Framework and Google have announced the new Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition. As the name implies, this is an upgradable, customizable Chromebook from the same company that put out the Framework laptop last year.
User-upgradable laptops are rare enough already, but user-upgradable Chromebooks are nigh unheard of. While the size of the audience for such a device may remain to be seen, it’s certainly a step in the right direction for repairability in the laptop space as a whole.
Multiple parts of the Framework are user-customizable, though it’s not clear whether every part that’s adjustable on the Windows Framework can be adjusted on the Chromebook as well. Each part has a QR code on it which, if scanned, brings up the purchase page for the part’s replacement.
Most excitingly (to me), the Chromebook Edition includes the same expansion card system as the Windows edition, meaning you can choose the ports you want and where to put them. I don’t know of any other laptop, Windows or Chrome OS, where you can do this, and it’s easily my personal favorite part of Framework’s model. You can choose between USB-C, USB-A, microSD, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, high-speed storage, “and more,” per the press release. HDMI, in particular, is a convenient option to have on a Chromebook.
You can also upgrade memory and storage — I don’t necessarily expect the need to bump RAM and storage to be as high for most Chromebook users as it is for Windows users, but the option will be there for folks who want it.
The bezels are also swappable — they attach magnetically to the frame. All Framework bezels are compatible with the Chromebook Edition, meaning there are a few different colors available and you should pretty easily be able to snap them on and off.
The following also appear to be replaceable, per Framework’s marketplace: hinge, audio board, bottom cover, touchpad cable. The following are currently listed as “coming soon” on Framework’s marketplace, but seem like they will at some point be replaceable: keyboard, battery, power button, top cover. Framework’s FAQ says that the company “hasn’t announced any plans for a newer ChromeOS compatible Mainboard at this time,” but the mainboard is listed as “coming soon” on the marketplace, so who knows?
Elsewhere, the Chromebook includes a 2256 x 1504 3:2 display and weighs 2.87 pounds (1.3kg). Inside is a 12th Gen Core i5-1240P (the processor is upgradable in the Windows model, but there is no mention of that here). There’s a privacy switch to cut power from the camera and microphones. Framework also says that the Chromebook’s speakers are louder than the Windows Framework’s, as well as a “more power optimized battery”. But the main reason to buy this laptop, if previous Framework models are any indication, will be that you, as the user, can repair it.
It’s not just the hardware that should last a while. Framework said in a tweet that Google will support the Framework Chromebook Edition for “a minimum of 8 years.” Preorders begin today in the US and Canada with a starting price of $999. Products are slated to ship in early December.