9. Powering up