Have you considered the possibility of customizing a notebook with the same ease with which you can set up a desktop? This is the proposal of a San Francisco startup called Framework. The company’s product is the Framework Laptop, a relatively compact notebook that can be repaired or upgraded in a variety of ways.
Nirav Patel, founder of the startup, is not a newcomer to the market. He was one of the first employees at Oculus and had a stint at Apple, for example. Based on this experience, the entrepreneur believes that the current business model of the consumer industry encourages waste and inefficiency.
This is where the Laptop Framework comes into play: because it is very customizable and can be repaired more easily compared to conventional notebooks, Patel understands that the equipment should last much longer than the average.
Laptop Framework: choose hardware
The Laptop Framework has a set of standard hardware: the body is predominantly aluminum and weighs 1.3 kg, the screen is 13.5 inches and a resolution of 2256 × 1504 pixels, the webcam generates videos in 1080p and 60 fps, the keyboard it has buttons with a depth of 1.5 mm when pressed and the battery is a 55 Wh unit.
Only the housing is immutable. The other components mentioned, despite being standardized, can be easily replaced in case of damage or wear, according to the Framework.
In fact, any component can be exchanged for others with different characteristics if a manufacturer is willing to supply them, a detail that leads us to another notable aspect of the notebook: the modules.
Called Expansion Cards by the startup, these modules must be fitted in four slots on the sides of the notebook (two on each side) and allow the user to choose which connectivity features the equipment will have. There are Expansion Cards for DisplayPort, USB-C, USB-A, HDMI and microSD, for example.
There is also a module with additional storage (250 GB or 1 TB). And many others can emerge. The startup’s idea is to create a marketplace so that third parties can sell Expansion Cards with various functions, as well as other types of components for the notebook.
Each piece of the Framework Laptop is accompanied by a QR Code that leads to a page in the online store that allows its replacement or exchange for a different component, when applicable.
Framework Laptop DIY Edition
The Laptop Framework will be offered in several pre-configured versions. All can be customized, but there is one that is more flexible in this respect: the Framework Laptop DIY Edition.
As the “DIY” in the name suggests, this is a “do it yourself” version. The idea is for the user to decide which modules to include in the equipment, define the basic hardware (such as the processor and the amount of RAM) and even indicate the desired operating system: Windows 10 (Home or Pro) or Linux.
By default, any version of the Framework Laptop can be equipped with an 11th generation Intel Core processor, up to 64 GB of DDR4 memory and storage of up to 4 TB.
However, the notebook’s motherboard is exchangeable. In theory, this means that successor-generation chips may be supported at some point.
In the United States, the first versions of the Laptop Framework will go on pre-order in the next quarter, when then their prices will be revealed. To the The Verge, Patel guaranteed that the values will be “comparable to the prices of other well-evaluated notebooks”.
However, more than prices, the biggest question about this initiative may be: will it work? Similar ideas have already been explored, without success, by companies like Dell – the Alienware Area-51m was originally designed to support upgrades, but the proposal did not convince.
For Patel, the previous initiatives did not succeed due to the lack of commitment from the manufacturers. As personalization is the central element of the Framework’s business model, he believes in the startup’s success: “this is not a side project for us that someone found interesting, but the essence of our company”.