My review from a blind person's perspective

I just received my Framework 13 today, sold by an individual on the community, though I can’t recall who it was. I’d mention them if I could remember, but I wanted to share my experience so far, as well as provide information for anyone seeking to purchase a Framework who may be blind as I am.

Everything has been positive from delivery to the initial setup of the laptop. From the configuration sold, I believe it was probably a DIY configuration. Already pre-assembled and configured with Windows 11, aren’t I lucky? It was very well packaged, and nothing arrived damaged in any way. So far as I am aware from some assistance I received to get into the BIOS to check it out, the display is working perfectly. I found only one scratch on the easily replaceable bezel, but otherwise, it’s in new condition. I even received a very nice 1TB expansion card with it, among others. There are a couple more I want, so I’ve placed an order for them, along with a clear input cover. I really don’t need to see my keys anyway.

I haven’t done any extensive tests of battery life or use with an external USB-C power supply for charging. I do plan to test these things tomorrow, along with a more extensive use of the keyboard.

There were a couple things I liked and was surprised by, which I didn’t know anything about or didn’t expect, since I had no experience with a Framework laptop until this point.

For a repairable laptop that you can strip down to the empty chassis, it’s thin. Not the thinnest laptop around, but it’s thinner than any laptop I’ve purchased so far. It’s not heavy, either, and it seems to have a smooth, professional feel. The input cover is completely flush with the rest of the system for the most part. I really had to feel the input cover and the side of the chassis to tell where they were distinct components.

The expansion cards have a very clear and distinct tactile difference between the top and bottom of the card. The smooth side goes down. I’m not sure if you can put them in with the smooth side up. I haven’t tried.

The release for the cards is a button, one between two cards on each side. The grip for the card is closer to the USB-C port on the motherboard itself, and some force is required to disconnect a card from the laptop. I like that I can easily disconnect one card while leaving the other on the same side connected, which I did when exchanging the MicroSD card with the 1TB expansion card.

The feet on the bottom, which is two at the front and a long one at the back, are a bit more slick than I thought they would be, so I’ll be mindful of moving the laptop on a desk or other surface. It does tend to slide a bit if I try and open the screen with one hand, but I don’t plan to do that much.

Battery life and initial estimates were quite impressive for something using a 55WH battery as this one is, as it’s the AMD 7640U CPU. Doing nothing and at idle, Windows estimated the battery would last 10 hours with the screen closed and about the same amount of time with the screen open, since I have the brightness set at 0 percent with all dynamic brightness changes disabled. During another conversation I had here, someone mentioned the screen didn’t take much power at all. Hardly noticeable the way I use the laptop, which is fantastic.

The two switches for the Webcam and Microphone are distinct and easy to use. The left switch slides to the right and the right switch slides to the left to turn them off, I believe. I don’t know which one is the microphone and which is the camera just yet, but they’re both off for the moment. I’ll explore them in more detail later, unless someone can tell me which one is for what device.

I had only one problem with the system so far. When I tried to load my portable copy of NVDA from my flash drive connected on the USB-A expansion card, which was in the front left port, the drive disconnected and reconnected itself. I guess accessing a few thousand small files quickly doesn’t work out too well on the Framework.

I expected this based on problems people had with the 1TB expansion card, and I think someone mentioned having the same problem with a USB-A drive. Other than that, everything has been stable for me, and I’ve experienced no problems.

I don’t expect complete perfection and stability. Framework hasn’t been producing and selling laptops for longer than almost three years now, I believe, that’s still quite new. And, this is the first generation of their AMD laptop. So far, though, I think it will serve my needs perfectly. And, if the excellent keyboard is any indication, I’ll enjoy typing on it quite a bit.

If anyone has any questions or comments for me, feel free to send them. Perhaps I’ll update this post if I decide to open it up and see how well I can deal with the innards, that should be fun to experiment with.

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Hi @Blake_Galbraith

congratulations to your new laptop - and thanks for the interesting review!

The left switch controls the microphone, the right switch is for the webcam!

There is a quite extensive discussion somewhere here on the forum on exactly this issue. Unfortunately I didn’t find it with a quick search just now…

All the best
/herodot

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Thanks for the information on the switches, I’ll keep it in mind.

I’m also aware of the post on the issue I mentioned, as I’ve done some reading. I’m also aware of other issues such as the USB-C PD firmware bug currently in existence and crashes while using the touch pad for some users. Once BIOS is proven stable and out of beta, I’ll definitely upgrade and see how it goes.

Man a bios update without any indication of what’s happening does have some pucker factor.

You can’t. There’s a channel on both sides of the card. It’s straight on the plastic/rough embossed side and angled on the smooth aluminum side. It would not fit over the corresponding track in the laptop body. Also there are holes for locking tabs on the smooth side that are completely absent on the plastic side. The locking tabs would not seat and would not engage.

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Yes, it’s something I’m very careful with, since I can’t see the screen, and there are no audible indications to tell me what flashing colored lights are doing. Thus, if something does go wrong, it would be more difficult for me to figure out what’s going on and get help with it than it would be for someone who could take pictures or videos of light codes, etc.

Thanks for your information on the cards, I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

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Has anyone done a color to audio or something gadget jet? That sounds like it could be useful sometimes.

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Not that I’m aware of, only audible indication of light detection, which won’t help me in those instances.

You think it would be useful?

Taking a color sensor and mapping a value to pitch or something does not look that hard.

I think it could be useful, yes. I’d have to know exactly where to aim the sensor, though. Another problem is how quickly the lights flash, it might be too fast to accurately convert to sound, you’d need a way to slow it down, perhaps, and replay what the sensor detected.

Don’t think that would be a big issue for someone who is already used to feeling around for stuff.

Pretty sure the flashing pattern are glacial compared to what or ears deal with but yeah the sensor would need a reasonably fast update rate.

Those definitely seem like interesting features

I think I’ll go look into some color sensors XD

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That would be cool.

I promise nothing but I did order a sensor, unfortunately I start a lot more projects than I finish XD.

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I’ve just tested the microphones on the laptop, and thought I’d post my observations.

First, I’ve disabled any noise reduction and signal processing that I can, as I don’t like those features being active on microphone inputs. Sometimes, this can have a negative result because of high noise, but this wasn’t the case on the Framework.

The microphones are stereo. I wasn’t sure about this, because the video reviews with sound from the Framework microphones I’ve listened to, weren’t recorded in stereo. I was quite pleased to hear this. Furthermore, the microphones have a pretty good degree of stereo separation, as they’re positioned on either side of the outside of the hardware switches, not the inside of the switches and closer to the camera. They don’t provide the best stereo image, but they provide a better image than any other laptop I’ve ever used. The self noise seems low for laptop microphones, and I made my recordings with no microphone boost and the level at 100 percent. The audio quality was excellent for Webcam microphones, and though I just listened to it from the speakers, the frequency response seemed quite good.

The speakers, too, have surprising audio quality for something as small as they seem to be. I don’t mind that they’re down firing speakers, and I imagine the audio quality of the speakers for the Framework 16 is quite good as well, with a greater degree of stereo separation given the chassis and the fact that they point out to either side.

I’ve been typing on the keyboard for some time now, and I’ve rather enjoyed it, too. The size of the keys is greater than other laptop keyboards from systems of a similar size that I’ve used. The only thing I wish was different, was the arrow keys, though I’m used to dealing with my Surface Pro input cover, so this is an upgrade.

I’ve managed to determine where all the FN layered keys are for the most part, but I didn’t find an applications key. Some keyboards I’ve seen use FN with the right control key for applications, but not the Framework. Shift+F10 seems to work well for this purpose most of the time, so this shouldn’t be a significant problem.

Performance on the battery isn’t too bad, either. In fact, I can’t tell any performance difference between use on the battery and use while connected to Framework’s charger as I could with most other laptops I’ve used. This is great news for me, because I don’t like lag time with my screen reader while dealing with changes in CPU clock speed. I touched on this on another post.

The BIOS has no options to change any CPU related settings as was revealed in the intel BIOS guide community post here, but I expected some differences from the AMD and Intel versions of the BIOS. I have enabled standalone mode, which does bring up a question, if anyone knows the answer. There appears to be another option for standalone detection, currently enabled for me. What exactly does that do, and what would happen if I turned it off?

I also discovered the save custom defaults in the BIOS. Where are these settings saved or loaded from? It simply saved without prompting me for a location. And, is there a way I could view the saved BIOS settings somehow?

If no one has the answers to these questions, that’s not a problem.

All in all, I’m quite satisfied with my purchase still, and it should be quite useful to me.

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Glad that turned out to not be a problem.

You can do quite a lot in smokeless but I definitely would not mess with that if I could not see what I was doing XD.

Standalone detection is for operating the main-board without a battery, in a laptop it should not really matter.

Should standalone detection be enabled or disabled when operating the mainboard without a battery and outside the chassis?

Enabled if I understand correctly.

Thank you for sharing your experience and your feedback. This is very valuable to us. If you have any specific feedback that you’d like to share or anything you want us to improve, please let us know.

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The only thing that I think could be improved, is to LED color error codes. Audio feedback would be nice to have, which could be optionally enabled in the BIOS. I’d also hope to see options in the BIOS for CPU related features for the AMD laptops, such as Intel’s ability to disable turbo boost, etc.

Other than making the BIOS fully accessible to someone who can’t see, which is not really available on any system just yet, I can’t think of anything more. Perhaps the Optima Braille Laptop can help to make inroads for accessible BIOS, as I know this is something they want to achieve. If so and it can be ported to Framework’s laptops, that would be the best thing since screen readers, in my opinion, though I anticipate something like that is far into the future.

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