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Dell Concept Luna modular laptop– demonstration and first impressions

Still strictly a concept, the Luna looks promising-- if Dell creates an ecosystem for it


Nearly a year ago, Dell announced its “Concept Luna,” a modular laptop that can be taken apart to be repaired or have its components individually upgraded. After months of radio silence, Dell has just given a demonstration of the Concept Luna, though it remains just that– a concept. There are no concrete plans to bring the Luna to shelves yet, but the demonstration is promising. The demo showcased how quick and easy it is for a person (or series of robots) to disassemble the Concept Luna. Not only do modular laptops like the Luna make it much easier to upgrade individual components, but it also cuts down on the massive amount of e-waste dumped each year, and is a great step forward for sustainability. Here’s what people are saying:

“While it’s unlikely we’ll see a Luna-like consumer laptop anytime soon, its mere existence could influence the way Dell designs future systems. The company is also pushing its sustainability initiatives in a variety of other ways, for example by dramatically reducing packaging waste, or exploring recycled materials for some PC cases. When it comes to true DIY repairability, Dell already has some competition from Framework (which just unveiled a DIY Chromebook). Still, it’s nice to see one of the world’s biggest PC makers taking sustainability seriously.” (MORE @ ENGADGET)

“Where there were previously four screws to remove, the new design opens by inserting a pin (it seems as if a SIM card removal tool or paper clip will also work) in the Noble lock slot, which lets you remove a “keystone” piece above the keyboard. Removing that part unlocks the keyboard, which you can then take off without any ribbon cables — it connects to the system via pins. In fact, there are almost no cables at all, including for the battery, fan, and motherboard, which all come out in succession. Similarly, the display comes out by using a pin, which lets you detach the display’s ribbon cable…It’s unclear if Luna is being designed with independent repair in mind, but the company is definitely planning for laptops returned to the company. Dell has developed robots that can take apart the devices, scan the parts and decide whether or not they’re fit for use in another device. Perhaps the speakers could be used again, for example, in an effort to reduce waste.” (MORE @ TOM’S HARDWARE)

“You may notice that the parts have QR codes on them. These, Dell’s representatives confirmed to me, would lead you to a purchase page for replacement parts if scanned. “Would” is, of course, doing a lot of work in that sentence. That’s because, despite the various innovations Dell claims to have made, Concept Luna remains a concept. Dell didn’t give me a timeline for when it plans to release a product like this…What I suspect Dell isn’t saying is that there’s a lot more than hardware prowess involved in getting a device like this right. A number of companies — Dell included — could probably sell something similar to a Concept Luna tomorrow. But solid hardware alone doesn’t make for a solid repairable laptop — it requires solid commitment to ecosystem support.” (MORE @ THE VERGE)

That brings us full circle to the holistic Concept Luna approach. Right now, this experimental design is limited to this one chassis, which is not a retail product yet. The design benefits are clear and impressive, though, and the theoretical idea is to spread the concept (if not the exact internal design) to Dell’s other product lines. If the many Latitude laptop fleets sold to IT departments around the world could share a similar swappable design, there is the potential for both financial and environmental savings, and increased upgrade accessibility and convenience for the end user. Even if it only stayed within the Luna chassis, the project could still mean a lot of raw materials saved and recycled. (MORE @ PC MAG)


See also: DJI launches the Mini 3 drone

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