While I'm no Intel fan, I'll head over for a look!
Laptop vendor Framework Computer has launched new faster models. Unlike in the case of any other laptop maker, if you already have one, this is good news. Modern laptops tend to be promoted on the basis of thinness and lightness, and the Framework range is no different. The machines have 13.5-inch (34.3cm) screens, are just …
Not a fan of Realtek. Some RTL interfaces hang when you actually push any data through them, so I'd like to see intel network card option (even if only at !Gbit/s). I would also like to see 3G/4G WWAN option. Otherwise it is quite tempting proposition to consider replacing my 12.5" latitude E7240 (the 1rst gen "slower" would do fine). EIA-232C expansion would be really nice too to avoid yet another dongle off of USB port.
I does look nice, but until I can get an AMD Ryzen and wired LAN it's a "dog and pony show" to me. I'm sure the company's heart is the right place but Intel still owes me for all the bridges they burned down. While wifi is good and can be fast I don't have infinite money to turn electricity into radio waves 24/7.
I am an owner of a Framework, and have been very, very happy with it.
First, a story: I had a battery drain issue where the main and coin batteries ended up fully drained due to leaving it in sleep for too long without plugging it in (this represents a negative, in and of itself). However, the fix was fully documented on the site and - aside from charging time - was fixed with 10 minutes of effort after 5 minutes of reading the forums. For many modern laptops, a battery issue means a service visit. To me, that you-can-do-it mentality is a big part of the appeal.
Now, a bit of tea leaf reading. I don't think Framework really intends these devices for tinkerers and developers. I know there's a lot of uptake in that community, but they're not the target. I truly think Framework sees these as "technology worker" or office PCs. They aren't specced very high, but more than capable of office work, are easy to maintain, and can fill many niches due to the swappable ports. That swapping also means less dongles, so it's more portable. Also, let's face it, the general office PC represents a bigger market than enthusiasts.
These feel like very accessible PoC devices to give to the managers, support staff, and even your parents. They're easy to fix, eminently configurable, and have just enough power to service most users. Depending on their success, I think you'll see new SKUs come out with GPUs, different keyboards, and narrower niches. These two generations represent the base, and they'll release mods that build off that for people like devs and designers and such.
I think you might be right. They've not been in business long enough for me to feel comfortable adding them to my approved suppliers list right now, but in a couple of years I would be very in favour of buying something like this to issue to people in my company who want an ultra-portable laptop. I can even see myself keeping a stock of spares for them in the office - problem with your laptop? No worries, bring it in and one of our guys can do a motherboard swap right there in the office in 10 minutes.
That is a very attractive proposition as an IT manager.
If too many people share your same lack of confidence, in a couple of years you might very well regret your role in not helping to keep Framework in business. Of course, I expect you will spin it as a positive because you kept your employer away from such a short-lived supplier.
I wish for their massive success while leaving the weak-kneed in their dust.
Another possible business for them would be selling to small OEMs who could then build their own branded laptops (or SFF desktops etc.).
There used to be several manufacturers making 'barebones' laptops which required a CPU/Mem/HDD/CD to be installed. Most had a recess in the lid for the end company to put their logo sticker. I guess they mostly stopped as CPUs moved to being directly soldered to the mobo.
High up on my wish list is no CPU > 10W, No CPU > $50, no separate GPU. When a mugger looks at my laptop I want him to think "That is far too cheap to be worth the risk of getting whacked on the head with" - from which you can deduce a use-case I consider important. If I need something that can bootstrap gcc in under 5 seconds I will ssh into a cluster.
If framework come up with something with a screen big enough to match a full size keyboard I will be very interested.
"I don't WANT my laptop to be the Thinnest Model Yet. I want a battery that will outlast the Sun, a screen big enough to blind the person behind me, more USB slots than there are Apple fanboys in the Bay Area, a fscking disc reader/writer."
I've an old HP zbook that ticks most of those.
Upgradability on laptops could have been possible a long time ago, the mobile Pentium II's used the MMC2 CPU connector which could theoretically allow an upgrade. I say "theoretically" because whilst you could remove the MMC2 package from the laptop (which I did), Intel would not retail you an upgrade nor would the laptop manufacturer offer a BIOS upgrade if needed. So the idea of "upgradability" was killed at the front door regardless of the fact that the space beyond was available for open business.
I have an HP 645 G1 (i.e AMD cpu/gpu)
It is (was...They are wayyyyy old now) available with A4 to A10 AMD cpus....socketed.
Takes 7 mins to remove backplate, release screws on fan and heatsink and remove. Unlock cpu clamps and remove A4 and slot in an A10
Dual core -> Quad core
Keyboard is also replaceable in 5 mins and screen is also quick and almost tool less(OK, you need a fine crosshead to remove lcd panel, but still..)
Big player OEMs *can* make them replaceable/ upgradeable and done so in the past.
Too busy chasing shiny shiny market and creating WEEE
I'd like to see a module you could plug the mainboard in to make it in to a desktop terminal, meaning old removed boards don't have to sit on a shelf or die, but be given a new lease of life in the office to workers who don't need a laptop or much desktop grunt (we could fill our call centre with these for instance, execs get an upgrade, call centre gets a new "desktop").
They publish basic designs for a desktop case, and by default the laptop has four 'expansion bays' which you can kit out with HDMI, ethernet etc. As they connect via USB C, it should be pretty straightforward to knock up a desktop case for one of these with all the ports you might need.
I've had my eye on one of these for several months. Last month I went to pre-order one (remembering long lead times) and found that they'd gotten through the backlog and were now shipping almost immediately. I chose to wait until I had the cash instead, just in case something like this happened.
Luck was with me, and I already have one of the new machines on pre-order.
I'm also wondering about getting an external GPU enclosure. I'm wondering if the Framework will work well enough with that and my RTX-2060 to be a reasonable games machine. Has anyone here trodden that path before?