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Microsoft's Surface Dial isn't quite as easy to repair as the Surface Studio, teardown reveals

By Shawn Knight
Dec 1, 2016 at 2:45 PM
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  1. Microsoft’s Surface Studio was one of the worst kept secrets in technology in the latter half of 2016 (and also the recent victim of an iFixit teardown). The optional Surface Dial accessory, however, took virtually everyone by surprise (in a good way).

    Many were also surprised (again, in a good way) by how easy it is to repair the all-in-one. Will the Surface Dial follow in the footsteps of its companion and prove to be equally as easy to dissect and repair? For that answer, we once again turn to iFixit.

    Jumping right in, the team found that the rubber foot on the bottom of the Surface Dial is held in place by magnets and thus, comes off without a fight. It is here that you’ll find two AAA batteries and a sync button (this explains why it’s so easy to get the cover off).

    Going deeper, however, requires a bit more work (and some tools).

    After struggling to get the mid-frame / battery compartment out, the team found a single access hole as part of the spinning mechanism that must be used to remove a few screws that separate the body from the silver cover.

    Only after the fact did they find a plugged hole under the battery compartment that would have made removal a bit easier. As such, they recommend drilling through the plug to remove the screws that separate the body.

    Back on track, they get the internals separated from the outer casing and have to pop the bearing apart to advance further. The team encounters springy posts that help even out the pressure when you press down on the Surface Dial, a pancake vibration motor for force feedback and a microswitch responsible for its click functionality. Also of note is the component responsible for the “spinny” function which iFixit says looks very similar to the sensor inside the Nest thermostat.

    Overall, iFixit awarded the Surface Dial a repairability score of four out of 10 (the higher the number, the easier it is to repair) which is one point less than the Surface Studio.

    iFixit praised the dial for its easy-to-remove bottom panel that makes swapping batteries and syncing a breeze. The team noted that while the accessory is durable, repairs are unlikely as most of the components that would probably fail can’t be replaced without damaging other parts.

    The vibrating motor responsible for haptic feedback, for example, is firmly held in place with strong glue. Without a repair guide and enough courage to drill your way into the main compartment, you won’t even get the chance to service anything.

    Given its sub-$100 price tag, your best bet is to either try and replace a faulty dial under warranty or simply buy a new one.

    All images courtesy iFixit

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. Kunming

    Kunming TS Enthusiast Posts: 63   +17

    Wish they'd do a tear-down of Microsoft as well and find out how easy it would be to repair.
     
    bmw95 likes this.
  3. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,485   +2,038

    Successfully and easily ripping the guts out of these little devices would be an quite undertaking considering they're never meant to be taken apart. There are no user replaceable parts inside it anyway if you discount the battery. It's ingenious how much tech they can shoehorn inside such a small, little thing.
     
  4. Steffen Jobbs

    Steffen Jobbs TS Rookie

    Most likely the only reason the dial would need repair is if it gets dropped from a table onto concrete. I really find it odd as to why iFixit always believe these things should be repairable. If I was building those products, I'd probably want to encase the entire innards in black epoxy glue if it could take the heat. I wouldn't want anyone trying to repair some part that wasn't meant to be repaired.
     
  5. Steffen Jobbs

    Steffen Jobbs TS Rookie

    You're entirely right. This is no different from when companies started moving from discrete components to IC chips. The people fixing them were complaining as to why didn't they leave well enough alone so it would be easier to repair (with their costly inventory of resistors, capacitors and transistors). It looks like most computers are going to become non-user upgradeable and not really meant to be repaired. It will be a take in and replace procedure and that's it. The more "stuff" you pack into a product it's going to do away with sockets and screws and anything else that we think should be pulled out for repair or upgrading. Slim, compact products are not going to be meant to be repaired and that's all there is to it. People need to get used to it and move on.

    Don't get me wrong. I'd like to be able to upgrade RAM and hard drives at a later date but the big manufacturers now seem to want all your money upfront and make you need a newer computer sooner.
     
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  6. bmw95

    bmw95 TS Addict Posts: 103   +51

    lol savage
     
    Kunming likes this.

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