I think you’re wrong about the demographic they’re after. Truthfully the Librem is about appealing to us tinfoil hats. I believe the nice design is more of a “why not?” thing where if they’re going to go to the trouble of making an entirely new design why not just make it good, too? I think it has literally nothing to do with any intention of competing with big-name companies. In fact, Purism is so small that even dreaming of competing with mainstream names would be entirely arrogant. This whole project is just a bit better than a kickstarter project really.
The project exists simply because before Purism there was no real way to get a fully free system except for buying an ancient ThinkPad with Libreboot on it. I’m pretty sure that, specifically, you needed to get a pre-Intel ME machine, which meant going for something like an old Core 2 Duo… Well, that method became more and more unreasonable as time moved along and that technology became more and more antiquated.
Purism exists to attempt to bring us a fully FOSS/Libre system with modern hardware. This is, however, really hard to do because modern hardware seems to be riddled with deeply-interlaced close-source components and code. The Intel Management Engine and it’s siblings throughout the tech world is, frankly, quite creepy. Makes me wonder what happened around 2008 that kicked this whole “Mangement Engine” trend… I have a nagging feeling it might’ve been an order from high places in government(s), not a corporate-desired thing like they claim (especially since even Google really wants to get rid of it).
And let’s be clear that - You say you want a “fully FOSS” machine. Well, bluntly, Purism isn’t there yet, and it may be some more years before they are. They’re still working on freeing parts of the system, and the Librem line is not “RYF” yet.
Anyway, if you want performance per dollar, you’d be way better off just buying from a different manufacturer and installing Linux on it if you need it. You can still make a machine that’s mostly FOSS, the caveat is the BIOS/UEFI, FSP, drivers, and all that other real low-level stuff. But aside from that you can just throw Linux on most any laptop that Dell, HP, ASUS, or what-have-you throws out there. There’s no need to go out of your way to spend more for less just because of your tinfoil fears.
In the end you have to ask yourself whether or not you really care about this whole conspiracy-theory stuff to shell out money to buy lower-end hardware for more just because of this kinda stuff. If productivity is #1 in your book then maybe something a bit more powerful and user-friendly would be more up your alley.
I fully disagree with the idea that they’re trying to compete with anyone. If anything - “if you’re gonna do something, you may as well do it right”.
Also, 4k is not “standard” by today’s terms, 1080p is still the standard (heck many laptops are still less than that) and 4k is the high-end stuff. Plus if you did get a 4k monitor from Purism it’d almost certainly have to be a 4k TN panel and not a nice IPS panel or anything.
I also do kinda question what’s so “vital to productivity” about a 4k screen? I wouldn’t really see a Linux machine as being great for stuff like productivity software use - even once I have a Purism machine, I’ll still be using a Windows computer for video editing and games and stuff, surely. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever be getting away from Windows and closed-source software when it comes to games and productivity software - all the games and the best software are all closed-source and Windows / MacOS only. But I still want a Linux machine for browsing, communication, and handling sensitive files.
In any case, HiDPI is really still very experimental in Linux as a whole anyway. Most distros don’t have it at all and the few that do are in a highly experimental stage with it. It’s just not there yet.
If performance is your priority, I’d suggest getting a good laptop and installing Windows 10 LTSB on it - it’s Windows 10 without all the BS like Cortana, “Apps”, or the Windows Marketplace. If you want to further lock it down (at the risk of messing something up) you can look into various privacy tools like BlackBird. In fact, here’s a whole slew of them. It’s basically how I “make Windows usable again”, and the final result is a pretty no-nonsense version of Windows 10 for the most part - I just wish it were the mainstream (seriously, everyone I do it for is so much happier with it than the mainstream Win10 versions which are all complete crud). It’s still closed-source and it always will be, Linux will always be best for privacy and security (in experienced hands), but I think I at least made the best out of a bad situation anyway. I’ll always need a Windows machine laying around to run certain kinds of software in any case.
As for how to get the LTSB version of windows without a license, well… it’s easy of course, but I’d probably get banned for mentioning the method I use, hah. You can take an educated guess and probably be correct.
Anyway, all in all I don’t think Purism is trying to compete with anyone else, and I don’t think 1080p is “archaic”, it’s still the norm and is fine. But if you disagree then you disagree, that’s fine. I doubt they’re going to put a 4k screen into these anytime soon though.