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“Chromebooks aren’t constructed to final”: Common gadget has 4 years of updates left

“Chromebooks aren’t constructed to final”: Common gadget has 4 years of updates left

2023-04-22 09:17:40

Chromebook logo on black laptop
Enlarge / US PIRG’s “Chromebook Churn” report casts a harsh highlight on flaws in Chromebook repairability and longevity.

Scharon Harding

Google is within the US Public Curiosity Analysis Group (PIRG) sizzling seat. This week, the nonprofit printed its “Chromebook Churn” [PDF] report, pointing a finger at Google for enabling Chromebooks that “aren’t designed to final.” It highlighted Chromebook quirks, like seemingly pointless {hardware} tweaks throughout fashions that problem parts-sourcing and computerized replace expiration (AUE) dates, as examples of the repair-averse Chromebook tradition Google has enabled. For goal Chromebook markets, like faculties, that go for Chromebooks to economize, long-term prices might outweigh the fast financial savings, PIRG’s evaluation concluded.

The report focuses on Chromebooks in faculties and relies on an interviews with 10 “college IT administrators, technicians, journalists, restore store homeowners, elements suppliers, and lecturers,” in addition to a “five-question survey with 13 college IT directors and technicians.” The pattern measurement may very well be a lot bigger, however the particulars within the report are additionally primarily based on undisputed traits of ChromeOS units. And whereas PIRG’s paper emphasizes the influence this all has for faculties, particularly the inflow of Chromebooks bought for faculties throughout the COVID-19 pandemic’s top and past, it is price contemplating for any present or potential Chromebook homeowners or individuals who wish to vote with their greenback.

Sneaky design modifications hinder repairs

The report, written by PIRG’s Designed to Final Marketing campaign director, Lucas Rockett Gutterman, argues that as a result of Chromebooks are largely web-based and do not fluctuate in energy as a lot as different laptops, it must be “straightforward” to supply modular designs that permit for elements to be shared throughout Chromebook fashions. Certainly, Framework’s modular Chromebook proves that is doable. However in its “Failing the Repair” [PDF] report from February, PIRG reported that Chromebooks have a median French repairability index rating of 5.8 out of 10, in comparison with 6.9 for all non-Chromebook laptops.

PIRG’s “Chromebook Churn” paper particulars hurdles IT managers and others in training encounter when going through Chromebook repairs. For instance, PIRG checked out bezel availability for six Chromebook distributors by way of “fashionable elements reseller” eduPARTS. Discovering substitute bezels is extra difficult than it must be:

All six of the producers we surveyed made non-functional modifications to the bezels of their Chromebook 11 sequentially launched fashions that made these elements incompatible from one mannequin to the subsequent. For instance, from the Samsung Chromebook 11 XE500C12 to XE500C13 the cutout within the bezel for the digicam modified from a sq. to a circle. This beauty change rendered substitute elements incompatible throughout fashions. From the Dell 11 3100 to the Dell 11 3110 the bezel just isn’t suitable throughout fashions, the one seen modifications to the person between them being the addition of small notches on the underside of the newer mannequin. On the again of the bezels the 3110 model has lacking or much less pronounced clips, which renders them incompatible.

Even when these modifications have any advantages, like lowering total laptop computer measurement or weight or enabling an improved match one way or the other, it is clear there are repairability drawbacks, which have monetary and environmental implications.

The top is a Dell 11 3100 bezel, and the bottom is a Dell 11 3110 bezel. Spotting the differences is like a game that makes repairs no fun.
Enlarge / The highest is a Dell 11 3100 bezel, and the underside is a Dell 11 3110 bezel. Recognizing the variations is sort of a recreation that makes repairs no enjoyable.

Chromebook makers can take liberties with their particular SKU designs, however each Chromebook relies on a Google reference design. Ultimate laptop computer designs are a collaboration, which means there’s seemingly blame to go round.

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PIRG did reward Google’s standardization of Chromebook chargers, however in the case of the “typical restore, it is advisable change 50 p.c of the gadget and chuck it,” Jeannie Crowley, director of know-how and innovation for the Scarsdale, New York Public College District, stated within the report. Examples, cited by further folks PIRG interviewed, embrace having to exchange a whole Chromebook keyboard as a result of a single key does not work.

“We now have piles, a whole lot of Chromebooks, and it is so irritating as a result of I am unable to simply take a key off one,” Crowley says within the report.

Some newer Chromebook fashions, like Acer’s Chromebook Vero 712, market keyboards which are alleged to be spill-resistant whereas utilizing drainage programs and mechanically anchored keys to withstand breaking, however there are numerous causes a single key may break.

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