modular miniature open-source computer with Linux on board
We have repeatedly written about modular laptops from different companies and the community. One of the most notable is
GPD Pocket 3
, a fairly powerful device with interchangeable port modules. At the moment, the developers offer RS-232, as well as a KVM module with HDMI and USB ports, plus a card reader module and a 4G modem.
Another noteworthy laptop is the MNT Reform from the company of the same name. It has been called “a laptop for the paranoid” because the device allows you to physically turn off the communication modules. Plus, you can connect a system on a module with a processor, video chip and memory to the motherboard. Last year, the device began to be sent to customers, and now the manufacturer has created another device, which is called PocketReform.
What is this system?
This is more UPMC than a laptop, although the device can be called a communicator. One of its features is the German assembly. True, the boards are supplied from China, since the Celestial Empire is now ahead of the rest in terms of the production of boards of any complexity.
The difference between the device and the MNT Reform is that it is positioned as a universal system for daily use. It was developed in such a way that not only geeks could work with the device.
Another feature is open source, both hardware and software. They are trying to make it completely open, as far as modern technologies allow. Unfortunately, so far the project exists only in the form of a prototype, and not a full-fledged device. But the developers soon promise to launch the system into mass production, without specifying the release date.
But even now this communicator looks good. It has a full keyboard, display, control modules, plus a LiFePO4 battery that can be easily replaced if necessary.
The developers created it with an eye not only for modularity but also for reliability – it is supposed to be carried with you as an additional working device and at the same time a communication system. The team plans to add a trackball and an OLED display in the near future. So far, these modules are being developed.
What about characteristics?
So far, there is no information about the exact characteristics of the laptop. It is only known that an ARM chip is installed on the motherboard, in addition, the device will be equipped with a hi-end NXP i.MX8 SoC. True, this at the same time does not mean the lowest price of the device – it certainly will not cost as much as, for example, PinePhone costs.
Judging by the renders shown below, PocketReform will most likely support the same SoM (System-on-Module) as its older brother, with built-in slots for connecting wireless cards and other modules.
UPMC will be available in basic and premium configurations. The older model will be more powerful, plus its body will be made of metal, not plastic, as is the case with the regular version.
The developers promise that the device can be easily repaired and upgraded by replacing different modules. The keys of the device are printed on a 3D printer made of biodegradable plastic, which is also recyclable.
When exactly the device will appear on sale, or at least become available for testing, is still unknown. But judging by the timing of the development of the previous project, the device may appear on sale at the end of this or early next year.
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What can you buy now from modular laptops?
As mentioned above, MNT Reform, the previous device of the same manufacturer, is already on sale. It has been designed in such a way as to be an almost ideal device for those who are worried about the safety of their own data, including not only corporate, but also personal ones. 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.
The laptop has three configurations – from basic to productive. The price, of course, is also very different. In the first case, we get a device with an Intel Core i5 processor (core frequency up to 4.2 GHz), 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD, in the second, that is, a productive version, i7 is already installed, 16 GB of memory and 512 GB of SSD , in the third, the “Pro” version, we get an i7 Pro processor, 1 TB SSD and 32 GB of RAM. The cost is $650, $749 and $999 respectively.
In addition, the developers of another modular laptop, the Framework Laptop, began selling not only their devices, but also motherboards for them. This is done so that buyers can create their own systems for different purposes – from the same laptops to mini-PCs. There are three versions of motherboards on sale:
- Intel Core i5-1135G7 mainboard for $449 (now on sale for $399)
- Intel Core i7-1165G7 mainboard for $699 (now on sale for $549)
- Intel Core i7-1185G7 mainboard for $799 (now on sale for $799)
If necessary, the board can be used out of the box by connecting a monitor, keyboard, mouse and other accessories to it. The company also supplies the case for the board. Project Documentation
. With its help, you can develop mounts, housing and any accessories that you may need for work.