It feels like every new Linux laptop that comes out these days is bigger, beefier, and (usually) more expensive than the one preceding it — but not with the new StarLabs StarLite (mark IV).
This dinky 11.6-inch Linux notebook, the latest from UK-based company StarLab, is modestly priced and moderately spec’d.
StarLite MK IV Specs
11.6″ Matte IPS
|CPU:||Intel Pentium N5030 @ 1.1Ghz (3.1Ghz burst)|
|Graphics:||Intel UHD 605 (integrated)|
1x USB Type-C (power)
2x USB 3.0
See, not everyone needs to crunch code, battle orcs, or render 4K video. “More power” is nice, but when all you really do with a laptop is browse the web, e-email, Zoom, and binge-watch Netflix shows… A mid-range laptop can suffice.
Problem is there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to mid-range (and well-made) Linux laptops in the lower price brackets.
This is perhaps why many searching for a “couch companion” settle on a cheap Chromebook instead. They’re not a bad choice per se, but ChromeOS is so-so, you get next-to-no storage, and limited choice when it comes to software.
Which his why the StarLabs StarLite is an alluring alternative.
Star Labs Lite Mk IV
While the StarLite’s 11.6-inch IPS display sounds small it …Well, it is small. But it does boast a 1920×1080 resolution at 190 pixels per inch for a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Housed in a (premium feeling, I’m told) matte black anodised aluminium chassis, the StarLite (mark IV) packs a quad-core Intel Pentium N5030 CPU running at a base clock of 1.1GHz with 4MB cache.
Oh, I know: this 14nm quad-core chip isn’t exactly a powerhouse. But it provides enough performance to handle modern desktop Linux operating systems well, and is aided by integrated Intel UHD 605 graphics.
The device ships with 8GB of 2400MHz LPDDR4 onboard memory (which is not user-upgradeable) and an over-provisioned 240GB SSD (which is user-upgradeable). Larger SSD options are available if you’re willing to pay more.
Did I mention this is fanless? Has a backlit keyboard? A glass touchpad? An estimated 8 hour battery life?
Wrong — I just did
The array of ports included will meet most needs, though there’s neither a full-size HDMI port nor a full-size SD card slot, but the included micro versions of these will suffice for most.
But the features don’t end there.
StarLabs include an open warranty that allows you to “…take your laptop apart, replace parts, install an upgrade, use any operating system and even your own firmware, all without voiding the warranty.” This is pretty unique to me, and certainly something StarLabs should be praised for.
Another bonus? They use the LVFS to distribute firmware updates for the BIOS, EC, and SSD. On Ubuntu firmware updates are accessed from the Software app.
You also get to choose between AMI Aptio V or Coreboot (you can change this at any time). If you opt for Coreboot you also get a handy GUI ‘Coreboot Configurator’ tool to tweak and fine-tune settings.
It’s easy to look at a lower-end laptop like this and scoff. But it hits a price point and a screen-size demand that is poorly served outside of Chromebooks and pricey ultrabooks. If the PineBook Pro appeals to you but don’t fancy retooling your workflow to suit its weak ARM processor, the StarLite is exactly the sort of device you might be looking for.
And the price starts at an acceptable £400.
The StarLabs StarLite (mark IV) is available to pre-order at the link below.