Product Design

Hope for a Tool-Less Tomorrow

I’ve seen the future, and not only does it work, it works without tools. It’s moddable, repairable, and upgradeable. Its pieces slide in and out of place with hand force. Its lid lifts open and eases shut. It’s as sleek as an Apple product, without buried components or proprietary screws.

It’s the Macintosh IIsi! (Just kidding. Seriously, though, it’s a shame Apple didn’t stick with that kind of pop-top repairability.)

The new HP Z1 Workstation, announced last week, looks like a win for repairable product design. The all-in-one workstation has quad-core Intel Xeon processors, a 27″ display, and a variety of storage configurations available out of the box. And here’s the line that caught my attention:

The power supply, graphics card, hard drives, optical drive, system cooling blower, and memory can all be accessed and removed without tools.

HP Z1 workstation

Of course, tool-less design is not a new concept. Home PC builders are used to tool-less computer cases—they expect to be able to add fans, snap drives in and out, and upgrade the RAM or graphics card. Plus, people who buy workstations will generally be using them professionally, with specific professional requirements that vary from discipline to discipline. Workstation customers demand upgradeability and reparability. They just can’t usually get it in all-in-one form.

The Z1 demonstrates that tool-less design can be compact and beautiful. Slim, elegant, and powerful need not preclude user-accessibility. Devices like this give me hope for a repairable future.

Video below, via Lessien on Twitter.