Framework is a new startup that is working on an upgradable modular laptop

A new startup by the name of Framework is working on an interesting project that takes modular tech to a new level. The Framework Laptop is a concept lightweight machine that is going to be unlike any laptop that you have seen on the market. The modular laptop is said to allow users to upgrade, customize, and repair parts all by themselves.

Early concept renders of the product showcase a very Apple MacBook-inspired design which shouldn’t be surprising as the co-founder, Nirav Patel, is an ex-Apple employee himself. According to him, “as a consumer electronics company, your business model effectively depends on churning out constant tons of hardware and pushing it into channels, and into market, and into consumers’ hands, and then sort of dropping it and letting it exist out there. It encourages waste and inefficiency, and ultimately environmental damage.” He also says that it is more than a product rather an ecosystem.

The laptop is planned to come with an aluminum chassis with a 13.5-inch 2K (2256 x 1504-pixels) display and Intel’s 11th-gen processor with up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM and PCIe Gen 4 NVMe storage of up to 4TB or even more. The laptop is also planned to feature a 1080p 60fps webcam and a 55Whr battery. When it comes to the upgrade possibilities, it’s said you’ll be able to swap the internals including the memory, storage. Wi-Fi card and battery. The Framework Laptop also brings the ability to upgrade external components including the keyboard, the I/O ports via an expansion card system, and the display along with the magnetically detachable bezels. The company also hopes to address the concern of users who don’t like carrying dongles or adapters with its variety of swappable port options. Expect these to come in USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, microSD, high-speed storage, and even a headphone amp.

The Framework Laptop product image

Framework is also planning to sell the modules via a centralized online marketplace which will be open for partners to build and sell compatible modules. This would help potential customers to easily find compatible replacements or upgrades without having to look around. The company aims to reduce electronic waste with its efforts by making its products last longer. The laptop will be made of 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) aluminum and an average of 30% PCR plastic. Lastly, the company will also introduce the Framework Laptop DIY Edition, for those who want to completely assemble the laptop on their own and tinker around. The DIY version additionally offers the flexibility to install the OS of your choice be it Linux, Windows 10 Home, or Windows 10 Pro.

The concept of ‘modular tech’ hasn’t seemed to work for any of the major tech brands. We saw Google try its hand at a modular smartphone with Project ARA in 2014. However, by 2016, the project was canceled and all we got was some concept videos that never materialized. In 2015 we heard of a modular smartwatch concept by ‘Blocks’ which was an attempt to create a modular smartwatch with swappable modules. To date, we haven’t seen any modular smartwatch hit the markets. Similarly, Motorola launched the Moto Z in 2016 that brought the Moto Mods ecosystem, which had a decent start but eventually led to a lot of money going into research and development. Let’s hope that Framework has a more solid approach and can actually make this concept a reality.

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