Njord
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Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:02 am

Hi all,
From the start, when the 7" screen was announced, I found myself puzzling over why 7 inches was chosen.

When I think of tablets, the 7" format was the least popular in the marketplace. 10" was wildly popular but far fewer people wanted 7". 10" was just big enough for web browsing, and for limited productivity uses like editing a document.
When I think of laptops or netbooks, 7" was out of the question. Too small for all use cases.
When I think of hobby projects, 7" was useless for most projects. A robot for instance needs a small screen. A bitcoin miner needs something either larger or higher resolution.
When I think of productivity use cases (office apps and web browsing), 7" was too small to use with X Windows, where a bunch of space is taken up by the window manager's windows.

So it seems that 7" was a quite bad choice from the start, good only for novelty and to be able to say "we sold a screen".
And on top of that, it is overpriced.
And on top of that, its bezels are huge.
So the consumers largely had no need or desire for it.
But the 7" display is still being sold.

Question: why not sell a 13.3-inch display, which is the minimal size for productivity.
13.3" suits many use cases:
- productivity e.g. web browsing and word processing
- document viewing e.g. view a PDF without squinting.
- image editing e.g. with GIMP.
- it could serve as a very large tablet
My 2 cents.

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scruss
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:18 am

Njord wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:02 am

So the consumers largely had no need or desire for it.
But the 7" display is still being sold.
These two statements largely contradict one another.

When I was working in electronics mail-order retail, the Pi screen was a fairly solid seller. Not huge, but easily the biggest-selling display we had.
Question: why not sell a 13.3-inch display, which is the minimal size for productivity.
If you thought a 7" was expensive, a 13.3" is off the charts by comparison.
‘Remember the Golden Rule of Selling: “Do not resort to violence.”’ — McGlashan.

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:30 am

I don't know why that size was chosen...but I've bought three of them so far and they work just fine for my purposes.

When the 7" screen was first being mentioned, Dr. Upton indicated and intent to follow it with a 10" screen. Much as I would dearly love to see that come to pass, I have no reason to think that it's still being planned. Aside from the sub-forum dedicated to the 7" screen, the sizes I see discussed the most are in the 2.8" to 3.5" range. This is probably because they are (if you hunt around) relatively inexpensive and about the same footprint as a Pi B itself.

Njord
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:49 am

scruss wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:18 am
When I was working in electronics mail-order retail, the Pi screen was a fairly solid seller. Not huge, but easily the biggest-selling display we had.
Question: why not sell a 13.3-inch display, which is the minimal size for productivity.
If you thought a 7" was expensive, a 13.3" is off the charts by comparison.
I wonder if sales of the 7" have tapered off yet, and what people are using it for. I've listed the use cases that I think don't work for it, but what are the ones that do?

A larger display need not be expensive, at least not if it is non-touch. You can buy replacement LED-backlit LCDs for laptops that are quite large e.g. 17.3", on ebay for $50 and their controller boards are $30. The problem is, the availability of such stock varies and may run out. Plus they are not touch screen displays. And they are bare so there's no protecting enclosure.

When a display is sold by Rpi it's reassuring because it's guaranteed to be compatible, of a certain level of quality, and presumably there's a warranty. But if it's not a useful size, all of those benefits are undermined.

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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:13 am

Njord wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:49 am
I wonder if sales of the 7" have tapered off yet, and what people are using it for. I've listed the use cases that I think don't work for it, but what are the ones that do?
One of mine, so early in the production that the backlight isn't adjustable, is used as a portable, battery powered, system to take notes on. Since I take notes using vi in a terminal window, there isn't a lot of space taken away unused--and at that, I need to see if I can reduce the font size since I had cataract operations recently. My other two are a "fixed installation" (that is, the display case has feet that allow it to be solidly fixed to a shelf so it can't be pushed off accidentally) alarm clock and a "travel alarm", basically the same setup, but with an RTC, WiFi dongle, and minikeyboard with built in trackball added and a pair of USB powered speakers to go with. Since that last system was put together fairly recently, I haven't used it yet. That will happen the next time I go to a convention where I stay at the con hotel.

Now I will grant you that my uses are probably not overly common, and there is nothing particularly clever or exotic to them, but a Pi and a small display work very nicely for me. *If* the RPT came out with a 10" display, I would upgrade the fixed, at home, alarm clock, and the note taking system. The "travel alarm" would stick with the 7" screen unless the whole screen+bezel stayed the same size.

aBUGSworstnightmare
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:45 am

7in display with 800x480pixels are widely used in the industry.
Sure, a bigger screen with higher resolution would be nice. But there are some already in the market: pitop ceed i.e. https://pi-top.com/products/ceed comes with a case but no touch. Waveshare has tons od screen w/ and w/o touch.
You can buy a case or build it yourself (3D printing)
you can also buy screen + driver boards at various sizes and price level...

So what stops you?

Heater
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 7:50 am

What?

All those billions of mobile phones out there with small screens are useless?

All those millions of devices out using 7 inch screens for status display and operator input are useless?

All those thousands of digital oscilloscopes with little displays are useless?

Etc, etc.

Really, widen your horizons when thinking of use cases for smaller screens.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

stevend
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:11 am

They're a good size for a control-panel type application - big enough to display a decent amount of information and have reasonable-size areas to touch, while not too big to be obtrusive. I have three of them round the house them to control my heating and other functions.

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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:54 am

Whilst I agree 7" is an odd size for a computer, as in 'desktop' usage, I can see it is a manageable size for other uses for quick input, so I don't see a problem with having that size available.

However, it isn't a size that I will use, & especially not at 480 pixels, even 600 pixels is a poor choice for 'desktop' usage, much better to have a minimum of 768 pixels.

I have bought an 8" 800x600 TFT monitor to use when I have another go at coding, (which I plan to try this winter), & this size will also be quite suitable for a music/media player, especially with bluetooth headphones. (It's also quite good for online forums.)

I presently use 11.6" laptops & a desktop 11.6" TFT as my main computers, & have been for some time, without any problems, doing all the usual desktop jobs. :)

Just ordered up a 12" 1024x768 TFT - a size that I didn't know existed any more, as this had been my favourite size, before the advent of all these 'wide' screens. :D

All these small monitors come with HDMI & VGA connection, so can be used on old computers as well as new. 8-)

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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:02 am

Njord wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:02 am
When I think of tablets, the 7" format was the least popular in the marketplace.
Perhaps it wasn't chosen on the grounds of what might most appeal but on the basis of what was available and would remain available, its cost and functionality.

7" seems to have been a popular size in the lower-end tablet market, Tesco Hudl and others, and perhaps even more popular for the digital picture frame and portable DVD player market.

The Foundation aren't in this game as a manufacturer of consumer devices, competing against smart phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops and desktops, trying to satisfy consumer's every need. They are in it to deliver a tool to help learn programming and encourage digital making.

I imagine someone once said "It would be cool* if we could offer a touch-screen display which we knew would work for those who might like it".

* "Whizzer" perhaps if heard on The Cam.

And someone else said "yes, wouldn't it" and the 7" 800x480 touch-screen is what we got.

It is usable and it has the functionality deemed desirable for its use. It's not perfect; it's too big for those who want smaller. It's too small for those who want larger. Its resolution is too low for some, but fine for its size.

It would seem to suit the majority of use cases I can think of, mostly desktop mounted information displays and application front-ends, digital picture frame format; not too big, not too small.
Njord wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:02 am
good only for novelty and to be able to say "we sold a screen".
I would disagree on the first point. And I don't have a problem if the second is true, personally think it probably is.

It seems a fair compromise to me. And it does it's job. If anyone wants a touch-screen then the Foundation offers one. People can take it or leave it, can choose something else if that would suit them better.

It would be nice if the Foundation had a whole range of products to cover every need, but that's not the case.

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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:20 am

Why sell a 7" screen?
because the makers/seller saw a market for it.
Others want it so they buy it from sellers/distributors offering it.

Why buy a 7" screen then?
because it fits the requirements of your project

If you dont want that size then dont buy it.
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Come to me with 'problems' and I'll help you find solutions"

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Njord
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:01 pm

aBUGSworstnightmare wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:45 am
7in display with 800x480pixels are widely used in the industry.
...
So what stops you?
The Pi-top ceed's screen has PWM screen dimming so it produces a high-pitch whine., which triggers tinnitus in my case.

It appears that Waveshare has one 10.1" display, but I didn't find any reviews. I found one video of a guy having problems with the touch screen.

As I was saying above it is preferable to buy from Rpi. They are more reputable than some random company on Alibaba.

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scruss
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:15 pm

Njord wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:49 am
I wonder if sales of the 7" have tapered off yet, and what people are using it for. I've listed the use cases that I think don't work for it, but what are the ones that do?
CNC control screen. Kitchen computer. Embedded UI with Electron. Marine navigation display. POS (as in point-of-sale) video player. POS terminal. Tabletop arcade machine for MAME or RetroPie. Way overspecified picture frame.
A larger display need not be expensive, at least not if it is non-touch. You can buy replacement LED-backlit LCDs for laptops that are quite large e.g. 17.3", on ebay for $50 and their controller boards are $30. The problem is, the availability of such stock varies and may run out. Plus they are not touch screen displays. And they are bare so there's no protecting enclosure.
$80 in parts translates to over $200 at retail. Engineering a case is not a trivial part of the cost. There are ~$100 (US) portable monitors out there, but they're USB3 power and video which would likely not work with a Raspberry Pi.Getting a screen that works directly with the Raspberry Pi's monitor connector isn't trivial.

You really don't have to buy a Raspberry Pi screen if you don't want one. I already have a (few years old, expensive at the time) GeChic portable monitor that works for me.
‘Remember the Golden Rule of Selling: “Do not resort to violence.”’ — McGlashan.

Njord
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:46 pm

hippy wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:02 am
Njord wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:02 am
When I think of tablets, the 7" format was the least popular in the marketplace.
Perhaps it wasn't chosen on the grounds of what might most appeal but on the basis of what was available and would remain available, its cost and functionality.
...
The Foundation aren't in this game as a manufacturer of consumer devices, competing against smart phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops and desktops, trying to satisfy consumer's every need. They are in it to deliver a tool to help learn programming and encourage digital making.
I was thinking it's more likely that this size was chosen because the DSI connector offers only 2 lanes of data, and that 480p is all that two lanes can support. But I don't have any confirmation of that from anyone. It's a hypothesis. (The SoC can allegedly provide 4 lanes but Rpi isn't using all four.) With so many of these hobbyist products, the important details are often hidden because they retain the attitude of manufacturers of consumer-grade products that the consumer isn't on a need-to-know basis. As people have said, the purpose of the Rpi isn't to fulfill the needs of technology-loving geeks who have 1000 questions but rather to be a platform for rank beginners in their early teens who are spending their allowance. But here's the thing: A good engineer is inquisitive and tenacious. If you teach a kid to be the opposite, you won't be laying the psychological foundations of a good engineer, but rather someone who just follows orders, like a bricklayer.
hippy wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:02 am
It is usable and it has the functionality deemed desirable for its use. It's not perfect; it's too big for those who want smaller. It's too small for those who want larger. Its resolution is too low for some, but fine for its size.
Sure, sure. Insert head into sand. Since when is iterating verboten? Do they not have a responsibility? I've seen many a company die when they decided to follow a narrow self-satisfying vision and reject criticism, seeking the comfortable and easy path, doing the death march until retirement, always justified with some excuse or other, talk about risks or deadlines or bonuses. So few show leadership and develop a better vision.

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sakaki
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:53 pm

I've found it quite a nice size when using the Pi as a portable bench tool.

For example, I use an RPi3 regularly in in this form factor (running 64-bit Gentoo) for in-circuit flash reprogramming (disabling the Intel Management Engine etc.):
Image

With onboard as the on-screen keyboard, and the twofing gesture daemon, it's quite usable even without a mouse and keyboard connected.

best, sakaki

Njord
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:00 pm

scruss wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:15 pm

$80 in parts translates to over $200 at retail. Engineering a case is not a trivial part of the cost.
Sure. But the cost has come down a lot since the 1990's.
scruss wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:15 pm

Getting a screen that works directly with the Raspberry Pi's monitor connector isn't trivial.
As I was saying above I suspect that the 2 LVDS lanes in the DSI flat cable are insufficient to drive a higher resolution. I wish someone at Rpi could tell us though:
1. Whether this is the limiting factor as opposed to something else;
2. What is the actual maximum resolution is that can be achieved with 2 lanes.
scruss wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:15 pm

You really don't have to buy a Raspberry Pi screen if you don't want one. I already have a (few years old, expensive at the time) GeChic portable monitor that works for me.
Sure, but Apple doesn't really have to put out another iPhone, yet they do. No one has to improve specs of electronics, or invent new use cases, yet they do. Is Rpi foundation going to sit still and never improve this screen, nor provide another? If they've stopped innovating and are relying only on their brand's popularity for further revenues, that's a strategy for failure.

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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:21 pm

Njord wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:00 pm
Sure, but Apple doesn't really have to put out another iPhone, yet they do. No one has to improve specs of electronics, or invent new use cases, yet they do. Is Rpi foundation going to sit still and never improve this screen, nor provide another? If they've stopped innovating and are relying only on their brand's popularity for further revenues, that's a strategy for failure.
Define "improve". Like the Pis themselves, I think it much more likely that, as newer hardware and tech emerges and then goes "trailing edge" (which is where the bottom drops out of the parts cost), we could see second and subsequent generation RPF displays. Like the Pi itself, one could construct an "ideal" model of what such a display would be like and then people would argue about what features were essential and what was just fluff (the very reasons that "What features should the Pi4B have" threads get shot down so fast).

I can think of three developments that would please me (note that I'm not saying the RPF *should*, let alone *must*, use these features). Start with going OLED. Second, increase the resolution. Third, add a larger screen. Unless and until any of that happens (and it may not be in my lifetime), when I find something I want to do where the 7" screen works, that's what I use and I'm happy to have it.

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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:37 pm

k-pi wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:54 am
However, it isn't a size that I will use, & especially not at 480 pixels, even 600 pixels is a poor choice for 'desktop' usage, much better to have a minimum of 768 pixels.
Resolution (in pixels) doesn't bother me a bit..but that's probably because I go back to when 640x480 was cutting edge resolution.
I have bought an 8" 800x600 TFT monitor to use when I have another go at coding, (which I plan to try this winter), & this size will also be quite suitable for a music/media player, especially with bluetooth headphones. (It's also quite good for online forums.)

I presently use 11.6" laptops & a desktop 11.6" TFT as my main computers, & have been for some time, without any problems, doing all the usual desktop jobs. :)

Just ordered up a 12" 1024x768 TFT - a size that I didn't know existed any more, as this had been my favourite size, before the advent of all these 'wide' screens. :D
My desktop monitor is 27" 1920x1080. Aside from the uses for the RPF 7" display, for pretty much all other uses, I pick up used 19" 1280x1024 displays.

On the more general topic... I think there is a split in how people think about the RPF 7" display (or--really--almost any piece of tech). On the one hand there are those that bemoan the lack of what they see as essential specs and that it doesn't fit specific requirements for a project they have in mind. On the other hand, there are those that look at the specs and decide if a given project can use it, and if not, what other project it would work with. It's a matter of trying to force fit the available hardware into a pre-conceived project or idea of projects versus working with the specifications to fit the project to what is available.

When the Pi first came out, I had a project in mind. My only question was whether or not the Pi could handle the assigned job with it. So I bought a Pi and tested it. Turned out to--pretty much just barely--have the chops to do what I wanted it to. If the Pi hadn't worked, I wouldn't have come here bemoaning the lack of ability to what I wanted. As it is, there is still one feature I'd like to see in a future Pi to finish converting that particular project to all Pi all the time. If the RPF were to release a "full sized" display--say, 17" 1024x768 or 1280x1024--I'd probably be all over it. But I'm not going to cry because no such beast is forthcoming (nor is it likely to).

Heater
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:40 pm

Njord,
If they've stopped innovating and are relying only on their brand's popularity for further revenues that's a strategy for failure.
What on Earth are you talking about?

Since the beginning the Pi has been massively more successful than anyone who started it imagined was possible. It was a great innovation.

It actually changed a whole industry. Similar boards could be had before then, but they cost 100's of dollars. The arrival of the Pi at such a low cost shook up that market.

Since then the Pi has changed and improved in leaps and bounds. With a somewhat exponential growth in sales as far as I can tell. I don't see any slacking in the innovation department.

Now you come and want to advise on the Pi Foundation's strategy?

Well, that is like me asking "Why does Apple make computers?" Everyone knows they are over priced, badly engineered, unreliable and un-repairable. Why do that?

I would get into Adam Smith at this point but the bottom line is: They make it, people buy it, everyone is happy.

Except you apparently.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:49 pm

Resolution (in pixels) doesn't bother me a bit..but that's probably because I go back to when 640x480 was cutting edge resolution.
That's where I started out too, with DOS, but it's best to have XGA if you want to use the internet, & a lot of GNU software, because it was originally designed for that size. ;)

My main use of my RPI3Bs are desktop substitutes. 8-)

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DarkPlatinum
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:04 pm

Heater wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:40 pm


Well, that is like me asking "Why does Apple make computers?" Everyone knows they are over priced, badly engineered, unreliable and un-repairable. Why do that?

I have to disagree with this statement. Apple does not make badly engineered products. They are not unreliable. They are repairable. Some of their products can be overpriced but not massively since they make many of their product parts themselves. I know your trying to make a point :P
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:21 pm

Njord wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:46 pm
hippy wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:02 am
It is usable and it has the functionality deemed desirable for its use. It's not perfect; it's too big for those who want smaller. It's too small for those who want larger. Its resolution is too low for some, but fine for its size.
Sure, sure. Insert head into sand. Since when is iterating verboten? Do they not have a responsibility? I've seen many a company die when they decided to follow a narrow self-satisfying vision and reject criticism, seeking the comfortable and easy path, doing the death march until retirement, always justified with some excuse or other, talk about risks or deadlines or bonuses. So few show leadership and develop a better vision.
Well, it would be an interesting debate as to what responsibility RPF and RPT do have, and to whom.

But, at the proverbial end of the day, it's their venture and for them to decide what is in their venture's best interests, for them to decide what they will and won't do, and justify that to themselves and stake holders.

I don't see there's anything wrong in suggesting they should be following some course ( though some members of the community do seem to have a problem with that ), but suggesting they aren't capable of running themselves, are doomed unless they change tack, usually and legitimately gets short shrift.

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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:35 pm

Njord wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:46 pm
As people have said, the purpose of the Rpi isn't to fulfill the needs of technology-loving geeks who have 1000 questions but rather to be a platform for rank beginners in their early teens who are spending their allowance.
I'm not sure anyone has said as you claim. What has been said is that the Pi isn't intended to be a device for consumers, rather for making, for educating, and for learning.

The Pi is what it is and, while that means not everyone will get what they might like, it's certainly not solely intended as a platform for teenage rank beginners.

In fact it's found favour with many who aren't. Some 20 million or so units have been sold to teenage rank beginners, through novices, the better skilled, experts and about half have gone to commercial businesses.

That doesn't mean it's perfect, doesn't preclude the potential for it being better, but it's certainly not doing badly for what it is.

Heater
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 7:13 pm

DarkPlatinum,
I have to disagree with this statement. Apple does not make badly engineered products. They are not unreliable. They are repairable.
Apart from anecdotes of my own Apple experiences, which prove nothing, I point to the following evidence to back my assertions:

Firstly, Louis Rossman spends his life fixing Mac's for a living. He has made hundreds of videos where you see him diagnosing and fixing Macs. And teaching people how to do the same. He always marvels at the incompetent design in Macs and warns everyone not to buy them. See his series "REPAIR GUIDE: How to fix Apple design flaws on broken Macbooks" https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... QiZtOyeUV-

Secondly, yes, Macs are repairable. By authorized Mac repair centers at great expense. Apple does not make schematics available, does not give out repair info or the software that is sometimes required to fix their products. They do not supply spare parts. See for example: "Apple REFUSED to Fix our iMac Pro:" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-NU7yOSElE

Finally, news fresh in today: "Apple's New Proprietary Software Locks Will Kill Independent Repair on New MacBook Pros"
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/arti ... ent-repair

Need I go on?
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Why sell a 7" screen?

Sat Oct 06, 2018 7:38 pm

While phones rather than desktop computers, IIRC an iPhone model was the only device to get a repairability score of 0 from iFixIt. And to be fair, Apple makes and sells vastly more phones than desktop systems.

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