MNT Research Unveils Arm-Powered Pocket Reform

The era of netbooks may have come and gone, but there’s no denying that sometimes all we need is a small device for a quick fix of computing. The tiny modular Pocket Reform has just been announced (opens in a new tab) by MNT Research is one such device. What first attracted us to the machine was that one of its modules includes a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (opens in a new tab)but we stayed for the cute purple styling and good looks.

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The idea of ​​the Pocket Reform is to take “the best features” of the original Reform (opens in a new tab), a laptop designed and built in Berlin, Germany, to be open source in both hardware and software. It is sold as a kit, has already received some improvements and can be ordered from (opens in a new tab) Crowd Supply in the United States.

The Pocket Reform is its little brother, and will soon enter a beta testing program. It’s purple like the Nintendo GameCube, and designed to be a writing buddy, a retro gaming rig, or a “couch computer” to relax on, and is made from a recyclable casing and reusable parts. There’s even a compact, backlit mechanical keyboard, on Kailh Choc White switches, to make using it even more fun, with a trackball tucked into a gap in the spacebar.

The default configuration is built around the NXP i.MX8M Plus chipset (4 ARM Cortex-A53 cores at 1.8 GHz, 4 or 8 GB of DDR4, a Vivante GC7000UL GPU and an NPU). There are, however, various options to replace it, including Compute Module 4 (8GB version), Pine’s SOQuartz (opens in a new tab) RK3566 (via adapter, 4× ARM Cortex-A55, 8 GB DDR4, Mali G52 GPU), the NXP Layerscape LS1028A (2x ARM Cortex-A72 cores with 8 or 16 GB DDR4 and the Vivante GC7000UL GPU), and even an FPGA that can become a RISC-V SoC (although this option is marked as for industrial use only).

The display is 1080p in a 7-inch diagonal for a pixel density of 310ppi, and there’s a micro-HDMI output capable of 4K. Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 are built-in by default, and there’s an option for a 4G/5G modem with a micro SIM card slot. Storage is supported by up to 128GB of eMMC flash, while an M.2 slot awaits up to 2TB SSD. There’s a MicroSD card slot and a pair of USB-C ports, one of which supports PD charging. Software and operating system support is dominated by Unix, with Debian, Arch, Ubuntu and Void Linux all supported, as well as the exceptionally cheesy operating systems Plan 9 (a research operating system from the same group that created UNIX at Bell Labs) and Genode. OpenBSD support is under development.

It’s not entirely clear if Pocket Reform will be crowdfunded once its beta program ends, or if it will go straight for sale, but we expect more news to come. through the MNT website. (opens in a new tab) or its CEO Twitter account (opens in a new tab).

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