Dear Laptop Manufacturers, It’s Time To Balance The Customer-Sales Priority Equation

How manufacturers are taking away repairability and upgradeability for profits!


Gone are the days when manufacturers prioritized customers over sales. Gone are the days when the specification sheet of laptops would show you if the RAM were expandable, when hot-swappable batteries were a thing, memory replacement or addition was just a few screws away. Display and Keyboard replacement was a piece of cake.

The above paragraph might sound gibberish to people who recently bought their first laptop, and it’s not their fault. Long story short, I’m talking about how manufacturers are taking away the repairability of laptops for their own good. To know more, keep reading.

Things That Are Wrong With Manufacturers

Cutting Down on Repairability

I was in the market for a 13 or 14-inch laptop notebook under Rs 50,000 ($700) and glanced at many options ranging from HP’s Envy and Spectre series to ASUS’s Vivobook Lineup. To my surprise, not a single laptop that I researched had expandable memory slot(s), and for the most part, that’s completely fine because there’s only so much that can fit into a 13-inch chassis.

envy x360

After careful consideration, I ended up buying the Envy x360 2020 as I found the price for this performance to be great. As soon as I got the laptop, I started testing its pace and found out that the included 512GB NVMe SSD was incredibly slow for NVMe standards (1400MB/s Read and 900MB/s write). I salvaged a Silicon Power SSD from my old laptop, almost twice as fast as the one HP included.

Here’s when it got complicated. I flipped the laptop to open its backplate and found only two T5 screws, and I was puzzled as the other screws were nowhere to be found. After inspecting the laptop, I found that they were tucked underneath the upper rubber feet, seriously HP? I attempted pre-heating it, and as I proceeded with removing it, it broke into two pieces.

hp envy x360 rubber feet

Here’s what the bottom looks like after I installed the SSD and screwed the backplate in its place. Now, this isn’t a rant on HP. Rather, it shows how the repairability factor has gone down over the years. I was lucky to have a T5 screwdriver lying around a bit, or else I might’ve not been able to replace the SSD.

Cutting Down on Upgradeability for Profits

I am glad that at least the SSD is upgradeable, but this won’t be the case in the future as, based on where and how things are headed right now, users will be forced to buy SKUs with a higher amount of memory. This brings us to the e-waste crisis.

laptop upgradablility

We have an article on how Microsoft’s latest Windows, Windows 11, may lead to an e-waste crisis, which explains the same and the upgradeability factor, so make sure to check it out. The bottom line is, buyers will be forced to buy expensive laptops without upgrade options, and manufacturers will cash out.

TN (Twisted Nematic) and VA (Vertical Alignment) Panels

Many people who aren’t familiar with tech fall for this and buy a laptop with a terrible display. Imagine this, you’re looking for a laptop and find one with amazing specifications for a price that’s too good to ignore. You end up buying it, and as soon as you turn it on, you notice that the display looks terrible.

Displays are another area where people don’t spend a lot of time researching. However, the manufacturers are equally to blame as not all of them are transparent about the displays they use.

IPS vs TN vs VA

TN and VA panels usually appear in the budget segment of laptops, sure they’re a great means of cost-cutting for manufacturers, but the experience you’ll get out of the display will be terrible (bad viewing angles and color reproduction). Here’s an example of a laptop with great specifications but with a bad display.

There are cheap and good-quality IPS panels, but any cheap IPS panel will still be better than a TN panel. Again, they might cost more, but if a manufacturer sells laptops, they should add a good display to the mix.

All Hope is not Lost

Despite other manufacturers locking customers down in memory expansion, many companies are trying to make a difference. One of the best and most recent examples is the Framework laptop.

Framework Laptop
Credits: Framework

It’s a highly repairable modular laptop built with fully replaceable parts. Heck, you can even swap the motherboard to upgrade to the latest processor. Many companies have tried doing the same thing but have failed sooner or later. I hope that will not be the case with Framework.

What complaints do you have with laptop manufacturers? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Abubakar Mohammed

Abubakar Mohammed

Abubakar is a Linux and Tech Writer. Hailing from a Computer Science background, the start of his love for Tech dates back to 2011, when he was gifted a Dell Inspiron 5100. When he's not covering Tech, you'll find him binge-watching anime and Tech content on YouTube or hunting heads in competitive FPS games. You can also find his work on Android Police and How-To Geek.
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