PlayBook teardown reveals it is easier to repair than iPad 2

The BlackBerry PlayBook's hardware earned a seven out of 10 "repairability" score from iFixit, well above the teardown Web site's earlier four out of 10 grade for the iPad 2.

IFixit, which takes apart popular devices to describe their inner parts and repair capabilities, posted a video of its teardown shortly after the device went on sale Tuesday.

iFixit also found the PlayBook, unlike the iPad 2, didn't require a heatgun to access its innards.

However, the PlayBook's battery can only be replaced by first removing its motherboard, iFixit found. Blackberry maker Research in Motion has stated that users are not intended to access the battery, much the same approach that Apple has taken with its iPad 2 battery, putting the warranties for both devices at risk. The iPad 2 battery is buried beneath its logic board, and glued in place, iFixit found earlier this year.

The guts of the PlayBook are housed within the display assembly, unlike in the rear case like most other tablets, iFixit found. "That's unfortunate from a repairability standpoint," said Miroslav Djuric, director of technical communication for iFixit.

In terms of components, iFixit found that the the PlayBook's 20-hour battery is smaller than the iPad 2's 25 watt-hour unit batter, which might not matter, given the Playbook's smaller 7-in. screen for the and the 9.7-in. display for the iPad 2. The 3-megapixel front-facing camera of the PlayBook "crushes" the iPad 2's VGA camera, Djuric said.

Both the PlayBook and iPad 2 make use of standard Phillips screws to make repairs easier, iFixit found.

IFixit also found that at least eight chips in the PlayBook were made by Texas Instruments, which translates to a "decent amount of dollars going to TI with every PlayBook purchase."

Costs of components were not a part of iFixit's summary.

Djuric concluded that the PlayBook is "well-sorted internally and the hardware RIM included is definitely nothing to scoff at. People who decide to take the PlayBook plunge can be reassured that they could replace their shattered glass with some elbow grease."

Repairs of the iPad 2's display were considered more risky than the original iPad, partly because the glass is substantially thinner, iFixit found.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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