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Handhelds Microsoft Portables Hardware

Surface Pro: 'Virtually Unrepairable' 418

An anonymous reader writes with a link to an article at Wired with some harsh words for Microsoft's new tablet: "The Surface Pro is not a repair-friendly machine. In fact, it's one of the least repairable devices iFixit has seen: In a teardown of Microsoft's tablet-laptop hybrid, the company gave it a rock-bottom score of just one — one! — out of 10 for repairability, lower even than Apple's iPad and the Windows Surface RT."
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Surface Pro: 'Virtually Unrepairable'

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  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:17PM (#42896247) Homepage

    ... waste!!! Manufacturers just want you to buy another to replace yours which is designed to break soon. Manufacturers win with more diversion of economy (e.g. repeat sales). World loses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:21PM (#42896277)

    There were many things that said 'This unit contains no user serviceable parts' long before apple came along

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:21PM (#42896281)

    "It simply is not designed to be opened or fixed at home, except perhaps by teardown expert"

    Hasn't that generally been the case for a few decades now, for lots and lots of things? They are basically bitching that there are lot of screws and glue. It's not a simple device.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:24PM (#42896315)

    Most of them lied about it for liability.

    When a small device manufacturer says it, they mean 'not servicable by ANYONE' :)

  • I'm shocked ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:26PM (#42896357) Homepage

    OK, not really.

    For starters, I can't imagine it being easy to make a tablet you can open up and make changes to.

    And then every manufacturer would rather you replace the device when it breaks or needs upgrading. And if they can get you locked into their software, even better.

    Companies don't really care about consumers rights, and they never will. They're only in it to make profit -- I don't care who the vendor is, they'll all do it.

    Microsoft, Apple, and even Google since they're trying to drive everything you do to the things that make them money and make sure you have to keep buying their stuff.

  • Brave New World (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:27PM (#42896361) Homepage

    "Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches."
    -Aldous Huxley

    Of course a consumer society isn't supposed to have anything that can be repaired by a normal human being. If you want anything, you're supposed to cough up your hard-earned cash to your corporate overlords.

  • Re:disposable tech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:30PM (#42896409) Homepage Journal

    If they insist on killing the culture of repair, as you put it - they really need to stop throwing shit in the ocean and landfills. It's only sustainable if you actually recycle.

  • by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:35PM (#42896469)
    There's a direct trade-off between thinness/weight and repairability. As it stands the device is already being heavily criticized for being just 0.5" thick and weighing 2 lbs. To get it even at that point, apparently glue had to be used in place of a lot of fasteners that make repairing easy. Now I expect we'll see the same people criticizing it for weight/thickness also criticizing it for not having a removable battery, hard drive, and memory, all of which add weight/thickness. Dell's Latitude 10 comes in fixed and removable battery configurations, the later weighs 0.04 lbs more. Keep in mind while it's not much, the margin between Surface and its closet competitors like iPad are 0.1" thickness and 0.5 lbs, so every bit counts.

    So like everything there's a choice. Do you want a core i5 processor or do you want a long battery life? Do you want a super thin machine, or do you want an easy to repair machine?
  • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:40PM (#42896537)

    Every clip, connector, screw, etc that is needed to make something 'repairable' adds weight, bulk, and cost. People have clearly demonstrated that weight, size, and cost win out over repairability when making their purchasing decisions. You can't lay it all (or even most of it) at the feet of the manufacturers.

  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:44PM (#42896589)

    ``Manufacturers just want you to buy another to replace yours which is designed to break soon.''

    And it's software, too. I'm sure most /.ers saw the article about Office 2013 being tied to a specific system... for life. Fatal laptop problem that requires replacement? You'll need to buy a new copy of Office as well; no re-installation of your copy of Office on your new laptop allowed. (Frankly, I think MS is going to have to do an about face on that policy unless they want to lose home customers in droves.) My wife -- who owns the only computer in the house that runs Windows -- was disgusted when she read that. She won't be a repeat Office customer after learning that.

  • by Stormthirst ( 66538 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:47PM (#42896637)

    And who in the consumer world expects their device to go wrong and therefore need to be repaired. People just don't think like that. They've got used to laptops being so expensive to repair they might as well buy a new one - tablets are just as bad.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:47PM (#42896651)

    It's not that they're specifically designed with preventing repair in mind; it's that they're not designed with repairs in mind at all. In the increased pursuit of miniaturisation Apple (and now MS) have completely removed repairability as a design consideration.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:48PM (#42896659) Homepage

    No USER serviceable parts is a far cry from NO REPAIRS POSSIBLE AT ALL.

    A: someone can repair it.


    B: NO ONE can repair it.


  • by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:49PM (#42896663)

    And you and the GP are irrelevant minorities.

  • Re:disposable tech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:50PM (#42896693) Homepage Journal

    Hardware manufacturers have been trying to kill off the repair business for the same reason video game makers are trying to kill off the used game market - every dollar you spend fixing something you already own, is a dollar they don't get.

    What blows my mind are the hypocrites here on /. who will wail endlessly about EA and Sony locking a game disk to a particular console (i.e., something that really doesn't matter in the 'big scheme of things'), then subsequently accuse people who complain about hardware makers doing the exact same thing of being "buggy whip makers," even though the trend of planned obsolescence in hardware is far more dangerous to society than anything having to do with a stupid fucking video game.

  • by OolimPhon ( 1120895 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:50PM (#42896701)

    People have clearly demonstrated that weight, size, and cost win out over repairability when making their purchasing decisions.

    Er, no. People can only buy what is available. It is the manufacturers who decide what weight, size and cost their products will be, not the purchasers.

    If all manufacturers choose not to make their products repairable then where is the choice?

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:51PM (#42896705)
    And it is high time someone pointed out how stupid that is.
  • by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:52PM (#42896733)
    This. The surface was labeled a "brick" by many reviews for being only 0.1" thicker than an iPad. I imagine with a core i5, getting it down to 0.5" thick was an incredible challenge given the cooling needs of the processor. To be 0.5" thick *and* be easy to service with all the requisite clips and connectors seems like an impossible task.
  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @12:59PM (#42896829) Homepage Journal

    I'm not an idiot with more money than sense.

    And you and the GP are irrelevant minorities.

    That explains a lot about the direction our society is headed in; given the alternative, I'd have to say I'm happy to be in the minority in this case.

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @01:03PM (#42896881)
    So do you want your handheld tablet to be larger and weigh more? Space and weight are important engineering considerations in these products that get overlooked. They have been numerous complaints on this forum that the Surface Pro weighs more than the iPad and is thicker even though the difference is small. Size and weight have a cost. One cost is user repairability. It is the same in cars. Small cars are more fuel efficient and powerful every year. Open the hood of one and there is very little room in the engine compartment compared to older generations.
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @01:03PM (#42896885)

    There are a lot of responses here that say "All tablets are like that".

    First, Many of those tablets cost $200 (Nexus). It is a lot more acceptable to have a sealed $200 device than a sealed $1000 device, regardless of form factor.

    Second, Almost no other computing device is sealed to this extent with an inch wide strip of tar like adhesive that needs a heat-gun to pry apart (who knows how well it will go back together). I take nearly everything apart, but I would mess with this kind of extreme adhesive job, especially on a $1000 device.

    Third. It isn't even about repairs. If this was pure reliable solid state, it wouldn't be a big deal, those parts could run for decades. But this has two fans, meaning they will accumulate dust/have bearing failures, and in few years need replacing/cleaning, it has batteries with short finite life that will fail in few years, the SSD is small size and has an OS with propensity to write a lot to it (swap files) etc, and has a significant chance of failure. These should be considered serviceable components, because chances are significant that one or more of them will need service in a few years. Having them sealed, non-serviceable in $1000 device is unacceptable (IMO).

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @01:04PM (#42896905) Journal

    It's also worth mentioning that "No User Serviceable Parts Inside" is frequently code for 'There's AC power at local grid voltage and/or a beefy inverter in here, don't fuck with this unless you know enough to know that this warning isn't meant for you'.

    It's much less common to see the warning on devices powered by external DC supplies, especially now that cold cathode backlights seem to be giving way to LEDs. Such devices are frequently less likely to actually be user-serviceable in any useful way(given that AC PSUs are, by necessity, frequently built from pretty chunky components that you don't even need sharp eyes to rework, while low-voltage DC gear seems to get smaller every year); but that specific phrase mostly seems to show up when there is a shocking surprise available inside.

  • by nabsltd ( 1313397 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @01:11PM (#42896979)

    We all understand that Apple has convinced people they always have to have the most shiny new thing, and so batteries don't have time to wear out.

    For the rest of us, though, many parts of devices need replaced (batteries, cables, cases, etc.) long before the useful life of the device is up.

  • It can (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mike Frett ( 2811077 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @01:21PM (#42897099)

    It can be repaired, it's just difficult to get inside due to the strong epoxy and 90+ screws all around. And for the Apple haters, I see lots of repair shops repairing iPhones and such.

    The problem is, the companies don't want you to repair it. They want you to buy a new one, hence why it's difficult to repair. This is the throwaway generation, it's all disposable. The trash piles up, but nobody notices until it's in their backyard and their water starts tasting like epoxy and baby diapers.

    Even Cars are are so tight under the hood these days, a lot of mechanics I know don't go near them. Have you even tried to reach through all that shit to change a spark plug? Good luck getting your hand out of the wires and metal without a lost thumb.

    Bottom line, modern products are shit with pretty packaging so the youngsters think it's good. When it breaks, (Usually within 1 year) no big deal, mom and dad will get a new one. Just throw it over there in the trash and lets take a trip down to the mall. What a shitty world, but hey, there's money to be made in them their hills!.

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @01:30PM (#42897199)

    A sealed case isn't a huge deal in the case of the iPad or decent Android tablets, since there are no moving parts, no particularly hot-running components, and a top quality battery that should last for several years.

    But the Surface Pro isn't like that. It's a notebook, complete with full OS, SSD, fans, and a powerful CPU, crammed into a tablet form factor.

    What happens when that SSD starts failing from the heavy IO load of desktop software? Or one of the fans blows a bearing?

  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @04:03PM (#42900021)

    Go for it, hot shot. Replace that custom ASIC. I'm sure Digikey will have it.

    Replace that micro with the part number ground off. I'm sure Digikey will have that too, with the custom firmware already flashed too!

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Thursday February 14, 2013 @05:38PM (#42901569) Homepage Journal

    Expect Microsoft to make it much easier to get at the SSD in future revisions. Not for the benefit of customers, for the benefit of their repairs department.

    Apple made the same mistake years ago with their laptops. You had to remove the motherboard just to replace the HDD, and the HDD was the part most likely to fail. Later models made the HDD much easier to get at, along with RAM and the power socket (until it was replaced by magsafe).

    The Surface Pro is too expensive to just throw away, MS will want to fix them to cover warranty claims (which are a minimum of 2 years in Europe).

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @07:06PM (#42903003)

    The HDD was a spinning disk. The SSD aren't. Are they still the most likely to fail component?

    The only moving parts and likely failure mode I see would be a problem with the fans and/or the vents getting clogged.

    If they used high quality fans they shouldn't be an issue; as they are FAR less sensitive than hard drives.

    Going to be interesting to see. Kind of funny though to see everyone fall over themselves about the 'perfection' of the ipad being a seamless glass/metal tablet... and then make a big deal out of the Surface Pro not being repairable when emulating the same design.

    The ipad isn't exactly DIY repairable either.

    And I think in most cases 'broken screen' is going to be number one failure, and that's not usually going to be covered by warranty and will usually merit replacing the device any way.

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27