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Surface RT Tablet Gets Teardown: Fairly Tough to Repair

While Microsoft's Surface is a little easier to repair than the iPad 3, the in-demand Windows 8-powered tablet is still fairly fairly difficult to repair, according to experts iFixit.

The website rated Surface's "repairability" a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the easiest). Comparatively, the iPad has a rating of 2, while the Amazon Kindle Fire boasts a rating of 8.

"The Microsoft Surface is a quirky cat," said iFixit. "Microsoft engineers clearly took a different internal design direction than what we've seen in the iPad and the Nexus/Kindles. But sadly, its overall fixability is closer to the near-impossible-to-open iPad than it is to the spudger-friendly Android tablets."

iFixit noted that Surface's design allows users to open the device without having fear of shattering the display glass. In addition, several components are modular and replaceable without the need of de-soldering. The battery, meanwhile, can be removed straightforwardly.

That said, the site stressed that it's going to take some effort to remove the rear panel in order to gain access to the tablet. It's apparently impossible to remove the keyboard connector without initially removing the display from Surface's frame.

Elsewhere, in order to gain access to the device's LCD and glass, users will have to tear their way through the whole tablet. iFixit also said those on repair duty will require a heat gun and "lots of patience to gain access to the glass and LCD," with the two components said to be strongly fixed to the case.

Check out our hands-on impressions with the Surface RT here.

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  • kungpaoshizi
    Who cares about 'fixing' a tablet? I would be happy with just being able to replace the battery, and that scores a 10.
    Reply
  • g00fysmiley
    well at leas tthe abttery is easily replacable... one up on apple there, but yea shame all these tablets can't really easily be repaired, something breaks and liek some laptops it is ruined due to impossibility to replace some parts... though at least in a laptop memory and hdd are replacable... i would love to see a tablet enter the market wit a level or fixability and ability to upgrade some things like imagine a read ssd where you can upgrade to a larger on... oh one can dream
    Reply
  • cryogenic
    The only repair yourself need you'll actually have is to replace the battery, all others fall outside of tablet segment due to highly customized hardware (IE no spare parts to be purchased).
    Reply
  • Ambiguity
    2kungpaoshizi - straight to the point
    Reply
  • DRosencraft
    This...
    cryogenicThe only repair yourself need you'll actually have is to replace the battery, all others fall outside of tablet segment due to highly customized hardware (IE no spare parts to be purchased).
    Yeah, I doubt very many people even here on Tom's would dive into the murky waters of tablet repair on any tablet. There is likely little interest, and similarly little benefit.
    Reply
  • xpeh
    The Article should have listed those other replaceable components
    Reply
  • freggo
    Typical American design. Slick but impossible to repair down the road.

    I had a Lincoln Towncar in the 80s. One of those huge 5mpg jobs.
    Fun to drive. The door panel had a dozen switches for everything.
    So the first switch stopped working and I opened the door. Turns out all switches where in a big black plastic box that was heatformed together. No opening without breaking it.
    Dealer confirmed the whole box and wiring would have to be replaced. Costs more than the car was worth so I did not do it. By the time I junked the car basically all buttons had stopped working...
    Shameful engineering; built in obsolescence.


    Reply
  • randomstar
    The parts that are tough - the glass and LCD being securely mounted and requiring special care - in my opinion are good. that is a major part of what makes the device well built and strong.
    the units that are easier to repair are also the ones that dont feel so well made.
    I think being able to do the modular components and batter are more than enough- after that it should go to a shop that is equiped to handle it.
    Reply
  • apone
    Funny I don't see people complaining about how difficult it is to repair an iPad. I also agree with the people commenting here about how the battery is really the critical component that should be user-replaceable. And it's no mystery, tablet computers aren't exactly as modular to fix/repair as desktop or even laptop computers.
    Reply
  • jhansonxi
    One area where Surface is similar to the iPad is the app store ToS:
    http://club.myce.com/f189/windows-8-apps-few-things-aware-329886
    Reply