elementary is proud to announce our first partner device: Star LabTop Mk IV from Star Labs, available today on the elementary Store.
Star LabTop Mk IV offers an incomparable laptop experience with elementary OS; every hardware decision has been reviewed by elementary to ensure the best possible experience. When purchased with elementary OS, you are getting the software straight from elementary, designed as intended.
“Our mission is quite simple,” says Sean Rhodes, Technical Project Lead at Star Labs. “To make laptops for Linux that provide a seamless experience—matching everything you would expect from a Mac or Windows equivalent.” And with elementary OS, Star LabTop Mk IV delivers that and more. “Everything combines to create a flawless overall experience. It’s polished and straightforward, yet very capable,” Sean says of elementary OS.
Hardware and Tech Specs
The hardware is stunning. Carved from bead-blasted matte black anodized aluminum, Star LabTop Mk IV is the perfect combination of thin, light, and durable: just 0.58 inches (1.48 cm) thin, and only 2.4 pounds (1.1 kg). The 13.3-inch ARC display is a bright 1920×1080 IPS panel with hard, anti-reflective coating that offers the brightness and color vibrancy of a glossy display with the viewing angles and reduced glare of a matte display.
The backlit keyboard is comfortably quiet and offers essential media keys across the top row, as well as often-used Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys along the right side. The specially-engineered multi-touch glass trackpad is silky smooth to the touch with unparalleled precision and accuracy in elementary OS for tracking, scrolling, and multi-touch gesturing.
USB-C 3.1 with Power Delivery and display output ensures charging and expanding is easier than ever, while an HDMI port, microSD slot, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and dual USB 3.0 Type-A ports offer even more connectivity. The stereo speakers, dual microphone array, and top-mounted HD webcam are great for today’s world of voice and video calls—plus Bluetooth 5.1 enables connecting to wireless peripherals like a mouse, keyboard, headset, and more, while Wi-Fi 6 offers the fastest wireless speeds.
Star LabTop Mk IV is engineered around 10th-generation Intel Core processors. 16 GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory comes standard while the over-provisioned StarDrive offers 240 GB fast, reliable flash storage by default with even larger, faster upgrade options. And to top it all off, regular firmware updates to the StarDrive, system firmware, fan curves, and even bootloader mean your computer gets even better over time.
The number one focus when designing the Star LabTop Mk IV? “Balance,” Sean says. “Between power, size, materials, and cost. The vast majority of the improvements came from asking our Mk III customers what they wanted to see in the next version. The most noticeable improvements being the matte display, improved speakers, and option for US keyboard layout.” And that perfect balance was found: Star LabTop Mk IV flies out of the box with fast processors, memory, and storage while coming in thinner and lighter than a MacBook Air—all starting at $832 USD at the time of writing.
Continuing to make elementary OS more “gettable”
Over the past year year we’ve been working with retailers to ensure you can get elementary OS out of the box on dozens of device models. When we announced this effort, we teased “partner” devices:
Partners must follow stricter software guidelines and receive per-model approval by elementary. In return, we feature the specific models in our store with higher prominence… Purchasing a partner device guarantees a portion of your purchase goes to elementary and helps ensure the long-term sustainability of elementary OS.
As the first partner device, Star LabTop Mk IV marks the next step in this journey.
As a part of our OEM strategy, we are shifting our approach to talking about elementary OS. First, elementary OS is and always will be entirely open source; it is core to what we do, and our open source nature has enabled elementary OS to run on a wide variety of commodity hardware from nearly any PC manufacturer. That’s not changing—now or ever.
However, moving forward we will place a stronger emphasis on partner devices running elementary OS. This helps better satisfy the “gettable” aspect of elementary OS, and ensures that elementary OS has well-supported hardware platforms that deliver the best possible experience. And it’s much easier to recommend someone buy a computer made for elementary OS than to tell them to shop around, hope to get something that will work well, and then install elementary OS themselves.
We’re committed to ensuring elementary OS shines on bespoke hardware like Star LabTop Mk IV while also remaining a practical way to revitalize existing hardware—and again, everything we do at elementary is entirely open source, and always will be.
In the open source world we have a notion of “upstream” and “downstream”; it refers to how open source software flows from the original author (the “upstream”) down to other open source projects that make use of and often build upon it (the “downstreams”). For example, the Linux kernel, Ubuntu, and GTK are all considered upstream from elementary OS. Oftentimes when we solve an issue with an upstream project in elementary OS, we work directly with the upstream developers to get it resolved so all downstreams can benefit; while not strictly required by open source licenses, this relationship is core to a healthy open source ecosystem.
More than ever, we see this upstream/downstream relationship with elementary OS and hardware manufacturers. Hardware companies shipping elementary OS are considered downstream from elementary; they take the OS we’ve made and ship it on their hardware, sometimes making small tweaks to the OS to best support that hardware. For example, Star Labs hardware supports firmware updates from the LVFS, so they ship both a Firmware update tool as well as a different boot screen that supports showing firmware update status. They also ship their installations with an OEM mode enabled to walk users through their initial setup.
Rather than leaving those improvements downstream and only available to certain hardware, we’ve worked with Star Labs to begin upstreaming these improvements: in elementary OS 6 we’ll be shipping a new boot screen that supports firmware updates, we’ll make firmware updates available from within System Settings, and we’ve back-ported our Initial Setup experience to elementary OS 5.1 so Star Labs (and other OEMs) can take advantage of that today. We’ve written about these and other improvements more in depth:
Star LabTop Mk IV is available today on the elementary Store. Each purchase directly supports elementary OS, helping to ensure its long-term sustainability.
Thanks to all of our supporters, backers, and customers! Your contributions make elementary possible. If you’d like to help build and improve elementary OS, don’t hesitate to Get Involved.