On the side of my Dell Latitude laptop, above the DVD drive, is a slot marked 'EC'. Pulling on it revealed a strangely shaped ruler with a temperature converter tool on the back. What is this? Why is it there?
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It is a cool little multi-tool that Dell used instead of a plain slot keeper to keep dust and crud out of the Express card slot. It is actually pretty cool that Dell put this handy little tool in place of an otherwise useless hunk of plastic. There is a letter opener and everything.
Asus has one that stored flash Cards as a storage area:
And there is one that you can get if you are bored with your multi tool:
Seems there are a few other remotes you can store in this space.
A clever soul at Dell has turned the plastic spacer filling the ExpressCard slot into a small ruler, wire diameter measurement tool, and letter opener. This is maybe not an essential feature, given that the ruler is only 2in long, but it shows an amusing level of design imagination.
The Express Card (EC) slot is a PCI Express card slot used for various hardware options, such as a wireless card. PCI Express Card technology is the latest PCMCIA standard. There aren't very many cards (relative to USB) to put in them but you can add USB ports, media card readers, bluetooth and wireless cards.
Phone compnanies often hand them out as part of their mobile broadband offerings.
Solid State Drives (SSD's) are available, as well as Serial ATA (SATA) cards for adding external SATA drives.
In some computers, these rulers are used by engineering and computer aided design students and professionals. When they work from their home or dorm room, They use these to scale drawings and sketches onto the computer from a sketchbook or piece of drawing paper. There are computers that contain a longer, built in ruler or scaling tool like a slide rule. This Dell C1P22 Express Card ruler is only there because it is a dust guard for a slot where an internet card would be placed.