Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Tale of 2 Laptops

As I type this my iBook G4 is almost completely disassembled. The bottom panel is on the floor next to my chair, the top panel is resting loosely on top of the laptop, and the keyboard is resting loosely on top of that. With the motherboard exposed on both sides and all the typing going on, I fear shorting something out. All to replace a hard drive. Apparently Apple didn't consider the hard drive on iBook G4's a user-replaceable part, so I had to go through a three-hour disassembly procedure to perform the swap. Well, I had to go through the procedure twice; the first time I foolishly reassembled the laptop before testing that the machine booted. Of course it didn't, but fortunately the second disassembly was easier than the first. Didn't hurt that there were about 20 leftover screws I couldn't figure out where to put.

The process to replace the hard drive on my old Dell Inspiron, in contrast, was trivial. Unscrewing one screw and sliding the IR port up unlocked the drive mount and allowed you to pull the mount out of the side of the laptop. All you had to do to replace the drive was unscrew the old one from the mount, screw the new one in, then slide the drive mount back into the machine. A less than five minute process.

I had a lot of gripes with that old Inspiron that sadly (or perhaps not) are lost to history. But at least Dell understood that it was reasonable to expect a user to replace a hard drive (especially since they shipped with the old IBM Deathstar hard drives). My iBook's been a reliable machine, but someone gave Apple's engineers crappy requirements when it came to user-serviceability. Hopefully they've learned something in the four years since.

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