Awesome concept, strange execution

I would imagine you get a ton of feedback and all kinds of weird requests, so I will try to summarize what I liked and what not.
I’m very excited about the whole concept and finally a good 3:2 screen in a non-apple product. The cards are also very promising - I could imagine - in case you need LAN occasionally, you may exchange one usb for LAN card and return it back. Same goes if you need second external screen. Besides, I always wondered why laptops costing 2k still have the same web cameras as 10 years ago. However I also see some decisions, which may result in this product not hitting the market where it has the most potential.

  1. it is all too obvious that it tries to be different but looking the same as an Apple. Tries to be as thin, as light, with as much little number of ports, has the same colours, even the keyboard and trackpad look the same. Even the logo reminds of Apple. This happends with almost any laptop these days. Let me make this clear - the people who like Apple Macbook wouldn’t care for a custom made laptop with exchangable ports. But in the process of-trying-to-be-like-a-mac there are some decisions which would make this laptop less appealing for people who value modularity. To be honest a product like this must stand out with form/colours/design, not look like any other “sleek laptop”. It is wonderful it tries to reverse bad decisions, but it also needs to reverse on the design, be exciting.

  2. keyboard and trackpad - no buttons for it, no trackpoint options (the patent has expired a long time ago). Keyboard travel - why not make a normal 1.8mm keyboard travel or even more so that it can stand out in that aspect to all the other clones out there ? That wouldn’t make it much thicker. Remember how usefull dedicated buttons were ?

  3. Total number of ports (4) is simply put, not enough. Everyone needs at least 1 port for monitor and 2 usbs and with that it has exhausted its modularity. Yes, they are exchangeable, but would anyone buy a laptop if you have to constantly exchange port types ? A little bit similar to the dongle hell. If you make it 6, then it would be perfect. Most of the competition has more than 4 anyway.

  4. The battery. Again, there is the concept that it needs to be as light and thin as possible, but people who value actual modularity and portability like to be able to just press a button and swap to their second battery. They wouldn’t care if it is 1300 grams or 1600grams. No, power banks are not the way. So one has to open the case each time to do just a simple battery swap ? No, that is not gonna win those customers. How many times would you open the case before damaging something inside ? Besides, those 57wh batteries are rarely big enough. I know people, who wouldn’t care if their laptop weighs 3kgs granted they can run it 20 hours on battery and swap drives for 30 seconds.

  5. Easily accessible slot for drive 1 and 2. It would be wonderful if there are two dedicated slots for ssd allowing at least one of them to be insertable without opening the case. The loss of the ultrabay was one of the limiting factors of any post T430 laptop. One good example of actual modularity is the possibility to use a second drive in your big laptop and when travelling, simply put it INSIDE your smaller one, thus having not one machine, but a working ecosystem, where everything is always available. Ultrabays were an example of that. No disassembly, just a simple swap.

  6. Matte screen ! I can’t stress enough how important that is. It is much more important on ultrabooks than on any other type of machine.

While I do realise that those issues would be voiced by a minority, maybe they are an important part of the potential customers. I will keep a close look on this project and even if the laptop gets produced as it is now, it is still a step very much in the right direction. Keep up the good work! This could be a great window of opportunity to try some new things. If 3 of these 6 things are possible, then I can think of at least 3 more wallet-supporters :slight_smile:

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I think your viewpoint on this is coming from a flawed angle. It would be trivial to just make another Panasonic Toughbook knock-off and address all your points, but then it brings nothing new to the table.

The Framework is bringing elements of that modularity and serviceability to the thin-and-light segment that is absolutely crying for options that aren’t 100% soldered disposable consumer-hostile toys.

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Well, the Toughbook example would be a bit too extreme. I had quite regular old laptops in mind, like the T430s (when talking about slimness) ot T430.

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I agree with CFG9000 in this case, I feel like the market being targeted here is the premium sleek laptop area that is saturated with plastic clips, weird screw bits, and annoying amounts of glue. Laptops like the HP Envy and the Dell XPS as well as Apple’s offerings aren’t very conducive to repair-ability and future upgrades.

I do agree with you here in that I think we should have more options for exciting looks. Personally I would love to be able to have options for different colored metal housings as well as the bezel differences. I think that would be just lovely.

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It’s a balancing act, one that’s important to get right. To make this whole enterprise work, Framework will have to attract at least a small portion of the consumer mainstream and frankly I think a T430 in 2021 would scare them off.

The compromises, like the simple shell and internal battery as an example, keep it from seeming too alien to someone who is used to buying Macbooks, Surface and XPSs right now. And even so, it’s a massive leap in options in areas ranging from reparability to I/O flexibility.

If this product succeeds, then perhaps in the future there will be opportunities to push the envelope more.

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Hi Bionicman,

This is the Industrial designer Nick from Framework. Thanks for interested at Framework laptop.
I think this is a very good opportunity to explain our design philosophy and concept on the laptop design. For the form factor perspective. Definitely we can do very “jump-out” or appealing, attractive design to enhance the difference between our product and the competitor on the market. But what we think about, the core value, is the user experience on upgradability and repairability. Any surface and geometry design is based on the easy open, easy unscrew with screwdriver or taking components out of enclosure with finger. Hence we tried to keep overall form factor simple and minimal to ensure the design matched our core value and mission.

About the color, we basically used the raw Aluminum color for laptop. We tried to reduce the toxic production process just only for getting a “colorful laptop”. On the Framework laptop, we tried to limit the process as much as we can by eliminate the “dying color” process during the anodizing, meanwhile keep the sandblasting and anodizing seal process to ensure the quality and durability are prefect without sacrificing the outward appearance. That is why we came out with a silver color, anodized overall looking on the Framework laptop. We valued customer and environment as highest priority than everything else. And I think design should serve to the people and earth instead of overriding them.

Thanks

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Aside from Nick’s great points about creating a design that’s simple and environmentally friendly, I think that some of the points in the original post are open to debate.

it is all too obvious that it tries to be different but looking the same as an Apple. Tries to be as thin, as light, with as much little number of ports, has the same colours, even the keyboard and trackpad look the same.

Thinness and lightness are appealing to many laptop customers, not just Apple ones. Having a laptop that is reasonably light and thin means having a laptop that is easier and more practical to carry around. Apple’s anodized aluminum shell and black keys are design elements that are emulated by many laptop companies for the simple reason that many customers like the look. Framework seems to be a company that is thinking of exterior customization in the near future, so there is nothing wrong with starting with a design that is appealing to the largest number of people and then diversifying from there.

Even the logo reminds of Apple. … the people who like Apple Macbook wouldn’t care for a custom made laptop with exchangable ports

I don’t see the resemblance between a symbol that looks a little like a Torx screwdriver outline, and a solid icon of an apple with a bit taken out of it. As for the potential audience for this laptop, you would be very surprised to know that there are untold thousands of Apple customers who dislike the lack of ports flexibility and the difficulty of repairing Apple laptops. Ars Technica is just one place where you can find these people.

keyboard and trackpad - no buttons for it, no trackpoint options (the patent has expired a long time ago).

Discrete touchpad buttons can be nice, but they come with the drawback of reducing the size of the actual touchpad area. For many people (as evidenced by 2020s laptop designs), having a larger touchpad with built-in “button areas” at the bottom is more appealing. The Trackpoint is clearly a technology that failed to catch on across the entire industry, but I don’t see why Framework couldn’t offer it in the future as a niche option.

Keyboard travel - why not make a normal 1.8mm keyboard travel

1.8 mm of travel is no longer the “normal” travel distance for laptop keyboards. As Framework has pointed out, modern laptops have travel distances of 0.8 - 1.2 mm. 1.5 mm is still an improvement compared to this, keeping in mind that no laptop can compare to a dedicated mechanical keyboard.

Total number of ports (4) is simply put, not enough. Everyone needs at least 1 port for monitor and 2 usbs

Not everyone needs that number of ports, because if you think about it, most people do not use laptops with monitors (otherwise, they’d just be using a desktop). For those that do, having one port available for something like a mouse and one port for a USB drive or MicroSD is quite workable. Any more than that, and you’d be using a dongle or powered hub anyway.

This is not to say that a new laptop with more port slots wouldn’t be useful (perhaps Framework could free up a port by using a barrel jack connector for power delivery), but the existing number of ports is reasonable for a first attempt. Certainly there are laptops with less:

Most of the competition has more than 4 anyway.

MacBook: 2 or 4 USB-C ports. XPS 13: 2 USB-C, 1 MicroSD. Envy 13: 2 USB-A, 1 USB-C, 1 MicroSD (not including a separate power port). These are the big 3 in this market segment, and it looks like Framework is right in the middle of it with 4 ports.

people who value actual modularity and portability like to be able to just press a button and swap to their second battery.

Perhaps, but I don’t think there is any market research to suggest that people prefer to carry around a separate battery instead of a power adapter. Having a fast charger like the 60 W one that comes with the laptop means that you can recharge your battery quickly, and do it “unlimited times” instead of just swapping it once.

I know people, who wouldn’t care if their laptop weighs 3kgs granted they can run it 20 hours on battery and swap drives for 30 seconds.

Those people are in the extreme minority of laptop purchasers (see: the dearth of 3 kg laptops on the market today). In any case, I find it hard to believe that those people would frequently spend 20 hours without access to a power outlet to recharge their batteries. Extra battery capacity would be useful for those times, but for all other times where you aren’t spending many hours away from an outlet, you are just carrying around excess weight that isn’t useful. Better to size a battery that works for most people, provide a fast charger, and give the option for power banks for the occasional uses that it is needed for.

One good example of actual modularity is the possibility to use a second drive in your big laptop and when travelling, simply put it INSIDE your smaller one, thus having not one machine, but a working ecosystem, where everything is always available. Ultrabays were an example of that. No disassembly, just a simple swap.

The swappable USB-C SSDs go some way to accomplishing this, since you could plug one of them into one of the other USB-C ports and then plug them into a desktop or larger laptop to transfer data. You would lose one of your ports, so it’s not the same as this “Ultrabay” feature (which unfortunately doesn’t seem to have caught on).

In summary, I think this laptop does a good job of balancing what people expect from a modern laptop with increased repairability and modularity. There’s always room for improvement and changes (in future modules and models), but Framework’s first product is solid.

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Yup, same here. I actually use my laptop on… my lap :astonished:, so weight is quite relevant.

I’ve used those. They’re awful. Touchpads are better (though to be fair, I much prefer, and mostly use, a proper external mouse).

My current laptop has: 3 USB 3.1 (2 type A, 1 type C), full-size SD, SIM, mini-DP, full-size HDMI, RJ45 (ethernet), 2 mini-RCA (audio in/out) and power (barrel plug). That’s eleven. Honestly, four is a huge step backward for me, especially as I use five regularly (power, network, and mouse are always in use, and I sometimes want to plug in my phone and/or an SD card).

I don’t personally know any such people, but… good news! The Framework concept means these people could theoretically get a different shell that does have an external battery but otherwise uses all of the same internal components. I think Framework has the right idea to start with targeting the mainstream.

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Thank you for chipping in. I love it when the teams responds. As someone who was hoping for a black laptop, your explanation helps me immensely. I am planning on just skinning the outside metal with some dbrand (for example) skins.

Maybe it would be a good idea to contact them, and see if they could already make kits for the laptop. I’ve used their skins on all of my surface products, and they are fantastic.

I also just wanted to say bravo for your stance and approach. I am very eager to receive the Framework laptop!!!

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I agree, that is quite a few less ports. However, I’m guessing that you mainly use that many whilst at a desk? In that case a USB-C/thunderbolt docking station might work for you?

Nope; that’s the same laptop that actually sits on my lap (see top of my previous reply).

Oh sorry, I must have read your response to quickly as I thought I read you were using one of the display outputs. My bad!

Why not just get a USB hub? Do you actually use all eleven all the time? USB hubs are dirt cheap; with my legacy laptop I leave one in my home office and one at work with various peripherals that live there (printers, USB headsets, &c) plugged into each.

…because having a box hanging off the laptop which is on my lap would be incredibly awkward?

I already answered that. I use three all the time and two more occasionally. (Well, technically, I’ve had an SD card plugged in for some time now, but I could do without it. Power, mouse and network are not in any way optional, however.)

With only four ports, unless we get dual-port gizmos, I’d have one free slot for supplemental use. I wouldn’t be able to have an SD card and my phone plugged at the same time (and yes, I do that sometimes).

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I think you’ll find your use case pretty unique. Sadly electronics can’t be effectively designed around fringe or unique cases. That isn’t me saying I wouldn’t appreciated more ports, as I sure would, I’m simply saying there are trade offs to everything. As this is their FIRST laptop, and they are just test bedding this modularity, I think it is safe to say they will not hit a grand slam for everyone. However future iterations may be able to cater to your situation.

The beauty of a modular design, is that improvements down the road are already accounted for.

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I’ll echo these parts.

Thanks to @2disbetter.

We are looking forward to communicate with everyone when they receive their unit on hand and give us feedback. Any of them will help us to make modularity design to be better. And people would love to hold their Framework laptop as long as they can.

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I think the road the team is taking is pretty great. I’m currently a long time Mac user, older Macbook Pro 2012 and newer Macbook Pro 2019 and I’ve always wanted a laptop that I could upgrade. I think there is definitely a possibility for new modules to help keep the Framework laptop user friendly and future-proof. I for one, would love to see dual expansion cards, such as dual USB-C/TB cards would be great. This would be something that could solve the lack of ports issue.

@R_V the processor is the limiting factor. There might be a possibility of dual usb-c ports, but they share the available bandwidth.

Not trying to start a fight or anything, but have you actually used a ThinkPad TrackPoint? They are infinitely better than the Dell Pointing Stick and some of the other garbage knockoffs that other major retailers have slapped onto their computers to look like they mean business.

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