Last year, Dell intrigued us with Concept Luna, its attempt at making a sustainable laptop with fewer screws, using components that are easier to upgrade and recycle. It felt like a breath of fresh air compared to ultraportables that trade repairability for thinness. This year, Dell is pushing the concept even further. Its latest Luna device can be fully disassembled in around 30 seconds using just a push-pin tool and a bit of elbow grease. There aren't any cables or screws to worry about.
How can Dell achieve this sorcery? By developing a completely modular design, wherein every component can be snapped into place without much fuss. And it's not just marketing hype: As you can see in the video above, it doesn't take much effort for a Dell representative to deftly disassemble a Luna device. After unlocking the keyboard with a pin tool, he removed two speaker units, the battery, a CPU fan and a slim motherboard. The display was a cinch to remove as well, after unlocking the laptop's center bezel.
When it's all put together, the new Concept Luna looks like one of Dell's 13-inch laptops (more a Latitude than a slim XPS, to be clear). You'd have no idea there was a genuine revolution going on under the hood. Dell's sustainability angle is a lot more clear this time around. Whereas the previous concept still required a bit of technical maneuvering, it wouldn't take much for a general user to get under the hood of a fully modular laptop like this. It's about as hard as ejecting a SIM card.
The new Luna laptop also has room for a CPU fan, allowing it to house more powerful processors. Additionally, Dell worked with a micro-factory while developing Luna, allowing the company to automate the ordeal of assembling and tearing Luna devices apart. That process also involves testing individual components — after all, it's easy to imagine some aspects of a computer getting far more use than others. If you primarily used your laptop on a desk with an external keyboard, its built-in keyboard probably has a lot of life left.
"By marrying Luna’s sustainable design with intelligent telemetry and robotic automation, we’ve created something with the potential to trigger a seismic shift in the industry and drive circularity at scale," Glen Robson, CTO for Dell Technologies’ Client Solutions Group, said in a blog post. "A single sustainable device is one thing, but the real opportunity is the potential impact on millions of tech devices sold each year, and optimizing the materials in those devices for future reuse, refurbishment or recycling. "
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.