Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook gets iFixit tear-down

By Ray Nicolini

The team over at iFixit spent the morning tearing down RIM’s brand new tablet for an in-depth look at the inner-workings of the BlackBerry PlayBook. There aren’t too many surprises, but the firm did discuss how difficult and costly it could be to replace broken parts. If you aren’t using a case for your PlayBook just yet, here’s one reason you might want to start:
“The front camera, rear camera, and top control buttons are all attached as one assembly, making the replacement of a broken power button or volume buttons very costly.”
iFixit also said that RIM chose to build a magnesium frame around the glass LCD display, which should give it some extra durability. If you do end up shattering that 7-inch front panel, it’s not the end of the world. The LCD isn’t fused to the glass, which means a replacement should be fairly easy on you, and your wallet. 
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Add NoteEditStep 9 

  • Now we turn our attention back to the front panel assembly.
  • The right speaker is held in place by just two Phillips screws.
  • The speakers conveniently use pressure contacts to make an electrical connection to the motherboard.
  • Each speaker assembly houses two individual speakers, bringing the total speaker count to four.
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Add NoteEditStep 10 

  • The left speaker assembly lifts straight out of the steel mid-frame, while still connected to the battery.
  • The mid-frame is secured to the front panel assembly by a few screws.
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Add NoteEditStep 11 

  • Let's remove the mid-plane board, which houses the battery, left speaker, and antennas.
    • This design allows for quick-and-easy access to the front panel and LCD - the most commonly broken components on mobile devices.
  • The actual antennas in the PlayBook are built into the rear case and speaker modules, and are attached to the antenna cables via pressure contacts.
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Add NoteEditStep 12 

  • The camera assembly is easily removed from its recess.
  • The front camera, rear camera, and top control buttons are all attached as one assembly, making the replacement of a broken power button or volume buttons very costly.
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Add NoteEditStep 13 

  • The headphone jack cable is held in place by a metal retainer.
  • The right microphone is also attached to this assembly.
  • Dual microphones presumably allow for noise cancelling to eliminate background noise.
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Add NoteEditStep 14 

  • We peel the left microphone off the front panel assembly.
  • Upon removing a rubber cover and dust grill, we can read: S233 7252
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Add NoteEditStep 15 

  • After removing a few retaining screws, the LCD can be lifted off the front panel assembly. This little 7" panel packs a 1024 x 600 resolution.
  • Upon closer inspection, we find that the frame around the front glass panel is made of magnesium, a strong yet light metal. Many devices are using magnesium for structural components due to its desirable qualities for mobile devices.
  • The Cypress CY8CTMA3 Multi-Touch All-Point TrueTouch™ projected capacitive touchscreen controller is visible in the last picture. It is attached directly to the digitizer cable.
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Add NoteEditStep 16 

  • BlackBerry PlayBook Repairability Score: 7 out of 10(10 is easiest to repair)
  • The rear cover comes off easily with a couple of pries from the plastic opening tool.
  • The LCD is not fused to the glass, making the glass repair easier on the wallet.
  • You have to dig through the entire device if you need to replace your cracked glass, but the mid-plane assembly comes out easily with all components attached.
  • Other components (cameras, headphone jack, etc.) come out easily. However, there are usually two or three components attached to the same ribbon cable, increasing replacement cost if only one component fails.
  • You'll need to remove the motherboard if you'd like to replace the battery -- which is glued to the mid-plane assembly.
  • Front glass panel has a metal frame glued to it, which you'll need to separate with a heat gun if the glass cracks.

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