This week, we got a little treat from HP—a tablet that they actually want you to fix yourself. HP is billing the Elite x2 1012 G1 as a tablet designed for serviceability—complete with online repair documentation and readily available parts. Naturally, our interest was piqued. So, we did a quick teardown in the name of repairability. Spoiler alert: we were impressed.
Last week, we told you about how we found Apple’s nasty tamper-resistant screw—better known as the pentalobe—somewhere we never expected: on the Huawei P9. Before the P9, we’d never seen a pentalobe outside of Apple’s ecosystem. But, apparently, when it rains pentalobes, it pours pentalobes. Because we’ve just had another reported pentalobe sighting in the wild—this time on the new Meizu Pro 6.
We tinker with computers for a living—which means, we’ve seen more circuit boards and electronics kits than you can shake a spudger at. But we’ve never seen a printed circuit board quite like this before. Delightfully old school by design, Circuit Classics was engineered by Star Simpson and inspired by the work of tinkering legend and author Forrest M. Mims, III. Circuit Classics brings Mims’ beginning electronics projects off the page and into a real-life electronics kit.
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?