Most laptops released nowadays, especially ultrabooks and lightweight form factors in general, tend to be hard to repair or upgrade for the consumer. Not only that but once you buy a laptop, it's very likely you're stuck with the ports and components you got at the start.
A San Francisco-based startup called Framework is looking to change that with its announcement of the Framework Laptop (via The Verge). This laptop promises to be not only easily repairable and upgradable, but it's also a fairly high-end machine at that. It's also relatively lightweight, weighing 1.3kg and measuring 15.85mm in thickness.
Out of the box, the Framework Laptop has a 13.5-inch display with 2256x1504 resolution, meaning it has the same 3:2 aspect ratio as Surface devices do. The specs also look promising with Intel's 11th-generation Core processors, along with options for up to 64GB of RAM and 4TB of NVMe storage. There's also a 55Wh battery, a 1080p 60fps webcam with physical switches, Wi-Fi 6E support, and a keyboard with 1.5mm of key travel.
What makes it stand out, though, is its modularity. Framework designed an "Expansion Card" system, where multiple ports on the laptop can be swapped out for something else. There are four bays for these expansion cards, and users can choose to have a USB Type-C port, USB Type-A, an "ultra-fast" storage drive, HDMI, and so on. These expansions can be swapped out to suit the user's preferences.
On top of that, most of the internals are also easily replaceable. Storage, RAM, and the Wi-Fi card are all socketed so they can be replaced, but the entire mainboard of the laptop can also be swapped out as new models come out with newer processors for increased performance. Not only that but parts that are heavily used, like the screen and keyboard, are magnetically attached and can be easily replaced by ordering new ones from Framework's website. Each component will have a QR code that lets users order new parts quickly. To cap it all off, Framework says it will provide an open ecosystem so other companies can create their own modules for the laptop and sell them through the Framework Marketplace.
Customers will have the chance to buy the Framework Laptop as assembled by the company running Windows 10 Home or Pro, or they can order a DIY kit so they can assemble it themselves and install their operating system of choice. In both cases, the laptop will ship with a screwdriver so users can always tinker with it later.
The goal is ultimately to extend the lifespan of consumer electronics by making it so that whole devices aren't thrown away when only a single component is no longer working well. The concept is generally very similar to the Fairphone 3+ we reviewed last year, but that was a phone, and it was a mid-range device at that, while this seems to be a product anyone might actually want to use.
The Framework Laptop is promised for release in the summer, and those interested can sign up to learn more as soon as more information is revealed.