Increasingly, iPads, Mac notebooks and high end smartphones are turning into sealed units with few or no user-serviceable parts (for example, iFixit called the MacBook Pro with retina display “the least repairable laptop we’ve ever taken apart”).
It’s nothing new; getting into the original Mac required a large gadget called the case-cracking tool to lever apart the seam of the case, as well as a set of Torx screwdrivers, although Apple’s new MacBook Pro takes this to extremes. There are reasons for sealed units that have to be professionally serviced, as well as good arguments against them.
Sleek, seamless, integrated devices need careful construction; it’s about fitting components together as much as it is about stopping you adding a different hardware component that might or might not perform well in the device.
But it’s nice if hardware design makes it easy to replace the battery or upgrade the storage; even the sleekest PC notebooks have removable panels to simplify that.
Even if you don’t want to tinker yourself, it means you can shop around if your device ever needs repairing. And if you don’t care about the on-going costs of keeping your device working, can I suggest a charity donation, because you obviously have spare cash in your pockets?
The back of the Microsoft Surface looks as sleek and seamless as you can get, until you snap up the kickstand hinge. As well as giving you a stable surface it also reveals ten or so screws holding down a removable panel under the hinge mechanism. They’re Torx screws (not even the Torx Plus or Torx Security screws) so you can get a screwdriver to open them easily. And that could mean the Surface will be cheaper to repair and easier to upgrade.