MNT Research Unveils Arm Powered Pocket Reform

The Pocket Reform
(Image credit: MNT Research)

The netbook age may have come and gone, but there is no denying that sometimes all we need is small device for a quick dose of computing. The tiny, modular Pocket Reform just announced by MNT Research is one of those devices. What first attracted us to the machine was one of its modules includes a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, but we stayed for the cute purple styling and chunky good looks.

The idea of the Pocket Reform is to take “the best features” of the original Reform, a laptop designed and built in Berlin, Germany, to be open source in both hardware and software terms. It is sold as a kit, has already received some upgrades, and can be ordered from Crowd Supply in the US.

The Pocket Reform is its little brother, and will be entering a program of beta testing soon. It’s purple like the Nintendo GameCube, and made to be a writing companion, retro gaming deck, or ‘sofa computer’ to chill out with, and is made from a recyclable case 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 nestled in a gap within the space bar.

The default configuration is built around the NXP i.MX8M Plus chipset (4x ARM Cortex-A53 cores @ 1.8GHz, 4 or 8GB DDR4, Vivante GC7000UL GPU and an NPU). There are various options to replace this, however, including the Compute Module 4 (8GB version), Pine’s SOQuartz RK3566 (via Adapter, 4× ARM Cortex-A55, 8GB DDR4, Mali G52 GPU), the NXP Layerscape LS1028A (2x ARM Cortex-A72 cores with 8 or 16GB DDR4 and the Vivante GC7000UL GPU), and even an FPGA that can become a RISC-V SoC (though 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 taken care of by up to 128GB of eMMC flash, while an M.2 slot awaits an SSD up to 2TB. There's a MicroSD card slot, and a pair of USB-C ports, one of which supports PD charging. Software and OS support is dominated by Unix, with Debian, Arch, Ubuntu and Void Linux all supported, along with the exceptionally nerdy Plan 9 (a research operating system from the same group that created UNIX at Bell Labs) and Genode operating systems. Support for OpenBSD is in development.

It’s not quite clear whether the Pocket Reform will be crowdfunding after its beta program is complete, or will go directly on sale, but we expect further news to come via the MNT website or its CEO’s Twitter account.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.