Sony Contest: 19 New Teardowns

October 28, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Our Sony teardown contest is complete, and we’re ready to announce the winners!

Most Creative Sony Teardown: TR-63 Transistor Radio

Most Creative Sony Teardown: TR-63 Transistor Radio

We received 19 different entries for the contest, featuring all sorts of Sony products:

The Sony Playstation 3 teardown was voted Best Overall. Author karasumachitose wins a PS3 Slim for a thorough walkthrough of how to get inside the PS3!

The Sony TR-63 Transistor Radio teardown was voted Most Creative. Author bac wins a PSP Go! This was our favorite teardown. The photos inside this historic piece of technology are absolutely stellar.

Best Overall Sony Teardown: PlayStation 3

Best Overall Sony Teardown: PlayStation 3

The judges were six members of the Wired editorial staff:

The judges labored for hours trying to pick the best teardowns. We thank them kindly for donating their time and for partnering with us for this contest. We loved the variety of teardowns you contributed. A good portion of them included tidbits on repair or reassembly, giving the world a useful resource, in addition to the pretty pictures. Good job to everyone who participated!

Want to create a teardown of your own? Get started!

27″ iMac Wallpaper

October 23, 2009 Hardware — Miro

Our 27" iMac (it's turned on!) with our new wallpaper.

One of our staffers came up with a great idea, an idea so fun that we dropped everything we were doing and started reassembling the 27″ iMac.

He thought it would be awesome to take a picture of the iMac internals and make it into wallpaper. So we did exactly that.

We reassembled the iMac to the point of how it would look like as if you just opened it: no glass, no LCD, and no iSight. We took the wallpaper shot, then fully reassembled it and put our fresh wallpaper on the machine. The results were nothing short of wonderful.

We learned a long time ago that “sharing is caring,” and didn’t want to keep this accomplishment all to ourselves.

So here it  is, in its 2560 x 1440 glory. Enjoy!

27″ iMac Teardown

October 22, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Kyle
We spared no expense to bring you internal photos of Apple’s latest and greatest. We have in our studio, in pieces, the biggest iMac money can buy:
http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iMac-Intel-27-Inch/1236/1
Lightning-quick teardown slideshow:
XXXX
Highlights:
* The power supply puts out 25.8 amps at 12 volts, for a total output of 310 watts (365W input, 85% efficiency). That’s the biggest power supply we’ve seen in an iMac.
* The GPU and CPU are quite far apart, and they have separate heat sinks leading to opposite sides of the computer. This rather complex feat of thermal engineering allowed Apple to upgrade the iMac to use Intel’s desktop line of processors.
* The lack of Blue-ray support in this iMac is a bag of hurt. Fortunately, this is a drop-in replacement: http://www.panasonic.com/industrial/computer/storage/optical/models/UJ-135A.asp (Of course, until Apple releases software support, you’ll still have to boot into Windows to play movies.)
* There is a Wi-Fi antenna leading into the Apple logo on the rear of the iMac. Aside from the ports, this is the only spot on the rear of the machine that isn’t solid Aluminum. This is quite clever, and while it seems like the obvious place to put it, we’ve never seen Apple do this before.
* This thing is BIG. The desktop processor / GPU need three large fans and two huge heatsinks to dissipate heat.
* The new iMac’s edge-to-edge glass can slide around. After upgrading the RAM in our iMac, we noticed the glass was slightly out of alignment on one side. You can push it back into place by hand.
* There’s no direct line from the external Mini DisplayPort connector to the LCD. The signal will need to go through the logic board, so you’ll need to have your iMac powered on if you want to display from an external video source.
* Our 3.06 GHz E7600 Core 2 Duo processor is a LGA 775 Socket T CPU. There are some Core 2 Quad chips that use the same socket, but we don’t know if they would work. The i5 and i7 quad-cores included in the high-end 27″ iMac use a different socket, LGA 1156 Socket H.
Overall Photo
http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/UZQRO2ARtsvgaDkP.huge
No screen
http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/TLfSqZEZWnTwKylR.huge
Removing logic board
http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/avNjZSRYK3eaWBm4.huge
Logic board w/2 heat sinks
http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/ktLKDUFPyGmyPPQJ.huge
As always, I’m available for questions or interviews. You are welcome to use up to three photos in your story, as well as the video embed.
Cheers,
-Kyle Wiens
iFixit CEO
P.S. Check out this user-submitted Sony transistor radio teardown: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Sony-TR-63-Transistor-Radio/1219/1 Retro cool!

We spared no expense to bring you internal photos of Apple’s latest and greatest. We have completely dissected the biggest iMac money can buy. We also made a super-fast YouTube video slideshow, replete with banjo music, for your enjoyment.

Highlights:

  • The power supply puts out 25.8 amps at 12 volts, for a total output of 310 watts (365W input, 85% efficiency). That’s the biggest power supply we’ve seen in an iMac.
  • The GPU and CPU are quite far apart, and they have separate heat sinks leading to opposite sides of the computer. This rather complex feat of thermal engineering allowed Apple to upgrade the iMac to use Intel’s desktop line of processors.
  • The lack of Blu-ray support in this iMac is a bag of hurt. Fortunately, there is a drop-in replacement. (Of course, until Apple releases software support, you’ll still have to boot into Windows to play movies.)
  • There is a Wi-Fi antenna leading into the Apple logo on the rear of the iMac. Aside from the ports, this is the only spot on the rear of the machine that isn’t solid Aluminum. This is quite a clever design, and while it’s an obvious place to put it, we’ve never seen Apple do this before.

  • This thing is BIG. The desktop processor / GPU need three large fans and two huge heatsinks to dissipate heat.
  • The new iMac’s edge-to-edge glass can slide around. After upgrading the RAM in our iMac, we noticed the glass was slightly out of alignment on one side. You can push it back into place by hand.
  • There’s no direct line from the external Mini DisplayPort connector to the LCD. The signal will need to go through the logic board, so you’ll need to have your iMac powered on if you want to display from an external video source.
  • The 3.06 GHz E7600 Core 2 Duo processor is a LGA 775 Socket T CPU. There are some Core 2 Quad chips that use the same socket, but we don’t know if they would work. The i5 and i7 quad-cores included in the high-end 27″ iMac use a different socket, LGA 1156 Socket H.

Magic Mouse Teardown

October 21, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Kyle

We took apart the new Magic Mouse. We didn’t find any fairy dust inside, just a lot of capacitive sensors.

We took the opportunity to try a new technique with our photos. Make sure you click the ‘view as slideshow’ link on the teardown, or install CoolIris. (All of our guides are CoolIris enabled so you can see them full-screen.

Highlights:

  • From the Apple logo up, the entire surface of the mouse is covered with capitative touch sensors.
  • The mouse uses a Broadcom BCM2042 Advanced Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Bluetooth Chip.
  • There’s not much Aluminum in the mouse; we weighed just 10 grams. That’s compared to 37 grams of plastic and 47 grams of batteries. Nearly half the mouse’s weight comes from the two AA batteries.
  • We were really expecting it to pop open when we said ‘Open Saskatchewan!’ Alas, the mouse’s magic was too arcane for our humble wizards.

MacBook Unibody Teardown

October 20, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

After three and a half years, the venerable plastic MacBook finally received a makeover — and we took it apart to sneak a peek inside. Apple has added an LED display, upgraded processor speed, added curves, increased battery life, and made things more fun to disassemble by using a combination of Phillips, tri-wing, and Torx screws.

Unfortunately, it’s not all positive news. Apple has also quietly removed the FireWire port, IR port, and the useful external battery indicator.

We also made a YouTube video slideshow of the teardown for everyone to enjoy.

Interesting tidbits from the teardown:

  • The Bluetooth antenna has been relocated to the display assembly. This is likely an attempt to improve the MacBook’s notoriously dismal Bluetooth range. On previous MacBooks the Bluetooth antenna was located above the optical drive.
  • The battery is 60 watt-hours, the same capacity as the 13″ MacBook Pro. The previous plastic MacBooks featured a 55 watt-hour battery and claimed a 5-hour run time. With this machine, Apple has added 5 watt-hours of battery capacity and two hours of claimed run time.
  • The new MacBook’s battery boasts a power-to-weight ratio that’s 23.5% better than its predecessor.
  • Some disassembly is required to replace the battery, which is readily accessible by ordinary users with the right tools.
  • Apple removed the IR port for a remote control. As far as we know, that makes this MacBook the only currently-shipping Apple laptop that doesn’t support a remote.
  • FireWire is gone! If you need FireWire, only a MacBook Pro will do.

The final layout

By the way, there’s still a week left in our Sony Teardown contest. To win, take apart anything made by Sony, take photos, and use our editor to post a teardown.

Two lucky people will win a Sony PS3 Slim and a PSP Go!

Blendtec Total Blender Teardown

October 13, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We partnered with Blendtec to bring you an extra-special teardown today: the complete disassembly of a Blendtec Total Blender! This is the same model that is featured in their famous (infamous?) “Will it Blend?” viral videos. We’re excited to show you exactly what makes the Blendtec blend, so we made a video of the result as well!

Teardown highlights:

* The shaft is made entirely of metal. Other blenders use plastic shafts as a safety mechanism. If the blade gets stuck, the blade/motor connection will sever, as the plastic will either break or melt. The Blendtec blender relies on electronics instead. Should things get out of hand, a sensor will shut off the motor.

* The speed sensor uses inductive pickup to tell the control circuitry how fast the shaft is spinning. This is the same mechanism used by an electric guitar to pick up string vibrations.

* Blendtec informed us that the Total Blender includes what they call a “hammer-fire” system. The main microprocessor will trigger this system if it detects that the blade stopped spinning. The processor will send a series of strong electric pulses to the motor to free the blades from the obstruction. If that fails, it will shut off the motor to prevent any damage.

* We did not reassemble the blender to see if worked. 13 Amps, spinning at 28,000 RPM (that’s a 270 MPH blade tip speed) on a slightly-unbalanced shaft just strikes us as a bad idea!

Win a PS3 Slim or PSP Go!

October 9, 2009 Events, Hardware, Site News — Kyle

Last week, Sony clearly indicated that they’re not the biggest fan of our teardowns. That didn’t stop us, of course, and our new PSP Go teardown is currently online, revealing the innards in detail. The process got me wondering what is inside other Sony gadgets. Growing up I took apart just about everything I could get my hands on, and I know I’m not unique. If you’re reading this, you’re probably curious about gadget innards, too.

PSP Go Teardown

PSP Go Teardown

So we’re hosting a contest, judged by five notoriously picky staffers at Wired! We want you to take apart a Sony device — you can disassemble anything you like, as long as it’s got a Sony logo. Take pictures of the process and post them online.

What’s in it for you?

We’ve got a couple extra Sony gizmos around here. We’re giving away a PSP Go and a PS3 Slim! Yes, the PSP Go is the same one we took apart last week, so the warranty probably isn’t good anymore — but we promise, we only took it apart only once! Our teardown artists will even autograph it for you, if you’d like.

What are the rules?

  1. Take apart a Sony product.
  2. Post photos of the process, and your impressions of the device, online using our teardown editor.
  3. The teardowns will be judged by five notoriously picky staffers over at Wired.
  4. Contest ends October 23rd, 11:59 P.M. PDT so don’t delay!

What are the prizes?

  • Most creative teardown: PSP Go (and an iFixit t-shirt in your size!).
  • Best overall teardown: PS3 Slim (and an iFixit t-shirt in your size!).

Why are we doing this?

Sony, like many companies, would prefer that you leave your hardware just the way they sell it to you: assembled.

Clearly, we disagree with that. In fact, we’ve spent the last several years taking apart every gadget that came our way, showing off their innards for the world to see. We’ve written over one thousand repair manuals for Apple products, and made them available to the world for free. Just because Apple isn’t interested in making repair accessible doesn’t mean that we can’t do it for them. And we have. Hundreds of thousands of people have fixed their Macs, iPods, and iPhones using our repair manuals. But we just don’t have the resources to take apart every single device, and we want to involve the repair community as much as possible.

Why is this important? The electronics that we stop using eventually end up in landfills, often in third world countries. This July I traveled to Africa to find out exactly where electronics go after they die. The picture isn’t pretty — they’re crudely melted down by children working in scrapyards, mining copper and gold from electronics.

I was struck by a sense of inevitability when I took the above photo. All three of these devices no longer exist; shortly after I took the photo they were disassembled. Their plastic casings were used as fuel to burn the plastic insulation off the copper internals. The rate at which we abandon technology is shocking. We no longer have any use for this NEC cassette player, Phillips CD reader, or Sony DVCD machine.

We need your help. Let’s send Sony a message that their products are repairable by ordinary people like us, and that we are interested in using our gadgets for longer than the prescribed 18 month product cycle. What can you do? Easy — just take apart something made by Sony.

We want to get as many teardowns of Sony products on our site as possible in the next two weeks. Everyone’s got an old Walkman or Sony DVD player laying around. Take it apart and show us what’s inside!

Super-fine print: Void where prohibited, no purchase necessary, you’ve gotta be 18 or older, prize is not redeemable for cash, iFixit employees aren’t eligible, and we’re going to give the prize to the first velociraptor to write a teardown. So act quickly, or the velociraptors win. (Don’t be too concerned — it’s hard to hold a screwdriver with claws and no thumbs.)

State of the Forums

October 8, 2009 Hardware — Kyle

We launched discussion forums earlier this year, and I think the time has come to evaluate how well they are working and what we need to improve. I’d like to start with two theses:

  1. We are absolutely thrilled with our community, the support that everyone provides on our site, and the answers that people are getting to their problems every day.
  2. We believe that the software we’ve provided the community to interact with is fundamentally broken.

Before I talk about what’s wrong with the software, I’d like to talk a little bit about the success we’ve seen. Here are some interesting numbers:

  • Including posts in search results has increased forum pageviews by over 100%.
  • Since we launched forums not that long ago, 1,405 different people have posted more than 1,100 threads and over 3,400 posts
  • While forum traffic pales in comparison to the number of views we get on repair guides and teardowns, the degree of interaction is a couple orders of magnitude higher.

Our top six contributors, ordered by post count, are:

Fun fact: Sarabian has posted 3 times more posts than I have.

There is no doubt in my mind that these discussions are an invaluable resource to thousands of people. I’d like to personally thank everyone who has contributed thus far. Everyone involved is helping keep devices out of the landfill by making them work longer. Awesome work, everyone.

So why do I think the forums are broken? The number one reason is that forums (all forum software, not just ours) are designed to facilitate discussions, but our community is really using the forums as a way to ask questions. This makes perfect sense! We’re all trying to fix something. This issue is exacerbated when forum posts come up in our search results. There isn’t a good way to differentiate in search results whether a forum post has been answered or not. Thread titles are often ambiguous (a recent title read “Apple iPod”), adding no value to the post. The likelihood of a positive outcome of a topic like that is very low.

Other times, the text within a forum post can offer very little information as to what the real problem is. People don’t always address a specific problem — we’ve seen more than one “My Ipod is broken. How do I fix it?” post since the forums have materialized. And there have been a couple of even more ambiguous “My laptop broke.” posts that quickly faded into obscurity within the deep void of our forums.

OK, so there are some issues with the tools we’ve given the community. What are we going to do about it? Something big.

I will save the details of what we’re working on for another post, but I can tell you that we completely scrapped our existing forums and started from scratch. What we are building will revolutionize how the world communicates repair knowledge.

If you want to be on the bleeding edge, we will be accepting a limited number of people to to stress-test our new application on an invite-only basis soon.

Nikon Coolpix S1000pj Teardown

October 6, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We were quite intrigued when we heard of the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj digital camera/projector. We wondered how Nikon packaged everything into this little device, so we decided to do what we do best — tear it apart and analyze it!

We also made a video of the teardown. Feel free to to check it out on YouTube!

Interesting stuff we found:

  • A room has to be quite dark to view the projector’s image properly. We expected as much given the size of the projector, but the image quality is mediocre at best. Anything that’s projected looks like it was shot in the ’70s.
  • Surprisingly, both the front and rear outer cases are machined out of aluminum. It’s quite a solid camera.
  • Like most compact digital cameras with no externally telescopic lenses, the S1000pj’s internal zoom lenses move perpendicular to the front face.
  • Light has to travel through at least four glass lenses until it shines on the CCD sensor. What a journey!
  • Disassembling this camera is not for the faint of heart — Nikon definitely did not intend this device to be user serviceable. We had to de-solder a bunch of components including the camera cover actuator, projector LED, and flash bulb.
  • Light for projecting images is supplied by a very powerful LED that even has its own heat sink to conduct heat to the aluminum front panel.
Final layout

Final layout

If you have any questions, please leave us a comment on the teardown!

Where did the PSP Go teardown go?

October 2, 2009 Hardware — Kyle

(Or, Sony’s lawyers ate my homework)

We took apart the PSP Go last week. We got early access to a review unit for a couple hours, so we performed our standard teardown procedure: Figure out how to take it apart, shoot a ton of photos documenting the process, and take super-high resolution shots of the circuitry. Once we were done with all the photos, our engineers wrote an analysis of the manufacturing process and circuitry design choices Sony made.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with how the gadget release process works, let me give you a bit of a run-through. Some companies, like Apple, are super-secretive with their new gizmos and almost never provide the press with early access to hardware. Most others (Sony included) always send review units out to reporters and bloggers hoping to get a favorable review written ahead of time. In exchange for the review unit, writers agree not to release their story until a predetermined time, at which point the the ‘embargo’ is lifted. With the PSP Go, Sony set the embargo for Monday the 28th at 9:00AM Eastern.

We released our teardown on Monday. Our hardware analysis left us less-than-impressed with the PSP Go’s value proposition, and we called Sony out for charging more for a device that didn’t add any substantial features and was substantially less serviceable than the previous model. Sony didn’t take very kindly to this, and threatened the news organization that provided us with the device, demanding that we remove the teardown. (Reporters have to agree to a number of terms to get new devices, and it turns out that Sony had included a ‘No disassemble Johnny Five’ clause in their contract.) Although iFixit was under no legal obligation, we temporarily removed our teardown to protect our partner.

The PSP Go is now available through retail channels, and we bought one and redid our teardown with the retail hardware—just to make sure Sony can’t make any more legal claims. I just reposted the teardown.

I wonder if I should remove it...

Why is Sony so close-lipped? We didn’t unveil anything we wouldn’t normally have— we just published it a few days earlier than usual. So what was different this time? Nothing, actually. But, dear reader, I’m going to let you in on a little industry secret: Mass-scale consumer electronics manufacturers hate our teardowns. They hate the idea that you might actually use your device for more than what they tell you to. And they certainly hate the idea of users replacing the batteries in their new devices. (Did you see the ‘Warranty Void if Removed’ sticker on the super easy to replace PSP Go battery? Why would they do that?)

Don’t get me wrong— this isn’t universal to all manufacturers. In fact, some manufacturers have actively worked with us because they want the world to know how awesome their engineers are. Ugobe provided us with a Pleo robotic dinosaur when we were working on the teardown, and promoted our teardown on their homepage. I’ll have an announcement next week from another manufacturer who is so proud of their device they want the world to find out what’s inside.

As a general rule, consumer electronics companies are not interested in consumers doing anything with their devices but consuming them. And that’s a problem. We are living in a throw-away society. Sony, far from being the exception, exemplifies everything that is wrong with the industry. Apple does not want you to replace the battery in your iPod— they’d much rather sell you this year’s model in a shinier package. With a brand-new, soldered-down battery included for your convenience.

iFixit’s mission is to put a stop to this destructive, linear consumption model. We want to help people keep their devices working better, longer. Starting with the PSP Go.

I took this photo of a Sony DVD player at an e-waste dump in Ghana in July

I took this photo of a Sony product at an e-waste dump in Ghana in July

So in addition to rereleasing our teardown of the PSP Go, we took advantage of the last couple days of Sony-induced silence to write some repair manuals for Sony’s new gadget. Repair manuals that Sony would never let you see in a million years, and would stop us from publishing if they had the legal right to do so. Repair manuals that will enable anyone who buys the PSP Go to replace their own battery when it wears out. Or fix their own display. Or repair the headphone jack. Or fix just about anything else that might break on this little game machine.

You have the right to repair your own things. And I promise you that we will do our darndest to make it easy. Regardless of what Sony has to say on the matter.

I’ll have some exciting announcements next week about how we’re working to enable people to fix things. In the meantime, here’s how you take apart Sony’s newest PSP.