Cracking Open the Microsoft Surface 2Bill Detwiler cracks open the Surface 2 and discovers a redesigned interior that makes repairing the device difficult and time consuming.
On the outside, Microsoft's Surface 2 may look like its predecessor, the Surface RT. But it has a completely redesigned interior and as I'll show you today, it's unfortunately a real pain to disassemble and repair. I'm Bill Detwiler and this is Cracking Open. The Surface 2 is ever so slightly thinner and lighter than the original Surface RT, but from the outside, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Now that doesn't mean however, that they are identical. Far from it, the Surface 2 has a new two position kickstand, a micro SD card slot that's been moved down a little bit, and the case screws are no longer visible on the outside. Now these subtle external differences pale when compared to the massive internal hardware and design changes. For starters, the Surface 2 now has 2 microphones, stereo speakers, USB 3.0 port, better cameras, a new 1920x1080 screen and a faster 1.7 GHz Tegra 4 Processor. Unfortunately, when making all these hardware upgrades, Microsoft also completely reworked the tablets internal design. And in doing so, may the Surface 2 much more difficult to crack open and repair than its predecessor. Opening last year's Surface RT began by removing the tablets back cover not so with the Surface 2. Like the Apple iPad, cracking open this tablet requires heating the edges of the front panel to loosen the adhesive underneath. Now at the same time, you'll need to gently pry the panel loose with thin tools. Unlike the iPad, however, some of the Surface's internal components and external trim pieces are made from plastic which can wore if overheated. Now once the font panel is finally loose, you can lift it up from the body and lay it face down. Now you'll need to detach the board that connects the panel to the motherboard before you can completely remove it. With the front panel removed, we get our first look inside the Surface 2 and at a completely new internal design. The internal hardware is mounted to the Surface 2's body with the front panel and display being a single, removable unit. Now the Surface RT's hardware on the other hand was actually mounted to the front panel and display assembly, which also serve as the tablet's body. The dissect the insides of the new Surface, I first removed the plastic bezel that runs along the other edge. Next to come out where the new stereo speakers followed by the volume button and the upgraded front, and rear-facing cameras, after detaching several cables from the motherboard and removing a series of screws, I can finally left out the board. Removing the motherboard's metal shields reveals the new Tegra 4 sock and most of the tablets other chips. Now turning our attention back to the Surface's body, the last component to come out is the power connecter and micro SD card reader assembly. As the battery is firmly glued to the body, I'm going to leave it in place rather than risk of damaging it during removal, likewise, I'm going to leave the vibration motor, kickstand hinges, docking connector and the click and keyboard magnets along. They're clearly visible without being removed. Now it's been a frustrating process but our tear down is finally complete. The Surface 2 is definitely an improvement over the last year's model when it comes to hardware specifications and performance. Kudos to Microsoft for that. But it has also officially become the most difficult to crack open tablet I've ever worked on. The front panel adhesive is incredibly hard to work around. There are more than 60 screws inside the case of all different sizes and most of the motherboard connectors are extremely fragile and easily broken. Now I can only hope that Microsoft makes some major design changes for next year's model. Now for more information on the Surface 2 including real world tests and pricing information, check out Eric Franklin's full CNET Review. To see more tear-down photos and read my full hardware analysis, go to techrepublic.com/crackingopen. I'm Bill Detwiler. Thanks for watching.