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  • Repairability and Thermal Throttling

    Home Forums Tech Accessibility Repairability and Thermal Throttling

    This topic contains 34 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  HiFlyer 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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    • #206191 Reply

      Elly
      AskWoody MVP

      For years… centuries… who knows how long… people have been social and followed trends. Sometimes that has led to an expansion of good ideas. Sometimes people get stuck doing things that don’t have particularly good outcomes, just because it is a trend or style. The thing is, being a person with disabilities, sometimes it is very clear to me that I need to do what I need to do, in ways that work for me. I don’t have the time, energy, or physical ability to try and do things the way every one else does.

      Also, there is actual merit in admitting one’s limitations or faults.

      Maybe that came a bit hard for me, because there was a decade or so where my limitations weren’t visible to others, and I tried to maintain a facade of normality. I disdained using an electric cart for shopping in big stores… up until the day I couldn’t make it back to the front of the store on my own. It was pretty humiliating having to wait until someone came by, ask them to get a store employee, wait for a store employee, and ask the store employee to get me a cart, wait for the cart, and be escorted to the front, just to make sure I would be okay. Humility may be a virtue, but being humiliated because I was too proud to use something that would help me is not.

      You would think that a business or industry would not have the same personal ego investment that I had, and embrace change, admit flaws and minimize their effects, and go with what works. I’ve been severely disappointed with Microsoft… but they are part of an industry that not only copies and builds on the successes of others, but which actively pursues fads that are not productive… and some of those fads are interfering with something that I think I need to be able to buy… repair-ability and thermal throttling.

      I love to do photo editing, computer scrap-booking, videos… and how long it takes Gimp to render the changes I’ve made in various layers is important to me. I want my computer to be a little faster than I can think, so it waits on me, not me waiting on it. More processor speed and cores is better… sort of… maybe?

      Every so often I let myself dream. @peacelady recently got herself a MacOS… what would it be like to have a new computer… what kind would I get?… what would I want on it?… what would I need?

      So I went window shopping… which today means, I checked out all those good things available on the internet. I didn’t limit myself to what I could afford, because right now, I can’t afford much. But… if I had the money, what computer would do what I need to do?

      First decision point is that I need a laptop. I have to elevate my legs above my heart much of the time, so it would make a desktop very hard to set up in a useful way. I have to put pillows under my arms for support, or my tremor gets too bad for using a keyboard (and touch is useless for me… and I disable a touch pad unless I like watching the cursor jump around wildly). I suppose that I could get a wireless keyboard and a screen mounted so I could swing it out in front of me, but it isn’t as practical. With my laptop I can position myself so my body is in alignment, and comfortably use the keyboard and see the screen, with ease.

      There are a lot of really pretty laptops, boasting great processor speed, and wonderful screens…

      Now, I window shop with the aim that if I save, or come into a windfall, I could actually purchase something to replace my current aged laptop… so as well as dreaming, and letting the ads seduce me, I did some practical checks as well.

      Something important to me is repair-ability. I drop and break everything (tremor… sigh) and I don’t want to have to replace it each time. Then I was faced with a comment like:

      “The majority of people don’t need to upgrade or repair their own laptops…” (Wirecutter)

      What? Who made that decision?

      What’s worse, going through TechRadar, PCMag, Digital Trends, and the other sites that had reviews of the best 2018 laptops that showed up on my Startpage search first page (which uses Google results)… they didn’t even include a dismissive statement about the ability to upgrade or repair… nothing…

      As a trend, not paying attention attention to upgrades and repair-ability is despicable. Dell gets the highest marks for repair-ability, taking it into consideration in how its products are designed, and also by providing detailed repair manuals, and even parts. But I didn’t find that out by reading any reviews. Who writes these reviews, anyways? How much are they depending upon the advertising glitz of companies that don’t provide the ability to repair because its in their financial interest to provide disposable, frequently replaced devices?

      I started searching for data on repair-ability. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports, which collects data from actual users, is behind a paywall. I subscribed for years, but being on disability translates into being broke… Then I came across this article from Motherboard:

      They started with the premise that:

      “The pursuit of thinner, lighter laptops, a trend driven by Apple, means we have screwed ourselves out of performance.”

      Wait… performance is important to me… And suddenly I found out about thermal throttling, where even if you’ve bought the latest and greatest and fastest processor, your device will throttle it in an attempt to keep the heat down… and as laptops have followed the fashion of skinnier and lighter, they are less able to dissipate heat (by design). So, even if they are equipped with one of the latest processors, they aren’t able to perform to the potential. And Apple’s new MacBook Pro, which can be had with the optional top-end i9 processor has its performance throttled severely, so severely that you aren’t getting anywhere near the performance that you thought you were paying for. There is a very practical reason to design a device to throttle itself, or even to trigger an automatic shutdown… because the heat can damage it. Additionally, I have a personal need for a cool laptop, since it, by necessity, sits on my lap… and although I can and do use a lap desk with a built in fan, the heat isn’t good for me, either.

      Amazingly, although there were reviews that extolled the virtues of the newest, fastest processors, not one mentioned thermal throttling and how it could affect the performance of a particular model. I would expect that knowledgeable reviewers would look for things that might negatively impact performance, and review how various models cope with or prevent such problems… but nary a word about it was to be found. I had to know about the problem, and then search for it, before the extent of it became clear.

      Gamers, because of their competitive need for high speed, are aware of the adverse effects of thermal throttling… because they freak out when their machines slow down! Forums are full of how to deal with throttling… and one reason gaming laptops are big and bulky, is that they are designed to get rid of heat… does that mean my dream machine will be one designed for gaming?

      It turns out that Intel says “Keeping temperature below the maximum helps optimize operation and long-term reliability.” and you can burrow down to the specific information you need for a specific processor on their site… but TCC Activation Temperature (which determines when throttling, or even automated shutdown occurs) varies… and there is no easy way to compare them, that I found… and since how the manufacturer designs their fans and heat sinks to work with them will vary, too… well, there just isn’t a lot of information out there for a consumer like me.

      I’m a bit discouraged. I wish manufacturers and reviewers would include very important data about things like this… and it is way more important than how thin or light a particular laptop is. And it takes time and research to find what I really need and want, and extra time to set up what I need for accessibility… I don’t want to have to replace it after a few years, even if I could afford to, so expected lifespan and repair-ability are essential factors. When I go back and look at the pretty pictures, and glowing descriptions, they just aren’t as enticing any more…

      I’m adding how fast a laptop heats up, and how quickly thermal throttling kicks in as something to look for in my dream machine… it is a matter of actually being able to use the darn thing the way I want to, when I finally get my hands on it. And that is what Accessibility is about!

      Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

      • This topic was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  Elly.
      5 users thanked author for this post.
    • #206194 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Lounger

      Elly:

      I have a Mac laptop:  MacBook Pro (Retina screen, 15-inch, Mid 2015), Processor 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7,  Memory 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, 1 THz solid state hard disk, Graphic  Processing Unit Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB. Unlike more recent models, it still has one HDMI port for sending video and audio to a separate, larger monitor or a TV, one USB 3 and one USB 2 port plus two thunderbolt ports and a complete keyboard, except for the alphanumeric keypad, which is not much needed, by me at least, and can make a laptop’s smallish keyboard unnecessarily cramped. So it needs, in my case, only one dongle USB -> Ethernet, whenever I need to use an Ethernet connection, which these days is rarely, because, luckily, I can work mostly from home and have an adequate 75 Mbps fiber optics link to the Internet. I just looked and found that Apple is still selling a machine like mine (through authorized resellers) for 1900 US$.

      This machine does not suffer from thermal throttling; I know, because I often run on it some fairly CPU-intensive jobs involving lots of number-crunching operations, without problems. The fan comes on more than usual, but that is about it.

      Also it does not have the, to me at least, weird touch strip at the top of the keyboard, but the standard function keys. All in all, I would recommend buying this older Mac, which is a pretty good laptop… if someone wanted to buy a Mac laptop, that is. An Intel I9 CPU is unquestionably great for CPU intensive jobs, but, as you mention, is not a good fit for a laptop. Who needs that much speed, anyways? There are those who do, but most users don’t.

      When it comes to being upgradable, unfortunately no laptop I know of really is that, to any significant extent. And if there is a risk of repeatedly dropping the machine on the floor, then on both counts, perhaps, a desktop is a better fit for you.

      As to reparability: my experience with my Mac is excellent, but only 14 month’s long. But I have many colleagues and friends that have had them for years and have never heard complain that they had to keep sending them back for repairs. Even so, it is always an idea to buy an extended guarantee with these machines, because that ensures that the reputedly excellent service from Apple will remain free of charge for most problems for a good period of time after purchase. If one could spend some 1900 dollars on a laptop that can last, with a little care, many years (and bring some extra peace of mind), I would say going ahead with that is a good move. But cheap it is not.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #206205 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        @OscarCP- Your first hand report is more reassuring than the overall lack of information out there, so thank you…

        Just an FYI… I have a Toshiba laptop that I bought specifically because it was hardened against falls. Forget what the term is right now, that described it. It has been worth every extra penny and more… because not only does this poor thing get shaken up frequently, but it survived a waist high fall onto concrete without a scratch. I did have to replace the hard drive, but it was 6 years old, and that fall was much earlier in its life… No problems with the screen or anything else… Keyboard suits me, feels great.  And… this thing has traveled (my lack of mobility is relatively recent)… to the beach, to the desert, to the mountains, camping, to visit friends and relatives in multiple states, and continues to survive my fumble fingers. I’m not just thinking that durability is possible, when I’m holding a stellar example in my hands… oops… slid off, one more time, on its side! And no problem! Toshiba did a great job in designing and building this one… its been tested in heat and freezing cold…

        Would like, and need a larger screen now, but in my more mobile days, a smaller one was more convenient. It is really worth doing the research and getting what one needs… Problem is, my eyesight is worsening, and the 14″ screen isn’t adequate, no matter how I’ve tried to configure it. I can get the magnification, but find the reduced amount of what I can actually see within the window frustrating.  Maybe I shouldn’t complain, knowing that others can’t see at all… but when editing pictures (a longstanding, favorite hobby), I can pull up details and work on them, but then don’t get a satisfactory view of its overall effect until I can transfer them to a larger screen, or print them, and neither option is convenient… I was dreaming about what could be better, and that could definitely be better!

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

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        • #206276 Reply

          MrJimPhelps
          AskWoody MVP

          You could get a big external monitor, and mount it onto a hospital bed-table (a table that will wheel around and that you can raise to go over the bed). Then use the monitor when you are lying in the bed.

          Dell has rugged laptops. But none have a big screen; and they are quite expensive.

          https://pilot.search.dell.com/rugged%20laptop

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
          3 users thanked author for this post.
          • #206348 Reply

            DrBonzo
            AskWoody Lounger

            An iMac would be potentially good in that situation since the keyboard and mouse connect via Bluetooth. The only wire coming out of the combined monitor/computer is the power cord. The drawback is that all the ports(USB SD card, etc.) are on the back of the monitor/computer. But the only thing on your lap would be a keyboard and perhaps mouse; if you were to drop one of them that’s the only thing that would fall. A broken Apple keyboard would run about $100.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #206352 Reply

              PKCano
              AskWoody MVP

              You can always run an extension cable for the USB so you can have it at hand instead of going to the back of the iMac.

              2 users thanked author for this post.
            • #206449 Reply

              DrBonzo
              AskWoody Lounger

              I’ve never looked into this, but if you get a MAC with a Thunderbolt 2 port you can daisy-chain up to 5 or 6 peripherals.

              Also, you might consider a Mac Mini which is just a small box (about 7 inches by 7 inches, maybe 2 inches high , and weighs about 2 to 3 pounds). It’s got a lot of ports, although you have to provide your own monitor, keyboard and mouse. The base model of the box goes for $499, but you can jack up the cpu and storage for more money. So, it’s relatively cheap and you can probably get a 22 inch or so monitor for less than $200.

              If you decde to go with a Mac, I might suggest waiting until the new models come out in October or November. I think there will be a new Mac Mini and a new MacBook Air, and maybe some others as well.

              1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #206469 Reply

              Elly
              AskWoody MVP

              The advantage of having a Mac (and I would definitely buy an extended service warranty, as @oscarcp suggested) is that Apple’s service is outstanding… but it takes half a day to get to their store and back… and I’m dependent on getting someone to drive me… I get that Apple products don’t need a lot of repair, but being that I’m like an elephant in the china shop, I’d hedge my bets, and definitely include this as something I need to consider.

              Also, since @pkcano, and others are using similar equipment, it would be handy to have others to ask questions about it… There is nothing like not being alone when stuck with a problem… and I could move my Windows 7 to a virtual machine, which I plan to do at EOL anyways.

              @Dr.Bonzo, I really worry about having to have a brand keyboard… ’cause although cheaper than replacing a whole laptop, I am not joking when I say I drop everything. I’d have to make sure that I secured it, somehow, before trying to get up… which is what I do with my laptop… and I do make sure I have a rug under it to ease the inevitable fall… but the thing still manages to elude stability.

              The idea of a Mac mini is appealing, because it might be easier to tuck someplace safe, and the pricing is more reasonable… and I am considering a large flatscreen that can be mounted on the wall and pulled out in front of me… but would it have the processing power (my computer is what I’m working on all day, my link to an active life) to do the graphics quickly and easily? Gimp does work on MacOS… and that is what I’m used to using.

              The rugged Dell laptop is very attractive to me, but again, I’m not as mobile as I used to be… so it is worth looking at setting up a desktop computer. But, it is likely I may have to go live with various family members… and not having a locked down system would be an advantage. Just don’t know how to mobilize a big screen… With a desktop I wouldn’t have to worry about how much heat it was producing, as it wouldn’t be sitting on my lap… and desktops usually have better cooling built in, anyways.

              Thank you, all, for the suggestions, because looking at the options in depth will help me come up with a good, workable solution.

              Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

          • #206460 Reply

            Elly
            AskWoody MVP

            Under “Awards and Reviews” there is a “Dell Rugged PCs Destructive Demo” video… and that is the kind of laptop I need! It gets thrown onto rocks, sprayed with water, and enveloped with dust. Any laptop I have has to deal with repeated drops, and I do spill everything (but have kept drinks and food away from my keyboard)… but in the demo there is water being poured from a bottle, all over the keyboard, and the computer keeps running! That would eliminate one of my nightmare scenarios completely!

            I’m wondering if I couldn’t set it up with a second monitor, thin screen, that I can just swing mount to the wall, pull it out, and swing it back when not using, and use that for the photo-editing…

            I’m worried about the hospital table (I’m familiar with them) because of the top-heaviness of a screen… and along with dropping things, I’m clumsy… and I could just see bumping into it when I’m up and moving, and causing it to fall over. Oh… rugged laptop… you could be my new favorite partner, that doesn’t mind getting bumped and tumbled!

            Love that rugged Dell laptop… definitely has got me thinking! Thank you @Mr.JimPhelps, for the great suggestion…

            (I figure out what I really need… and then I figure out how to afford it… and it is a lot cheaper to get a rugged laptop, than be replacing, replacing, replacing… )

            Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

    • #206198 Reply

      DrBonzo
      AskWoody Lounger

      I believe Apple issued a software update yesterday (7/25) to fix the overheating problem in the new MacBook Pro (the one that just came out in the last month or so).

      I’m a Windows 7 user who has decided to go with some combination of Linux and Mac in the future. I’ve had an iMac for 10 months and it’s been a seamless experience.

      I’m afraid I can’t speak to the accessibility issues that you are concerned with, but as far as repairability, I would say that the Macs I’ve looked at – both desktop and laptop – seem to be harder for the do it yourselfer than a typical PC laptop or desktop. I bought an Apple Care warranty after they assured me that they could fix anything on the computer should it come to that. I think Macs are very fixable, but perhaps not by a DIYer.

      Mac are expensive but for me, at least, the peace of mind has been worth it. Someone on this site (maybe oscarCP) has suggested looking into Apple refurbished computers which are offered with fairly large discounts. There are also other Apple sellers out there which might have good deals. One that comes to mind is Simply Mac, which to the best of my knowledge has a very good reputation for low pressure sales, good service and support, etc.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #206206 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        Thank you, @drbonzo, for info about the update… but although the MacPro example was extreme, it isn’t the only computer that is throttling fast processors… and the lack of information, and objective and easy ways to compare real world performance (as compared to buying a machine, and then running your own tests) is puzzling. Gamers and people doing video editing certainly bump into the issues. I know that I have to practice a lot of patience on my current laptop. It is slow when it comes to my hobbies. If I were able to buy a new computer, I’d see the faster processors as a selling point… and it just might not work out the way I’d hoped…

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

    • #206225 Reply

      anonymous
      • #206471 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        The link to “Its time we talked about throttling in reviews” is great! It summarizes what I was trying to talk about, although it is addressing those who do the reviews. It was written a year ago… but everything Douglas Black says is relevant to the most current reviews.

        His summary of the benefits is right on:

        “What’s the worst thing that could happen if we all agreed to test new laptops under more exacting circumstances? Yes, it takes us a bit more time. Yes, perhaps OEMs might lose out on revenue from tricking consumers as a result of putting components that can’t run as advertised into their products, but I am sure they’d also get less returns and angry customers who, in their own opinions, didn’t get what was advertised. Perhaps manufacturers will start providing their computers with properly engineered cooling solutions appropriate for the included hardware. Finally, testing for CPU throttling also will open the door for reviewers to test for GPU throttling. Either way, I can’t see the increased availability of information as a bad thing — whether or not the consumer ultimately makes use of it.”

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #206230 Reply

      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      “The majority of people don’t need to upgrade or repair their own laptops…” (Wirecutter)

      What? Who made that decision?

      A very good question, and it applies to more than repairability of laptops.  In any discussion about smart phones, people invariably bring up things they wish that the current flagship models had: a durable, non-glass back that won’t slip so easily out of the hand and break; a slight protective bezel that extends toward the user a bit so that if the phone lands flat on its face, the glass screen won’t come in contact with the floor, assuming the floor is flat; a headphone jack; a replaceable battery with more capacity rather than more slimness… stuff like that.  The edge to edge screens that these models often have get more than a bit of criticism, since it makes it hard to grasp the phone without inadvertently contacting the touchscreen.  So what do we get from the phone makers?  More edge to edge screens, glass backs that are slippery and fragile, extreme thinness that requires small batteries and that exposes some of the phones to bending (Apple “Bendgate”), and no headphone jack on many of them.

      Someone else, invariably, will tell the person requesting these features that no one wants those backwards features but a small group of malcontents, and that the market has spoken, and people want ultra-thin, ultra-fragile phones that are hard to hold on to and hard to use without accidentally activating the touchscreen at the edges (and where fitting a proper protective case is difficult, since there’s nothing to keep the phone in it if there’s no bezel for the case plastic to grab onto).

      I ask the same question as you: Who made this decision?  I don’t recall any kind of survey going around, so how can anyone tell whether people like the modern trend in phone design, or if they just tolerate it in order to get the other benefits of a high-end phone?  There are a handful of downmarket phones that have the features listed above, but they don’t get the press that the flagships do, and so they’re not something that everyone knows about.  The high-end models seem to stick to one plan, so if you want the latest and greatest, you’re not getting what fits the user the best– you’re getting a showcase for Samsung’s or Apple’s design prowess, meant more to stir up interest in the brand than to serve any given user’s needs.  Like Windows 10, they seem to be more about serving the needs of the company that made them than those of the user.

      What’s worse, going through TechRadar, PCMag, Digital Trends, and the other sites that had reviews of the best 2018 laptops that showed up on my Startpage search first page (which uses Google results)… they didn’t even include a dismissive statement about the ability to upgrade or repair… nothing…

      I suggest you check out the German site (I think) notebookcheck.com.  They test everything you could imagine about a given laptop… thermals (using infrared cameras, and with detailed info including how hot the case gets on the outside and whether it would be comfortable in your lap, in addition to the more typical things like thermal throttling), battery life in varying use scenarios, the LCD panel’s viewing angles and color response (usually including an ICC calibration file for the model in question that they generated themselves), and lots of benchmarks.  They also open the units up and report on how easily that can be done and what can be replaced, if anything, with some detailed photos of the inside of the laptop.

      They have most models I’ve searched for tested.  It’s a staggering amount of info they present, and given how many models they have tested, it’s really quite remarkable.  They’re one of the very few sites I turn my adblocker off for (I can recall three off the bat… askwoody.com, notebookcheck.com, and linuxmint.com.  There are probably more, but not many).

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      • #206280 Reply

        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody MVP

        notebookcheck.com looks like a great site. Be sure to scroll to the bottom and click “English”.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
        4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #206475 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        @ascaris!

        Don’t even get me started on the subject of cell phones, items of torture as far as I’m concerned, booby-trapped and just waiting to drop… and if my laptop gets dropped a lot, well, I won’t even pick up my cell phone until it has been put in a protective, three layer case, with a screen guard, for me… and I designed a home-made weighted base to fasten it into, so I have portability and yet greater stability, and I can grip the base, and stabilize it on a surface, and only have to worry about one set of shaky fingers… but if I can’t get Dragon Naturally Speaking to understand me I usually have to have someone else put the numbers in for me… not my favorite item to use. Actually it might be a little comforting to know that they aren’t designed for ease of being held, over-all… and most little stands are too fragile and unsteady for my heavy handedness…

        Your review and criticism of smart phones was thorough, and completely accurate… I wonder if we have more hope of cell phone manufacturers listening, than Microsoft has? There isn’t such a monopoly on the hardware… and, after all, people are saying that computing is moving to smart phones for many people…

        Checked out Notebookcheck.net (thanks @hiflyer, for the correct address)… and that is definitely a site that I’ll keep bookmarked for reference. I’ll stop criticizing reviewers in general, and just go there… they do thorough checks on the devices… and even have smart phones reviewed…  It didn’t show up in my search results… and I’m disappointed in that. I’d like to think that searches give decent results, but this, the one site that has the best info, just wasn’t to be found… at least, for me.

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

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    • #206266 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody MVP

      @elly: Go to ifixit.com. They do teardowns of laptops, and they rate them as to how easy or hard they are to repair.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #206476 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        @Mr.JimPhelps-

        iFixit is why I was able to get someone, a non-techy, whose hands are steady, to replace my hard drive for me. Their instructions are presented clearly, step by step, with pictures, and list tools needed before you start. Some devices have videos of their tear downs or repairs. It is very interesting for me, with anxiety about anything happening to my laptop, to watch one being taken apart… sort of desensitize me to the process…

        It would definitely be worthwhile to check out what sort of guides are available for the machine I’m thinking of buying… because a good repair guide can make all the difference in the world!

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #206535 Reply

          MrJimPhelps
          AskWoody MVP

          Ifixit’s teardown of the Microsoft Surface Pro convinced me never to buy a Surface Pro. They are impossible to repair.

          Now, if Microsoft would lower the price to, say, $300….

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #206715 Reply

            HiFlyer
            AskWoody Lounger

            Ifixit’s teardown of the Microsoft Surface Pro convinced me never to buy a Surface Pro. They are impossible to repair. Now, if Microsoft would lower the price to, say, $300….

            $50 max.

             

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    • #206432 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Lounger

      MrJimPhelps and HiFlier: Thanks for mentioning “notebookcheck” and providing a link to their Web page.

      There I find today’s posting on the newest Macs (ca. 2018) with the most advanced chipset yet, and the unintended consequences of their new design:

      https://www.notebookcheck.net/Apple-T2-chip-causing-kernel-panics-in-few-2018-MacBook-Pros-and-iMac-Pros.318532.0.html

      So I stand by my previous advice concerning the advisability of buying a previous model of the MacBook Pro.

      As to the lack of responsiveness to users of smart phones, etc. by the manufacturers:

      Never estimate the, unfortunately not uncommon, pathetic craving for any kind of bragging rights to show off in front of others, that many people have.

      The people that complain to manufacturers about the impractical features they like to load their devices with, are the thoughtful ones that, most likely, need the products in question for their work or to satisfy some important practical personal needs. The manufacturers have reasons to believe those are the minority of their actual and potential customers, and proceed to design their products accordingly. As to why those review sites are so much in line with the manufacturer’s hype? Well: “Money talks, everybody walks” might have something to do with it.

      Am I being cynical or skeptical? Take your pick.

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    • #206643 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Lounger

       

      Elly wrote that she sees  problem with repairing a broken down Mac, because the need to take a machine to an Apple store for it to be fixed.

      Perhaps the problem is less than she imagines. The following is from this Apple Web page, https://support.apple.com/mac/repair/service  and the quotation below applies to Mac laptops:

      “How do I get my Mac fixed?
      To get service for your Mac, you can make a reservation at an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Make sure you know your Apple ID and password before your appointment. Or, if you have a Mac notebook, contact us and we’ll send you a box you can use to ship it to an Apple Repair Center. We’ll return your repaired product to you as quickly as possible. Depending on where you get service, you might be able to check the status of your repair online.”

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #206709 Reply

      mindwarp
      AskWoody Lounger

      Elly, regarding wanting to read Consumer Reports online, do you have a library card? If so, see if you can access your library’s databases at home, and if they include MasterFile Premier. It’s a searchable database of periodical articles, including Consumer Reports, and does include full text results.

      Also, in your case, would a smaller rolling computer desk like they sell at office supply stores by an option for you? I bought one for myself for space reasons when I moved where I currently live for my desktop, as my bedroom used to be my housemate’s office, and still has her desktop in here on her desk as well. I usually have it right next to my bed, so I can lay back in bed and be lazy and use it. I have the monitor just angled towards me, I pull the keyboard into my lap, and move the mouse closer. If that type of desk is an option for you, then a desktop could be an option instead after all.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #206835 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        I haven’t had a library card for years… my work had its own library, and anything I wanted could be ordered or accessed through them… and I was there 30+ years… I’d completely forgotten about a local library card. I’ll put it on my list for a time when I’m more mobile, because I can see that would be a great resource for me. Thank you for the heads up! Thank you, @mindwarp!

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #206722 Reply

      Noel Carboni
      AskWoody MVP

      Great topic, Elly!

      My anecdote w/regard to Apple hardware:

      A year or so ago my son did something he shouldn’t have…

      He had a key – the left Shift key – that “just didn’t feel right” on his relatively recent (I forget the year) Apple MacBook Pro, which he had proudly bought with his own earnings. So after a minimum of research he pried the Shift key off, thinking something that had gotten underneath could be removed, and then the key could be snapped back on.

      Bad idea.

      He was WAY wrong. The act of popping the key off destroyed the keyboard, and thus the laptop, because the key simply could not be reattached. Some tiny bit of hardware that could not be repaired had been broken to remove that key.

      Apple service wanted nearly $1,000 to repair the system, since basically they said the chassis needed to be replaced.

      We were stunned.

      We researched keyboard replacement, watched YouTube videos, located sources for parts… We even had to learn how to make a tool for removing literally 100 tiny rivets, which relied on my having just the right (uncommon) machine tools in the garage.

      The sources for the keyboards and specialized parts exist because people are not willing to accept that their keyboard CANNOT be serviced for under $1,000.

      In the end we put less than $100 into buying a replacement keyboard from a non-Apple source, some tools, and some very tiny parts – and probably 8 man-hours of time making a precision tool of our own and actually doing the work taking the machine apart and replacing the keyboard. The computer was unavailable for use for about a week and a half. We called it a learning experience.

      My conclusion: NO WAY is the Macbook Pro made to be serviced, and even more CERTANLY not user-serviced!

      Right from the get-go there are microscopic screws with 5 lobes requiring a “pentalobe” tool, connectors so tiny and flimsy one needs a magnifier and some decent luck to ever get them back together, things that NEED to be done in a certain very specific order or it just won’t work

      We finally did get it to work right, though it took a couple of disassembly / reassembly passes, because of a pinched cable and missed or out-of-order steps leaving things like speakers disconnected.

      After having been inside that MacBook Pro, I’m here to tell you that this modern “manufacture once and never open it again” AKA “no user serviceable parts inside” philosophy sucks, and it has implications beyond just serviceability because (ugh) Marketing people are involved. I would never, ever rely on such a flimsy, touchy piece of hardware for MY business needs, I can tell you that.

      And MacBooks, especially “Pro” model, are supposed to be high-end hardware, right?

      See, for example, this:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bvsi2e3M5Ek

      Finally, Elly, I hate to say it but Apple doesn’t really want your business. They would prefer people who are willing to pay and pay again to have their luxury tech gear work. They’d better be careful, though… At some point if their engineering continues to get less reliable (and Windows continues to get more and more dumbed-down) those people could go back to PCs…

      -Noel

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #206837 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        @Noel Carboni-
        Thank you for the Mac keyboard story… and I’m amazed that you found a way to replace that keyboard. I’m definitely weighing the pluses and minuses… and won’t be making my decision based on just one thing. I’d prefer to support products that are repairable… but, I have definite financial constraints. In the end it might just be what I can afford to get my hands on, without the luxury of such a preference… and Apple are more expensive…

        And… are you saying that although Apple makes nice packages that look/function well, but the actual hardware isn’t of the quality you can get in a PC?

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #207749 Reply

          Noel Carboni
          AskWoody MVP

          It would be wrong for me to imply that Apple hardware can’t have a long life. My son used a 2008 Macbook for 7 or 8 years before getting his Macbook Pro, with only a hard drive replacement necessary.

          But that was then and this is now; past experience is not always a reliable guide for future performance. Companies get new leadership, technology changes, etc.

          -Noel

          3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #206733 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Lounger

      Noel Carboni: “My anecdote w/regard to Apple hardware:

      I agree entirely with the conclusion that fixing a broken laptop, if it requires replacing a part, can be, most definitely, bad news these days.

      On the other hand, if I had a problem with my laptop’s keyboard, I would use an external keyboard and be done with:

      https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-hook-up-an-external-keyboard-to-a-MacBook

      But then again, I am pretty bad with my hands. “All thumbs”, you might say, and you’d be not even close to the dismal reality of it.

      If portability is an issue, Apple’s “Magic” keyboard is small (without the optional numeric keypad), light and portable. It is, in fact, practically identical to the laptop’s keyboard, except that I’m not sure if it has illuminated keys, a feature that I find very useful. It connects via USB or wirelessly, via Bluetooth connection, something that comes with Mac books:

      https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MLA22LL/A/magic-keyboard-us-english?afid=p238%7Csud9iaotp-dc_mtid_1870765e38482_pcrid_246386725860_&cid=aos-us-kwgo-pla-btb–slid–product-MLA22LL/A

      And at US$ 99, it is an order of magnitude less than the amount Noel was asked to pay to have it replaced in his son’s laptop. Which might be an additional consideration.

       

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      • #206858 Reply

        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody MVP

        @oscarcp:

        I had an HP laptop once; I disassembled it in order to blow the dust out and to apply new thermal paste to the CPU/heatsink connection. However, when I put it back together, I broke a very tiny clip that held the keyboard ribbon cable in its socket. I had to figure out something if I didn’t want to purchase another motherboard, because that was the only way to fix it correctly. What I did was to put several pieces of scotch tape on the non-exposed side of the ribbon cable, making it thicker, so that it would fit snugly in its socket. By making it fit as snugly as I could, it stayed in its socket, and most of the keys on the keyboard worked (but not all of them).

        After doing that, I used a USB external keyboard to change the power-on and Windows passwords so that they would include only those keys that worked.

        I then found a Belkin fold-up USB keyboard for $50. It folded up and fit in my laptop bag very nicely! I was therefore able to carry the keyboard with me everywhere I took the laptop. We brought it with us on vacation and set it up with the laptop on the desk of our hotel room. It worked great for that purpose.

        I have looked and looked, but I can’t find that Belkin folding keyboard, not even on Ebay. Just about every folding keyboard on Ebay is a Bluetooth keyboard, not a USB keyboard. So if this is how you want to fix the problem of a defective built-in keyboard, I strongly suggest that you get a USB, not a Bluetooth, keyboard. USB will be more reliable in my opinion than Bluetooth.

        Jim

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #206886 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody MVP

        I wore out the keyboard on my Asus laptop a few years ago.  After ~7 years of fairly heavy use at the time, it was not surprising.  I’d accumulated several YEARS of actual in-use time by then (as reported by the hard drive SMART stats).

        It cost $20 for a brand new OEM keyboard on eBay.  After removing one phillips screw and pushing several spring-loaded retaining clips back (one by one) while gently pulling up on the keyboard, the old keyboard was out (much easier than it sounds).  A quick snap of the mylar ribbon cable retainer and it was free.  It doesn’t even take a full minute to get the old one out, or the new one in.

        That’s how a laptop keyboard replacement should be.  Keyboards are wear items and they are prone to damage (I have to say I have inadvertently pulled my keycaps off on that laptop a couple of times, but unlike with the Apple butterfly keyboards, it doesn’t destroy the keys when that happens.  Snap them back on and resume your day!).  A laptop keyboard should not be bonded or riveted to the top case (which in this case includes the touchpad and is bonded to the battery, making it all one big, expensive unit as far as Apple is concerned).  That’s just ridiculous!

        The entire design of the butterfly keyboard, which can be brought to its knees by a crumb or a piece of dust, was ridiculous (I say “was” because the third generation butterfly keyboard now has silicone membranes that Apple claims are meant to reduce keyboard noise, but their own patent registered with the US patent office just before the release of the new keyboard indicates that the purpose is to prevent ingress of debris into the mechanism), and so was Apple’s refusal to fix them for so many customers for so long.  They’re finally getting with the program now in terms of fixing people’s broken Mac keyboards and refunding the repair costs that people should not have had to pay out-of-pocket, but in typical fashion, it only happened after the internet has blown up about it and forced them into a corner (like with Surfaces and the flickering displays).

        I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, and lots of people use and like Apple products.  I just responded yesterday to Oscar’s post asking about the future of Windows or Mac, and my vote went to Mac.  Still, they’re not as “insanely great” as a lot of their fans believe them to be.

        From the overpriced charging cords with DRM chips in them to “you’re holding it wrong” to suing third-party repair centers for repairing Apple products (claiming that adding a jumper wire to repair motherboard damage turns a Mac into a PC, which makes it a counterfeit Mac, even though it was manufactured by Apple) to bricking iPhones that have an aftermarket part installed (long after the fact) to Apple’s efforts to block “right to repair” legislation across the country to the liquid sensors that they put on motherboards for the sole reason of being able to deny warranty claims (even though there are warnings that they can cause false alarms in high humidity conditions, and if these sensors are tripped even once during the life of the unit, consider your warranty void), Apple has had a lot of moments of extreme hostility toward their own customers to go along with their engineering failures.  So has Microsoft, of course, but unless you buy a Surface, MS is only the OS vendor, not the hardware vendor too.  I don’t think you’d see any of those kinds of things in a Dell or an Asus or an Acer.  Apple has a monopoly on hardware that works with iOS and MacOS, and they behave as such (not counting hackintoshes).

        With Windows in a perpetual state of disaster these days, MacOS has never looked more appealing to me (in the abstract, as I admit I have never tried it), but I’ve never liked Apple’s attempts to make their products look cool at the expense of utility and functionality.  I like commoditized, “just a box” style PCs where I can mix and match hardware to meet my own needs, or if it’s laptops we’re talking about, where I can choose from thousands of models by dozens (if not hundreds) of vendors.

        That’s why MacOS is never going to be an option for me, since it requires buying their hardware… but it doesn’t mean that it won’t work for anyone else.  You have to consider the totality of the situation at hand.  Microsoft has dealt a serious blow to the non-Mac PC industry, and it could very well be that the positives of MacOS (which is the star of the show as far as Macs go) vastly outweigh the problems for you.  Just find out which models are the least problematic first (though I do not believe there are any ruggedized Macbooks).

         

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    • #206934 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Lounger

      Ascaris, I agree, for the most part, with your comments on Macs. The root cause of those problems is, as I see it, that Apple keeps and excellent OS imprisoned in their hardware, while Windows has come to dominating the PC world because it allows it to be run in any PC big enough to support it, regardless of manufacturer, as long as they have a satisfying understanding with the manufacturer. Being available to run on many brands of hardware is also a desirable characteristic of LINUX; unfortunately, the fragmentation into distros and forks of distros, plus the need to install, maintain and feed the beast largely by hand (although some more user-friendly versions are now around, steady and ready available support still can be a problem), discourages many would-be users from adopting it and to go on using Windows PCs or Macs instead. I have no experience with running LINUX on Virtual Machines, so also have no opinion on that option. To some extent (preparing my own software developed under Windows to be run in LINUX and macOS computers at NASA) I have been using the LINUX emulator for Windows  Cygwin, which is good enough for that.

      On the positive side, my new Mac works just fine (touch on wood) and, besides the usual things: email, teleconferencing, browsing the Web for information and news, streaming video and watching classic movies and older TV shows on DVD, it also opens to me and my work , through its LINUX-like command line and compatibility with LINUX software, the wide world of UNIX/LINUX users, many of which I collaborate with in this and other countries.

      Originally, for many years, I was reluctant to own a Mac, because my initial experience with then, much earlier on, in the Nineties, was not encouraging: twice motherboards that shorted out and burned; an early laptop with a strange and unpleasantly quirky personality that ended doing duty entirely as a remote dumb terminal to a UNIX server, and so on. But friends and colleagues use Macs and have done so for years now without serious complaints, so I finally decided, seeing the way things are going with Windows, to get myself one, which so far, as already explained, is going gangbusters.

      I have a very long-time relationship with computers and their operating systems, from a Digital PDP-8 with paper tape input for both program and data, to punch cards and mainframes, to remote “dumb” terminals, to PCs, and even to supercomputers.

      And in my earlier days, in a break between undergraduate and post-graduate studies, while working in the repair, design and testing of telephone equipment, soldering iron in hand, I learned well this lesson: the design of commercial technology items tends to be the result of compromises between engineers and marketing people. Compromises like that are not always good for the quality and usefulness of resulting product. This is quite obvious in many Apple products, such as their tendency to be ultra-sleek and elegant-looking at the cost of functionality. And the result can be less than very satisfactory, as noted here already by Noel Carboni.

      However, given the situation and how little one can do to change it both significantly and soon, my personal attitude is this: be patient and make the most of what is offered (such as using an external keyboard if my Mac ever develops a serious case of no-good sticky keys), because getting perfection is going to take a bit longer, and it will also cost a bit more.

      • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  OscarCP.
      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #206944 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody MVP

      I always use an external keyboard whenever possible with my laptop, so as to minimize wear and tear on the built-in keyboard. External keyboards are cheap and simple to replace, as opposed to the built-in keyboard. And I can use my IBM Model M keyboard (rather than the built-in “Toys-R-Us” keyboard) if I use an external keyboard.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #206955 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Lounger

        One possible problem with some recent laptops, Macs for example, because of the difficulties with opening them up, could be replacing the battery when it finally gives up the ghost. Fortunately for me, I rarely need to take mine away from its usual place at home, so it is connected to the electricity mains most of the time.

        2 users thanked author for this post.

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