PC enthusiasts have flocked to crowdfunding platform Crowdsupply to back an ongoing campaign for a unique new laptop: the MNT Reform.
In a nutshell, the device promises to be open, customizable, hackable and entirely transparent. It’s also the only notebook in existence that complies in full with the standards of the Open Source Hardware Association.
At the time of writing, 108 backers have committed more than $124,600 – well over the initial goal of $115,000 and with 35 days left in the campaign.
The project was launched by Germany-based MNT Research GmbH, which has spent the last 18 months attempting to build a laptop that embraces the open source ideology, while remaining as practical as possible.
The result is a laptop that costs $999 (roughly £820/AU$1550) and comes, in the spirit of the first microcomputers, as a kit. If you don’t want to pay a premium for assembly, the marketing blurb makes it clear you’ll have to build the MNT Reform yourself from the individual boards, display and case parts.
The fully assembled model retails for $1,300 and comes with Debian GNU/Linux 11 on SD card, a printed operator handbook and international power supply (110/230 V), but no Wi-Fi.
An additional $200 gets you a 1TB SSD, Wi-Fi, an mPCIe Wi-Fi card, and a custom Black Piñatex Leather Sleeve (vegan) made in Berlin by fashion designer Greta Melnik.
Although you’ll be charged in US dollars, the MNT Reform ships for free worldwide.
For the price, you’d be forgiven for expecting a laptop with at least a few bells and whistles, but you’d be wrong. The MNT Reform features 4GB of DDR4 memory, a quad-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU (similar to the Raspberry Pi 3’s processor), a 12.5-inch full HD display, five USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a mechanical keyboard.
Ultimately, it is not a laptop for the average person and its core target audience will likely be fully aware of its limitations. For standard users looking to preserve their privacy, a business laptop with Windows Hello, password manager, a solid antivirus and leading VPN should do just fine.