These days, it’s rare that I get excited about new laptops. Modern laptops have few flaws and are very capable. They are lightweight, thin, and well-tuned to do the job. They aren’t exciting, but they are.
Framework’s laptops have a lot to offer. Framework’s laptops are built with the motto of sustainability and repairability in mind. This is exactly what computer enthusiasts have been looking for for literally decades. A Framework Laptop’s almost every component can be replaced, upgraded, or repaired by the owner. Do you need a faster CPU? You can swap the board, add more RAM sticks and go. The company will even release a gaming-focused laptop, which promises to be able to upgrade its GPU in the future.
Two-plus years after its inception, Framework has already fulfilled many of its promises. It has shown that it is possible build a sleek, modern laptop that can be completely repaired and upgraded by end users, something that even giants like Dell were unable to do . Framework’s computers are not only more durable than average laptops, but they also have a lot of cool.You can swap out your GPU with the upcoming Framework Laptop 16 to get a faster or newer version.Image: Framework
Framework’s products make me feel the same excitement as I did about my first laptop, which I bought back in 2000 when I was a senior at high school. My peers were buying standard ThinkPads or Dells to prepare for college. These computers were capable for their time, but weren’t very unique or elegant and they didn’t really play well. OK, one friend did get a customized Sager gaming laptop. He was trolled because that is the crowd I have always rolled into. We didn’t know about Macs.
Not me. I wanted something different and sleek when I was searching for a laptop to live with me for the next 50 years. It had to be lightweight enough to take with me everywhere, and be capable of running games such as Unreal Tournament or Counter Strike.
My computer met all my requirements from a very unlikely source: Best Buy’s house brand of computers called VPR Matrix. VPR Matrix was a brand that is still unknown to most people today. The handful of VPR Matrix-branded laptops and desktops were ahead of their times in every way. They were just fucking cool. (Yes, it’s a Best Buy house mark. It’s hard to believe that it exists! This computer shouldn’t have existed, despite all logic!
Let me tell you, this laptop is cooler than most of its peers.
- This was the first Windows laptop to have a widescreen LCD display, back in the days when everything was 4:3 panels.
- It was the first Windows laptop to feature a slot-loading CD/DVD drive.
- It came with a magnesium metal case, whereas every other Windows laptop had plastic cases.
- It was less than an inch thick, whereas powerful laptops were often twice as large.
- It came with a discrete Nvidia graphics chip that allowed me to bring my laptop to LAN parties to enjoy games.
- F.A. Porsche, well before the Porsche Design name became diluted by many silly products.
This computer shouldn’t have existed, according to all logic
Many of these qualities were very similar to Apple’s laptops. The VPR Matrix was essentially a PowerBook G4 with an Intel Pentium 4 and Nvidia GPU and running Windows. It even comes with two Firewire 1394 ports (4-pin). It can be used on a Windows laptop. It’s a Windows laptop! (I don’t know what “VPR” means.
This computer was my only choice. Best Buy stopped making the house brand of computers and decided to stop selling them. I was able, for a substantial discount, to get the last one in four stores near my home. This was after spending almost all of my graduation gift money. I can still remember walking into Best Buy and asking for the laptop that I wanted. Then, waiting for an employee at Best Buy to bring the big-wheeled stairs to dig the last one from the suspended storage box above the laptop section, I was forced to wait. They didn’t even have any.My VPR Matrix laptop, 20 years old. It was rare to find one like it. This is mine. My M key is gone.
Needless to mention, I was the only one I knew who owned a VPR Matrix laptop. I have never seen another one. That computer was my favorite, and I loaded many Linux distributions onto it over the years. It’s still in my closet.
Although the VPR Matrix was not as repairable and upgradeable as Framework, (I may have upgraded RAM and the hard drive, and also replaced the battery when it died), it still had the same level in-the-know factor that I wanted and was exactly what gadget lovers like me needed. The same black and silver color scheme was used on the VPR Matrix as Framework.
My laptop is not as exciting to me these days. The MacBook Pro that I am writing this article on works extremely well. It’s the best laptop I have ever owned, but it’s the same thing that everyone else has. It’s not something I feel I did that was unique or special. There’s nothing to show people on it. It’s a powerful laptop that allows me to do my job.
Framework’s computers are exciting and I can enjoy it even though I never buy one.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever purchase a Framework laptop. My workflows revolve around macOS and Framework’s computers have so far not been as competitive with Apple’s MacBooks when it comes to battery life. The MacBook Air is so great that it’s difficult to justify purchasing a Framework. But, maybe the new models will make this easier.
However, I get excited every time I see someone disassemble a Framework in just minutes. This allows me to feel the gadget lust. It’s a wonderful thing to be part of the growing community of modders who are taking Framework’s components and creating completely new things with them.
Even though I never owned one, it is still exciting to feel excited about a laptop computer in ways that I haven’t felt in a long time.