2018-06-08 Librem 13 by Purism Mini Review

Today, @simon_brooke asked me about the laptop I got half a year ago. How’s the build quality?

Let me start by saying that I know very little about these things. Overall, I’m happy. We still have a Mac PowerBook and I no longer use it.

What do I have?

The positives:

  1. hardware kill switches
  2. a Debian derivative is preinstalled (PureOS)
  3. I see regular updates coming down the line
  4. it came with disk encryption

The negatives:

  1. when I got it, it soon broke down and I had to get it replaced; customer service was very friendly, though
  2. the keyboard is not perfect, sometimes shift doesn’t quite register and I think it’s sometimes creaking – rare, but I noticed it
  3. the lid doesn’t move easily which means opening the lid = lifting the laptop, sometimes

While travelling in Japan I wondered whether the laptop’s wifi was worse than my phone’s wifi. I never figured it out and back at home it just means that I can’t use wifi on the balcony, with the glass door closed, 10m from the router who’s in a closet behind a wall... I think that’s OK.



I just tried to watch a movie using HDMI and was unable to do it. So either the cable is borked, or the default setup is not usable.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-09-01 11:24 UTC

Remember that the USB port has enough power to let me destroy the firmware of the Atreus keyboard I have but not strong enough to write a new one. I have to use my old Mac PowerBook to write that firmware.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-04-09 20:31 UTC

I just realized that there is no way to plug Ethernet. WiFi or bust!

– Alex Schroeder 2020-04-28 14:41 UTC

Apparently the microphone is not working at all. I bought an external USB microphone and that works.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-05-09 19:27 UTC

Today I broke off a hinge. It tore out of the plastic molds that held it in place and I had to remove it. Now I can at least open and close the laptop again. Sadly, the screen now hinges on just one of them.

Image 1 for 2018-06-08 Librem 13 by Purism Mini Review

Perhaps the problem was caused by “the lid doesn’t move easily which means opening the lid = lifting the laptop, sometimes” in the end.

I’m not sure what to do now. Pour superglue on the thing and never open or close it again?

– Alex 2021-08-12 20:49 UTC

I’m not sure how I missed this initial post back in 2018, particularly as I was an admin on Simon’s mastodon instance at the time.

My biggest gripe with the same model, is the wifi.. and because it was pretty new on my visits to in-laws in Japan in 2018 and 2019, I didn’t realise how poor the wifi on the laptop was and was griping about my in-laws poor router performance.. oops!

– jk 2021-08-12 21:08 UTC

Oops indeed! 😄 I guess I just got used to the wifi. It never bothered me again, I guess one simply learns where the invisible boundaries are and unless you’re handling many devices, you no longer notice the difference.

– Alex 2021-08-12 21:34 UTC

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