Dell’s ‘Concept Luna’ Laptop is a Great Idea. Too Bad It’s Made By Dell

Dell’s ‘Concept Luna’ Laptop is a Great Idea. Too Bad It’s Made By Dell

It’s clear that Dell’s engineers have put a lot of thought into this device. As PCMag details, the company has even considered the idea of recycling older used hardware back into new systems, and selling those systems at a lower price point. Dell could theoretically sell a Core i7 or Core i5 system brand-new, then recycle those systems into Core i3 equivalents at a later date (and lower price point). This would save on materials and production costs compared to building an all-new system.

In theory, a laptop like Luna would allow you to easily swap a broken display or replace a motherboard while retaining a perfectly-functional display and without replacing the entire system. Dell claims Concept Luna is intended to address e-waste and climate change, and the engineers on the project have carefully considered every facet of the system.

Many users have clamored for laptops and smartphones that were modular, easy to repair, and sustainable, so it’s easy to see the potential for mass market appeal. Luna is a conceptual product, so there’s no guarantee Dell will ever ship it. Even if Dell was launching the product today, however, there’s no way I’d recommend anyone buy it.

Dell has a demonstrated history of failing to support its laptops with upgrades, even when it has publicly promised to do so. Concept Luna is a good idea — and a nice way to whitewash Dell’s previous customer abuse by focusing on the promise of a sustainable laptop.

Dell Doesn’t Keep Its Promises

In January 2019, Dell announced it would ship a new type of Alienware laptop that emphasized long-term upgradability with support for desktop CPUs and future GPUs. A Dell representative personally guaranteed to me that the company would support more than one generation of graphics cards on the platform.

It didn’t.

Eventually, Dell announced that the first-generation Alienware Area 51m wouldn’t be upgradeable after all, unless you happened to have purchased the system with its lowest-end components and wanted to pay bad prices for higher-end versions of the same Turing GPUs the system had launched with. Dell explicitly marketed the Area 51m as upgradeable with future hardware, only to backtrack after it sold the laptops and was ready to introduce the next product generation.

Dell’s ‘Concept Luna’ Laptop is a Great Idea. Too Bad It’s Made By Dell

Consumers have wanted to buy laptops with upgradeable CPUs and GPUs for as long as laptops have had CPUs and graphics cards. The various issues that made it difficult for OEMs to offer laptop upgrades haven’t changed in over a decade. When we spoke to Dell in 2019, the company assured us it was well aware of these historical issues and had designed the Area 51m to combat them.

It hadn’t.

Dell couldn’t be bothered to ship upgrades for a luxury product whose owners had invested in it specifically for its upgradability. Actually bringing Concept Luna to market would require Dell to create an entire ecosystem for the device. It would have to commit to an aggressive hardware recycling program that goes far beyond breaking hardware down into constituent parts or refurbishing systems.

Dell’s ‘Concept Luna’ Laptop is a Great Idea. Too Bad It’s Made By Dell

As described, Dell might consider shipping old Core i7 / Core i5 CPUs into Core i3 price brackets, providing customers with a “new for you” experience. It would emphasize shipping laptop components to customers, creating a robust DIY market. It would also be required to make compatible components available for reasonable prices in order to support the project effectively, including keyboards, replacement displays, motherboards, batteries, and discrete GPUs (if applicable).

Back in 2019, Dell couldn’t even design the Area 51m to accept a GPU upgrade. It couldn’t commit to using the same GPU form factor and/or chassis design for both Turing and Ampere, and we’re supposed to believe it would even consider investing in the kind of infrastructure required to get Concept Luna off the ground? In order for customers to get value out of a Concept Luna ecosystem, Dell would have to make mobile components and upgrades available for at least 3-5 years, compared to the /checks notes zero years the company has currently achieved.

I like the idea of Concept Luna. I respect the Dell engineers who clearly put a lot of work into the project. But even if Concept Luna was a real product, I don’t trust the company to support it long term. That’s not how Dell works. If the company wants to improve its sustainability, sustained and honest product communication would be a great place to start.