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Does Surface Pro's low 'repairability' rating even matter?

After iFixIt declared Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet the most unrepairable device it has seen, it's time to question whether it needs to be easy to open up.

By Andy Patrizio on Thu, 02/14/13 - 4:37pm.

Microsoft seems to have taken a page from Apple's book, and built on it. The company's new Surface Pro tablet was almost impossible to open for the traditional tear-down by iFixIt.

In the era of Internet journalism, we've had stupid traditions (unboxing) and interesting traditions (teardowns) pop up. For the longest time, the idea of buying or getting a brand new gadget for free and dissecting it to its components was unthinkable, but it has led to some solid analysis. We know who's gouging us and who isn't by looking at the components.

For the longest time, Apple was the company with the rep for having products that are closed off, sealed, and impossible to access, much like Steve Jobs and Apple itself. The company just didn't want people monkeying around inside its products.

Well, Microsoft matched Apple this time, and went all in. The Surface Pro is more tightly sealed than Fort Knox. They described the case as sealed by "a metric duckload" of glue. No, I have no idea what a "duckload" means, either.

"We tried every method we could think of to free the screen, including cutting the adhesive, to no avail. This Pro requires a pro method. Thankfully, we have one: we call it the Heat-It-Up-and-Poke-It-Til-It-Does-What-We-Want method. Luckily, we have the required heat gun and guitar picks ready," the reviewers wrote.

Inside is more superglue, and the battery is so strongly glued in place you will at best need a new back cover if you ever replace it, or worse, destroy the cover. Then there's the fact that there are more than 90 screws holding everything in place.

"While the Surface Pro might be a good computing choice for some users, it’s a total fail in repairability. It simply is not designed to be opened or fixed at home, except perhaps by teardown experts. Even the iPad, a notoriously difficult device to repair, earned a score of 2 out of 10 for repairability," the iFixIt team wrote.

It all begs the question of how open should it be. There are times when you need to be able to do just that, like adding memory or storage. Laptops are designed with the memory located behind one specific door on the underside (usually) to make upgrades simple.

I can recall a time with a former employer, where I was in a remote office with no IT person. I was the only geek in the place who built his own PC. Some of the staff needed memory upgrades to improve the performance of their aging laptops. Guess who went around to a few offices doing the upgrades?

Not that I'm complaining. I'm grateful that the laptops all had those quick access doors to make memory upgrades simple. The upgrades were done in 10 minutes.

But given that the Surface loses much of its storage to Windows 8 to begin with, you'd think they would want to make it somewhat upgradeable.

So this really is one where I want readership feedback. Does it matter to you that the Surface Pro is virtually inaccessible and upgradable? Do you want to be able to replace and upgrade, like on a laptop, or would you prefer it stay sealed?