Under the pretense of enforcing copyright law, manufacturers have been systematically chipping away at our ownership rights. That’s not acceptable. And iFixit isn’t just going to stand by and watch it happen. Today, we draw a line in the sand. iFixit is proud to announce the Digital Right to Repair Coalition—a united front of consumers, environmental organizations, the aftermarket, and digital rights advocacy groups. Together, we are fighting to take back control of the things we own.
Earlier this year, we told you about Keurig’s attempt to quash off-brand coffee by integrating DRM into its newest model of brewing machine. At the time, we thought that coffee barons locking their customers into name-brand coffee pods was the most boneheaded deployment of DRM we’d ever seen. Turns out, we were wrong. You know what else features DRM these days? Kitty litter. Welcome to the future, people. Now, even your cat’s crap comes with a steaming side of corporate crap.
Disposable electric toothbrushes have built-in batteries that can’t be replaced. Sometimes stuff that seems convenient is a big pain in the long run—it breaks, and it can’t be fixed. Buy something more durable and repairable instead.
Thinking about buying a FitBit? Our suggestion: don’t. Online reviews are full of complaints about devices that die, fast. And the FitBit Flex is among the least repairable things we’ve ever torn down. Save your money for something fixable.
Christmas is the high-water mark of new stuff—and a lot of that new stuff is going to be electronic. As Wired’s Christina Bonnington pointed out yesterday, the mounting influx of shiny, thin devices is an environmental catastrophe just waiting to happen. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. If we’ve got any shot at meeting the e-waste challenge head-on, manufacturers are going to have to start giving a product’s end-of-life a lot more consideration.
Computers have fans that clog and slow long before the computer fails. A small tear in a jacket is not a problem, until the rip catches on a branch and suddenly you’re standing in a feathery nest of down insulation. A phone battery holds less charge before it holds no charge. To be a conscientious fixer is to recognize that repair is an intervention that must occur between functioning and complete failure.
I admit it. I’m one of millions of Americans sporting a slick, wafer-thin cell phone. And, like so many others, I’m rarely (if ever) without it. But if we all knew a little more about our beloved smart phones—found out where they come from and how they’re made—we might discover a tarnish in the gleaming surface of our phones. Our smartphones actually aren’t all that smart: they’re harming workers, poisoning critical ecosystems, and challenging the premise that technology makes the world better.
Keurig’s decision to release a coffeemaker that won’t brew “unlicensed” coffee is the most spectacular corporate blunder we’ve seen in some time. After their CEO let slip that the company is working on a coffee bot that won’t accept off-brand K-cups, the internet exploded in a hot ball of righteous fury. And Keurig’s parent company Green Mountain Coffee rode the wave of public vitriol with all the grace of a warthog riding a surfboard.
Keurig is releasing a new coffee-brewing system later this year that the company says will give users “game-changing performance.” And the system is, indeed, game-changing—but for all the wrong reasons. The new coffeemaker will have the unique ability to lock owners out for using off-brand coffee pods. Well, that’s one way to deal with the reusable, third-party coffee pods that have been nipping at Keurig’s bottom line.
During one of the most anticipated evenings of (male-centric) American sports, little girls everywhere stood up and demanded attention. GoldieBlox—a start-up company that designs engineering toys for girls—won Intuit’s Small Business, Big Game challenge. After beating out the large pool of 1,500 contestants, they received a coveted 30-second-spot during the Super Bowl XLVIII (a reported $4.5 million PR value).
“Girls—to build a spaceship. Girls—to code the new app. Girls—to grow up knowing that they can engineer that.” And thus, came the new feminist anthem that rang across the internet. Over the last several months, a whole ‘lotta fuss has been circling around a viral commercial from GoldieBlox—a startup toy company with a line of products designed to encourage female engineers.
You’ve played old arcade games. Maybe you’ve even played old arcade games on your tablet. But have you ever played old arcade games with all the components of your tablet? Martin Spengler and his friends from LAB BINÆR disassembled two tablets—the iPad Mini and the Nexus 7—and made a fantastic stop-motion animation with all the components. Martin confirms what we discovered in making our Tablet Repairability Guide: the iPad Mini is much harder to disassemble than the Nexus 7.