Cracking Open: Most annoying teardowns of 2013Some gadgets are easy to fix. Others are a repair nightmare. Bill Detwiler shares his list of most frustrating teardowns of 2013.
From smartphones and tablets to our first wearable, we've cracked open a lot of tech this year. And as we do at the end of each year, it's time to take look back but this time with a little twist. I'm Bill Detwiler and during this special episode of Cracking Open, I'm counting down my top five most annoying teardowns of 2013. The number five spot on our list goes to Apple's 2013 Macbook Air. And don't get me wrong, it's a great laptop. I use one on a daily basis, but its special pentalobe screws make the case difficult to open. And once you're inside, there's really not much that you can do as most of the components are soldered to the motherboard. At number four is another Apple creation, well, actually, two of them. The iPhone 5S and 5C aren't much more difficult to crack open than its predecessors. But thanks to their external pentalobe screws, variety of internal screw sizes, and all of the components that are glued to the case, the iPhones are still a pain to repair. Coming in at number three is the last Apple device on our list - the iPad Air. And as with previous iPads, the front panel is glued to the tablet's metal body and you'll need to heat the panel to open the case. Now even after separating the panel and the case, you can't remove it without removing the display. Throw in that the battery and most other internal components are glued in place, and this tablet definitely isn't repair-friendly. Now, in the second spot on our list is the first wearable device that we've ever cracked open - the Google Glass Explorer Edition. The camera and eyepiece assemblies cover came off relatively easily, but despite prying, poking, even heating the main and rear modules, nothing worked. And since I didn't want to destroy the device, I had to give up only halfway into the teardown. Well, we've reached the end of our list and standing above all the others, or maybe below, depending on how you look at it, is the king of annoying 2013 teardowns - the Microsoft Surface 2. Now, unlike the Google Glass, I was actually able to dissect the Surface 2. But it was a miserable two-hour ordeal. Why? Well, for starters, the front panel adhesive is incredibly strong and heating the front panel is difficult as some of the tablet's internal components and external trim pieces are made from plastic, which will warp when overheated. I know. I did it. There are also more than 60 screws inside the case of all different sizes. The battery is glued in place and most of the motherboard connectors are extremely fragile and easily broken. The Surface 2 is definitely an improvement over last year's model when it comes to hardware specs and performance, but it is the most difficult to crack open tablet I've ever worked on. Well, that does it for our countdown of the most annoying Cracking Open teardowns of 2013. Now to find links to each teardown on the list, go to techrepublic.com/crackingopen and keep watching in 2014 as I'll be cracking open even more of the latest tech. I'm Bill Detwiler. Thanks for watching.