New Microsoft tablet: below the Surface

Notorious gadget-fiddlers iFixit say you’ll have to be pretty determined if you want to repair or upgrade the Microsoft Surface tablet yourself. But the limitations are as much about it being a tablet as the way Microsoft has put it together.

The Surface is already in weird territory as most early reviews conclude that the hardware design is excellent but the software limited: quite the opposite of many Microsoft products.

Now iFixit has done its customary teardown and awarded it a “repairability rating” of 4 out of 10. That compares with 7 for the Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7, and 2 for the iPad.

The company estimates that simply getting inside the Surface takes 10 minutes if you know what you are doing and 30 minutes if you don’t. Replacing the battery is doable: it’s glued in but can be removed if you take care; that might be the most viable repair option for people looking to save a few bucks. Most other parts are accessible, though you’ll need a heat gun if you want to replace a broken screen or the LCD itself.

The main manufacturing trivia from the teardown is that not only the screen comes from Samsung, but also the battery and the flash memory as well. That’ll be some comfort for Samsung as it continues its business split with Apple.

Realistically, the chances are that there’ll be a very low percentage of buyers who’d even think about repairing or upgrading the Surface, at least with the initial model. Even leaving aside the cultural factor of having less expectation of being able to tinker with a tablet than a notebook or desktop PC, the chances are the type of people who find it important to be able to get inside a casing aren’t going to bother with a Windows RT device that runs on an iPad like “walled garden” basis by not letting users install apps except through official store.

4 Responses to New Microsoft tablet: below the Surface

  1. Anandtech's review of RT had an insightful comment regarding the lack of software. 1) Most reviews are pre-release and there will be more on release day. More importantly 2) Its still windows. Windows isn't going away and this is windows 8. The only way that there won't be a huge catalog of software for this soon is if people decide to stop using windows. Its not windows in name only like Windows phone. Its the latest windows OS.

  2. I bought a Surface on Friday and I have been on it most of the day today for work. I love it! It does has a few minor issues, but its a brand new Windows release, history tells us that is to be expect and will likely be fixed soon. Right now the app store is light (once again, as to be expected), but with Microsoft having better payouts for developers and the overall domination of the OS market that can change pretty quickly.

    The Surface is pretty awesome.

    **For note, I am personally anti-Apple, but I have been a long time Android user/supporter.

  3. If you want a repairable Windows 8 tablet, you'll have to go with an HP ElitePad 900. However they are only available to businesses.

    Of course, you could just go to and get yourself a tax id code and still buy one.

  4. Tablets nowadays are getting so cheap that every few years that people will propably buy new one instead of repairing old one, and market knows that.

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