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    1. Framework laptop review

      I've seen a few posts about the Framework Laptop on Tildes and since I received mine, I thought I'd do a write up for it. I've been using the Framework laptop for a few weeks now and it's been...

      I've seen a few posts about the Framework Laptop on Tildes and since I received mine, I thought I'd do a write up for it.

      I've been using the Framework laptop for a few weeks now and it's been great so far. I was originally skeptical but I decided that I would take a shot at it as I've been growing increasingly unhappy with the design decisions that Apple has been making with MacOS.

      I ordered the DIY kit, which was nice since I already had an NVMe SSD I could use with it, so I ended up saving about $150. It only took about 20 minutes to get the RAM, SSD and wifi card installed.

      Specs:

      • Intel i7-1165G7
      • 32 GB of RAM
      • Intel WiFi 6E card

      Total cost: $1,422.03.

      Unfortunately my first laptop arrived with a dead display. The Framework support team was pretty helpful and quickly sent out a new one, which works perfectly.

      After toying around with Linux Mint and a few other distros, I ended up installing the Windows 11 beta. Getting the drivers installed was easy, since Framework offers a single download that runs one script to install all necessary drivers in unattended mode. Just hit one button and restart - all the drivers are installed. I wish all manufacturers offered something similar.

      Overall construction is great. For something as modular as this, it feels extremely solid and well built. While the build quality isn't equal to something like a MacBook, I'd say it's on par with a Dell XPS or similar high end machine.

      The screen is nice and bright, with accurate colors. I've always been a fan of 3:2 screens on laptops and moving from a MacBook Pro with a 16-inch 16:9 display to the 13.5-inch 3:2 display on the Framework doesn't feel like losing too much real estate. Having the taller display is great for sites like Tildes, where it can fit almost the same amount of content as a much larger screen.

      The keyboard and trackpad are both great. The keys remind me of the older pre-2015 style MacBook keyboards before they switched to the butterfly mechanism. They are bouncy and responsive, with a nice feedback that doesn't feel too harsh like the butterfly keyboards do. The trackpad is pretty good and it uses the Windows Precision drivers, so it supports swiping and pinching if you like that. It does sound a bit louder than my MacBook Pro's trackpad.

      The speakers are a bit disappointing. The max loudness is pretty anemic. Even in a normal acoustic environment (A/C running in a house), you have to actively listen to hear. Coming from a MacBook Pro 16-inch, I would say that the speakers are the biggest downgrade.

      The main draw of the Framework is the expandability and upgradability.

      The Framework modules are a fantastic idea and I love them. While they don't save you from having to carry around adapters, it is really nice to have those adapters slot in to your machine and feel more integrated. I purchased 2 USB-C, 2 full-sized USB, a DisplayPort, and an HDMI adapter. Being able to just slot in a USB A port and swap it for a display out one on the rare occasion that I need it has been great. I love being able to adapt the ports on my laptop to a situation without having to have dongles coming out of the side of my laptop.

      The adapters are tiny and easily fit in any backpack or carrying case. I'm really curious to see what new adapters they offer in the future and what crazy niche ones third parties come up with. I'd love to see a cellular modem jammed into one of these things. Or maybe one that can hide a dongle for my wireless keyboard and mouse?

      Battery life is...fine. It's an all day machine, but you'll definitely need to charge it every day if you're using it a good deal. The battery is on the smaller side, but it gets me through a normal work day so that's good enough. But when the battery goes bad (as all Lithium-Ion batteries do), it's an easy fix.

      In terms of upgradability, getting into the laptop is dead simple. There's five screws on the bottom and then entire top deck (keyboard and trackpad) comes off. Everything is easily accessible and sensibly laid out. It's also all labeled with QR codes that take you to specific guides on how to install/upgrade those components. I think the educational component is great. It really shows people who would have never thought to upgrade their RAM or storage how easy it can be.

      That's the big selling point for me. If I decide in a year or two that I need more than 1TB of storage, I can just buy a larger drive and stick it in there. Or if my display dies, I can get a one for a lot less than the cost of replacing the laptop. Or if the keyboard or trackpad dies, then I can easily replace just that component. On my MacBook Pro, replacing the keyboard is an $800+ repair, since it involves replacing the entire top case, which includes the motherboard and other expensive components.

      For years we've been hearing from manufacturers that they can't make a laptop thin, light and upgradable. This laptop proves them wrong.

      My biggest concern is the long term viability of the company. It's nice that they made an upgradable laptop, but if they aren't around in a year or two to keep selling replacement parts, then it doesn't matter much.

      Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the Framework and I plan on keeping it and making it my daily driver.

      EDIT: I forgot to mention my absolute favorite feature, one that I've missed ever since Apple went all USB-C on their laptops: It has a light on the side to tell you if it is currently charging or fully charged!

      40 votes
    2. What should I look for in a headset?

      I am looking to buy a headset. It's for my child to use on PS4, and when stock comes back in on PS5. Which models have you used and liked? Are there any you'd avoid? I think I'd prefer either USB,...

      I am looking to buy a headset. It's for my child to use on PS4, and when stock comes back in on PS5.

      Which models have you used and liked? Are there any you'd avoid?

      I think I'd prefer either USB, or something easy to repair, or cheap so I can just buy a new set of this one breaks.

      7 votes
    3. Cellphone review: Umidigi F2

      I was recently in the market for a cheap used phone. I was looking for an Android device, preferably less than 3 years old, preferably with an unlockable bootloader and rootable, for $200 or less....

      I was recently in the market for a cheap used phone. I was looking for an Android device, preferably less than 3 years old, preferably with an unlockable bootloader and rootable, for $200 or less. I was looking at used Pixel 2's when I came across this weird Chinese manufacturer I'd never heard of.

      The Umidigi F2 is a bizarre device. I was blown away by the specs, and the seller was only asking $200CAD for it, so I took a chance. I've got to say, so far I'm pretty impressed.

      Quick Specs:

      • 6.5" IPS LCD, 2340x1080px, bezelless, w/ hole-punch camera, no notch
      • 6GB Dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM, 128GB Storage
      • Mediatek P70 - ARM Cortex A73/A53 Octo-core 2.0/2.1GHz CPU
      • 5 cameras, 32MP front-facing, 48MP rear, 13MP wide-angle, 5MP depth, 5MP macro
      • Dual SIM, MicroSD
      • 5150mAh battery
      • ~40 frequency bands
      • 3.5mm headphone jack
      • Stock Android 10

      At this price I was initially skeptical. There must be something wrong with it, some glaring flaw I wasn't seeing, and/or those specs must be fake. I'm happy to say though, they're real, and the device seems much more solid than I expected.

      I've had the thing a little over a week so far, and have only charged it once. On the first charge it lasted 4 days before I charged it, and still had 30% battery remaining after I'd spent a couple hours surfing the web and two hours watching youtube (total screen-on time was ~4.5hrs). After charging it I haven't been using it as much, but it's currently been running 3 days and it has 70% battery remaining. I've used it to listen to the radio for 3 hours this morning. Oh yeah, did I mention? Bizarrely, it has a FM radio tuner for some reason.

      So far everything has been smooth, the device performs really well, which is not something I expected from a Mediatek CPU. Rooting it went smoothly, and I've been able to tweak a bunch of settings via the EdXposed framework, as much as you can in Android 10 anyway. I did remove some background bloat, but otherwise the default ROM is very close to vanilla AOSP.

      The build quality of the thing is honestly not bad. I've used mid-range Samsung devices that have felt cheaper and more plastic-y than this. I have read some reports of bad touchscreens, but so far I haven't had any problems. There's also a DIY solution to solve that. Unfortunately, if it dies, this is pretty much my only option, since the warranty and support is pretty much nonexistent. At a quarter the price of a brand-name phone with similar specs though, I'm willing to roll those dice.

      So, other than warranty, what are the downsides? Well, so far the biggest gripe I have is there is no notification LED on it. So if I go to the washroom and come back I can't just tell at a glance if I've missed a call or text, I actually need to unlock it. Luckily the fingerprint reader and face unlock are both pretty reliable. There is no wireless charging, which I'm more or less okay with. The main reason I'd want that is if the USB port died, but again, this is the sort of phone that if anything is wrong with it you're pretty much meant to throw it out. The speaker is a bit tinny, and unfortunately it's mono. The cameras are bad. The 48MP camera does take 8000x6000 pictures, but they're grainy to the point where even if you resize them down they still look worse than something taken with a good 6MP camera. This seems to be a software problem though. The camera module is apparently made by Samsung, and people have said it's gotten better with every OTA update. As for that, there's been an update this month, but a lot of people are expecting it might be the last update they put out. Umidigi apparently has a bad track record of only providing updates for a few months.

      In conclusion, this is objectively a decent phone, and for it's price, it's exceptional. You sacrifice warranty, updates, any kind of support really, but you get some very decent hardware for $200.

      Official site: https://www.umidigi.com/page-umidigi_f2_specification.html
      Purchasable on amazon for fast shipping, purchase on aliexpress to save $50.

      9 votes