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Re: [tlug] Laptop and Macbook related query

On Sat, 26 Sep 2020 at 16:24, Deepika Ghuriani <> wrote:

1.  What is the maximum life of a macbook / windows /linux laptop you have used and during that period how often did you have to replace its accessories ?  ( I am using my macbook pro since 2012 and had to replace my charging cable 3 times in this duration  )

Most notebooks and laptops regardless of brand and manufacturer will experience wear and tear of

(1) cable between power supply and computer
(2) battery
(3) mechanical part of keyboard keys
(4) cable between motherboard and display
(5) cooling fans

listed in order of how soon one might expect these components to fail (eg. low to high MTBF).

Most manufacturers deliberately design the cable connecting the power supply with the computer such that it will break shortly after the legally mandated warranty period has ended. You will never see the cable between power supply and wall outlet break, and that cable is usually now replaceable. But the other end is usually non-replaceable and it is designed to break so that the manufacturer can sell you an overpriced power-supply making an outrageous profit. These power supplies are made in China for 1-2 USD and the value of the cable and plug is 1-5 cents.

If you only ever use your notebook/laptop as a desktop replacement and the power cable is never moved, it will last many many years, but if you use your notebook/laptop as a mobile device, packing and unpacking the thing when commuting between home and work, it will likely break after about one year. It mostly breaks in the area 1-5 cm from the plug because that is where it bends the most. You can protect the cable somewhat by making that part stiffer so it doesn't bend as much. This can easily be done by sliding heat shrinkable tubing over it and heat shrink it to a tight fit. However, you need to make sure that this won't cause the next 1-5 cm after the heat shrinked area to then bend and break.

In an ideal world, there would be a prohibitively high unsustainable-design tax on any power supply sold that does not have a replaceable power cable to connect the power supply with the device (as opposed to the other end connecting to the wall outlet). This tax should be so high that it would completely price non-compliant power supplies out of the market. Say 500 USD tax per non-compliant power supply. Unfortunately, we have corrupt politicians and fraudulent manufacturers owned by rent seeking speculants who neither care about their customers nor about the environmental impact of their rent seeking activities.

Unfortunately, you can't even vote with your wallet because this is done by all manufacturers. The only thing you can do is to mechanically strengthen the cable so it will bend less and when it ultimately breaks, never buy a replacement from the manufacturer of the device but buy a replacement from a noname manufacturer so as to deny the device manufacturer the windfall they hoped to earn on you by selling you a power supply with a cable with a design fault.

How long the battery will last usually depends on how you are using the notebook / laptop. If you have it always plugged in, that is not actually good for the battery. Ideally, you will run the device off the battery and discharge it down to 10% or less, then recharge completely while the device is switched off. Environmental factors also play a role. If the battery heats up a lot and operates at the margins of its operating temperature, it will break sooner. A desk support for the notebook with a fan that cools the underbelly can help.

Key and video cable breakage is less common but may occur after many years of use, say five years or even longer. There is little you can do to protect from that, except using an external keyboard when possible and avoid opening and closing the lid.

Cooling fan breakage may occur if you operate the noteboo/laptop for long periods of time in an environment where the air is not clean. The fans will suck in and accumulate dust which can ultimately cause them to get stuck. This is even more likely when the environment is also humid as the accumulated dust will then become a gooey substance. You can protect your device to some degree by operating it mostly in air conditioned environments with clean air and low humidity, and by going over the air inlets with a vacuum cleaner from time to time to try to suck some of the accumulated dust out of the machine.

The cable breakage problem is very common with Macbooks. And if the battery in a Macbook goes bad, it will likely swell. You will need to have it replaced as soon as possible then because the swelling can cause more serious damage to the machine, like cracking the trackpad and eventually even the motherboard or the case.

As a general rule of thumb, the thinner/slimmer your notebook, the more likely the device will overheat and break something, in particular the battery, but also electrolytic capacitors which are filled with a liquid electrolyte that evaporates over time and the rate of evaporation increases with the ambient temperature, it a certain amount of electrolyte has evaporated the capacitor will no longer work and the machine will stop working.

In principle it is possible to repair and fix any of these faults, but given how narrowly components are now packed into ever slimmer notebooks, this is getting increasingly difficult to do DIY and the cost of repair increases.

It doesn't really matter much which manufacturer's products you choose. However, if you choose a sturdier bulkier model, the chance is that it will be more robust and last longer simply because it isn't as cramped inside. It is also likely that such a machine is easier to repair.

Other than that, if you want to keep a notebook/laptop computer in working order for more than the usual 2-3 years people tend to replace their stuff nowadays, you may want to consider only using it when you are actually on the move and use a desktop computer when you are not on the move.
2. Which software have you been using for document editing in macbook ( which replaces microsoft word ) 

For simple memos I use (using RTF).

For more demanding documents I use TeX or LibreOffice.

I am planning to replace my macbook hence looking out for these inputs to make a decision. Would really appreciate it if you all can provide me with some inputs on this.

A while ago, I got a bargain second hand iMac 27" at Sofmap which allowed upgrading the memory to 32GB. The machine cost me less than 25.000 JPY including a 3 year warranty from Sofmap. I still had a 22" BENQ monitor, so I run this in dual display mode. When I am on the move, I use an old 2nd generation iPad. As a result, use my Macbooks very rarely these days.

Unless you are a true road warrior and can't do your work without a notebook/laptop, I would recommend a desktop with the largest video setup you can afford. Your eyes will thank you for that, too, ten or twenty years from now.

Notebooks are overrated.


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