Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet is in many ways an improvement on its less-expensive and less robust predecessor, the Surface RT. But when it comes to repairing the Surface Pro, there's nothing but room for improvement, iFixit reported after a Feb. 13 teardown.
The repair-focused tech site has taken tablet market leader Apple to task for making products so difficult to repair that they're essentially rendered disposable. With the Surface Pro, however, Microsoft outdid Apple.
"The display assembly is anchored down with the most adhesive we've ever seen on a small device; in fact, it took us well over an hour to figure out how to get inside—an iFixit first," Chief Information Architect Miro Djuric wrote in a blog post.
"The Surface Pro has some nifty features, like a removable SSD [solid-state device], but that upgradability is marred by non-accessibility to the internals," Djuric continued. "Adding salt to the wounds, the battery is buried behind the motherboard and glued down to the case. Because of this, the Surface Pro received a 1 out of 10 score on our repairability scale—the worst score any tablet has ever received."
The Surface RT, following an Oct. 29, 2012, teardown, rated 4 out of 10. The Apple iPad 4, which got the treatment days later on Nov. 2, ranked a dismal 2 of out 10. But a 1!
iFixit described the black glue around the perimeter of the Surface Pro as looking like tar—and being nearly as immovable. The team needed a heat gun, a special glue-warming tool resembling a hot compress, a supply of guitar picks for prying and considerable patience.
It also needed to remove more than 90 screws to get inside.
"We're proponents of mechanical fasteners," wrote Djuric, "but this number is a tad crazy."
Of course, there was more to the teardown than complaints about how difficult it is to open, and to fix—not a small point for a device that starts at $899.
iFixit was impressed by the Surface's battery—calling it the "Cadillac of batteries"—though not its performance. The Surface battery is a 42Wh unit rated for 7.4V and 5,676mAh.
"Impressive specs?" blogged Djuric. "Note that the iPad 4 has a 43Wh battery, albeit at 3.7V. Even with all this battery juice, the reported battery life of the Surface Pro is less than 5 hours."
But while the iPad 4 is content to be a tablet, the Surface Pro has laptop-replacement aspirations. The full Windows 8 is onboard, along with 64GB of storage (there's also a 128GB option) and a 3rd Generation Intel Core i5 processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000—the same graphics, said iFixit, as is in the newest Apple MacBook Air.
Like a laptop, the Surface Pro also included not one but two small cooling fans.
In summary, once the team got past cursing the Surface Pro for its copious amounts of adhesive and seemingly endless screws to remove, the teardown was rather unremarkable, with no real gushing over unexpected components or lamenting over others. Though the team did very much enjoy the extent to which the device's innards, helped by those two fans, had the look of a mustachioed, heavily eyebrowed face staring back at them.
"Eye can't think of anything clever, so if anyone nose something to say about the Surface Pro with its display removed, please mouth your opinion," they joked, "I mustache you to keep thinking while eyebrows the interwebs."