Samsung Galaxy S 4G Teardown

February 23, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

The Samsung Galaxy S 4G — not to be confused with the Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Tab, or the Los Angeles Galaxy — is Samsung’s newest smartphone to date. We set out on an interstellar journey to find out just what makes this phone burn from within.

We heard that Samsung used magnesium to create some of the structural components of the Galaxy S 4G. So we lit a part of the phone on fire to verify. It turns out that Samsung tells no lie — their structural framework IS made of magnesium!

Otherwise, the phone is midpack in terms of features as well as repairability (it received a 6 out of 10 score). Contrary to yesterday’s super-repairable Motorola Atrix, the Galaxy S 4G’s LCD is fused to the front panel glass, essentially doubling the repair cost if you drop your phone. You also have to use a heat gun in order to get to the front panel, so it’s not super-easy to perform the repair.

Thankfully a few tidbits redeem the Galaxy S 4G from being utterly unrepairable: swapping out the battery is a cinch, there’s only trusty #00 Phillips screws to deal with, and the phone is generally assembled using connectors that you can carefully disconnect.

Teardown highlights:

  • We found a bummer from the get-go: a fairly noticeable gap between the glass front panel and the outer framework. It’d be less of a concern if a cell phone’s primary home is in the pocket of its user, but we like using our phones.
  • A cool sliding door keeps the micro-USB port lint-free and somewhat redeems the gap between front panel and framework. You can distract your friends with its cool sliding action.
  • Thankfully the rear panel is easily removed, revealing both SIM and microSD card slots, as well as a user-replaceable battery!
  • The 3.7V Li-Ion battery inside the Galaxy S 4G lists a capacity of 6.11 Watt-hours, or 1650 mAh. We’re definitely seeing a trend of increased battery life among the last couple of teardowns. The question is whether that increased capacity will net any increased use time, or if all the extra juice will be sucked up by the phones’ extra processing power.
  • The compact front and rear facing camera assembly has a NEC MC10170 Image Processor cleverly attached right to its ribbon cable.
  • The headphone jack, earpiece speaker, and proximity/ambient light sensors reside on one cable. Seems oddly familiar, given yesterday’s Atrix teardown.
  • Separating the front panel assembly from the rear panel assembly requires loosening the adhesive around the perimeter. That means it’s heat gun time!
  • On the back of the display assembly we found the Atmel mXT 224 touchscreen controller, which provides capacitive multi-touch capabilities. It’s the same controller found in yesterday’s Atrix.
White flash indicates the frame is made of magnesium. Success!

White flash indicates the frame is made of magnesium. Success!

Final layout

Final layout

Motorola Atrix Teardown

February 23, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

The Motorola Atrix is currently the fastest Android phone on the market, packing an impressive assortment of specs: the Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU/GPU, 1GB of RAM, and all the trimmings that one would expect to find in a flagship phone.

But the story doesn’t end there. This is also the most-repairable smartphone we’ve ever taken apart! The Atrix was definitely designed for repairability on the inside, just waiting for our loving hands to disassemble it piece by piece.

After all was said and done, the Atrix received a 9 out of 10 repairability score: there were no proprietary screws, you could replace the battery just by popping off the back cover, and the LCD wasn’t even fused to the front panel glass! Our only gripe was that the two central ribbon cables were soldered to several components (like the cameras and proximity sensors), making the cables costly to replace.

Teardown highlights:

  • The LCD is not glued to the front panel glass — something we haven’t seen in quite a long time. So the ~85% of people who drop their Atrix and shatter just the glass won’t have to spend their money on also replacing a fully functional LCD!
  • The Atrix’ back cover comes off easily, providing access to the user-serviceable battery and the microSD slot. There’s also instructions on the inside of the back cover showing how to remove the battery and reconnect the cover. We applaud Motorola’s drive to help its users with this procedure.
  • We didn’t encounter any VOID stickers or things of that sort while taking apart the Atrix, making it even more repair-friendly.
  • A dual-LED flash flanks the 5 MP camera (which is capable of shooting 720p HD video). A software update to be released soon will reportedly allow for full 1080p video capture.
  • Big players on the front of the board include:
    • Elpida B8132B1PB. According to Chipworks, the Elpida contains 1 GB DDR2 RAM, but also covers the Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU/GPU residing underneath the package.
    • Qualcomm MDM6200 supporting HSPA+ up to 14.4 Mbps
    • Toshiba 16GB NAND Flash
    • Hynix H8BCSOQG0MMR 2-chip memory MCP
  • Two ribbon cables to rule them all: the first cable connects to the front camera, earpiece speaker, power button assembly, and top microphone; the second attaches the rear camera, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, pressure contacts for the headphone jack, and side volume buttons together. So you’ll have to replace ALL the components attached to that cable if just a single component fails.
  • What a decade can do for cables. We pulled a Parallel ATA cable from an old Dell PC and compared it to one of the Atrix ribbon cables. The PATA cable is 0.66 mm thick, while Atrix’ camera cable measures just 0.17 mm! And they’re routing several components through the same cable!
Final layout

Final layout

Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown

February 7, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We all knew that the external appearance of the Verizon iPhone 4 was changed slightly, but we had no idea how many differences were to be uncovered inside — until now.

The Verizon iPhone 4 earned a Repairability Score of 6 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair). You can remove the battery fairly easily once you circumvent Apple’s pesky Pentalobe screws — no soldering required. Other components are connected mostly with regular screws, with limited use of tabs and adhesives.

However, the LCD is still fused to the front glass, and we recommend you wear gloves while performing repairs, unless you want your finger oils to interfere with the phone’s RF grounding points (something we found through personal experience).

Teardown highlights:

  • The iPhone 4’s vibrator received a complete makeover. Rather than using a rotational electric motor with a counterweight, the Verizon iPhone appears to utilize a linear oscillating vibrator for call/message alerts.
  • The phone uses a Qualcomm MDM6600 chip — the same package that’s being used in the Droid Pro world phone. Of course, there’s no way the CDMA iPhone 4 could be a real “world phone” without a SIM card slot, regardless of whether it had GSM capability.
  • We believe the additional notch in the antenna enclosure on the right side of the phone is a result of the switch from GSM to CDMA. An antenna’s operating frequency is directly dependent on its size and geometry, so the change-up required an antenna overhaul. Only time will tell if this new antenna design helps combat the reception problems plaguing the GSM iPhone 4.
  • The display assembly appeared to be identical to that of the GSM iPhone 4 at first glance. Upon further investigation, the mounting tabs are in drastically different locations for the two display assemblies. Sadly, this means the two assemblies are definitely not interchangeable.
  • The battery is listed as the same 5.25 watt-hour capacity, but does have a new model number (616-0520). The new battery also weighs less; it shrunk from 26.9 grams to 25.6 grams.
  • Apple used custom molded rubber pads between the chips and the EMI shields presumably to conduct heat and quell any interference between analog and digital circuitry.
  • Like the Apple TV, there is an interesting set of unused solder pads near the edge of the logic board. These were likely used for testing during development.
  • Big players on the logic board include:
    • Apple A4 Processor
    • Qualcomm MDM6600 CDMA/GSM chip
    • Toshiba TH58NVG7D2FLA89 16 GB NAND Flash
    • Cirrus Logic CLI1495B0 Audio Codec (38S0589)
    • Texas Instruments Touchscreen controller (343S0499)
    • Skyworks power amplifier modules for CDMA/PCS (SKY77711-4 and SKY77710-4)
  • According to Apple, the SIM card and SIM tray were the only user-serviceable parts in the AT&T iPhone 4. Sadly, now the Verizon iPhone “does not contain any user-serviceable parts.” We’ll have parts and repair guides for this iPhone 4 flavor very soon.

Comparison of the internals

Comparison of the internals - the Verizon iPhone is on the left

Final layout

Final layout

HTC Surround Teardown

January 11, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We started off the new year by doing a “something completely different” teardown — a Windows 7 phone! At least, that’s what we thought initially.

As it turns out, we’ve already seen a lot of this hardware in the Nexus One. In fact, five of the major chip packages on the Surround’s motherboard are identical to the Nexus One, and the sixth (Samsung NAND+SDRAM) appears to be just a revised chip found in Uncle Nexus. Hey if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

We gave the HTC Surround a mid-pack repairability score of 5 out of 10. It’s relatively easy to remove the rear case to replace the battery, but that’s where the fun stops. You’ll have to void your warranty to take anything else out, and it’s very difficult to access the front panel and LCD if you’d like to replace it.

Teardown highlights:

  • A piece of gray EMI shielding tape (next to the SIM card holder) covers the Surround’s “internal storage” — which happens to be a well-hidden MicroSDHC card. And they would’ve gotten away with it too if it weren’t for us meddling kids!
  • Should you decide that 16 GB isn’t enough, it definitely seems possible to swap out the card for a higher capacity MicroSDHC. But you’d have to void your warranty in order to do it, because two VOID stickers attached to the inner case screws ensure that no intrusion attempts go undocumented.
  • The Surround has two Nexus One-esque motherboards that are attached with a large ribbon cable spanning the gap between them. This is not much of a surprise, as HTC is the manufacturer of both the Nexus One and the Surround.
  • Big players on the front of the lower motherboard include:
    • Qualcomm RTR6285 multi-band UMTS/EGPRS transceiver with integrated GPS
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 1GHz RISC microprocessor with embedded DSP
    • Samsung KA100O015E-BJTT 512 MB NAND Flash + 512 MB SDRAM
    • Qualcomm PM7540 power management IC
    • Skyworks SKY77336 power amplifier module
    • Audience A1026 voice processor
  • All six of the chips above are either identical to, or newer versions of, chips found in the Nexus One.
  • The hefty metal slider mechanism should hold up to years of opening and closing the speaker grille.
  • Like the Nexus One, the Surround utilizes dual microphones (working in conjunction with the Audience A1026 voice processor) to cancel background noise during phone conversations.
  • The motherboard interconnect cable is sandwiched between the many layers of the upper motherboard, much like on the Nexus One. This technique eliminates the space requirements for thick connectors and sockets, making the final connection much thinner.
  • Metal plates with strategically placed holes are soldered to the front of the Surround’s two speakers to direct the sound out of the fancy speaker grille, and not into the phone.
Taking off the second motherboard

Taking off the second motherboard

Final layout

Final layout

The Nexus One — err, the HTC Surround — is a very solid, capable phone that will undoubtedly please its users. Still, we’re a bit underwhelmed that HTC chose to put year-old hardware in it, especially since dual-core phones are coming right around the corner.

Nexus S Teardown

December 16, 2010 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

The Nexus S is supposed to be the next flagship Android phone. Yet, having looked at both the outside and inside of this device, we’re just a tad underwhelmed. We feel the phone’s curved glass is more of a gimmick than anything else, although it does feel very nice when pressed up against the user’s face.

Our teardown reveals that only the glass itself is curved, but that the Super AMOLED display and touchscreen are just as flat as any phone’s. Although Google/Samsung technically doesn’t lie on their site — they clearly mention a curved glass panel, not curved Super AMOLED — we still find their “Contour Display” name a bit misleading.

Teardown Highlights:

  • The Super AMOLED does away with the digitizer, and integrates the capacitive touch sensors into the display. You can definitely see that only the front glass panel is curved. The rest of the components are flat as a board, just as any other phone on the market.
  • Inside we found a S5PC110A01 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird Processor stacked together with a Samsung KB100D00WM-A453 memory package. Other notable chips include a SanDisk SDIN4C2 16GB MLC NAND flash module, an Infineon 8824 XG616 X-Gold baseband processor, a Wolfson Microelectronics WM8994 ultra-low power audio codec, and a Skyworks SKY77529 Tx Front-End Module for Dual-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE.
  • The 1500 mAh, 3.7 V, 5.55 Watt-hour Lithium ion cell provides up to 6.7 hours of talk time on a 3G network, and up to 14 hours on a 2G network. That’s slightly higher than the 1400 mAh and 1420 mAh battery ratings of the Nexus One and iPhone 4, respectively.
  • A warning sign on the battery indicates it should not be fed to babies. We agree.
  • Taking out the motherboard requires removing three Phillips screws and disconnecting a few cables here and there. Nothing a patient user with a screwdriver couldn’t handle.
  • For you AT&T customers out there, just a quick reminder that the Nexus S does not support the 850 MHz and 1900 MHz HSPA frequency bands required for 3G mobile data. If you use this phone on AT&T’s network, you’re stuck in 2G land.
  • Interestingly, the two cameras share the same connector on the motherboard and are removed as a singular unit.
  • The EM-Tech EME1511AFRC module integrates the earpiece speaker, loudspeaker for speakerphone and media use, and a sensor bank all into one unit with a singular shared data connector. This is definitely a win for integration, but at the same time forces users to replace the entire unit if only one component malfunctions.

Lifting off the motherboard

Final layout

The Nexus S is a solid Android phone overall, and we think a lot of people will be happy with it. Samsung’s device is the king of the hill of Android phones — for the next twelve minutes or so, until the new next-best-Android-phone rises up to knock it off its perch.

Parrot AR.Drone Teardown

December 1, 2010 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro
Removing the motherboard

Removing the motherboard

We’ve had the Parrot AR.Drone — an iPhone-controlled, indoor or out, four-propeller rotorcraft — at the iFixit offices for months. We bought it for a teardown, but we just couldn’t stop playing with the flying bugger long enough to take it apart. Until now.

The AR.Drone is earth-shattering. It has blown away every drone expert we’ve talked to. It’s not just a toy: it’s a phenomenal piece of engineering that manages to solve some very difficult software problems in order to take flight. Hidden beneath the foam fascia lies some very sophisticated electronics, all of which makes flying the quadricopter very seamless. We were quite interested in seeing exactly what components Parrot used to make their awesome flying device.

We gave the AR.Drone a 9 out of 10 on our repairability scale. Tons of replacement parts are available directly from Parrot’s website, in addition to videos for common repairs for the device. We’ve never seen another consumer electronics device with this much advance planning for user repair. That’s a good thing too, since just about everyone we’ve let fly our drone has crashed it. Flying is hard, even with an iPhone!

Teardown highlights:

  • Each propeller assembly is made up of the propeller blade, gear, motor and motor controller board. These are not your run-of-the-mill propellers. The design team behind these won a micro drone design contest put on by the French Army. The propellers spin in different directions depending on the side they are mounted on, and are marked either C (clockwise) or A (anti-clockwise).
  • The propeller blade and gear are held in place by a small circlip on a stainless steel shaft. Parrot sells a special circlip removal tool, but we opted for a pick we had laying around the office. We learned very quickly that if you’re not careful, the little circlips are also capable of flight.
  • Each brushless motor runs at 28,000 RPM while the AR.Drone is hovering, and ramp up to a whopping 41,400 RPM during full acceleration! The speed of the motor is managed by the electronic controller, which includes an 8-bit microcontroller and a 10-bit ADC.
  • Much of the AR.Drone’s body is made of expanded polypropylene (EPP), a common substance that is both extremely light and easily manufactured into complex shapes. We like to call it by its scientific name, “foam.”
  • The two large mesh cylinders make up the ultrasound altimeter, which stabilizes the quadricopter within 6 meters of the ground.
  • The navigation board, which attaches to the motherboard via eight pins, contains a Microchip PIC24HJ16GP304 40MHZ 16-bit microprocessor in addition to a MEMS gyroscope (the Invensense IDG 500).
  • The motherboard itself hosts a Parrot 6 ARM9 468 MHz processor, ROCm Atheros AR6102G-BM2D b/g Wi-Fi module, a couple of Micron chips, and a vertical camera.
  • The battery is a 1000mAh, 11.V lithium unit that detaches easily from the quadricopter. It lasts about ten minutes. There’s a second connector on the battery for balance charging, which ensures that each of the three battery cells charges equally, thus optimizing capacity and prolonging battery life. The battery also contains a protection circuit module, which prevents it from discharging too rapidly, over charging, or short circuiting.
  • The 93 degree front-facing wide-angle camera can stream its video and images directly to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. With a resolution of 640×480 pixels, we doubt anyone will be filming HD movies with the AR.Drone’s camera.
Removing one of the motors

Removing one of the motors

Final layout

Final layout

Samsung Galaxy Tab Teardown

November 12, 2010 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

The Galaxy Tab’s industrial design shows that Samsung is definitely mimicking Apple. Looking like an unlikely offspring between the iPad and the iPhone 4, the Tab has an iPad-like front fascia as well as a camera-equipped back cover similar to the not-yet-released white iPhone. Even the dock connector very closely mimics Apple’s standard pinout.

But that’s where the similarities stop. Within the Tab lies a Samsung-branded 1 GHz Hummingbird processor instead of Apple’s A4 (although both chips share the same ARM A8 processor architecture). There’s a full gig of RAM, 128 MB of Samsung OneDRAM, and 384 MB of Mobile DDR within the same processor package, in addition to 16GB of SanDisk NAND flash storage. If you’re counting, that’s 1.5 GB of total RAM and RAM-like caches. We expect that with this kind of internal hardware, the Tab should work really well with Android apps. But our twitchy hands took it apart the moment we saw it, so we’ll leave the software side for everyone else to explore.

We gave the Tab a repairability score of 6 out of 10. You have to use some unconventional tools — including a heat gun, guitar picks, and a tri-wing screwdriver — in order to fully disassemble the device. But the battery is replaceable without having to spring for a soldering iron, and other components (such as the headphone jack) disconnect pretty easily once you’re inside.

Teardown highlights:

  • The 3.2 MP rear facing camera with an LED flash is a bit sub-par for a device of this caliber, seeing how much smaller devices (like the original Droid) are packed with 5 MP imagers.
  • Measuring 190.1 x 120.6 x 12.0 mm, the Galaxy Tab is significantly smaller than its competitor (the iPad measures in at 242.8 x 189.7 x 13.4 mm). This allows the Tab to be held in one hand relatively easily, making it a good device for portable commercial applications.
  • Prying off a plastic pad on both sides of the Apple-esque dock connector reveals two tri-wing screws. Tri-wing screws are a pretty low level solution to tamper-proofing a product. We include the bit in our 26 piece and 54 piece bit driver kits.
  • The inner face of the rear case has a heavy strip of EMI shielding where it rests against the processor and memory chips on the motherboard.
  • The rear case’s plastic construction will no doubt aid in wireless reception. Using plastic allowed Samsung to bypass the creative measures used by Apple’s iPad designers to facilitate signal transmission.
  • Nearly half of the Galaxy Tab’s real estate is engulfed by the battery. Weighing in at 81 grams, the battery is about 55% the weight and 60% the capacity of the iPad’s battery. It’s also roughly half the size of the iPad’s battery.
  • The digitizer element was produced by Atmel and is bonded to a Corning Gorilla Glass front panel. Unfortunately, a fair amount of heat gun application is required to remove said front panel.
  • Although the resolution of the Galaxy Tab’s screen (1024×600) is less than the resolution of the iPad (1024 x 768), the Galaxy Tab has a more pixels-per-inch (169 for Galaxy Tab vs 132 for the iPad). 169 ppi is nice, but nowhere near dense enough for us. We vastly prefer the iPhone 4’s 326 ppi retina display.
Removing the battery

Removing the battery

Final layout

Final layout

Boxee Box Teardown

November 10, 2010 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

The Boxee Box is a cubist deviation from the traditionally rectangular set-top box. The oddly-shaped form factor forced D-Link to make the internals equally odd. But that also made it super fun to take apart!

It’s smaller than it looks in our photos. The Box is roughly thrice the size of an Apple TV, but it certainly won’t dominate your entertainment center. After looking at the overall package — both outside and in — we feel that the Box has build quality that rivals Apple’s, and is much more solid than the Logitech Revue (aka Google TV). The front panel is made of sturdy plastic and displays a neat Boxee logo once you power on the device, just in case you mistake it for a device that should instead have a glowing apple symbol.

We gave the Boxee Box a 7 out of 10 repairability score. The rubber base is a doozy to remove, and will most likely never be same once you’ve taken the plunge. Once you have it off, however, all you need is a Phillips screwdriver to take the Box apart the rest of the way. It has a logical assembly layout, as well as a separate power board that can be replaced independently from the motherboard, should it ever fail.

Teardown highlights:

  • The Boxee Box has an Intel CE4110 processor which is nearly identical to the Logitech Revue’s CE4150. In fact, both devices seem to be running at 1.2 GHz.
  • Other notable specifications of the Boxee are 1 GB of Nanya DDR3 SDRAM and 1 GB of Toshiba NAND flash memory. Realtek is contributing an RTL8201N Ethernet chip, and Broadcom provides the BCM4319XKUBG Wi-Fi chip.
  • The Boxee has a digital to analog audio converter, courtesy of Wolfson Audio! That means you can pump out 1080p video and still use your analog audio equipment. Very convenient for people who may hook up the Boxee Box directly to their computer speakers or retro stereo equipment.
  • In stark contrast with the Apple TV, this media player has a convenient SD card slot.
  • A soft white plate on the status panel disperses the light from a couple LEDs to illuminate the semi-transparent Boxee logo either orange (standby) or green (running).
  • Instead of using thermal paste, the Boxee Box uses a phase-change thermal pad much like the one found on the heat sink of the Logitech Revue.
Unscrewing a screw

Unscrewing a screw

Final layout

Final layout

Kinect Teardown Video

November 5, 2010 Site News, Teardowns — Kyle Wiens

We’re thinking about doing video overviews of major teardowns. We’ve created Animoto video slideshows in the past, but I’ll be the first to admit they didn’t add much value to our written teardown. For this video, we tried a completely different take: MJ (one of our technicians) shows you through the entire disassembly process.

This video is not a repair guide. Rather, it’s a quick overview of how to get inside the Kinect. Videos are really good at communicating context and repair difficulty, providing someone who’s never done it before an overview of the process. They’re not nearly as good at teaching repair—it’s incredibly frustrating to follow a repair video, constantly starting and stopping it to keep track of where you’re at. At the same time, the detailed repair manuals that are so useful when you’re doing a repair can be very intimidating when you’re first considering whether or not to fix something. I like to think of videos like this as a gateway drug to repair. We’re going to give you enough of a taste to get you hooked on the exciting possibility that you can fix your own hardware, then give you the best resource available to help you do the actual repair: a step-by-step photo guide.

In this sense, a video like this isn’t any different than our teardowns. We take apart every new gizmo to raise awareness that they can be fixed! The repairability score we give every device is serious business: it’s critically important that we consider how we’ll take care of the things we have before we buy them.

There’s one other problem with videos: they’re not a wiki! Our community has made dozens of improvements to the Kinect teardown since we published it yesterday, and it’s a much better document now. Repair manuals need to be living documents, getting better over time as more people use and improve it. That’s theoretically possible with videos too, but no one has written a video wiki yet! We’re going to continue to invest most of our resources into documentation that acts as a starting point for continual improvement.

In summary: We’ll be posting videos to make repair more accessible to new audiences, but they are not a replacement for step-by-step photo repair guides.

Now that I’ve gotten the background out of the way, MJ and I would love to know what you think of the video! What have you always wanted to know in our teardowns that video could convey effectively? Do you see anything we could do better? We’ll work your feedback into our next video.

Microsoft Kinect Teardown

November 4, 2010 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Kyle Wiens

We haven’t been this excited to get our hands on new hardware since the iPad. The way that we interact with computers is (finally) evolving, and Kinect is unlike any hardware we’ve ever taken apart. In fact, the only thing we’ve ever taken apart that has anywhere close to this many sensors is Pleo, the dinosaur robot.

The Kinect isn’t a traditional game controller—it’s a horizontal bar of sensors connected to a small, motorized pivoting base. We love that the world is finally at the point where we’re not upgrading our compute capacity as often. Instead, we’re upgrading sensors so our computers understand more about us.

What’s inside the Kinect?

  • Four microphones. Four! We’ve taken apart binaural devices before, but this is our first quadaural sensor setup!
  • One infrared camera optimized for depth detection.
  • One standard visual-spectrum camera used for visual recognition.
  • An IR transmitter
  • A fan. For a 12-watt device, Microsoft seems very paranoid about heat dissipation. This is understandable considering the Xbox 360’s red-ring-of death problems. This is a good thing for consumers, but we can’t help but wonder if they’ve gone overboard in the cooling department.
  • 64 MB of Hynix DDR2 SDRAM
  • A motor. This motor is nothing to write home about. It’s quite tiny. Diminutive, even. So tiny that you might want to make sure you keep Kinect out of your toddler’s reach, because forcing it to pan could damage the gears.
  • A three-axis accelerometer. We suspect this is used to increase the accuracy of the panning motor.
  • A Prime Sense PS1080-A2. Kinect is based on Prime Sense’s motion detection technology. This chip is the Kinect’s brains—all the sensors are wired into here for processing before transmitting a refined depth map and color image to the Xbox.

And a whole lot more—hit the teardown for the full list!

Most of the Xbox’s processing power is dedicated to gaming, so the Kinect preprocesses the image prior to sending it on to the Xbox. The Prime Sense processor condenses all the information it collects about your living room into two things: a color image and a depth map. These are sent to the Xbox over USB.

The Kinect’s eyes are not tiny cell-phone cameras—they’re closer to the camera you might find in a webcam, with large lenses and autofocus. We can’t independently confirm the resolution of the cameras yet, but we’ve seen reports that the infrared cams are 640×480 and the RGB cam is 1600×1200. There’s also a lot of circuitry packed into the cameras themselves. We’re conducting a full investigation of the cameras, but that analysis will take us a few more days.

Kinect is first generation hardware. As usual for a first revision, it is mechanically quite complex. We were surprised at the number of thermal sensors and large, sturdy power connectors. Kinect was clearly designed by a team accustomed to designing large hardware like the Xbox. It has nothing in common with design aesthetic of the Zune HD, for example.

Repairability score: 6 / 10

Pros: The design is very modular, and replacing individual components (like the motor) when they fail shouldn’t be a problem. No soldering required to disassemble.

Cons: Microsoft used four kinds of screws, including some hated security bits: T6, T10, T10 security, and Phillips #0. Without a service manual, repair will be quite a challenge. Microsoft has not made a service manual available. If we get enough demand, we’ll do their work for them and publish one.