Modular laptop is designed to be hacked, tweaked and customized
Laptops have been getting thinner, more powerful and increasingly difficult to customize. The Reform from Berlin's MNT Research dares to be different with open software and open hardware that invites modders to get under the hood and go wild.
Currently raising production funds on Crowd Supply, the MNT Reform is not tied to any contracts, cloud services, user agreements and so on. It doesn't come with any internal microphones or camera modules, and if you want Wi-Fi, you'll need to plug in a removable PCIe card. But it has been designed to be taken apart, studied, modified, reassembled and more.
Within the CNC-milled 6061 aluminum shell you'll find an NXP i.MX8MQ processor with four 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 cores and one Cortex-M4F core, with support from 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage.
A Vivante GC7000Lite GPU serves up graphics to a 12.5-inch Full HD display, and there's a 128 x 32-pixel OLED panel above the keyboard to view interactions with the system controller. It comes with Debian GNU/Linux 11 loaded onto an SD card, but if you want to run another operating system, you can.
Rather than a slim, chiclet-style keyboard, the MNT team has opted for a more satisfying mechanical keying experience. A five-button optical trackball comes as standard, but there's a capacitive touch trackpad if you want it.
Connectivity shapes up as a Gigabit Ethernet port, three USB 3.0 Type A ports, along with two USB 2.0 connection inside for input devices. A HDMI port is also on the spec sheet, though it will need firmware to work. And sound is served up by stereo speakers or via a 3.5-mm headphone/microphone combo jack, with a Wolfson DAC handling audio conversion.
A bottom cover milled from semi-transparent acrylic can be removed for access to the internals, should you wish to swap anything out. And you can get at the eight 18650 LiFePO4 battery cells too, which offer about five hours per charge. The included manual features full system schematics and a complete parts list.
Pledges for a fully-assembled 29 x 20.5 x 4-cm (11.4 x 8 x 1.5-in) MNT Reform start at US$1,300. For $200 more you can pledge for a Max version with 1 TB of SSD storage and mPCIe Wi-Fi, or you can choose the $999 level for a kit you can assemble yourself, though you'll have to option in storage if you need it. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in December.
Source: MNT Research