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
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.
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-).
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.
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