Amazon Kindle 2 First Look

February 24, 2009 Teardowns — luke

We disassembled Amazon’s Kindle 2 e-reader!

Here’s what we found:

  • The Kindle 2 sports a 532 MHz processor, clocking in faster than an iPhone 3G. Amazon used a 90nm ARM11-based Freescale MCIMX31L multimedia processor.
  • The interior of the Kindle 2 is very functional, but not as aesthetically balanced as some of the devices we’ve disassembled.
  • As expected, the E-Ink display uses no power to maintain an existing image. We completely disconnected the screen from the battery, and the content on the screen remained crystal clear even though there was no power to it.
  • Pound for pound, it’s more expensive than the MacBook Pro 17″ Unibody we took apart last week, since the Kindle 2 weighs only 10.2 ounces.
  • As many have reported, the text-to-speech was remarkably clear and surprisingly listenable.
  • The Kindle 2 is thinner than the iPhone 3G, but a hair thicker than an iPod Touch.
  • Completely disassembling the Kindle 2 is simple once the case is opened — we removed only 26 screws and disconnected four connectors.

Interesting photos:

Let us know if you have questions or would like to see anything else. We plan on putting our Kindle 2 back together and using it after satisfying everyone’s curiosity.

MacBook Pro 17″ Unibody Disassembled!

February 17, 2009 Teardowns — Kyle

We took apart the MacBook Pro 17″ Unibody!

Here are the highlights:

  • Even after paying Apple $2799, this computer STILL doesn’t come with a Mini DisplayPort adapter.
  • There are three tri-wing screws holding the battery to the Unibody case. Apple did this to intimidate people out of swapping the battery, but a small flathead screwdriver works fine to remove the screws.
  • You can replace the battery by removing 13 screws and a replaceable sticker.
  • The battery is HUGE. It weighs 20.1 ounces (1.25 pounds). That’s 20% of the computer’s weight!
  • The Bluetooth board is much easier to access and repair than it is in the MacBook Pro 15″ Unibody, where it is tucked away inside the display assembly.
  • As expected, the 17″ design and internal layout is very similar to the MacBook Pro 15″. Most of the extra space is occupied by the battery. The Unibody case does make the computer feel much more solid than the 17″ Aluminum, which had a lot more torsional flex. This is a very solid computer.

Interesting photos:

If we find anything else, we’ll post news about it here.

Problems with MB Unibody and MBP Unibody Headphone Jacks

February 16, 2009 Hardware — Kyle

An issue concerning the headphone jacks of MacBook Unibody and MacBook Pro Unibody recently surfaced. Several Unibody users reported that the connectivity between the headphone jack and plug was fickle, and that a slight jostle of the cord would disengage the headphones and re-engage the speakers. We wanted to see for ourselves how serious this problem really was — after all, we wouldn’t want your co-workers to find out you like Enya, would we?

We rounded up three different headphones for testing, each representing a different level of quality of both sound and build: the low-end iPod earphones; the mid-end Grado SR-60s; and the high-end Shure SE530. The three choices conveniently represented all three types of ‘phones — earphones, headphones, and in-ear monitors — and various levels of cost, ranging from  $15 original Apple earbuds to $445 Shure SE530s.

For this comparison we also rounded up four representative Apple laptops: MacBook Pro 15″ Unibody; MacBook Unibody; MacBook Pro 17″ (non-Unibody); and MacBook Air. The testing was simple — insert each headphone plug into each laptop’s headphone jack until it fits completely (indicated by a distinct “click”); then slowly pull out until the music is transferred to the external speakers. Rinse and repeat several times until the  characteristic of each headphone jack is determined.

Headphone Plug and MacBook Pro Unibody: Unruly buddies...

Headphone Plug and MacBook Pro Unibody: Unruly buddies...

Testing indicated that both Unibody laptops definitely had a problem with prematurely-engaging external speakers, an issue most likely caused by the headphone jacks’ internal designs. Complete insertion of the headphone plug would engage the headphones, as it should. However, a slight (1mm) displacement of the plug would re-engage the external speakers and cut audio to the headphones, regardless of which headphones were used. Interestingly enough, this problem was only evident on the MacBook Unibodies, and did not occur on either the MacBook Pro 17″ or MacBook Air. The headphone plug could be displaced almost twice as much on both machines without any audio-switching problems. There was obviously a threshold where external speakers would be re-engaged, but at that point the plug would be almost completely loose from the jack’s internal holding mechanism that keeps the plug in place. 

So what’s a person to do about this problem? Unfortunately there is no DIY solution, such as soldering another headphone jack in place of the “faulty” one. Most users would not want to mess with screwing up their logic board due to an annoying headphone jack. However, there is a fix that seems to take care of the problem — purchasing an iPhone headphone jack adapter that allows for proper fitment of standard headphone plugs. In this case, the cheapest fix is also the best one. But it’s annoying.

New Guide Site

February 13, 2009 Site News — Kyle

As you can see, we’ve made some changes around here.

New site design

New site design!

Aside from the redecoration, here’s the highlights:

  • This blog. We’ll be posting hardware tips and tricks, troubleshooting advice, teardowns of new products, and news about new site features. Be sure to follow the RSS feed– we promise to provide useful and pertinent information. Today we posted an analysis of the problems people have been reporting with the new MacBook Unibody headphone jack.
  • Guide notes. We’ve always appreciated useful feedback about our guides from people like you, but sometimes it takes us a little while to integrate your disassembly tips into our instructions. Guide notes provide a platform for you to help share what you’ve learned about while working on your own hardware.
  • Troubleshooting notes. Do you have any additional ideas for diagnosing hardware problems? Do you disagree with us on a diagnosis? Post what you know so other people don’t have to reproduce your knowledge the hard way.
  • Community forum. Brag about your triumph over the gremlins Apple hides inside Macs, or get help from everyone with your current problems.
  • Twitter. Follow us and we’ll follow you.
  • Search. This has been our #1 most requested feature. We’re sorry it took so long. How do you like it? Let us know!
  • New navigation. We’ve added helpful background information about specific devices alongside links to the step-by-step guides and troubleshooting documents. For example, if you browse from Mac to MacBook to MacBook Core Duo, you’ll find that we’ve added a list of possible MacBook Core Duo upgrades, links to other useful information on the net, and some historical information on the hardware. We’ll be adding to this over time.

Our mission is to help you fix things. All of these features are designed to make it easy for you to work on your own hardware. Now go out and fix your Mac!