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Apple gets fans juices flowing with iMac-like laptop dock

Designed for the rumoured Mac sub-notebook?

Top three mobile application threats

The latest Apple patent filing to excite the Mac masses shows the manufacturer's iMac recast as a docking station for a MacBook laptop.

Apple's been here before, of course, with its Duo range of PowerBooks, launched in 1992. Unlike standard PowerBooks, the Duos were designed to dock into a Mac-like desktop unit that improved the unit's monitor support and audio output, and added a floppy drive.

Apple 'iMac' docking station patent application

Apple's mooted dock: made for the Flash-based MacBook?

This time round, however, the docking station described in US patent application number 20080002350 incorporates a flat-panel display. The unit looks like an iMac, but with a big slot in the side to take the notebook.

The rear of the docking station shows a full array of ports, while the side panel with the docking slot shows a dedicated docking port. With the portable in place, its side-facing optical drive is exposed to allow the user to slot in DVDs and the like.

That probably means it's not being developed specifically for the much-rumoured Flash-based ultra-portable MacBook, which is widely being tipped to be unveiled at the Macworld Expo show in San Francisco on 15 January.

The slimline laptop is claimed to lack a built-in optical drive, the better to reduce its thickness and weight.

That said, optical drives are pretty skinny these days, and if the sub-notebook does, as has been suggested, sport a 13in widescreen display, there'd certainly be room for an optical drive in the casing.

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