Surface Pro 2 tablet gets 1 out of 10 on repairability scale

This is bad news. Bad for Microsoft and bad for our planet.

The result is a tablet that is practically unrepairable and is therefore, in essence, disposable. The Reg has criticized Microsoft before for adding to the pile of discarded tech in the world’s landfills, and we’re disappointed to report that the Surface Pro 2 does nothing to slow this trend.

The original Surface tablet got the same score. Was hoping the Surface 2 would show some advancement in that department. To be fair, the 4th generation iPad did not do much better, scoring a 2 out of 10. We’ve got to do better than this.

  • the Ugly Truth

    What? And no Mike Daisy doing an exclusive?

  • Domicinator

    This makes a very strong case for making sure your old tech finds a good home instead of just tossing it. The iPad Air will be the third iPad I’ve bought, and I sold my iPad 2 and 3 privately on Facebook instead of just “recycling” them. Of course, I have no control over what the buyers do with them, but at least they got reused, not tossed. And they helped pay for my new models.

    It’s even worse with cell phones. And the major US carriers are now all running commercials about these yearly upgrade plans they are offering. It’s all so insanely wasteful.

    • Moeskido

      There are also plenty of places one can find with a little effort that will accept old electronics for recycling, including some branches of Staples and my favorite Apple reseller, NYC’s Tekserve.

  • Tied with the new MacBook Pros.

    I think that when given the choice between repairability or making an ever so slightly slim device, device makers are opting for the second. And Apple started that trend.

  • jtk

    Repairability really only matters in light of the failure rate. If the failure rate is lower than most computers, then low repairability doesn’t create so much waste (relatively). With no fans or hard drives, it’s reasonable to expect a lower failure rate for tablets, though I’m not sure if the Surface (or Pro) has fans.

    On balance, I’d guess that choosing an iPad over a “repairable” laptop is a greener choice on average in terms of power use, material use, and failure rate times repairability.

    Just don’t drop your iPad.

  • ksiama

    So do both new Macbook Pros. Both are 1 out of 10 with glued in batteries. I look forward to a new news article on this.

    • Glaurung-Quena

      Ifixit’s obsession with being able to replace the battery as a measure of repairability has always struck me as really very silly considering that nowadays Apple uses battery technology that gives 1000+ recharge cycles, ensuring that the battery will probably outlast the device itself.

  • GadgetGav

    Meh, iFixit has an unrealistic expectation of how modern electronics are put together. Yes, there’s an e-waste problem globally, but that’s different to individual users being able to take their gadgets down to the basement and pry them open with a screwdriver. Just like cars before them, modern electronics aren’t diagnosed and repaired, the faulty part is taken out and replaced. If there’s a faulty capacitor in your Surface, or iPad or even tower PC, it’s unlikely to be replaced as a single component – the motherboard will be replaced. If we want powerful electronics that are small enough to fit in our pockets or backpacks, then conforming batteries and surface mount components are what we get. If we want easily serviceable electronics it’s back to computers the size of rooms I’m afraid.

    • Terry Maraccini

      right on the money.

    • lucascott

      it’s simpler than that. iFixit doesn’t rate on whether a trained tech with the right tools can fix something.

      The rate on whether they can sell noobs the parts and tools to do it themselves.

      • Glaurung-Quena

        Case in point, they rate the old-style (pre 2010) Mac mini as very hard to repair, despite the fact that it’s a snap to take it apart as long as you have the right tool for opening the case.

  • Larry Davis

    “We’ve got to do better than this.”

    Meh, not really. The iPad at least is highly recyclable. Not very repairable, but you don’t have to just throw it away when you’re done.

    Equating repairability with disposability is silly.

    • Scott

      Well said.

    • Sigivald

      It’s good for iFixit’s business model, though!

  • Terry Maraccini

    This is an issue which spans across industries. Please remember to repurpose or reuse before recycling;

  • JohnDoey

    I think the concern here is totally misplaced. Both iPad and Surface are recyclable and that is 100% great. The idea that they could ever be generally repairable by 3rd parties is not practical.

    To understand why, consider that when your Windows software fails you and you call an I-T guy, he does not repair Windows for you, he replaces it with a fresh install of Windows. In theory, he could sit down and repair your Windows, but he might spend a week doing that and never find the problem. A week of I-T support costs more than 10x what your Windows PC cost. The average PC will never get a week of I-T support. Better for Windows to be reinstalled (recycled) as one component. Similarly, iPad and Surface devices will typically not receive any repair person hours. Better that they be designed to be recycled because that is what is actually going to happen to those units. It takes way too much time and effort to consider an iPad (or a Windows install) as separate components. That is why big iPad contracts include x number of replacements per year for iPads that fail.

    The thing is, an iPad may be made out of many parts, but in practice, it is one “iPad” part, made mostly of highly-recyclable aluminum and glass. Apple receives iPads for refurb or recycling themselves, and provides great service plans and even insurance against drops. There is literally nothing to complain about here. The only real issue is PC/tech people want to open devices up and play with the components and that is getting harder to do now that an iOS device is in some ways like a DVD with a built-in screen and computer. With a DVD, the concern is recycling, not repair. Same for an iPod, iPhone, iPad — which replaced the DVD. They are built to be recycled exactly 2 years later, and replaced with a newer model. That upgraded hardware enables a universe of upgraded software. It is not wasteful. That one device over 2 years will move an unthinkable number of bits around on behalf of the user who goes from zero computing/networking capability to very well equipped with only one iOS device, which they typically use 8+ hours per day for the entire 2 years, using 1/35th of the electricity per hour of a generic PC. Extending the life of the devices in the used market is great, but ultimately they all get recycled. How are you going to repair a billion iOS devices?

    Another thing to consider is that the very strict tolerances and glued-together parts and so on that make a device inconvenient to repair are the same qualities that make a device survive a fall and therefore not even need to be repaired. An iPad that is designed to be easier to repair would break more easily and require more repair.

    In a few years, your iPad might only have like 3 parts you can see without a microscope. It is not something you get repaired at Best Buy, or do yourself with parts from Radio Shack. These days the best strategy is to get AppleCare for your iOS device and use it for a guaranteed 2 years and then upgrade to new hardware plus AppleCare, reselling or recycling the old hardware. No repairs are necessary, no responsibility is on you except to use the devices, and Apple takes care of keeping you running. It’s more like receiving big software updates every 2 years on a DVD in the old days than it is like buying PC’s in the old days. The PC part is now a microscopic component of a 21st century DVD (an iOS device.)

  • Slurpy2k12

    Uh, the new Macbook Pro also got a 1/10 repairability from iFixit. I would criticize the Surface for other things, but not this. It’s not like modern Apple products do well in repairability (nor should they). It’s an irrelevant metric for most people, and usually the more “repairable” something is, the less efficiently designed it is, if every damn part is meant to be easily removable/replaceable.