Every year laptops are built thinner, lighter, brighter and shinier, but all that glitters is not gold (although it may be just as costly) and may not be worth the investment of your hard-earned money.
Referred to as “UltraPortables,” these computers are generally speaking the “wafer-thin” laptops with a 12 or 13” screen, weighing in at 3 pounds or less and having a full-size keyboard. Their long-lasting batteries promise to keep you working even when you’re not able to plug them in, and their fast storage gets you quickly connected to the internet, even after days of inactivity. High end machines may come with HD touch screens and some fancier features, but those units can be quite pricy.
What’s Under the Hood?
On the surface, all those features sound wonderful, but before you invest in that sleek, shiny machine, consider what’s “under the hood” and how the components affect its longevity and repairability.
Peeking under the laptop cover, well-constructed units share these good things:
- All commonly failing parts (ex. battery, trackpad buttons, display, keyboard) and upgradable parts (ex. RAM, SSD) are easy to access and replace.
- Screws instead of glue are used throughout the unit’s construction (allowing parts to be easily removed for repair or upgrade).
- All fasteners are standard Phillips screws (as opposed to proprietary pentalobe screws requiring a special tool which may or may not be available to your IT Technician).
- The manufacturer offers clear repair and disassembly instructions (as opposed to none).
One popular Ultraportable earned a repairability score of zero on ifixit.com due to all the components being glued or soldered in, rendering them unrepairable, and impossible to upgrade. The display and battery are also glued in, and in order to reach any other part for repair, the display must be removed. Once disassembled, the unit cannot be reassembled to original manufactured standards.
In contrast, ifixit.com gave a Dell Latitude, a make we do recommend, a repairability score of “10,” an ACER Predator and Asus Zenbook each an “8,” excellent repairability scores.
All UltraPortable computers have similar construction issues, so when they break, often the only recourse is to buy a new one, which is exactly what the manufacturers want you to do. You may have heard that Consumer Reports recently removed its “recommended” rating for one of the most popular UltraPortable laptops, for repairability issues arising by the 2nd year of ownership.
If you would prefer a laptop with longevity, and that can be upgraded and/or repaired as opposed to forcing you into buying a replacement when something fails, then the good news is that Computer Troubleshooters can help!
Among our most recommended laptops are the Lenovo ThinkPad and Dell Latitude (for business owners), Dell Latitude (for home use) and ASUS (for student use).
We would be very happy to work with you to assess your needs and recommend a specific model that would be the best fit for you.
Please feel free to contact us at 203-702-2103 to discuss your laptop requirements.