back to article Want that awesome new Apple TrackPad? Don't get a MacBook Pro

The trackpad in the new version of Apple's MacBook Pro may not be the new-fangled technological marvel that CEO Tim Cook said it would be, say analysts. The teardown specialists at iFixIt say that according to their initial examination, the trackpad featured in the new MacBook Pro is an array of magnets and strain gauges, …

  1. Mr.Mischief

    At what point does it become more economical for Apple and the folks at the Genius bar to just throw the old computer away and give the customer a new one?

    I don't see the guys at the service section trying to undo glue..

    And wait.. what? GLUE?

    1. Suricou Raven

      Glue is pretty common in phones, tablets and the very thinnest of laptops. It's part of the 'quest of thinness,' a mission in which Apple leads. The latest macbook air is so thin they had to reduce key displacement, and even the macbook pro lost the ethernet port because the bottom half needed to be thinner then the height of an RJ45 connector. When things get that thin, there just isn't enough material for a screw to grip securely: Glue is the only way to go. The Surface tablets do the same. It lets the manufacturers achieve extreme thinness, which is what many buyers desire - but it comes at the expense of repairability.

      An extreme case is the macbook air battery: An enclosure on the battery would add too many fractional millimeters, so the cells are glued directly to the chassis. That means it's impossible to replace the chassis without also replacing the batteries, and vice versa: Any attempt to separate the two would at the very least destroy the batteries, and likely cause them to ignite. Sure enough, when Apple do a battery replacement on that model they replace the lower chassis too.

      As electronics enthusiasts have been increasingly grumbling every year for the last two decades, modern electronics just aren't made to be repaired. The trend towards miniaturization has led to that. Commonplace components increasingly replaced with dedicated black-box chips impossible to replace, hand-solderable components turning into first surface-mount fiddleys, then BGA impossibilities, circuit boards growing in number of layers so circuits become impossible to even see, let alone follow. Functions that used to be done in understandable but bulky arrays of logic chips and analog components being replaced with inscrutable microcontrollers driven by secret firmware. It isn't just computers, it's everything more complex than a kitchen kettle.

      1. Jan 0

        Nothing new about unrepairable electronics.

        Suricou Raven wrote: "As electronics enthusiasts have been increasingly grumbling every year for the last two decades, modern electronics just aren't made to be repaired."

        Oh, no, not just two decades, at least six. In the days before transistor radios, there was always a mysterious block of pitch with several wires snaking out to the posts on the baseboard above it. Who knew what was in the block of pitch? All the other components were standard resistors, condensers, coils, valves, lamps, transformers and switches that you could pick up in Lisle Street/<your local radio shop>, but where could you get the proprietary pitch block from? To this day, I still don't know what was in there.

        <nostalgia>Where have all the mains energised loudspeakers gone?</nostalgia>

      2. Mephistro Silver badge

        @ Suricou Raven

        "Glue is pretty common in phones, tablets and the very thinnest of laptops. It's part of the 'quest of thinness, ..."

        Sorry to dissent, but there are other solutions that don't add to thickness and at the same time don't make gadgets almost impossible to repair. I can understand the use of glue in elcheapo phones and netbooks, but the use of glue in Apple's expensive gadgets is, in my opinion, pure and simple planned obsolescence. As an example, combination of sliding parts, latches and rubber 'stoppers' wouldn't add weight nor thickness to these gadgets, but would allow a good degree of serviceability and ease of recycling.

        I can't believe Apple's designers (or Microsoft's or Samsung's or...) aren't aware of the existence of these alternatives.

        1. phil dude
          Coat

          Re: @ Suricou Raven

          Nokia Origami.

          No glue in the 3 phones I have...

          P.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: @ Suricou Raven

            >As an example, combination of sliding parts, latches and rubber 'stoppers' wouldn't add weight nor thickness to these gadgets,

            Yes it would... and it would add complexity, too - making the device both more expensive to manufacture and assemble, and more expensive to recycle. Using glue makes products easier to dismantle when they come to the end of their lives, since they can just be passed through an oven and then pulled apart. This much less labour intensive than unscrewing a dozen or so fasteners.

            The manufacturer is responsible for the end-of-life disposal of products now in many territories - so ease of recycling is in their interests.

            1. Mephistro Silver badge

              Re: @ Suricou Raven (@ Dave 126)

              "...making the device both more expensive to manufacture and assemble, and more expensive to recycle"

              Regarding the cost of manufacture and assembly, how much would the methods I described cost? pennies per unit? I can understand your reasoning -up to a point- for products that cost, say, €100, and whose margins are razor thin, but for expensive gadgets it's just plain greed. If a manufacturer saves a few pennies per unit at the cost of halving the life of the device or making repairs after the warranty period several times more expensive, I reckon said manufacturer is scamming its customers. And a well designed gadget could be disassembled in seconds, and these structural elements - e.g. rubber blocks and metallic latches- could be recycled very efficiently.

              And regarding recycling, the glue itself is not recyclable and the heating process will probably damage other components of the device (plastics, batteries,...). And what's more, it needs some specialized equipment, - e.g. an oven with precise temperature control- and energy.

              "The manufacturer is responsible for the end-of-life disposal of products"

              An obligation many manufacturers fulfill by sending the units to some third world country in a bulk carrier or simply dumping them in some discrete landfill. I don't think ease of recycling is, sadly, one of the top priorities for the manufacturers.

    2. bri

      @Mr.Mischief

      Glue keeps things in place, the whole structure is firmer, doesn't bend as easily, doesn't sqeak, it's less likely to fail. Soldering everything has the same benefits - connectors are frequent points of failure. It's fairly understandable that company specializing in selling spare parts doesn't like it.

      As Jan 0 pointed out, this is just normal progress. Tinkerers' pleasure stems from the fact that their skill is useful. And where nothing breaks (or specialist equipment is needed), their skill is irrelevant and they can't prove their worth. They have to find something else to do. C'est la vie.

  2. SuccessCase

    So Tim Cook stated the MacBook Pro, shipping as of Monday, has a force touch trackpad. Has the iFixit Teardown contradicted this? No. Is there any indication it's inferior to the MacBook trackpad internals? No. Should it be the same internal design? Well the MacBook Pro has more space, so why should it be. Does this story amount to anything of note? If it performs the same, which I'm willing to bet it does, especially as it's on the Pro machine, no not a bit.

    The Register as always doing the best hatchet job they can with the minimum of justification, which let's face it, is a rather poor hatchet job.

    1. Florida1920 Silver badge

      @SuccessCase

      Somehow,

      The Register®

      Licking the hand that feeds IT

      Doesn't sound like a site I'd bother reading.

      1. SuccessCase

        Re: @SuccessCase

        Funny, and if you need your snark even at the cost of pretend drama or melodrama, I can see your point.

      2. Deltics

        Re: @SuccessCase

        Neither does:

        The Register - biting at air where they wish a hand was that was worth biting.

      3. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: @SuccessCase

        >Licking the hand that feeds IT ... Doesn't sound like a site I'd bother reading.

        And yet the headline could have read "New Macbook Pro - a bugger to dismantle" and been both critical *and* accurate.

        Criticising poor products and lauding good ones is in the interest of the consumer and user. Beyond that, not distorting what is said by a source is important.

        iFixt merely expressed mild surprise that the Macbook Pro has a different design of trackpad to that in the new Macbook - that is all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd not bother reading El Reg if it was the arse kissing fawning fanboi you want it to be.

      1. SuccessCase

        "I'd not bother reading El Reg if it was the arse kissing fawning fanboi you want it to be."

        I'd settle for critical but authentic. Anything less and you are just fooling yourself. Of course some people like to fool themselves and paint the world with disaster. Misery likes company.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Some of us come here to see the tail twisting stuff and there's a good selection of critical authenticity as well.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. TWB

    Any similar sized laptop good for repair?

    Honest question, just wondered if any manufacturer makes similarly sized/spec'd machines easy to open and repair.

    (I'm too lazy to go searching or put another way, this is my way of searching)

    I agree with what others have said, stuff is just becoming so compact and clever that the reliability goes right up when you reduce the number of separable connectors and therefore modules. Sadly the failures are very sudden and often irreparable. But maybe it is time to build a laptop out of discrete components - "hello RS, I'd like 10 billion BC108s..."

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Any similar sized laptop good for repair?

      iFxit tend to be the go-to site for 'repairability' scores.

      The Surface Pro used more glue and 52 screws, according to iFixit. I can't find any guides or teardowns of the Lenovo Yoga 2 or 3 on the iFixit site.

      Instead of just researching how easy these things are to repair, you might also research how reliable different brands are, and what their extended warranties and service compare.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Meh

    Apple wants it all

    From every penny they can squeeze out of the manufacturer of their parts, to the aftermarket dollars. I read they have a pricey watch in their offerings. Did I hear they are stepping on Google and Tesla's grass now?

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

      Re: Apple wants it all

      that's business for you

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Repair skills...

    ..like stripping down and replacing components is becoming harder. Tends to be more useful these days for white goods and household appliances rather than electronics - mores the pity. Last strip down and fix I did was the PS3 which was reasonable to repair some of the larger components.

    Apple is expensive disposal tech.

  7. DaneB

    My solid and relatively chunky 2008 MacBook Pro is just fine, thanks. Any lighter / thinner and I think I'd probably lose the thing. Apple need to get back to the real world and stop pleasing the posers just a little.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Well, that's showing some concern for your fellow citizens who aren't as strong as you are - our population is aging, y'know. Maybe the user has arthritis, and any weight saving saves them discomfort when they move their laptop around their house. Maybe the user has a load of other stuff - paper files, cameras, product samples, whatever - that they need to lug around as a part of their job. Maybe the user travels by air a lot, and the space saved in their carry-on luggage allows them to pack an extra shirt.

      Who knows.

  8. jai

    Glue

    Is the heavy handed use of glue just Apple's way of trolling ifixit ?

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