The advent of laptops solved one of the biggest problems in personal computing by allowing people to bring their computers with them. At the same time, however, that portability came at a cost that went beyond a mere literal monetary price. Compared to their larger and more stationary desktop cousins, laptops are practically walled gardens, beautiful and powerful but restrictive and inflexible. Things have improved now with many laptops offering upgradeable memory and storage, but that’s pretty much it. Everything else is welded or at least artificially locked down, making repairs difficult for anyone other than experts and authorized technicians. There are efforts to change this industry culture a bit by making modular and repairable laptops more mainstream, like this latest addition to Google’s Chrome OS that brings those desirable qualities to the price.
Framework is one of the few companies that sells laptops that are designed from the ground up to be durable and long-lasting in multiple aspects. In fact, he may be the only person trying to turn this vision into a profitable business. Many manufacturers are starting to include some recycled materials in their products or are paying more attention to how easy it is to repair their new laptops. For Framework, however, these are the heart and soul of its business.
Framework Laptop attacks the issue of sustainability from multiple fronts. At its core, it uses a lot of sustainable materials for its products, around 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) aluminum and 30% PCR plastics. Going beyond the laptop, the packaging and shipping are also designed with sustainability in mind, using recycled paper and carbon-offset shipping methods to get the laptop from the factory to your desk.
Framework is probably the only laptop maker betting heavily on modularity to keep its laptops going. Remembering older PCIe laptop cards, each framework laptop offers the flexibility to swap out parts for more ports, more data storage, or more connectivity options. You can also choose different bezel colors to personalize your laptop, thanks to a simple and powerful magnetic attachment system.
What’s new here is the option to buy a framework laptop running Google’s Chrome OS instead of Microsoft Windows, aka Chromebook. Although some stigma still lingers, Chromebooks have long outgrown their modest roots and can give Windows a run for its money in many cases. In fact, the framework will support Chromebook Android and Linux apps as well as the ability to run SteamOS games through the Chrome OS alpha channel.
A potential showstopper is the Chromebook version of the Framework laptop, which starts at $999 for its basic memory configuration. While that’s $50 cheaper than the framework’s equivalent Windows laptop, it’s still steeper than most high-end Chromebooks on the market. True, it has powerful hardware inside, but the savings from the Chrome OS operating system should outweigh the price difference alone. You’re getting a more modular and repairable laptop in the end, but the price tag might give people the wrong idea about the cost of sustainability.