Palm Pre Parts Analysis

June 7, 2009 Hardware, Site News — luke
Palm Pre Main Board

Palm Pre Main Board

Our good friends at phoneWreck took our teardown of the Palm Pre and did a thorough analysis of what we found. We added their component diagram to the end of our teardown.

phoneWreck’s observations:

Palm Pre Component Diagram

Palm Pre Component Diagram

There are some pretty interesting things that popped up on the Pre’s PCBs. This is the first production device we’ve seen on the OMAP3 (Open Media Applications Processor) platform. OMAP3 is powered by the 600MHZ ARM Cortex A8, PowerVR SGX 530 (GPU), 430MHz C64x, DSP and ISP (Image Signal Processor) and was clearly designed to pack a punch – Dr. Wreck thinks we’re going to see this processor popping up in future netbook endeavours.

On the connections side we see the usual wifi/bluetooth combo going to Marvell and CSR with the W8686 and 63823 respectively. We also see the BaseBand win going to Qualcomm with the heavily integrated MSM6801A platform. The OMAP3 PMIC comes loaded with a USB tranceiver and Audio codec which even further reduces the overall board density of this device. We’re not fully sure – but it looks as if the Pre’s cool new multi-touch Touch Screen Controller win went to Cypress Semiconductor with the CP6944BA device.

For more more annotated images and analysis, visit phoneWreck. phoneWreck will continue to release more Palm Pre details over then next week as they research the Pre’s hardware design.

In other news, we’re happy to report we have some new teardowns up on our user-contributed teardown platform. We now have teardowns for both the Nintendo Wii and a banana.

Palm Pre Teardown

June 6, 2009 Hardware, Site News — Kyle Wiens

We took apart the Palm Pre. Here are our first impressions:

  • We love the feel of holding the Pre in our hands. In its closed position, it feels much more comfortable to hold than the iPhone.
  • Palm’s new WebOS software is impressively smooth! We love how natural it feels to swipe between applications and multitask with Web, Twitter, AIM, and Pandora.
  • Users preferring physical keyboards will be satisfied, but iPhone veterans may be left disappointed at the lack of a software keyboard option.
  • Revealing the keyboard feels awkward and interrupts the smooth WebOS experience. Try before you buy, because this keyboard could be enough to deter picky users.
  • Some parts of the software feel rushed. For example, the app store describes the price of free apps as “$Try now.” It looks like an overeager programmer hardcoded that dollar sign. While certainly not a showstopper, we hope Palm gets a chance to tidy up the little things like this soon.
  • We were the first in line for the Pre. Definitely not as much initial hype as when the iPhone was released.
  • We tested out Sprint’s 3G EVDO network on the road home and didn’t notice any interruptions. Uploads and downloads were fast, and Pandora’s application ran like a champ.
  • A prepaid plastic recycling envelope is included in the box, making it easy to recycle your newly obsolete phone.
  • The Pre is “Inspired by and designed in California,” while the iPhone is merely “Designed by Apple in California.”
  • The Pre’s battery capacity is 1150 mAh, exactly the same as the iPhone 3G, though the Pre is reported to have slightly worse battery life due to its background process capability. The battery is user-replaceable, something the iPhone lacks severely.
  • The Palm Pre is the first phone using Texas Instrument’s new OMAP3 (Open Media Applications Processor) platform.
  • The processor is a 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 + PowerVR SGX 530 GPU + 430MHz C64x+ DSP + ISP (Image Signal Processor)
  • The Pre is definitely not an easy phone to service. There are lots of fragile and tricky tabs that will make putting the phone back together challenging.
  • Users preferring physical keyboards will be satisfied, but iPhone veterans may be left disappointed at the lack of a software keyboard option.
  • The Pre is definitely thicker compared to the iPhone (17mm vs 12mm). Not only does this allow the engineers more flexibility in designing the physical layout of components, but it also makes the Pre conform really well to our palm.

We’ll post more notes on the hardware soon.

Posting Your First Teardown

June 5, 2009 Events — Miro

Our teardown platform has been a huge hit, and we wanted to take a break from reading all the wonderful stories about it to tell you a bit about how it actually works. We realized that although we’ve used the system internally for years (and have gotten to know the ins and outs of using it), it may be a bit daunting the first time you use our tools to write a teardown.

Each teardown starts with an introduction, where you enter basic information about the device: its name, an introductory paragraph discussing what you’re going to do, and tools required for the job (if any). Two additional options allow you to mark a teardown as “In Progress,” which you should uncheck once you’re done with the whole teardown, and “Unpublished,” which essentially hides the teardown from public view until it is complete. Once you’ve written your introduction, save it and start adding steps! You can always go back and change the introduction later.

A teardown step is just a photo and a few text bullets. You can batch upload images and then modify them in our image editor, which allows you to crop the image to 4:3 aspect ratio (if the image is not already the correct ratio) as well as add markers. We use circles and rectangles to highlight certain areas of the image (like a relevant screw or connector). The markers are usually related to a written bullet point. For example, if you circle a Phillips screw with a red circle on the picture, then you should use a red X bullet for your text instructing the user to remove a Phillips screw.

Show off your writing skills by writing concisely and clearly explaining what you find inside the device. Once the step is finished, save it and start writing the next one!

Publishing a teardown on our platform is actually quite easy. The hardest thing is often disassembling the device itself, but we’ll leave that part to you. For more information, we’ve also put online some guidelines for creating a teardown, a teardown FAQ, and a fun look at what writing a teardown entails. If you get stuck, feel free to email us or leave a note!

Site Launch: User-Submitted Teardowns!

June 4, 2009 Events, Site News — Miro

We are launching a new user-driven teardown platform today. Our new online teardown creation tools allow anyone to easily author and publish teardown guides, complete with disassembly photos and technical details.

www.iFixit.com/Teardown

iFixit uses a powerful home-grown documentation tool to write our repair manuals. Over the years that software has developed into a fast and efficient way to publish the Mac teardowns that we create. Our hardware teardowns and analysis have become world-renowned for providing a first look inside new hardware.

Tons of people have asked us to publish their teardowns to our audience. This demand helped us realize the importance of releasing this platform for everyone, so we spent the last year polishing our tool and making it robust enough for anyone to create teardowns free of charge.

In the past we’ve focused primarily on Apple devices, but we’ve recently expanded and published a number of non-Apple teardowns. Our recent teardowns of the Nintendo DSi, Amazon Kindle 2, and Dell Adamo were massively popular and have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. The deviation from writing Mac teardowns foreshadowed today’s epic announcement. We hope that people use our flexible teardown platform to create teardowns of devices of all kinds, not just Apple products.

We keep our website running fast. Over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about handling large spikes in server traffic. Thanks to cloud computing, RightScale, and Amazon EC2, today we’re able to dynamically scale our capacity to meet demand.

Writing a teardown is simple, and we wrote a step-by-step guide to show people how it’s done.

We are also proud to announce our first user-generated teardowns. Using our tool, PhoneWreck.com has republished their detailed cell phone teardowns and circuit analysis.

We are absolutely thrilled to be launching our new site. This platform has been a labor of love for a long time, and we’re excited to see what tinkerers all over the world create with it. Join us, and show the world what’s inside your gadgets!

New iBook G4 14″ 1.42 GHz Guide

May 22, 2009 Hardware — walter

Hello. It’s our distinct pleasure to once again announce an addition to our family of ever-go-happy Guides. We’ve recently published a new guide for the iBook G4 14″ 1.42, which can be identified by the model number of A1134 printed on the lower case.

There are a few notable hardware differences that give the iBook G4 14″ 1.42 its uniqueness:

  • The laptop features a unique AirPort Extreme/Bluetooth combo card located under the top shield. It is specifically designed to only work in the iBook G4 12″ 1.33 GHz and iBook G4 14″ 1.42 GHz. Unlike previous iBook models, the replacement of the combo card requires a bit more finess. But don’t worry, we at iFixit strive to make your lives effortless. Simply follow our free airport card replacement guide.
  • The iBook G4 14″ 1.42 GHz does not utilize a hard drive cable like its predecessors. It connects to a hard drive connector that is mounted upon the metal framework. Replacing the iBook’s hard drive simply requires a simple tug and pull.
  • The Reed Switch board is mounted on top of the optical drive. It is responsible for sleep sensing in the iBook. A combination of a magnet in the display assembly and this sensor enables your iBook to automatically go to sleep when the lid is closed and magically wake up when opened.

Take a look at the new guide. We’re always open to suggestions on how to improve our guides, so keep us in the loop.

SPOILER ALERT: We may or may not be releasing a guide for the iBook G4 12″ 1.33 GHz in the very near feature. Only time will tell.

Meet iFixit: Mitra’s Upgrade Success Story

May 19, 2009 Meet iFixit, Repair Stories, Site News — Miro

Mitra works for iFixit as a Visual Designer. Most of the website graphics on our site have been shaped or created by her genius. She is the first person to write an article for the “Meet iFixit” series — personal blog posts written by iFixit employees relating some of their tech-related experiences. The following article is written solely by her, with a couple of edits here and there by yours truly. Enjoy.

-Miro

Last week I finally got enough motivation to fix my old 15″ PowerBook. The process was more fun and interesting than I expected. My repair story started in January of 2008 when I made the choice to update my computer system. My 2004 15″ PowerBook was making strange clicking sounds and the battery was dead (I had to keep it plugged in all the time). It was time for a faster machine and I needed a bigger monitor. I decided to get a 24″ iMac and retired my old laptop for use on special occasions.

In December my laptop totally died. It would display a panic message and then freeze when I tried to turn it on. From that point, it took 4 months to convince myself that I could fix the PowerBook. I started by using the ID your Mac help guide to figure out what kind of laptop I had. Next I consulted a few tech savvy friends to confirm my suspicion that the hard drive was the cause of my problem. Then I went about getting everything I needed to make the repair.

To fix my computer I bought a replacement hard drive, a battery, and a tool kit. I used the step by step iFixit guide for hard drive replacement, and an OS operating system CD. I was a little nervous getting started.

I used a cupcake baking pan to organize the screws as I took the laptop apart.

There were a few moments when I wondered if it was ever going to turn on again. Looking at the inside of my computer was strange.

I swapped the hard drive and put the pieces back together. I swapped out the old battery and installed the OS. It was easy.

It took about 30 minutes to replace the hard drive… And installing the software took 3 hours. I’m happy to have a working laptop now. Thanks to everyone who helped!

Updated MacBook Pro Guide…

May 13, 2009 Hardware, Repair Guides — walter

We here at iFixit jump for joy every time we publish a new guide, so it’s only fair that we share our joy with the iFixit community! We recently released a new guide for the MacBook Pro 15″ Core 2 Duo that covers models A1226 and A1260.

Although similar in design to the MacBook Pro 15″ Core 2 Duo Model A1211, there are some notable hardware differences that distinguish these models from their predecessor:

  • The logic board has a third thermal sensor near the left fan, buried beneath the logic board. This thermal sensor is attached to the lower case. In order to replace the sensor, it is necessary to remove the logic board.
  • The side tabs on the upper right and left of the keyboard have been removed. The keyboard drops right into the keyboard well, rather than having to bend the corners to fit in each side tab. To compensate for the removal of the corner tabs, two screws have been added to the bottom. The updated guide definitely includes this crucial step so that keyboard removal does not involve breaking the keyboard itself.
  • All three MacBook Pro 15″ models (A1211, A1226, A1260) utilize an 802.11n AirPort Extreme Wireless card. However, models A1211 and A1226 utilize a card with 3 antenna connections, whereas model A1260’s card has only 2 antenna connections.

Take a gander at our new guide and let us know if you have any suggestions. We’re always looking to improve the guides!

Thermal Paste: The Vehicle of Cool

May 8, 2009 Hardware — Andrew Goldberg

Ever wonder why that green stuff in your car’s radiator is so important? Those of us that have a car with a leaky cooling system know that sitting in traffic puts the temperature needle in the red zone —  which has the potential to destroy the engine. The green coolant transfers heat from the engine to the radiator, keeping the engine cool and happy.

Thermal paste applied to the surface of a processor serves a similar purpose. During normal operation, a computer’s processor generates heat that transfers via thermal paste to a heat sink. The heat sink can be cooled either by a fan or a liquid cooling system. If you reassemble a computer without using thermal paste, air is the only substance to conduct heat between the processor and the heat sink.

A pocket of air surrounding your body insulates your skin from a cold environment. This effect is exactly what we do not want to subject our processor to. An insulated processor will quickly overheat, most likely causing permanent damage. Thermal paste is an excellent conductor of heat and is essential for keeping the processor temperature in check.

We created a guide on how to remove and apply thermal paste correctly. This procedure was performed on a MacBook Unibody, but the general steps can be used for any computer, whether Apple, PC, desktop, or laptop. However, be mindful that you never have to re-apply thermal paste during regular computer maintenance — only when you separate a processor from a heatsink. We love keeping you and your computer happy, and we hope you find the guide useful!

Bay Area Volunteers Needed

May 5, 2009 Events — Miro

Maker Faire is around the corner, and we’re still in need of volunteers for our repair sections. We’re looking for experts in the automotive, motorcycle, appliance, bicycle, and electronics repair fields!

As a volunteer, you will help people with problems within your area of expertise, but also get a chance to talk to other experts and resolve some problems you might be having!

As mentioned in our earlier blog post, we will provide you with free Maker Faire admission, a pass to the invite-only “Maker to Maker” event on Friday, and other cool perks (such as an iFixit t-shirt!).

Volunteering is easy. Send an email to MakerFaire@iFixit.com and include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Contact info (phone number, address)
  • Area of expertise (cars, computers, etc.)
  • Any specific interests or cool things you’ve fixed
  • Availability for either May 30th, May 31st, or both

All volunteers should receive an email confirming their volunteer status within a week. Volunteers will be assigned one or more shifts depending on their preferences and availability

We are updating our Maker Faire 2009 section with the latest news — check periodically for additional information. Please email us with any questions, and let us know as soon as possible if you can contribute to this awesome event!

New iFixit T-Shirts!

April 29, 2009 Events — Miro

Fix Macs Yourself!

With Maker Faire around the corner, we decided to offer a new t-shirt to the masses. The shirt encourages you to fix Macs yourself with a variety of tools, although we’d prefer you to limit yourself to the screwdriver when doing actual repairs. We’re selling them for $9.95 plus whatever it costs to get the shirt to you. However, the first ten people that send us an email will get an all-expenses-paid trip to their mail box to pick up their free t-shirt! (The shirt is free for everyone in the U.S.; however, anyone outside the U.S. needs to cover the shipping price difference.) This is our small thank-you for reading the blog and being super-awesome by extending the life of your Mac. Note: We’ve now given away all the stirts, thanks for your interest.

Have a cool iFixit t-shirt design in mind? Want to let the world know how much you like repairing Macs? Post a comment and let us know!