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In an opinion piece on Wired, iFixit’s Kyle Wiens, who tore down a new MacBook with Retina display, declares it: “Unfixable, unhackable, untenable.” He writes:

On the other hand, Apple has consistently introduced thinner, lighter products. They learn from experience. They react to their customers. They’re very adept at presenting us with what we want. And they give us options from time to time and allow product sales to determine their future designs.

We have consistently voted for hardware that’s thinner rather than upgradeable. But we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Our purchasing decisions are telling Apple that we’re happy to buy computers and watch them die on schedule. When we choose a short-lived laptop over a more robust model that’s a quarter of an inch thicker, what does that say about our values?

The New MacBook Pro: Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. Merglyn says:

    Rule 1, Maker’s bill of rights.

  2. Karl becker says:

    Big brother is tightening up the rules. Pay to play. “If you can’t open it you don’t own it.”

  3. Karl becker says:

    I will gladly carry a little more bulk to have more durabilty and fixabilty.

  4. Mike says:

    Who wants to repair a laptop anyways? I love Apple stuff, it’s designed so awesome..

    My old laptop was so huge, I can’t believe I used to be able to carry it around.. I don’t even know half of the stuff that’s on my new ipod, there’s so much space on those! Apple made this all possible, and I think that’s true innovation.

    I suppose it’s slightly irritating finding out your laptop is no longer the thinnest ever, but I end up feeling good once I upgrade anyways. My buddy says it’s stupid that I cant’ change the battery on my apple stuff, but I usually upgrade them before the battery dies anyways, so I don’t see what the big deal is.

    I suppose there are a few hippies or whatever that complain about all the e-waste and stuff, but I don’t see them lugging around IBM 5150′s in their bike messenger bags.

    Mike

    1. Dre says:

      see crack in the screen? yeah gonna have to buy a new one.
      oh and the battery isnt holding a charge? the screen hinge broke? something is jamed inside your machine? gonna have to buy a new one.

      gotta admit, while im not pleased that my neice stepped on my laptop screen. im pleased its only going to cost $80 to make it good as new

    2. Terence Tam says:

      It’s not just the repairs, it’s the upgrades. The RAM and HD are soldered to the effing motherboard. Which means you can’t upgrade either.

      I don’t know about you, but I upgraded my RAM in my 17″ MBP when it wasn’t so expensive and I’m on my 3rd hard drive upgrade now (320Gb -> 500 GB -> 256Gb SSD + 1TB storage, by swapping out the optical drive). Doing so netted me an extra year or so of service life.

      I also have a hard time paying 3x the cost for Apple RAM when regular branded RAM does the same thing.

  5. AndyL says:

    This’ll sort itself out one day. This is only an artifact of the artificially low prices.

    One day when shortages of rare metals, near-slave labor, or something else ramp the prices up to a more sustainable 15 grand for a low-end note-book, suddenly everyone will want them to be heirloom quality, and fully repairable.

    (Phones too!)

  6. mark hahn says:

    apple sells appliances, not general-purpose machines. this design fits that perfectly.

  7. salec says:

    It is only a matter of case manufacturing. Once we can repack the innards of an Apple toy into a larger, sturdier case of our own making (e.g. 3D printed), with space for our add-ons and mods, we can just treat their product as a component of our new gadget. With “assured death” designed into it, we’ll have a never ending supply of that component, cheap.

  8. ChrisW says:

    I like Apple stuff, I just don’t think it is worth the price. I won an ipod touch 64GB a year ago after filling out a profession-related survey, and while it does some things well it has a lot of limitations which my employer-provided clunky Blackberry does not. I know they are different beasts, but just comparing common items: Lack of replaceable battery, no keyboard, proprietary charging cable, lack of internet multi-tasking (stream audio and browse simultaneously). The looks and thickness are not important to me. One more thing, nobody is going to shell out 2 or 3 grand for a new Apple and then say they don’t like it.

  9. Devin says:

    I love my IPhone and at the time I need to replace my android tablet it will be with a IPad, but when it comes to computers I have a hard time forking out the $1200 plus for a Apple laptop over my $350 cheap acer. Size and style only goes so far for me, I would say ios5 is far better then android but for my day to day computer needs osX does not offer enough for me to go and drop almost four times as much on to a computer. I have ran this laptop for 2 years now and it can handle AutoCad and MasterCAM without a issue, but I do save every thing to a cloud now or to my backup hard drive in fear of a future crash…. just to set the record straight.

  10. I like Gruber’s take:

    Do you hear it? That’s the world’s tiniest violin, playing a sad song for the third-party repair and upgrade industry. And that violin was made by Apple and can’t be disassembled.

  11. Dietzign says:

    It’s ok if it has “Assured Death” as long as it becomes assured compost. Rotten Apples.

  12. [...] response to New MacBook Most Unrepairable Laptop Ever?, salec says: It is only a matter of case manufacturing. Once we can repack the innards of an Apple [...]

  13. [...] response to New MacBook Most Unrepairable Laptop Ever?, salec says: It is only a matter of case manufacturing. Once we can repack the innards of an Apple [...]

  14. Stryder says:

    Double edged sword. As the device becomes smaller and lighter, it naturally becomes less wasteful of nonrenewable resources.

    There are tons of broken or obsolete computers and parts in landfills. At least when these become obsolete, because everyone wants the MacBookPro v2, there’ll be less waste. The “cost” in terms of labor and intellectual rights doesn’t really matter in regards to the environmental impact.

  15. Dean Laing says:

    Was this in the “Your comments” section and i at first thought this comment was also written about apples products in a metaphorical way

    NEWS FROM THE FUTURE – Every Concert Is A Hologram, AmandaJ remarks:

    When you realize that people are paying, not for the music or the singer, but for the opportunity to be surrounded by thousands of other people who share an interest and have an excuse to enjoy themselves, then it doesn’t seem so insane.

    They could honestly be paying $75 a ticket to watch paint dry, as long as there were thousands of other people getting really excited about watching the paint dry too. In pop music, particularly, it’s an event where the quality of the ‘merchandise’ is less important than the culture that surrounds it.

  16. ben says:

    This would be a big deal if the new macbook pro was the only laptop in town…. but it ain’t, so it isn’t.

    I mean, isn’t this the fundamental complaint levied against notebooks over an equivalent desktop setup? How many people build their own notebooks? Very, very few I would wager, because the conveniences afforded to the smaller form factor outweigh the need to tear it apart and replace everything.

    I mean really, the only people pissed about this are the small subset of people that a) love Apple enough to pay an exceptional amount of money for hardware, and b) have a moral imperative to attempt all basic repairs yourself. If either of these things apply to you, then this is obviously not your laptop!

  17. cade says:

    I bet I could repair it nothing SMT and reflow soldering cant handle people think most laptops cant be fixed and they can

  18. jj says:

    It’s so dumb how they make it so unrepairable. just like Karl becker I don’t mind carrying around a bit more weight to be able to fix my laptop, and not have to spend two times the money to let Apple fix it.