MNT Reform modular laptop now available through crowdfunding campaign
No reputable laptop OEM can guarantee that the models you end up buying are totally free of spyware of hidden hardware components. If privacy is indeed an important aspect when planning to replace your existing system, you could try the new MNT Reform modular laptop that comes with completely free open source software, plus it integrates open source hardware components. You also get access to the design schematics and you can assemble the system yourself if you are into DIY things. Additionally, you can replace or upgrade most components and you can even program the firmware yourself. The MNT Reform can be crowdfunded now through a CrowdSupply campaign.
In case you are not too much into the DIY aspect, there is an option to get a fully assembled laptop if you pledge US$1,3000. For the DIY fans, however, there are two options: a $999 pledge for a kit that comes with case parts, printed circuit boards and key components that require assembly or a $550 pledge that grants access only to a system-on-a-module board with memory, storage, processor, heat sink, ports and a power supply, so long as users want to 3D print their own cases.
Since we are talking about open source hardware, the provided components are not exactly first class performers. Thus we get access to an NXP i.MX8MQ quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, a Vivante GC700 Lite GPU and 4GB of RAM. The default case is a bit bulky in order to house eight 18650 cell batteries that can be replaced easily, but at least the backlit keyboard comes with mechanical circuits and users can choose between trackball and trackpad. As far as modularity is concerned, the CPU and RAM are placed on a 200-pin SODIMM-sized module that can be replaced with newer versions whenever MNT announces any upgrades.
Storage can be handled either via an SD card or through an M.2 NVMe SSD that needs to be added separately by the user. There is also an optional Wi-Fi PCIe card. Because of privacy concerns, MNT does not provide a webcam, but users can add one if they so choose. The display measures 12.5-inch in diagonal and comes with an FHD IPS panel. Above the keyboard, there is a small 128 x 32 pixel OLED screen that displays system messages.
Port selection includes 3x USB-A 3.0 (external) + 2x USB-A 2.0 connectors, GbE jack, HDMI video output, 3.5 mm audio jack, mini PCIe 2.0 slot + M.2 PCIe 2.0 slot. Other features include stereo 1W speakers and fanless passive cooling. The system runs Debian Linux and weighs around 4.2 lbs, while the provided batteries should last for 5 hours per charge.
MNT will begin shipping the Reform modular laptop this December, provided the corwdfunding campaign is successful.
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