Magic Mouse Teardown

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

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.


  • 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 Wiens

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 Wiens

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 Wiens

(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.

PSP Go in bits and pieces

October 1, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Opening the PSP Go

Opening the PSP Go

The new PSP Go was just released today, but we’ve already torn it apart to see what’s inside.

Here are some highlights from the teardown:

  • The battery is user replaceable! All that stands between you is seven screws and the careful peeling of the Warranty Void sticker. You don’t even need a soldering iron — the battery has its own connector to the logic board.
  • The Warranty Void sticker will only rear its ugly face (show a “VOID VOID” message) if it’s peeled back more than necessary. Just slide an iPod opening tool between battery and sticker and work gently side-to-side until the battery is free from the sticker.
  • Unfortunately, Sony still uses only an 802.11b chip for wireless internet connectivity. This perhaps did not matter as much in the past. Now that there’s no UMD slot, people will have to rely on an outdated Wi-Fi chip to get content onto the PSP Go.
  • The majority of chips are covered by EMI (electromagnetic interference) shields. We had to remove a total of five shields to access the chips (thankfully, they were not soldered onto the board). By comparison, the 3rd Generation iPod touch has only one EMI shield.
PSP Go logic board

PSP Go logic board

Final layout

Final layout

Zune HD: Microsoft Debuts New Manufacturing Talent

September 24, 2009 Hardware — Miro

We glossed over one very important detail when we tore apart Microsoft’s new PMP last week. The Zune HD is the first mass-market gadget we’ve seen that has a machined aluminum case!

Machined aluminum parts are harder and more rigid than plastic parts, at very little (if any) cost to the overall weight of the device. Machined aluminum is also not as easy to dent or mar as the plastic counterpart, meaning that the Zune won’t suffer from case scratches that plague other music players. So what’s the catch? The main negative factor in using machined aluminum parts is the increase in manufacturing cost.

If you’ve ever opened up a recent MacBook or MacBook Pro, the milling pattern on the Zune’s back panel will look familiar. The mill’s bits start out large, and progressively get smaller as the internal features of the shape become pronounced. Every milled part includes a “final pass,” a slow and light finishing pass that provides a smooth final surface. We measured the final pass milling marks and found that Microsoft used a 3 mm bit on the Zune HD, while Apple used a larger 3.5 mm bit on our MacBook’s upper case. Interestingly enough, the Zune’s milling marks are readily more apparent than those on the MacBook, as evident in the photos below. Apple must have polished the interior side of the upper case to achieve such a smooth finish.

Comparing the Zune HD with a MacBook Unibody upper case.

Comparing the Zune HD with a MacBook Unibody upper case.

Microsoft has spared no expense on the Zune HD. The guys at iSuppli may prove us wrong, but we’re doubtful that Microsoft is actually making money with this product. Consider that they put an OLED screen, machined aluminum back cover, top-notch processing power, and solid user interface in a 32 GB package retailing for less than $300.

When we conducted our teardown, we found that Microsoft went the extra mile and engraved a “For our Princess” on the inside of every Zune HD as a tribute to a Zune team member who passed away during development. The cost may be meager — a couple of seconds of additional machine time — but their sentiment was priceless. With traditional manufacturing process, changing a mold at the last minute to add an engraving would be prohibitively expensive, but their new milling process allowed Microsoft to add a touching note without substantially increasing their costs.

A clear view of the For our Princess engraving and machining marks.

A clear view of the "For our Princess" engraving and machining marks.

So what’s this mean for the future? Microsoft has beaten Apple at their own game and produced a multi-touch PMP that is smaller, lighter, and vastly easier to repair than the iPod touch. We expect other devices to follow the Zune’s lead. Expect to see other companies use advanced manufacturing processes and materials to add rigidity, substance, and flair to their products.

iFixit featured by Tekzilla

September 19, 2009 Hardware — Kyle Wiens

We’re not really into tooting our own horn– we’re usually far more interested in showing you how to fix things or talking about what a great job the engineers did designing the hardware we take apart. But Veronica Belmont and the other friendly folk over at Revision3’s technology news show Tekzilla decided that we were worth mentioning, and we’re honored. The segment about us is halfway through the show and lasts about a minute.

iFixit on Tekzilla