Microsoft Surface popped open, poked, prodded
Easier to repair than Apple's fondleslabs – though not by much
Teardown The teardown-happy folks at iFixit have taken their Torx wrenches and spudgers to Microsoft's new Surface
notebook tablet, but found few surprises inside.
They did discover, however, that the Surface is more easily repairable than either the iPad 2 or its follow-on iPad 3 – aka "the new iPad". iFixit gave the Surface a repairability rating of four out of 10, handily trouncing the iPads, which received embarrassing two-out-of-10 ratings.
It's clear, in fact, that Microsoft wants you to know that it has no desire for you to muck about inside its new tablet. After prying open the plastic cover hiding the torx screws holding the Surface together, iFixit's tinkerers found a tamper-tattling label sealing the body together, one that breaks apart when removed.
Not that such a warning would stop any self-respecting hardware geek with a teardown in mind.
Once iFixit got the Surface open – 17 Torx screws, 10 under the kickstand and another seven under the camera-covering plastic tab – they discovered a Samsung-manufactured 7.4 V, 31.5 Watt-hour lithium ion polymer battery, which means its power source nestles comfortably between the 3.8V, 25Wh battery in the iPad 2 and the 3.7V, 42.5Wh battery in the iPad 3.
Behold the Microsoft Surface, Redmond's latest gamble in its year of living dangerously (click to enlarge)
That battery, by the way, is glued down, but iFixit pronounced it far easier to remove than the battery cells in Apple's fondleslabs.
The 10.6-inch ClearType display, on the other hand, won't be easy to replace should you crack it. "LCD and glass are fused together and strongly adhered to the case," they explain, "increasing cost of replacement."
Attached to the Surface's logic board are two 720p cameras – one front-facing the other facing the rear – were "almost identical" in size and shape, iFixit reported in an email.
"The exclusion of a multi-megapixel rear-facing camera either means cost was a big concern," they opine, "or that Microsoft's designers don't expect you to use the Surface as your main camera. Perhaps they too realized how goofy you might look when taking pictures with a tablet.
Just a single ribbon cable connects the two halves of the Surface, and it's easily detached (click to enlarge)
The logic board's brains are all on its top surface, with the bottom reserved for microphones, antennas, and an ambient light sensor, along with what iFixit identifies as a "precarious wire running most of its length."
As we explained when reporting iFixit's teardown of Apple's upgraded Mac mini, the tools-and-parts-and-repairs-and-teardowns folks at that website color-code their logic board chips for identification – a capability we at The Reg can't easily replicate. For the Mac mini, we attempted to describe those colors somewhat whimsically, an effort that some of our dear readers didn't appreciate.
So for the Surface teardown, we'll overcompensate with not only plainer language, but also by using Apple's Digital Color Meter app to determine iFixit's color coding's RGB values, then firing up Adobe Photoshop to convert those 0-to-255 specifications into hexadecimal values.
- Purplish-Blue (R26, G48, B231; #1a30e7): Marvell 88W8797-BMP2 wireless MIMO SoC
- Greenish-Yellow (R228, G230, B74; #e4e64a): Micron 2RE22 D9QBJ 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Greyish-Red (R163, G50, B25; #a33219): Nvidia quad-core 1.4GHz Tegra 3 ARM-based microprocessor
- Bluish-Green (R97, G171, B162; #61aba2): Texas Instruments TPS659110 power management IC
- Brownish-Orange (R198, G112, B36; #c67024): Samsung KLMBG4GE4A eMMC 32GB NAND Flash
- Pale Violet with a Trace of Mauve (R181, G92, B227; #b55ce3): Wolfson 8962E ultra low power stereo audio codec
- Bluish-Green (R97, G171, B162; #61aba2): Wi-Fi antenna labled Antenova A10416-WIFI-A2
- Brownish-Orange (R198, G112, B36; #c67024): Microphones
- Greyish-Red (R163, G50, B25; #a33219): Ambient light sensor
- Purplish-Blue (R26, G48, B231; #1a30e7): Wi-Fi antenna labled Antenova A10416-WIFI-A1
- Greenish-Yellow (R228, G230, B74; #e4e64a): the aforementioned "precarious wire"
All in all, the Surface is a rather straightforward piece of kit. To examine its innards further, you'll need to point your browser at iFixit's full teardown, replete with 42 photos and the teardowners' characteristically impudent commentary. ®
WTF is Mauve?
Pale Violet with a Trace of Mauve - seriously - WTF? Is this Woman's Own? Knitting Monthly? Real men - even IT "men" - don't do "Pale Violet with a Trace of Mauve". Everything is red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple. Or brown (as in alert), Violet we can just about comprehend but not fucking Mauve. It's a made up colour for girls, like Cerise or Bisque (look - I'm married. My wife bandies these "colours" around *a lot* and expects me to know them too. I just nod and agree, otherwise I'll get angry, then she'll get angry and before you know it I'm sleeping on the couch - sorry, settee - again). If you have to give it a name call it Magenta - at least the printer guys will know what the fuck you are on about.
Went to a wedding last week and used my Nikon P300 to take some snaps and a couple of short videos. Hadn't realised that there were two people filming and taking photos of the events with iPads until I played the video.
It really does look stupid.
Real hacks ought to be able to convert 8-bit decimal to hex without Photoshop, right?
Re: The really important number is "TTL"
" virtually everybody who actually does do work on a PC has Linux by now."
For a limited, biased definition of work.
Re: betting on linux to rule the worlld
It might not rule the visible world, but an awful lot of what's hidden is running on Linux. Most home routers run a flavour of Linux, even my TV looks like it might understand Linux, too (it comes with a GPL licence). I've seen the in-flight entertainment on a 747 do a Linux reboot, too. Android is a specialised form of Linux, and I suspect much of Google's infrastructure started there, so most people are interacting with Linux even if they don't realise it.
In general it's getting on with running the world without making a fuss or eating your documents.