The Reality of Off-the-Shelf Electronics

I frequently get repair requests for consumer-oriented laptops, such as Dell Inspirons, HP Envy models, Lenovo pads etc. These are computers that are purchased from online or big box chains and are pre-packaged, plug and play models. Consumers take them out of the box, turn them on, and pre-installed operating systems (usually Gates’ good ol’ Windows) does the rest.

These are think-free computers, as I like to call them, designed to do an array of ‘things’ for consumers… But not everything. Surf the web lots? Use this one- it has great wifi… But shite memory. Stream a lot? Great graphics and some memory here… But hard to do much else. These are computers designed to fulfill some, but not, consumer needs. They offer good, but not great, service for their components’ lifespans.

I’m not saying that colored laptops are like toilet paper…

The moment one wants to do streaming AND uploading AND video editing AND gaming- welcome to the world of the tech heads, my friend. You’ll need your own motherboard, with RAM of your choosing and throw in your favorite processor why not and that cooling fan, well it’s just STOCK…

-what is it?! If you have to ask, you’re a newbie, and if you shake your head at the price and build it on your own (though it doesn’t have the swish red fan) then you’re a true tech head.

Which means little to the consumer who buys a Dell Inspiron or an HP Envy and is a) not at all interested in the intricacies of component parts and b) IS going to be bonded to their new computer and reluctant to part with it or change it. Most consumers like their items as is; they like, or at least “grow accustomed” as the song says, to the particulars of an item. Many non tech-hungry consumers don’t necessarily enjoy exploring new devices- they bond with what they take from the box.

Your wobbly mouse pad’s glitches night and noon are second nature to you now…

Which is where the grief of Off-the-Shelf electronics comes into play. When one of these computers has a component part reach the end of its working life -which is sooner than it would be for a more hard-coded computer- repairs can become expensive. Part of this is the usury-worthy rates of most repair shops or big box affiliates, but part is legitimate added work and effort.

Consumer level electronics are not designed to be repaired. Everyone knows this about childrens’ toys and such, but it is true of HP, Dell, Lenovo and other brand name laptops as well. You can see that these computers were not designed to have any wearable parts such as batteries, fans, keyboards, mouse pads etc replaced, so that the rest of the device can keep on truckin’, as it were … they are difficult to access and often are attached to the motherboard (your computer’s nervous system and locus of activity) by flimsy, easily broken attachments. This means that a) an enterprising novice with a screwdriver opens up their laptop and is greeted by a series of overlapping clamps, wires and module attachments, all just to change out a battery, or a USB port.

Look at these two, cheaply cast wire bits that grip your barrel head connector terminal. If you breathe on them funny, they’ll wander off, and then you get an ‘a/c charger is not recognized’ BIOS error… Time for new kit.

This design is two-fold: it shunts repair business back to either the maker or its registered agents, which means they set the prices for your repairs, and it encourages you to just give up and get a new computer. Why spend two or three (or four or five?) hundred dollars on a simple battery replacement or charge port re-install, when this shiny new computer is only five, six or seven hundred?

Buybuybuy- pay no attention to the fact the keypad assembly won’t be easily removed, or the mouse pad doesn’t remove and replace … IT’S FIRE ENGINE RED!!!

Boom. Company just justified its third quarter profits on your back. And your poor little ‘puter, who only ever did its best as the factory made it, goes in the bin. And you and it were just starting to get along, too…

Sad, isn’t it? This is why I believe that repairs should be reasonably priced, and parts not overcharged. After all, if we, as repair professionals, repair computers like stock models effectively once, they’re going to need more. By charging an affordable amount we cut down on the awful consumer waste in the tech field, we build successful long-term relationships with grateful clients who, because they like the computer they’ve got, will continue to have it repaired far longer than the maker intended.

Good for us, good for the planet, great for the consumer, who really doesn’t want to have the hassle of learning a bunch of new lessons on kit they don’t really want anyway.

Would you like to know if your computer is an off-the-shelf model, not designed for lasting use? Check to see if your battery is removable without taking off the rear cover completely.

Why do fifteen screws, a mounting bracket, a flimsy bendable battery attachment cable and part of the hard disk drive all need to be removed to change a battery on a Dell Inspiron? Ask Dell- what’s their hourly repair rate!

Then check to see if your rear cover comes off smoothly, and if your front keyboard detaches smoothly (no, drop that screwdriver, just look on YouTube for your computer model and repairs)! If you have no idea what your model number is, not just the name of your model (like the Dell Inspiron above, or an HP Envy or a ThinkPad), then you probably have a ‘puter that isn’t designed to outlive the first thing that gives out.

Like your ‘puter, whatever it’s model is called? Then seek out reliable, conscientious, well- itemized repair services. Ask to see pictures of the repair, if you like, or just get a good written report of the repair. Both services, pictures and a report (as well as repair-while-you-watch) are included with every repair we perform at MacGregor Logistics. By finding out what went into your battery replacement or component repair, you not only learn more conscientious computer etiquette (like yes, all that bashing about of your side affixing charge port DOES damage it, and here’s what you’ve done! :-0 ) it also helps you to keep the devices you love affordable and properly functioning, long past the date the maker intended.

If you love off-the-shelf electronics, seek out repair and maintenance workers who love them, too, and will treat them- and your wallet- with respect.

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Author: clyde

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