You Can’t Open the Microsoft Surface Laptop without Literally Destroying It

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by Megalith, Jun 17, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    While Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop is beautifully designed and crafted, it cannot be opened without severe damage: iFixit has published their teardown and given the computer a 0 out of 10 in terms of repairability. Calling it a “Russian nesting doll from hell,” the team found that the laptop has no screws on the outside and is welded together using a type of "plastic soldering" rarely found in consumer electronics.

    Anyone hoping to get inside the "beautifully designed and crafted" computer will have to pry it open with a knife or dedicated pick in order to defeat Microsoft's plastic welding. Whether or not it's actually worth going through the trouble of defeating said welding is another matter, given that the "glue-filled monstrosity," as iFixit dubs the laptop, has none of the user-upgradeable parts you'd want to see in a PC, like memory or storage. "It literally can't be opened without destroying it," the repair company concludes. "If we could give it a -1 out of 10, we would," iFixit said in an emailed statement on Friday.
     
  2. auntjemima

    auntjemima [H]ard|Gawd

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    Pretty surprisingly they chose glue. When it gets old and brittle from constant heating and cooling it's likely to fall apart.
     
  3. c3k

    c3k [H]ard|Gawd

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    But it provides the perfect marketing tie-in for the next Mission:Impossible when Ethan Hunt has to destroy it after getting the briefing.

    Or, am I overthinking this?

    ;)
     
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  4. trparky

    trparky Limp Gawd

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    At least with some Apple devices you get a repairability score above 1 but a big fat goose egg? Damn... They out-appled Apple.
     
  5. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    Looks like Microsoft is succeeding in their attempt to become the next Apple. :eek:
     
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  6. Jim Kim

    Jim Kim [H]ard|Gawd

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    If i was you I would withdraw all my 401k monies and invest in "Surface Re-Gluing" futures, I promise you'll bank.
     
  7. ZLoth

    ZLoth Gawd

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    This puts real meaning behind "no user serviceable parts inside"
     
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  8. auntjemima

    auntjemima [H]ard|Gawd

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    Lol, Americans.
     
  9. SonicTron

    SonicTron [H]ardness Supreme

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    Pretty surprisingly companies want your stuff to break, so that you have to buy more of their stuff
     
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  10. DocNo

    DocNo n00bie

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    Meh - very few modern mobile devices have much beyond the battery that can be changed out anyway. I suppose that is the one galling thing about this design since batteries do have limited life and may need to be replaced during the life of the device.

    Then again I haven't changed a battery in a laptop - even ones that had removable batteries - in over 15 years (probably longer if I really think hard) so again I say meh. I get the spirit of the iFixit guys - they want to sell tools and stuff to repair things. For most people it's just not feasible to repair stuff - reliability and replacement costs on lots of technology make it to the point where once stuff is out of warranty it often makes far more sense to just replace than repair.

    I would probably get an extended warranty and make sure it covers the battery if I was tempted to get one of these things.

    At least iFixit has someone other than Apple to direct their wrath at now.
     
  11. Bandalo

    Bandalo 2[H]4U

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    The smaller, thinner and lighter you make things, the harder they are to fix...No surprises here IMO.
     
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  12. bigdogchris

    bigdogchris Wii was a Novelty

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    I think this statement is mostly accurate. I really don't know how much time the company spends on finding ways to not allow you to fix something when they are designing it. I'm sure they don't consider repairability, but they are probably not considering non-repairability either. They just want to make a super thin and light device that looks cool.
     
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  13. heatlesssun

    heatlesssun Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Make it more repairable and reviewers will complain about screws and seams and bulk. The aesthetics of something that easily repairable just don't work with the market for these kinds of devices.
     
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  14. viper1152012

    viper1152012 n00bie

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    This is what keeps me away from tech. I have had a few laptops and ever since I got a Elitebook Folio (cake walk to repair) I haven't gone back.

    I am not sure what they were going for, but it obviously wasn't my money.
     
  15. Exavior

    Exavior [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Yes it sucks, but as others said not really all the surprising. I have the same opinion about smart phones and all the other really small devices. as you make them smaller and cheaper they are going to become less and less likely to be repairable. memory, cpu and ssd on the motherboard is going to be the way to go to get such a small factor. would be nice to however at least have the battery be swappable.
     
  16. c3k

    c3k [H]ard|Gawd

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    A family member had their 5 yr. old laptop go bad. It was a power issue. I bought a $5.99 replacement power supply board, spent 30 minutes opening up the lappie, installing it, and closing it all up again, and having a cup of coffee. It's running fine now. (Shout out to Asus...)

    That laptop cost about $1,200 when purchased. I will never purchase a device at this type of expense which cannot be serviced.
     
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  17. Riddlinkidstoner

    Riddlinkidstoner [H]ardness Supreme

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    Pretty obvious this laptop isn't marketed to most of those on this forum. I have a Pro 4, a Surface Book, and soon this Surface Laptop in burgenday.
     
  18. Dk975

    Dk975 Gawd

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    And the more e-waste is created that probably goes to the landfill.
    I have a 5 and 6 year old laptop, feeling like buying something newer, but after seeing this, I think I am glued (pun intended) to using them a bit longer.
     
  19. Mohonri

    Mohonri [H]ardness Supreme

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    This is more an indictment of reviewers who can't find anything worthwhile to say than it is about the actual quality of the product.
     
  20. Retronym

    Retronym Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Holding out for the pink shag carpet and Ritz cracker crumbs combo.
     
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  21. dgz

    dgz 2[H]4U

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    I tried to open two at the same time and lived to tell this story thanks to my buddy's quick reactions
     
  22. ZeqOBpf6

    ZeqOBpf6 Limp Gawd

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    Eli Whitney would be furious. We're sprinting backwards at 100mph
     
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  23. SGTGimpy

    SGTGimpy Limp Gawd

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    I picked up my Cobalt Blue Surface Laptop on Wednesday to replace my Surface Pro 3. I loved my Surface Pro 3 but since I am becoming an old fart with aging eyes, I had to start looking for something with a larger screen. I wanted to stay close to the same size foot print as possible and after playing around with the different options from HP, Dell and Lenovo. I decided to bet on Microsoft's hardware again with Surface Laptop. So far, I like it, the Alcantara on the keyboard is nice to type on and is comfortable. Only time will tell though how it will hold up or look after a year or so of using it. I did upgrade it right away to Windows 10 Pro and since Windows 10 S is Windows 10 Pro. The upgrade took less 3 mins and one reboot. Performance is great, not the fastest out there but nothing to complain about. Over all I happy with the choice.

    As far as repairability of this device, personally I could care less. For me, this device is the same as a cell phone and only has a limited life span of use. The fact it can't be repaired I offset by purchasing the extend warranty from Microsoft that covers it for 3 years and gives 2 replacements in that time frame. You can drop it, smash it in half, then piss all over it and they will swap it out with a brand new one no matter what. On the other hand this device was purchased as a business expense, so if it would break and I didn't have an extend warranty on it. I will just write it off and replace it with a new one. Even if the devices is still working without issues after 3 years. I am going to replace it with a new one just because I can.

    While I do understand that this is not the normal train of though for most people when looking at a device at this price point but then again the Surface Laptop isn't the only option available to buy. So if someone is looking at the Surface Laptop or any Surface device for that matter and repairablilty is a big concern for you. Then I would say these are not the devices for you and you need to look at the other options that are out there. Those of us that want the smallest, fastest thing we can get our hands on, we understand that there are going to be compromises and accept the compromises for what they are.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
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  24. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    The batteries on our Dell D830's used to only last about 15 months, but at least they where easy for the users to replace. Each generation seem to last a little longer. The E6510's where about 18+ months, and the E6520/30/40's lasted at least 2 years, but with external batteries it was easy to just hand the employee a new battery.

    Had an XPS laptop at the office with an internal battery that died. Dell wouldn't sell me a replacement battery, even though I could order it from them on-line. They said I also had to order services & pay a tech to replace it. Had to buy one through Amazon & it only took me 10 minutes to replace it.

    The latest Dell laptops we are buying don't have user replaceable batteries, just like the XPS. Easy for me to replace (just have to remove the bottom cover). Guess I'll find out in a couple years if Dell will sell me replacements.

    As for the Surface, this would keep me from buying them for the office.
    I would never buy a laptop that I was not able to replace the battery.
    I also need the ability to repair them after the warranty runs out.
    I usually end up scrapping some for parts to keep the others going for a few more years. Save's the company a lot of money.
    A laptop that is too slow for an engineer, still makes a good laptop for an office employee.

    After 6-8 years, I put the best parts together and make then available to employees who want them, giving the laptops a 3rd life.
     
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  25. Silentbob343

    Silentbob343 [H]ard|Gawd

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    fabric...on a keyboard. Damn they out did Apple hard.
     
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  26. raz-0

    raz-0 2[H]4U

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    yeah, seeing the textile like surface pro keyboards that are ~2 years old at work.. EWWWWWWW. Wtf were you thinking?

    The surface laptop it the worlds cheapest built $2300 laptop.
     
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  27. LightsOut41

    LightsOut41 n00bie

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    Total purchase price including the warranty?
     
  28. Khahhblaab

    Khahhblaab n00bie

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    ...but the thing is that its also not repairable by microsoft. Ok, I can imagine some type of "surface" can opener in which you lock it in and some type of multi jointed android type robotic arm goes around the exterior with a laser and neatly splitting the plastic welds, but otherwise they have created a item that if taken to a geek shop, they point you to the cashier to buy a new one. Thats not very green, and I bet that somewhere microsoft has literature stating how green they are becoming. Its just bad, a thoughtless design to have to safecrack a laptop to fix some overheating part. Other possiblilties: #1- Never need fixing. #2 - Self repairing circuitry. #3 - nanobot repairmen. You grab a handful of nano dust and just throw it on the case. They work their way in and after fixing whats broken, self destruct back into pixie dust. Maybe already embedded into the surface's case.
     
  29. heatlesssun

    heatlesssun Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    I'm pretty sure that Microsoft just doesn't throw bad Surface Laptops into the trash and has the tooling to repair these devices. All I was saying here is that if you add screws and seams and bulk you'll get reamed by reviewers on that stuff. Reparability just isn't a metric that's used much by major tech reviewers. In the age of Apple devices, you take it to the Genius Bar and that's that.

    I've read a number of Surface Laptop reviews and it's almost like an art form these days with these kinds of devices. Form over function is the game. Maybe Microsoft should buck the trend and build something with 10 repair score. But I'm certain that won't get appreciation from reviewers. I've got an old Lenovo x220t convertible tablet from 2011 sitting on a shelve next to me. Easy to take apart and repair, tons of screens and covers and plates and a removable battery. That design would get blasted to hell and back in 2017.
     
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  30. Krenum

    Krenum [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Its a "Feature".

    To be fair though, why would you need to open it? All the hardware is integrated into the motherboard (unless you didn't know it was, then jokes on you). Only thing I can think of is if the fan dies.

    That carpeted keyboard though....Yuck, imagine all the grime that thing is going to accumulate.
     
  31. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I think the intent here is pretty obvious. By making devices that are destroyed upon opening them, you reduce the lifecycle of the product.

    This is highly profitable because you don't want people holding onto old devices, or purchasing used devices on the market for a decade instead of buying your new stuff. If you know the battery will only last on average 2 years, you can sell the same consumer a new one and drastically reduce the amount of devices on the used market (which not only makes you no money as a manufacturer, but if anything can be considered a negative profit from a lost potential sale).

    Wish I could recall the name of the documentary; it wasn't about electronics, but about how many commodity goods are not incidentally but actually SPECIFICALLY designed with a product life in mind, using say a plastic gear with a predictable hours of usage life over a brass one, because its a good thing when the product dies. Otherwise, you end up hitting market saturation if you make your product so good that someone buys it in 1990 and fifteen years later its running strong.

    And sometimes they straight out lie to consumers, like saying that your mattress doubles in weight from sweat and dander after five years, which is easily debunked (especially since almost everyone uses a mattress protector anyway, so that's not possible). This "throw away lifestyle" is bad for the consumer and bad for the environment.

    The other trick that's more and more popular lately is to sell something with components that regularly need replacing or refilling, so you have a constant revenue stream no matter how old the device is, and this may hit Microsoft too if they start going to a subscription model for software.
     
  32. rudy

    rudy [H]ardness Supreme

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    Here is what I find short sighted about these decisions. Laptops actually last a while now days because computing power hasn't been moving up that fast due to the focus on lowering power consumption and increasing battery life and thinness. This is apparent with many devices, I mean lets look at apple they didn't even bother upgrading some of their devices for 5 years. 5-10 years ago ironically that wasn't the case laptops especially where pretty disposable because the market was so rapidly increasing performance and dropping prices.

    The surface laptop with a reparability of zero may very well be a good product right now but in 3+ years when a bunch of users are complaining because they battery is at 50% capacity all the time and the fabric is all stained up and what ever other problems have cropped up this will be giving MS a bad name. And consumers are that ignorant and yes they do blame those things on the maker even though they should have thought of that before purchasing the product.
     
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  33. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardness Supreme

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    It's likely done to make it easier to manufacturer, as well as because of how thin it is (as someone else said, the thinner and lighter you want, the more glue is involved).

    They're banking on it not breaking within the warranty period. The most expensive components are the screen, battery, and main board. So in the event that it does break in warranty a users device would likely be swapped for a new/refurbished (much like how phones are). They may have a destructive procedure to open the bad units, removing the good parts which could be married to a new shell to be sold as refurbished.

    As with most new device designs, they tend to stock pile refurbished units pretty quickly because the initial production runs are shit. Glue fails, ports break, seams open. That's why if you buy a new device within the first month of it's release, you're really beta testing the manufacturering process. It's cheaper than discarding a ton of units and refining the design before release. Not uncommon to see HW Version 1.3 or higher labeled on the units within a few months of release.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
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  34. Uvaman2

    Uvaman2 Gawd

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    Yes it is called PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE and it absolutely is a canon of industrial design. I do agree with the other poster they are shooting themselves in the foot.. as typically warranty is 2 years so if these fail shortly after that lots of people are going to feel badly burned... The type of burn you don't forget. Now if they are selling these with 5 to 7 year warranty... Well good deal.
    Also looking a this shit, makes me agree more with those that castigate companies like these, than they do oil companies.... FUCK, i get disposable things, but this is just overdoing it.
     
  35. Khahhblaab

    Khahhblaab n00bie

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    I see the same thing. Destroy the case to get inside to fix whats broken then get a new case and slap it on the good parts. Reweld so if again needing fixing: repeat previous procedure. But its, as some have pointed out, partly our fault. Manufacturers follow what consumers want, thinner+lighter+cheaper. An interesting side note to the replaceable battery issue is that it costs more to design a consumer replaceable battery because of the additional costs of designing consumer proof products. Imagine 2.6 amps dead shorted across someones tongue. In a non removeable style it could be a problem. In a removeable style, the contacts are harder to access and the case is thicker. Not all design features are to protect consumers and the environment though. I have seen videos of where advanced countries electronic waste winds up and its not cool. Like sweeping dust under the rug where it isnt seen but yet still in the house.

    It just doesnt seem to be a truly defined issue with the manufacturers. The same engineers that have come up with such cool ways of making things thinner, could also come up with new ways to join a thinner case together without destroying it........and more diy proof {not that I fully vote that way, just thinking about the waste issue}.

    "Heatlesssun" feels that microsoft likely has a way to open it nondestructively, hope he's correct because many successful designs are coiped so before you know it there will be more destructive case designs. Seems bad.
     
  36. zalazin

    zalazin Gawd

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    high over price POS
     
  37. Mohonri

    Mohonri [H]ardness Supreme

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    It's instructive to look at Samsung's flagships.
    Height from the GS5-GS8 (in mm): 142mm -> 143.4 -> 142.4 -> 148.9
    Width: 72.5 -> 70.5 -> 69.6 -> 68.1
    Thickness: 8.1 -> 6.8 -> 7.9 -> 8

    So they're getting taller and narrower, and bouncing around the same thickness. Personally, I don't get the pursuit of thinness in phones, although I certainly understand it for laptops and tablets. IMO, once a phone is under 10mm, getting thinner isn't actually better.
     
  38. SGTGimpy

    SGTGimpy Limp Gawd

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    Surface Laptop (Cobalt Blue Core i5, 8GB RAM 256GB SSD) - $1299. Warranty - $149. I purchased a bundle at $199 that gave a discount on warranty ($129.00), new arc mouse and free $80 case. I was going to buy all this anyway so it was a good deal for me to do the bundle.
     
  39. nightfly

    nightfly [H]ard|Gawd

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    Nothing new to see here. To most consumers, they've been building a disposable OS for decades (one that gradually slows to nearly a stop) and stopped shipping an installation disc, so most consumers had no hope of fixing their now slow as molasses machines. So they had to buy a new computer anyway, often after only a couple of years worth of malware, adware and windows rot. Now they simply make it so you have no hope at all of fixing it, so you have to buy a new one. So as long as it comes with some kind of warranty, people will buy it.
     
  40. ymer

    ymer Limp Gawd

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    I think their target audience won't care about this. People that can afford that kind of hardware will just toss it away and get a newer generation to replace it