A couple of years ago we wrote about the MNT Reform laptop. It is intended for users for whom the safety of personal data is extremely important. This device has even been called a “laptop for the paranoid” although of course that’s not the official name.
Well, now the developers of this device have released a new device, only with a screen diagonal of 7 inches. By the way, the company’s slogan: “The digital future will be modular and open-source.” The same team supports the “right to repair”, an idea with which, so to speak, all MNT devices are fully compatible. Now this small laptop, called the MNT Pocket Reform, has been added to them. Details are under the cut.
What is this device?
According to the developers, MNT Reform is:
• An almost completely open laptop that can be modified to your heart’s content, replacing broken modules or replacing outdated components with more powerful/functional ones.
• System with protection of personal data. The laptop has no cameras, microphones, WiFi can be turned off. If necessary, personal data can be stored on an SD card. There is also hard disk encryption with LUKS.
• A typewriter that can be used for office purposes. Any office programs, browser, etc. work without problems.
• Industrial system. Thanks to the chipset, the laptop can be used as an industrial workhorse.
• A platform for developing ARM 64-bit software. Well, everything is clear here.
• Educational system. MNT Reform can be used as a base for learning the principles of hardware, software, information security, etc. Suitable for both children and adults.
And what about the characteristics?
In general, this laptop cannot be called a breakthrough in performance. Here are the main technical specifications:
- CPU: NXP i.MX8M Plus with 4x ARM Cortex-A53 (1.8 GHz), 1x Cortex-M4F core. The CPU and RAM are housed on a removable SO-DIMM sized module.
- RAM: 4 or 8 GB LPDDR4.
- GPU: Vivante GC7000UL GPU.
- Display: Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) 7″ IPS eDP display driven via MIPI-DSI. Micro HDMI with 4K image output.
- 2 USB-C ports, one of them supports charging.
- microSD slot.
- ix Industrial Ethernet port with optional adapter for RJ45.
- WWAN slot for 4G/5G/LTE.
- Slot for micro SIM card.
- Wireless communication module supporting WiFi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0.
- Backlit mechanical keyboard.
- Size: 20 × 12.6 × 4.5 cm.
In addition to the basic configuration, optional ones are also available:
- NXP Layerscape LS1028A (2x ARM Cortex-A72, 8GB or 16GB DDR4, Vivante GC7000UL GPU)
- Raspberry Pi CM4 (with adapter, 4× ARM Cortex-A72, 8GB DDR4, VideoCore GPU)
- Pine SOQuartz RK3566 (with adapter, 4× ARM Cortex-A55, 8GB DDR4, Mali G52 GPU)
- FPGA AMD/Xilinx Kintex-7 (for industrial use, RISC-V SoC is a possibility)
- Additional modules for the device.
As mentioned above, this system cannot be called productive. The developers claim that according to this indicator it is approximately on a par with the Raspberry Pi 4. For surfing, various kinds of industrial applications, watching videos (if necessary), this is quite enough. You won’t be able to play more or less advanced games, and the device itself was not made for this purpose at all.
The main advantage of the device’s motherboard is the ability to connect a system on a module (SoM). As mentioned above, the module with the processor, video chip and memory is inserted into the motherboard as SO-DIMM.
What can it even be used for?
The developers claim that the device can be used when you need to quickly type text in the “field” conditions, where a regular laptop is either not available, or for some reason it is not very convenient to use it.
Communication is another strong point of the device. It can be used for email or chat on Mastodon, Telegram, Twitter, IRC or Matrix. A big plus here is the availability of modules for mobile communications, which allows you to access the network from almost anywhere.
Such a device can be very useful for system administrators – after all, thanks to the presence of the same wireless communication module, the device is great for remote work.
Engineers can use the device in production. As far as we know, it is not particularly protected from dust, water and all that, but a small device is more convenient in many cases than devices of the usual size.
And what about the size – is it convenient to work with such a tiny device?
Testers who have already managed to work with the device note that in the first hours of operation, the speed of printing or even interaction with this device slows down. But then, thanks to a thoughtful keyboard (it looks a bit unusual), typing speed is restored. Well, the user gradually adapts to everything else.
The small screen consumes relatively little power. The developers installed lithium batteries in the device with a total capacity of 8000 mAh, which in normal mode is enough for several hours of operation.
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The laptop will be available for order soon (in 2-3 weeks). But its cost is rather big – the basic version is estimated at $900, but for more exotic configuration options you will have to pay even more.