The MNT Pocket Reform is a mini-laptop with a modular design that lets you pick your processor module. It features a 7 inch full HD display, an ortholinear 60-key keyboard with mechanical switches, a trackball, and an open hardware design.
Made by the folks behind the 12.5 inch MNT Reform notebook, the MNT Pocket Reform is expected to go up for pre-order through a Crowd Supply crowdfunding campaign set to begin within the next few weeks. I’ve been writing about the project since last summer, but this week I saw an estimated price tag for the first time: the folks at IEEE Spectrum got a chance to go hands-on with a prototype recently and report that it will likely sell for around $900 during crowdfunding.
Here’s a roundup of recent tech news from around the web.
Hands-On with the MNT Pocket Reform: This tiny open hardware PC has a mechanical keyboard and old-school trackball [IEEE Spectrum]
The MNT Pocket Reform is a mini-laptop with a 7 inch display, open hardware and software, and a modular design that will let you swap out the default quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor board for another module in the future. Crowdfunding is expected to start soon with prices starting around $900.
Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25300 [Windows Blogs]
Windows 11 dev channel update brings live captions to more languages, app icons in the snap layouts preview, support for seconds in the taskbar clock, and more.
ChromeOS 110 release adds 7 new features to Chromebooks [About Chromebooks]
Among other things, the operating system update brings support for “Super Resolution Audio” to Bluetooth audio devices, a bunch of security updates, improved auto-complete for ChromeOS Launcher searches, and an optional text-to-speech feature that lets you “listen to selected text” by highlighting and right-clicking.
Google Launches Way for Android Apps to Track You Without Tracking You [Gizmodo]
Google begins rolling out its Privacy Sandbox to select Android devices today. It’s basically a set of technologies that lets your phone continue to spy on you to collect data for advertising purposes… but to do so a little more anonymously than before. Yay?
Keep up on the latest headlines by following @[email protected] on Mastodon. You can also follow Liliputing on Twitter and Facebook, and keep up with the latest open source mobile news by following LinuxSmartphones on Twitter and Facebook.
900$ for a cheap processor..way too much..
How much would cost an iPhone if you only manufacture/sell about 200-1000 of them?
This product is for a niche audience. It is not a mass market product, and it can’t be, even if it was cheap (if selling by millions, cost would be much lower) because most people is not concerned about open computers, real privacy and real control of your own computer, etc.
Whatever one may say about such solutions, one thing is for sure: people want small computers with Linux. Small portables with a mainline kernel with no quirks , blobs and limitations.
“The result is a bizarre PC like nothing else sold today.
In that regard, the Pocket Reform has no peer, and I suspect its unique form factor”
Apparently Mr. Smith never heard of the Dragonbox Pyra…
I finally got a refund on mine. I mean after nearly 10 years of waiting for it the use case is gone and it still isn’t really in mass production.
Sorry to hear that, as mass production is only two months (TM) away…
Lol too true. I thoroughly loved my Pandora.
It’s still a different form factor, even if I’m willing to be charitable and say that the Pira exists as an option at all. I would rather have this than a Pira, not just because the CPU is faster, but because the mechanical keyboard is more important for my tiny computer use cases than game controllers. I’m assuming that keyboard is actually good to use, but I’ve not experienced anything like it.
I’m not going to buy either of them, of course, because I can get any of the X86-based mini laptops for cheaper than this, with specs that exceed this on every level, then install Linux on it and it can be my choice of distributions. I may have to work around some hardware problems like the display being rotated wrong, but I have no confidence in open hardware devices to ship without any software problems requiring some system knowledge to fix, so they’re even there. This has nothing to justify the price they’re trying to use, so they’re not going to get me as a customer.
Pocket Reform and Pyre are different type of computers. Pyra is real pocket size (the siza of original Nintendo DS) while Pocket Reform isn’t pocket size. The same for most most “Pocket” x86 computers today: they are not pocket computers but bigger ones. Pocket size was HP-200LX, Zaurus SL-Cx000…
On other side: in an actual x86 computer really you don’t control computer never as there is an undergoing hidden OS and core doing that, core and OS you don’t control but it having access to all your computer and including updates, so who have access to it can do what they want.
I am old school and I like to have full control of my computer. I know today for most cases and uses it is opposite way.
The Pira is smaller (139mm x 87mm x 32mm), and I could certainly shove it into a pocket, but I can also shove a GPD Micro in there and I don’t do that either. It’s large enough to be annoying to carry that way frequently. Opinions vary about how small a screen and keyboard can get before they become uncomfortable to use, and I think I would be fine with the smaller sizes.
“I am old school and I like to have full control of my computer. I know today for most cases and uses it is opposite way.”
Come on, you’re being hyperbolic. With an X86 machine, there are some components that are not ideal, but for an ARM machine, there are still such components, just in different places. I also value having control of my computer, which can mean things like not using the distribution the manufacturer made. With some ARM equipment, the only images that will work properly (or in some cases boot at all) are the ones they release alongside the equipment, and that diminishes my control a lot more than microcode that could, but doesn’t, interfere with my system. I’d prefer neither, but some control and working beats some control and not working.
You could ask why Purism chooses NXP Arm SOC (btw it is an industrial focused SOC).
I know NXP SoCs are used in industrial systems. That doesn’t prevent them from possibly having some block to functional use of other images. That might be a blob for something, but equally it could be a tower of patches that nobody who didn’t write them can reassemble without months of research. Take, for example, Pine64’s PineBook Pro. It’s set up to run the mainline kernel. Make an image of your choice using that kernel, write it to a disk, and watch it boot. It will boot, then there will be problems and you’ll have trouble figuring out why. This is what I expect from all open hardware projects and, while I can and sometimes enjoy to fix them, not when I’ve first payed them a ton of money for an underpowered thing and then have to spend my time making basic functionality work rather than doing anything else with it.
No one said liberty was easy. Slavery is easier than liberty.
I own x86 computers, so I am not interested in other x86 but in other type of computers focussed on more openness and freedom.
Funny you say this as a pi has MANY closed source bits…
You are lost: Pi os only an option, in fact worst option. Pi SOC is a GPU with closed OS and auxiliar ARM cores.
Default SOC for this computer is NXP, oh, same as Librem 5.
You could ask why Purism chooses NXP Arm SOC (btw it is an industrial focused SOC).
@David LOL you act like the NXP is fully opensource, no blobs…It isn’t
But you are “old school” and like “full control” of you devices. Too bad there is literally no modern chip without closed source bits. But keep posturing
There is a fully open SoC spec that is seeing rapid adoption: RISC-V. Performance is starting to catch up with mainstream SoCs like the Pi, and for those who value full control of their system it’s a no-brainer.
@kaidenshi: You are wrong. Open ISA doesn’t imply a core implementing that ISA or a SOC with that core will be open. In fact most RISC-V SOC will be totally closed. That freedom is mainly for designers of those CPU, but final CPU implementation plus a lot of other elements inside that SOC an be, and most will be, completely closed. In fact real production open design in RISC-V CPU will be ver uncommon.
There is open Power and other Open RISC design from time ago.
Of course, It is good to have a successful open ISA, because all can don what they want/can do, but most real silicon using that ISA will be closed.
@Sword: Why Librem choose NXP for Librem 5? The same for MNT Reform.
Have you look how many blobls 43178343 NXP SOC on Librem 5 or MNT Reform, and how many undocumented parts are inside?
On Intel and AMD x86 there is an undocumented and hidden core and an undocumented and hidden OS RUNNING UNDERGROUND with access to all your computer. Of course you can continue posturing it doesn’t matter.
There are a ton of fully open source designs based on RISC-V. This is just the list from Wikipedia, there are more that aren’t listed yet:
@kaidenshi: How many of them are and will be in real silicon (no in a FPGA, as there is no open FPGA, at least I don’t know open FPGA, all have closed components)?
You can have thousands open RISC-V implementations on “paper” (a description on a digital archive), but that doesn’t mean they will get in real silicon and, if it gets, it doesn’t mean it will be an open SOC where you have access to all parts and doc.
PD: If you look for, there is a real man who has made its RISC-V CPU from components.Pineapple: 32bit CPU RISC-V ISA. It supports RV32I standard. It runs at 500 kHz.
$900 is way too much for that
Is there other computer with that size and openness on market?
It’s the same for Pyra: it is late for years, it has spent more than 6 years since users get pre-orders (some of them have received their Pyra but it will take long since all receive them), but after those years there is no other real pocket size computer with keyboard plus complete gaming controls onboard on market. For example GPD Win models are much bigger (no real pocket size).
This depends on what you’re willing to accept, and from your other comments, I have no clue what that even is. You could use a PinePhone with the keyboard on it. That’s much more pocketable than this would be, the CPU is only slightly slower than the MNT and orders of magnitude faster than the Pira, and it’s a lot cheaper. You do have plenty of software problems with it, but I don’t know if you care.
If we’re including the units that you can’t actually get, like the Pira, we can also add in the Popcorn Pocket PC. Or any of the DIY projects with Raspberry Pis in them that get published here every couple weeks. Or the Auspicious Machine about which another article was written on the same day. This device isn’t special when compared with all of those, it’s just a different shape. If the shape is really important to you, then buy it, but it’s not important enough to me to justify tripling the price and there are other devices with a broadly similar shape.
PinePhone with attached keyboard (not being mechanical) could not be a “pocket size” computer, but I would get them. Have you checked dimensions of that machine with keyboard? Pyra is pocket size, PinePhone+keyboard is not so “pocket size”.
Pocket Reform is other type of computer regarding size, it has mechanical keyboard, bigger displaty, etc. It could be the smaller open-mindend (if you use it with original NXP SOC, not for example with RPi CM) computer with true mechanical keyboard.
Popcorn Pocket PC? Seriously? Keyboard is worst in world, worst than having no keyboard (it is better a on-screen-keyboard than that keyboard). And too much big for what ir does as keyboard plus display are un a rigid case, no clamshell design.
Auspicious Machine is interesting for me but it is other type, much smaller than Pyra: smaller display (3,5 inches?), keyboard is not like Blackbery-like as this has flat keys, while BB had very nice curved keys. It is a shame: he could get already on market BB keyboard parts form other vendors.
This is proving my point about not knowing what you want. You extol the virtues of the MNT, then complain about the size of something smaller than it and change your comparison target to get smaller. In your original question, you didn’t mention keyboard quality, now it’s more important to you. All I know so far is that you think the MNT and Pira are good, but I still don’t know why, and that you’re willing to find fault with anything else, even if it requires you to contradict reasons you liked one of them in the first place. You asked for something the same size, and I’ve given you things that are similar though not identical, and for openness, and the things I’ve listed are also using ARM SoCs with relatively open code (most are intended to run mainline).
PinePhone vs Pira size: The phone and keyboard system is longer but thinner. Depending on how you carry something, that could be beneficial. I know that particularly thick things are less comfortable to carry in a pocket, and both of these are already thick. The Pira’s 33% thicker and that could be annoying. The phone and keyboard system is 18% longer (about as long as a large-screen modern smartphone) and 9% wider (I’m not thrilled about the width of either of these). Compared to the MNT, though, it is much easier to carry in a pocket.
Nathan: You say
“you think the MNT and Pira are good, but I still don’t know why”: I have said some of their highly valuable points making them unique and desirable for me. If you didn’t notice I think it is best we don’t waste our time. Good luck.
Second question, is the original MNT capable of screen swaps? Has it been done? It would be nice to someday upgrade the screen on this pocket version to have smaller bezels or even an Eink screen.
For e-ink display computer I suppose it would be easer to add a ortholinear mechanical keyboard to a PineNote (a Linux a-ink computer) than to “reform” Pocket Reform to include e-ink display instead of normal LCD. Think you need not only display but certain soft adapted to run with some a-ink limitations.
Of couse having a pocket computer with swappable display, using LCD, OLED and e-ink would be cool. But for now itbis beyond of our dreams, althout there was a Yota phone which had normal color on a side and a-ink on the other. At the same time Lenovo is going to launch a notebook with a swivel display having OLED display on one side and color e-ink display on the other.
There are about five part numbers that have been tested as far as screens. You can attach whatever you want, as long as the pinout is compatible.
I’m most interested to know if it works for two-thumb typing or if it’s too big for that.
All keyboards should be ortholinear.
If your are talking about the way most people use pocket computers while on the go, I.e. holding them with both hands and tipping with two both thumbs, I think Pocket Reform would be too much big by a large excess, and too much heavy to hold for prolonged time. It is no pocket computer in the sense you can store it in your pocekt, etc, like you do with real pocket computers (for example HP-200LX, Zaurus SL-Cx000, Dragonbox Pyra, etc). I would like ver much to be wrong with this as I love pocket computers and MNT orientation.
I suppose you were not talking about tipping with two fingera while computer sits on a desk, as it is obvious you can as you can use all fingers, if your fingers are normal size.
Wouldn’t that really depend on the span of your hands and digits? If you have huge Ogre hands or hotdog fingers, then no problem. However if you have child-like Robin hands, then most likely you are out of luck.
Really worse: if you have huge ogre hands or hotdog fingers you could stand computer, but it could be you colud not type on it as your fingers would be bigger than keys and you would press more than one key all times. I suppose the best hand would be big with very long and not fat fingers.
The other problem is short thumbs can reach all keys on big keyboards while holding it.
It could be this computer, as it isn’t pokect size without its name is “Pocket….”, would not be usable like true pocket computers where you can type with both thumbs while holding it with both hands. Get a book then same size Pocket Reform, try and watch if your thumbs can reach all keys comfortably while youbhokd it with both hands.