This is some news to me (Which only shows the limits of my expertise.) but you can actually build your own laptop. Things aren’t quite as modular as desktops. You don’t have the freedom to use one motherboard with another case, power supply, screen or heat sink. But once you decide on the bare bones case you want, everything else you’re free to change within the limitations of the motherboard they’ve given you–CPU, RAM, storage, ancillary cards, networking, etc.
I’ve been reading about this for a few days now and I’m rather disappointed that no manufacturer offers a bare bones case that is ruggedized. My ideal laptop would be very light, very durable and very energy efficient. I don’t care about computational power or a giant screen since I’ll only be editing and viewing text on it–not gaming or editing and generating complex graphics. The hardest it will work is perhaps when rendering Flash objects or reading DVDs.
The flexibility of building your own laptop is not quite equal that of case modding desktops. I guess what I really want is a metal stamping and milling machines and plastic injection molds. Some have built laptop cases out of wood. But that seems too heavy and in some cases not durable enough to me. I may as well buy a light or ruggedized system from the big manufacturers.