back to article Microsoft's new Surface laptop defeats teardown – with glue

It appears as if Microsoft has been following the Apple playbook in creating another laptop whose components you can never replace. DIY site iFixIt tried to take apart the new Microsoft Surface laptop – an ultra-thin and light unit which starts at £979 – and seemingly couldn’t do it without completely and utterly destroying it …

Silver badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

It's happening everywhere.

Take my 2010 Peugeot 3008, and my 1998 Toyota Corolla.

The Peugeot suffered a power steering leak, which was duly fixed with a new seal. Labour costs meant it was about £180 (including a £10 seal). But that cause another problem with the power steering pump's ECU. Cost of replacing (not fixing it) would be £300. You can't repair the ECU as it's embedded etc etc.

Not that I've needed to change the power steering pump on my Corolla, but a brand new pump costs about £80 - £100 (second hand its about £30) and it's a complete DIY job. Why? The pump is belt driven and attached to the engine. So as long as you have a socket set you're sound.

The way the Peugeot is, and it's not even the most technologically advanced car, is that if anything of note goes wrong with it it'll mean the car is a write off due to costs (in terms of both materials and labour). The last version of the Renault Megane requires the wheel, inner wheel arch, a few other bits and pieces to be removed just to change a headlight bulb. Depending where you go, this could costs hundreds of pounds to fix a simple bulb.

But society is fickle. They want the snazzy cars, they want the ultra slim computers. Who cares if it's a pig to fix or expensive to sort out? It's snazzy, and it means you have money if you can afford to buy one.

It's the sore, raw, pimple on the arsehole of society.

33
0
Silver badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

French cars have always been crap. That tear down for a light bulb just reminds me of Renault 5 turbos of the 80's

Even a 306 removing the battery was PITA.

7
2
Silver badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

"Even a 306 removing the battery was PITA."

Thanks for reminding me of bad memories.

0
0

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

You will probably appreciate my current dual-server project... Consists of 2 RPF CM3L modules, 2 WD Labs SATA Adapters, 2 60GB SSDs, 2 USB to Ehternet adapters, 2 5v 2.5A PSUs all held together with a 4 port KVM switch, an 8 port data switch and some short USB and CAT-5 cables. And--oh, yes--for offline work, an NTP server built from an RPF Pi0 and an RTC. Everything can be replaced easily with--at most a small screwdriver and (in the case of the NTP server) a soldering iron to install header pins.

5
1
Gold badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

But doesn't French Law require you to carry around a set of spare bulbs? If you can't fit them, what's the point of that?

11
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

"French cars have always been crap. That tear down for a light bulb just reminds me"

Its not just the French !

There are a number of recent German brand cars that require you to remove half the air-conditioning assembly to even be able to open the back of the headlight holder, let alone remove the light and replace it.

The problem stems from the desire of the car manufacturers to make their engine compartments as compact as possible (either to make the car as compact as possible, or to maximise room inside). Hence the reason why (unfortunately) rear-wheel drive is a rarity these days, because the manufacturers just mount the engine sideways these days and make the thing front-wheel drive instead.

It also happens to be cheaper for manufacturers to build FWD instead of RWD or AWD. But for you the, the end-user, FWD provides zero benefit, and actually, in terms of vehicle dynamics and handling, FWD goes further than zero benefit, it actually gives negative benefit, i.e. it is a disadvantage ! FWD vehicle dynamics are horrible.

4
7
Silver badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

Replacing the battery on my Land Rover Discovery needed a crane...

Have you SEEN the size of those batteries?

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

"But doesn't French Law require you to carry around a set of spare bulbs? If you can't fit them, what's the point of that?"

The French have all sorts of weird and wonderful motoring laws.

The best one is (probably) the "voitures sans permis" (cars without license).

That does what it says on the tin.

You, the driver, do not need a license to drive one.

Which means teenagers can drive them.

As can older people who have, erm, "lost their license" shall we say.

The only downside is the engine is limited by law to 1HP, so top speed is about 30mph or so.

6
0
Silver badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

Around 25mph, they sound like tractors, are relatively expensive and are nicknamed 'cars for the blind' - none of which a French teenager wants. However, the French do let teenagers with L plates carry their girlfriend on the back of scooters, making rural life that bit easier for them!

4
0
Bronze badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

Your point is good, but if you compared a 2010 Corolla to your 2010 Peugeot you'd see they are pretty similar with some of that. The amount of stuff that can be crammed under the bonnet of a car is pretty amazing, seeing as it all has to fit in and still function. But then there is barely room to turn a wrench in there any more.

4
0
Bronze badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

"...desire of the car manufacturers to make their engine compartments as compact as possible..."

In 1979, I actually had to ask my little sister for assistance getting out of my car. A 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air that had enough room in the engine compartment for me to crawl in to work on it. Enough room even to put my right foot on the pavement, essentially standing in the engine compartment. Getting back out, however...

7
0

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

If my memory is right it wasn't that bad on the 306 I think the hard bit was getting a grip on it to lift it out.

0
0

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

I thought I was going to have to remove the headlight of a 206 just to replace the bulb, but was then shown you could just pull the neck of the washer fluid bottle off. But then that 206 did get scrapped in part due to the labour cost of getting the heater matrix replaced.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

"Your point is good, but if you compared a 2010 Corolla to your 2010 Peugeot you'd see they are pretty similar with some of that. The amount of stuff that can be crammed under the bonnet of a car is pretty amazing, seeing as it all has to fit in and still function. But then there is barely room to turn a wrench in there any more."

I wasn't comparing Japanese manufacturing to French "manufacturing", I was pointing out the difference in the age of the cars.

Late 90's cars are the pinnacle really, they come with enough mod cons to be comfortable today yet easy enough to fix yourself if you need to. Every car after that just gets harder and harder to fix on a DIY basis, and increases the cost of labour to the mechanics you hand the car to.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

"Replacing the battery on my Land Rover Discovery needed a crane...

Have you SEEN the size of those batteries?"

Yep, and replaced one myself - they are not that bad. The one in the caravan the Discovery tows is bigger.

I also had to replace a bulb in the car recently - one or two screws (I forget which) and the unit pops off.

The same with the headlight of my Focus; one screw, and two clips - though admittedly you need a suficciently long stick to get down to the lower clip, it's still easy to do.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Add it to the pile of coal.

"Even a 306 removing the battery was PITA."

I'll see your 306 and raise you a set of VM Beetle spark plugs (old style Beetle, not that new abomination!)

1
0

What happened to screwing?

I love screwing!

9
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: What happened to screwing?

I prefer a giving a quality drilling over a good screwing...but I've hearing banging away is quite popular in some parts as well. And don't forget, if you find things a little difficult, you can always lube the parts up.

14
0
Silver badge

Re: What happened to screwing?

Do you not know how to tease things open gently? Carefully probing and fondling with little tiny skillful movements to elicit the opening piecemeal, savouring the anticipation?

All so eager to get at what's inside, you don't appreciate the packaging.

13
0
Silver badge

Re: What happened to screwing?

I prefer a giving a quality drilling ...

SDS, man, that's the way to go. Proper percussive action, none of this rotating cam "rub the brick into submission" nonsense.

1
0

I know that people replace mobile phones every couple of years because of contracts.

But replacing a £1000 laptop is a bit different. Especially as it's not as easy to pay for it over time - welll... unless Mobile companies start selling SIM cards with laptops, and offering a contract...

3
0
Silver badge

Quite.

I'd rather have two £500 laptops and stick one on a shelf. At least then you stand a chance at longevity, spare parts usage, etc.

The non-replaceable items get no love from me whatsoever. And, to be honest, I hate having to take things apart. I lose at least one screw every time I do so. But at least I have a choice between "£10 keyboard replacement done by myself even if I have to take the whole thing apart" and £1000 replacement.

9
0
Silver badge

Apple did finance on their laptops for a while - bought one for the wife on twelve months zero interest.

Pretty close to a no brainer in terms of financing a computer - And I reckon it will carry on lasting for a good long while yet. It was reasonably carefully specced to be a practical machine...

0
0

Nonsense

Yes, to make the devices smaller & lighter, improving aesthetics while also withstanding knocks and general handling they're glued together. Why is this a problem? What are you going to replace? The CPU and RAM will be soldered to the board anyway to meet the cost/packaging criteria. The story is idiotic because there are plenty of options for people who want to be able to dismantle and 'upgrade' their laptop, but it'll be bigger, uglier & heavier than this one. It's like buying a sports car and complaining that it's not as roomy or economical as your old mini-van.

Stop dripping nerds, this is the future, it's disposable.

4
23

Re: Nonsense

So wrong and you don't even understand why.

I'm writing this on the laptop for which I had a new LCD installed a few weeks back after many years of prior use. It's still going strong. Why should it be replaced?

Just this weekend I tore down and repaired my coffee grinder which had suddenly stopped working from one day to the next. Fresh-ground coffee was my reward later. That, and not tossing something which was still perfectly usable.

But ... Millennials! We're doomed.

20
4

Re: Nonsense

Society has been moving towards the probably-not-efficient-yet-disposable-model~situation~majig long before "millennials." I use instant coffee and overly-sweet creamer. I am chaos incarnate. Your future is in jeopardy. Bow before your progeny and our wicked ways.

4
0

Re: Nonsense

So wrong and you don't even understand why.

I'm writing this on the laptop for which I had a new LCD installed a few weeks back after many years of prior use. It's still going strong. Why should it be replaced?

Fine. So what? Do you want us to be impressed by your resourcefulness or canniness? I'm not, I've followed the same approach. That doesn't make anyone who wants anything different wrong. Too many people here complain they can't dismantle things or replace parts, or don't have the portage they want in one thread, and then engage in techo-masturbation over a device that's 1mm thinner or half an ounce lighter in another. They work largely work against each other so a choice has to be made. Make whatever choice you want - I don't care. I do object to the selfish attitude - "It isn't what I want, so no-one else should be allowed to buy one either."

A fairly comparable situation came up over the last few months with my mother and myself. We were both looking for new desktops, both decided in favour of SFF systems. Both expect a system to last 5-10 years. My own would fit what I suspect many here would go for - made out of standard off the shelf components I can easily replace any component whenever I like. Cost about £250, not overly powerful but good enough and hell, I can replace the ITX board with a new one in 2 or 3 years for another £100.

My Mum's not going to do that. At most her system may get a memory upgrade during its life. She also wanted a name brand - you can argue about that but it is what she wanted. Cost of her new HP - about £450. To be fair you can dismantle it but the components are generally non-standard so forget any notion of a mid life update - upgrading memory or SSD, or replacing the ODD are about your limit. Yes, it was £200 more expensive but it's a lot more powerful - I suggested that spec for her bearing in mind it would have to last a decent period without upgrades. I knew about the limited scope for replacement parts before I suggested it, but it doesn't change the fact that it's the right machine for her. Why should she be forced to buy something less suitable based on your preferences?

2
2
Silver badge

Re: Nonsense

"What are you going to replace?"

The battery.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Nonsense

"Too many people here complain they can't dismantle things or replace parts, or don't have the portage they want in one thread, and then engage in techo-masturbation over a device that's 1mm thinner or half an ounce lighter in another."

I've never swooned over a device of any type for being smaller or lighter. If people want that, it's their prerogative to seek out such things in the marketplace. I do hold manufacturers responsible for spectacularly unserviceable devices like this one, though. Manufacturers have engineers; maybe if they worked on engineering ways to make devices serviceable AND small instead of using "it's too small to be serviceable" as an excuse to do what they wanted to do anyway, which is to build in planned obsolescence so that the devices have to be replaced fairly regularly.

Apple has long been the master of this; its devices were near the top of the heap as far as lack of serviceability before the Surface Laptop took that prize. Even so, some shops have figured out how to repair the various iThings. Then, of course, Apple famously issued an update to brick devices that had already been successfully repaired and were functioning perfectly with reasonably-priced (non-Apple) parts. That update didn't make the iPhone any smaller or lighter, but it did illustrate Apple's real motive-- a cynical desire to prevent people from repairing their expensive iPhones and forcing them to buy new ones, to the benefit of Apple but to the detriment of their customers and to the environment. The same could be said of the non-removable, remarkably short-lived battery in some of the early-generation iPods, not to mention Apple's efforts to block "right to repair" legislation across the US.

It's clear that the desire to make their products small and light isn't exactly the only thing Apple is trying to accomplish by making them difficult to service. Microsoft has joined them, and even one-upped them with this laptop that is specifically designed to be impossible to open without destroying it. Apple's devices are difficult to service, as are other Surface products, but this Surface Laptop appears to be impossible to service, by design.

Disposable items, more than any other thing, are cheap. Make this Microsoft lappy cost $150 and you might have a deal (depending on whether I can get something other than Windows 10 on there; I am guessing not). Of course, I don't mean the 4GB model; selling a non-upgradeable laptop with 4GB in this day and age is nuts. I don't care that it's higher-spec than the laptops that actually cost $150; those are within the price range that disposability would be somewhat acceptable.

For $1000 plus, though, there's just no friggin' way. I'll pay 30 cents for a disposable Bic pen, but I am not going to spend hundreds of dollars on a super premium pen set that can't have a new ink cartridge installed. Expensive things with consumable bits (batteries, SSDs, or ink cartridges, for example) need to be serviceable.

"Make whatever choice you want - I don't care. I do object to the selfish attitude - "It isn't what I want, so no-one else should be allowed to buy one either."

I believe you have created a strawman here. I don't recall anyone saying that no one should be allowed to buy glued-together, expensive, disposable devices. I'd go as far to say that anyone with any sense wouldn't want one, but never that it shouldn't even be allowed.

If manufacturers can sucker people into buying disposable pens, computers, or anything else for a thousand bucks, that's between them and their marks... ah, customers. At least we should try to make sure people are informed of the disposable nature of their goods before they shell out their hard-earned cash. I'd bet that most people don't really understand that this Surface Laptop can't have its battery replaced at all. They're used to smart phones and other things where replacement is difficult, but it would be reasonable for them to expect that it can be done in some fashion.

7
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Nonsense

>Make whatever choice you want - I don't care. I do object to the selfish attitude - "It isn't what I want, so no-one else should be allowed to buy one either."

I want to urinate through your letter box and defecate in your front garden. What do you mean *you* don't want me to ruin your environment? Some people are so selfish - I should be able to do whatever I want and damn the consequences for society.

2
1
Silver badge

Re: Nonsense

I believe you have created a strawman here. I don't recall anyone saying that no one should be allowed to buy glued-together, expensive, disposable devices. I'd go as far to say that anyone with any sense wouldn't want one, but never that it shouldn't even be allowed.

Methinks the point is that one should be allowed to buy a device that is not glued-together and disposable -- that is, that there should be manufacturers who actually produce devices that are easy to dismantle and service, using standard parts that can be exchanged and upgraded without difficulty.

At present, manufacturers seem to prefer to offer only overpriced and unmaintainable landfill, despite the fact that -- as you say -- nobody with any common sense would want to buy it; the only reason that anyone does is that there are no alternatives. I can only regard this as a conspiracy by the manufacturers to prevent people from prudently buying maintainable devices that will have long and fruitful lives.

We need some legislation along the lines of the RoHS and WEEE Directives requiring manufacturers to make disassembly easy and to use standard parts (or at least to offer easily-obtainable spares at reasonable prices for (say) ten years after a device is first offered for sale).

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Nonsense

"I've never swooned over a device of any type for being smaller or lighter. If people want that, it's their prerogative to seek out such things in the marketplace."

There are some breakpoints...

The original Nexus7 fitted well in trouser pockets, the iPad mini doesn't.

That's a critical dimension, and a fairly small change in the iPad mini packaging could be a significant improvement.

But I agree that the 'this device is 0.7mm thinner than the previous, otherwise identical, device' swooning is rather pointless...

0
0
Silver badge
Pirate

A task for Big Clive

Big Clive would soon have it open. Whether or not it would go back together is another matter.

He might even subject it to the same treatment he gave a 100W LED.

6
0
Silver badge
Flame

Apple

MS copying Apple.

This abusive manufacturing should have been made illegal years ago, with glue limited to parts that never need to be removed for repair.

Batteries barely last 2 years if charged every day and can fail earlier.

It pokes "Repair, Reuse, Recycling" in the Eye.

Fine them AND Apple and the others. This has gone on too long. Rescind the CE mark of anything other than like a greeting card with glued case / display / battery!

8
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Re: Apple

Perhaps, I am an old fart who has used and written software for computing devices for 45+ years. I am on my second iPad - I use a 'real' computer for less than 2hrs a day now. The first iPad was the original model bought 7 years ago (on its first shipping day) as a plaything. My wife purchased an iPad Air to try out, and said she would pass it on to me if she didn't like it (I had to purchase my own a few weeks later as it became the only computer she uses). The original was passed on to a friend for light use - it's battery life is still about 4 hours of use, but this might be because it is often in sleep mode.

My 'new' one is down to about 7-8 hours (2.5 years ago it was 10+). I am trying to use the 'short' battery life to justify a new 10.5" iPad Pro...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

"temperature required to melt the glue, would likely melt the lithium-ion battery"

"I don't see how you can get past Health and Safety Laws, putting an end of life Laptop in an oven with a glued in lithium ion-battery. The temperature required to melt the glue, would likely melt the lithium-ion battery or heat it to dangerous temperatures."

Not so, I use just such a device (table oven / hot plate) daily to heat the glue (not melt) just enough to be able to get screens of hi end TABs (70c for 25mins) - although the temp should be reduced if the battery it nearly full.

Bad design IMHO - one should not have to remove the screen assy 1st to get to the battery!!

And yes it's a fucking big PITA - thanks $am$ung

5
0

As an owner of the disappointing and now almost completely unsupported Surface 1 (only 3 years old remember) there is no way I would buy another Microsoft tablet. The thing will be obsolete in less than two years.

10
0
Silver badge

Somebody afraid kids will start sniffing glue?

Why not just make devices that is easy to disassemble then? Of course you'll lose a bit of revenue long-term, but you'll get people who'll praise and extol the virtues of [glue-less product] to anybody who want to listen.

1
0

There must be better alternatives to gluing everything together...

... for the purposes of recycling.

I have no problem with laptops that are easier to recycle but this strikes me as the laziest and cheapest way to achieve that, and at the expense of repair/reuse/extending the lifespan of a device.

Why is it necessary to solder RAM and PCIE devices to a laptop's mother/logic board? What's wrong with old-fashioned plastic sockets and plastic clips to hold components in place? If easy dissassembly is a requirement (using heat), why not use a plastic which can cope with the heat generated by normal use but at a higher temperature (say 180C) or with the use of a mild solvent melts away and allows for easy separation of these components?

The current attitude towards this seems to indicate that vendors aren't interested in the life of a device beyond it's initial 3 years (where failures are rare and upgrades aren't usually required). There has been and always will be a market for devices older than this, where people on a budget buy second hand/reconditioned from a reseller or auction site, or retain their device and continue to use it. My current laptop is five years old and should easily last another 3-4 with the upgrades I've installed so far.

1
0

Microsoft may think that this won't affect their business but when your company scraps their entire deployment of surface tablets due to this very issue on their test kit then yes, yes it does. (50,000+ person organisation)

1
0

Caveat Emptor! (In UK and EU at least)

Unrepairable... 1 year warranty... Is that reasonable for a £1000 consumer laptop?

Under EU consumer protection rules, a consumer is likely to have comeback against whoever sold them the device - even beyond the 1 year warranty.

The measure is how long a reasonable person would expect a product to last.

If they are not careful, retailers could find themselves replacing a lot of 2-3 year old laptops at their own expense!

0
0
Z80

Re: Caveat Emptor! (In UK and EU at least)

Caveat Venditor then?

0
0
Silver badge

Blimey, that URL

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Laptop+Teardown/92915?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PRTD_Surface_Pro5_Laptop_2017&utm_content=PRTD_Surface_Pro5_Laptop_2017+CID_d981c6538c4b7ad40b1a931bdd034f17&utm_source=CampaignMonitor&utm_term=Microsoft%20Surface%20Teardown

Without all the tracking nonsense: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown//92915

0
0
Bronze badge

One day...

...Microsoft will just go back to writing good software, like they did in the late 80s and early 90s.

0
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017