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frankspin

October 25th 2013 1:59 pm

Does a product's repair score really matter to you?



iFixit has become quite popular, and their teardowns of newly announced products always grab the attention of the tech world. Their most recent teardown of the newest Retina model Macbook Pro unsurprisingly scored a 1, and of course it's causing a bit of a stir. While they are often interesting since they provide a real good look at the product, do these teardowns serve any form of relevance anymore? Especially for products like the MacBook Pro Retina models, which are known for not being upgrade-friendly.

When looking at all their guides and trying to find comparisons, they didn't really have any current laptops that sized up with the rMBP. I did find the 2012 MBA and last year's widely popular ASUS UX32VD. The MBA scored a 4, with the UX32VD scoring an 8. Both laptops are similarly priced and are both from the same market segment.

I moved on to tablets next, because that might be the hottest consumer market right now. I was able to pull up the iPad 4, Surface, and Kindle Fire HDX. The HDX ranked the highest with a 3, followed by the iPad with a 2, and in last was the Surface with a 1. Unlike with the laptops, the iPad and HDX are somewhat similarly priced while the Surface is priced far higher.

The last category I looked at were phones comparing the 5s, HTC One, Moto X, and Galaxy S4. All very similar devices with three of them being flagship phones and the Moto X being a very consumer oriented product. The S4 ranked highest with a score of 8, Moto X was next up at 7, 5s at a 6, and the HTC One was last with a rating of just 1. What's interesting here is that the One and 5s have very similar body construction and design, yet the One scored significantly lower. It seems that the One just has poorly laid out components making it very difficult to fix.

I can understand wanting to know with phones considering their upfront cost and the dependence some have in them. It also doesn't help that most manufacturers, or any, offer the kind of repair program that Apple does where you just walk in for a swap.

When it comes to laptops I guess I can understand the desire to know if you can add memory or swap a hard drive, but given the audience that iFixIt targets it's interesting to see them often get bothered by lack of repair. I see the iFixIt audience as very tech-oriented, so they should be more aware of the pitfalls of buying a MBA or rMBP.

So where am I going with this? Basically, at what point does the ability to repair something stop mattering and does it really affect your purchase decision? And if it does matter, which market segments does it matter to you the most?

Image: Courtesy of iFixIt

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8 replies
cass

I don't care about a product repairability, meaning can I easily repair this. I'd rather just have customer support fix it OR have the product not break to begin with. That said, durability and customer service is what is most important to me.
5 like dislike
jeffkoe

The ability to get my smartphone repaired quickly is important because I depend on it so much. That is where Apple shines. I prefer Android, but no other OEM can match the ease of getting my phone up and running like Apple. If I'm not using an iPhone, I have to keep a backup phone as this is the only way of assuring I will have a phone in case of malfunction. My Nexus 4 malfunctioned, and it took several phone and email negatioations over a period of days before I got a replacement. I had to buy another phone and just sold the replacement Nexus 4, as it took too long to get the replacement. This really is a problem if your Android phone malfunctions.
4 like dislike
fourblades

"Fixability" of a device doesn't affect my purchasing decision. I'd rather it not break on me within its warranty period, and at that point I would at least hope the manufacturer or the store would give options to repair or replacement at that time. The only time I think of how easy it is to repair is when it is out of warranty, but by then I may have already replaced or sold the device.
4 like dislike
mikeblumenstein

exactly... when you buy a new car, is it based on reliability (NOT needing to be fixed) or the Warranty (They will fix it). How many people buy a new car based on how easy it is to change the oil, rotate the tires or swap out a K&N filter?

I would never buy a device based on how easy it is for me to fix it, and this is coming from somone who has built almost every white box I owned since my x286 in college. Same person who took apart my first laptop just to see what the guts look like (and because I was bored working on a holiday as a pluming company dispatcher).

Even with my incessant need to take things apart to see how they work, this would never sway my buying decision, but I think the website is really cool... saves me the hassle.
3 like dislike
cjtylr

Like Cass, I would much rather buy a computer from someone like Apple and sacrifice the ability to fix things myself simply because I know Apple will take care of most of it.

I hate to say it, but my recent computer purchasing cycle (getting shorter and shorter each year) means that the repairability of my computer doesn't really affect me. Chances are it's not going to break (especially being a Mac) within the couple of years before I upgrade to the latest model.

TL;DR - I don't care about repairability. I care about how easy it is to get the manufacturer to fix it. (Apple: A+, HP: F-).
2 like dislike
falleninsea

For me it all depends on what i am buying.

for mobile devices like phones and tablets I agree with Cass in that I don't care about a product repairability i care about the customer support to fix it or have the product not break to begin with. Also for me most of these types of device i only keep for about a year before i replace it with something new.

For laptops this matters a little more because i like bing able to remove the hard drive and upgrade it or add more RAM to a device to save some money by doing it myself. But like with NoHotWater i tendo to also upgrade these on year to two year cycle so i don’t really care so much about the repairability or the ability to do simple upgrades. But with that in mind the last Mac i purchased was the last non Retina MacBookPro because i was able to modify it.

Now for the good old desktop. to me it matters. this is a device i tend to invest more and time into and i expect to be able to open it up and make changes like adding RAM, upgrading the storage and swapping out the Video cards.

I don’t think most today open up their devices with the intent of fixing them or upgrading them. To most people they are replaceable commodities. when its broke or no longer shiny and new out it goes and in comes the new shinny.
1 like dislike
groovechicken

In general, the more I spend on a gadget, the more I care about repairability because I don't have much disposable income. When it comes to computers, though, I always want the drive to be easily replaceable because drive reliability is so abysmal these days.
0 like dislike
vbetts

For me it would depend on the product. A desktop computer should have a high repair ability, or a pretty good amount of taking a part. A laptop should have a decent one for the size and shape, I don't expect it too much from my smartphone.
0 like dislike