You may have seen those super cool kids, effortlessly gliding around the supermarket while you’re stuck walking the produce section—like a chump. You may have thought to yourself, “Should I get one of those highly advanced, futuristic wheeled-transport platforms? And if I do, will it spontaneously combust, as I’ve seen so many times on YouTube?” Yeah, we were curious too. So we teamed up with The Wirecutter and Ken Shirriff to take a hoverboard apart.
Last week, Samsung hyped its new smart fridge at the Consumer Electronic Show—and, predictably, found the Internet decidedly un-hyped. The “Family Hub” fridge comes equipped with a 21.5-inch touch screen right on the door. You know, in case you ever found yourself wishing you could see the contents of your fridge without even opening the fridge door. The screen does other stuff, too— it displays calendars, shows off family photos, plays music, and even lets you order groceries.
Why don’t people fix things? Some UK design researchers have a reasonable, but not shocking, answer: Repair means we have to work for our stuff, when we expect our stuff to work for us. They surveyed 507 vacuum cleaner owners last year about their repair attitudes. 80% said they’d consider getting a broken vacuum repaired—but only 18% had ever actually done it. Nearly as many people (16%) admitted that they never perform any vacuum maintenance, such as cleaning the filter or brush bar.
Last year, the brew barons incited the wrath of java drinkers everywhere when they integrated DRM into their coffee machines—an attempt to stop customers from using third-party coffee pods. Keurig took a huge hit, culminating in a buyout earlier this month. Now, the company is facing criticism on yet another front: unrepairable, unreliable coffee machines.
For over a year, owners of a Samsung smart fridge have been unable to use their fridge’s pre-installed Google Calendar app, proving what we all suspected: the Internet of Things can quickly become an Internet of Broken Things. Apparently, the Samsung fridge depends on an old version of the Google API, and Samsung hasn’t yet pushed out necessary updates to all fridges. Before you go out and educate all your appliances, consider how smart they’ll be when their software is out of date next year.
Cheap tablets are the consumer electronics equivalent of candy bars stacked at a check-out stand—ready and waiting to be your next impulse buy. This makes these tablets prime Black Friday sale fodder. So how do you find a great deal but avoid making a purchase that will prematurely join the piling mountains of e-waste?
On Friday, we tore down Apple’s two newest iPhones and found something new lurking (quite literally) just below the surface. When we opened up the 6s, we discovered some mystery adhesive around a display that’s already secured with screws. Weird. It’s not as if past iPhone displays were in danger of falling out of the phone. So if the iPhone display didn’t need adhesive, what was Apple up to? We had our suspicions. Maybe—just maybe—it was designed to keep liquids out.
With a boatload of antennas, elegant design, and a huge speaker (of all things), the Google OnHub is like no router you’ve ever seen. There’s certainly experimental tech in here. But the speaker is just a speaker and the lack of microphones makes us wonder if the real home automation hub might happen in the upcoming ASUS version. Specs aside, do we think the OnHub was on-point in repair? Not quite. And that’s why we gave it a 4 out of 10 on the repairability scale.
How long do you think you could go without buying new clothes? As in, no new pants. No new socks. Not even new underwear. A couple of months, maybe? Well, a group of DIYers is swearing off new clothes for a whole year. Instead, participants of the challenge—which launched on a blog called My Make Do and Mend Life—will repair, repurpose, and “make do” with what they have. Neat, huh?
Fairphone isn’t your everyday mobile phone maker. While Google has a sprawling campus in Silicon Valley, Fairphone has just the one regular office in Amsterdam. And while Apple has sold 500 million iPhones, Fairphone has produced and sold just 60,000. The Fairphone project has the potential to change how we make, use, and reuse the phones in our pockets. Because Fairphone is building an ethical cell phone: ethically sourced, ethically produced, and now incredibly repairable.
Trends are, by definition, fleeting. And that’s especially true when it comes to clothes. So there’s a fun sort of irony in the newest fashion trend: clothes that are designed to last forever. The last few years has seen a resurgence of clothes and accessories that resist the impulse of fast fashion. Garments that are sustainable because they won’t go into a landfill anytime soon: they are easily repaired, made out of quality materials, and designed to never go out of style.
According to a new EPA report, Americans increased their overall production of municipal waste in 2013 to 254 million tons of waste—or 4.4 pounds per person per day. But e-waste was one of the few categories where recycling rates increased significantly—by ten percentage points in just one year. So, good job everyone: fewer electronics are winding up in the trash heaps. But we’re not done yet. Recycling is just one piece of the larger moving puzzle that is sustainable resource management.