2021-08-26 New laptop, again‽

I’m not happy. I sent an email to Purism regarding the broken hinge and the issue is in some queue there right now. And my mind is wandering once more. Should I buy yet another laptop? Clearly, less than four years is not enough for a laptop lifetime these days. I want more.

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. – From a comment in my Purism mini review

What I’m currently thinking of…

Option 1: Try and keep the laptop stationary until the second hinge breaks, then see how it goes, perhaps it works without the built-in monitor? Would an external monitor do the job? How much would a second hand monitor cost? How would I test it before committing to it? How would I “remove” the lid all the internal monitor cables if I decide to go this route?

Option 2: Buy a refurbished laptop. Vikings left a nice comment back in 2017 when I was pondering the same question.

I just got an email from the FSF with a link to their Ethical Tech Giving Guide which led me to the Vikings X200. It’s refurbished, which is sound from an environmental point of view. – My blog post at the end of 2017

Sadly, the Vikings shop is currently empty:

We will be back soon with an updated product portfolio. [1]

A quick search for “refurbished laptop Switzerland” turns up “IT-Remarketing by Jes Computers”. I don’t actually want to think about swapping out the disk, or installing Debian myself, or the Swiss German keyboard layout. But who knows. Perhaps? About CHF 500 plus countless hours of setup, is what I’m guessing.

Intel® Core i5-6300U 2.40 GHz; 14.0 inch Display 1920 x 1080 (FHD); Touchscreen; Intel® HD Graphics 620; 12 GB RAM; 256 GB SSD HDD – ThinkPad® T470s "refurbished"

Option 3: Buy a new laptop. Hm. I must confess I’m most enamoured by less powerful options. A Raspberry Pi 400? It would cost less than CHF 100 plus an external monitor, and countless hours of setup. But it would be super neat. Perhaps I should invest more time think about a CrowPi2 + a Pi4, yielding a super weird small laptop?

I’m also fascinated by the MNT Reform. It’s weak but hopefully sturdy. It looks like the laptop that would last 10 years. And I know I don’t need much. Perl, Emacs. Just kidding. Despite how I want to live there all the time, I also need a big bulky web browser, and all that comes with it.

Like the Sinclair ZX81 and Amiga ZZ9000 and Commodore 64s of his youth, he envisioned the Reform coming with data sheets for everything so anybody could understand how the hardware and software worked. – Reform review: Your DIY laptop fantasy is here at last, a featured review

Anyway, I think what makes me angry most of all is having to spend time on this at all.

The following vendors sell machines preinstalled with software that’s free as in freedom. This is a hand-picked list with a focus on quality and simplicity. – Linux Preloaded


Laptops with an external display output will generally work without the built-in display, and you can usually remove the top cover (either the whole thing, or just the switch/hinge cover above the keyboard if that is a separate part) to access and disconnect the panel’s signal and backlight power cables. Use care, as the inverter for a CCFL backlight (if present) will include a capacitor which can deliver an unpleasant jolt if shorted. It’s been a while since I had to run a laptop this way, but I have known it to work in the past; good luck!

– Lexie 2021-08-26 20:08 UTC

If you want I can look at the broken hinge and see if I can fix it somehow?

– deshipu 2021-08-26 21:07 UTC

Oh, that would be super nice! Let’s figure out a way to meet up via mail? I think we could meet up somewhere and I show you the hinge that I removed and you can take a look. To me, it seems super hard to move and that is why I think it ripped out of the plastic enclosure. Then, if you want, I can either bring my laptop over or you can come over to our place and take a closer look. I don’t have many tools by I have a screwdriver that opens the back of the laptop, at least. 😃

Image 1

– Alex 2021-08-26 22:17 UTC

In the same boat lately, thinking about building my own handheld around a Pi. Re: MNT, there may be at least one mainboard upgrade in the works: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28325976

– Ariane 2021-08-27 17:58 UTC

I was in the same boat about a year ago. Ended up with a Lenovo 2017 model for a discounted price from a friend ($200 instead of about $400)

These options exist, and for us, we don’t need more juice. My main machine is my desktop and I like it this way (split keyboard, mechanical, ultra wide screen, good sound system) - that’s my work corner. Laptop is for traveling and privacy at work.

Not sure what’s your situation in regards for that, but for laptop, I’d day definitely something refurbished and even used. No need for more...

JTR 2021-08-27 18:09 UTC

Well, I keep thinking that I want to play games on the laptop but then I never do. So I’d want to run my Perl programs as I work on them, plus a modern terminal emulator, a few shells, Emacs, and the big one, Firefox. Right now we watch movies kn the laptop, occasionally.

My work laptop is a different machine, furnished by my workplace, so no worries regarding the workhorse. I also have an external monitor and a fancy keyboard for it.

Refurbished would certainly seem good enough. My wife’s MacBook Pro we bought over 15 years ago still sees regular use! We ought to replace the operating system On it, however. We can no longer upgrade macOS on it.

– Alex 2021-08-27 21:48 UTC

I’m also in the same boat as you (and Ariane), looking for a new laptop and am also considering the MNT Reform. You mentioning Vikings made me think of Technoethical, but they also seem to be out of stock of refurbished Thinkpads at the moment (I see Taurinus still seem to have X200s in stock but they only ship to the US – though maybe one can get a shipping forwarder).

– Karim 2021-08-30 20:50 UTC

Well, @deshipu managed to glue the hinge back into the laptop and gave it a few more years, perhaps. I guess that means I’m out of the market again. When I told my wife about the various options, she was not impressed by the MNT Reform, that’s for sure. Hopefully I get to wait for another five years and then we’ll see what the computing world looks like.

– Alex 2021-08-30 21:10 UTC

@technomancy wrote a review:

A couple years ago I became aware of the MNT Reform laptop, and it seems like the perfect antidote to the mistakes the entire industry seems dead-set on repeating. It’s a laptop that’s focused on open design with schematics freely available and all parts easily serviceable by the end user. Finding this was like a breath of fresh air; it’s like someone was finally listening to my frustrations. – in which a laptop defies the trends

– Alex 2021-09-10 10:52 UTC

Please make sure you contribute only your own work, or work licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Note: in order to facilitate peer review and fight vandalism, we will store your IP number for a number of days. See Privacy Policy for more information. See Info for text formatting rules. You can edit the comment page if you need to fix typos. You can subscribe to new comments by email without leaving a comment.

To save this page you must answer this question:

Just say HELLO