Although all I have to say about this laptop was concluded at this final review, I though it might have been appropriate to report the first significant damage this laptop occurred in.
This post is being written few months after the issue appeared (December 2017, more than two years after I bought the laptop) as I wanted to thoroughly test the way I fixed it before to report anything.
So, let’s have a look at what happened.
In the last year I have been using my laptop everyday. Since I don’t travel much, I left the laptop open on my Nexstand K2 laptop stand for entire months. Then Christmas came, and I had to pack my laptop for the holidays trip. It is then that I found the issue.
When I closed the lid I heard a scratching noise from the back-plate. I looked at the bottom of the laptop and I saw that the back-plate was bent from the inside close to the right side of the hinge termination.
I just packed the laptop, and had a look at it the day later, when arrived at my destination. Here what I found:
What you see in the picture is the part of the chassis where the right support hinge is mounted. As evident from the picture, the plastic that makes the screw holes cracked, and it was unable to retain the hinge mounting plate. The metallic mesh that appear on the right of the hinge support was broken when I closed the lid.
I never dropped the laptop, and nothing violent never happened to it, so my guess is that the plastic that houses the screws cracked due to the prolonged stress of having the lid fully open for what I think it was a month or 2.
I was immediately in touch with Entroware, that replied to me after the Christmas break. This to me was understandable: it must be one of the busiest times of the year, and Entroware is not a tech mega-corporation with hundreds of thousands of
slaves workers, all factors that I think do account for the short delay.
Entroware was not under any obligation to provide any free support, as the product warranty was over, but they were very supportive and kind, and even proposed to check their stock to see whether a replacement part could be found. Unfortunately, my model is not under production anymore, and there weren’t spares that could be shipped.
Well, I don’t like to replace something that just works fine apart for few plastics, so I got this Loctite glue at a local store. I used an entire little tube to first put back together all the broken plastics, ensure that the metal bolts were inside properly, and then I essentially soaked the whole area in glue, fastened carefully the screws to not move the parts, and left to dry for an entire night. It is the end of April now, and the fix is still holding up well. In fact, I am using the laptop much like I always used to do. I just remove it from the stand every time I finish using it, and then I close the lid. If the same thing happens to you, be very careful with the “soak with glue” part: you don’t want the glue to get on the electronics or removable parts that would be otherwise stuck. Also, the keyboard is close, and you don’t want any glue to sneak below any of the keys, especially the Power On and Delete buttons, which are essentially there.
Some Thoughts and Conclusion
Overall, I think that Entroware team was supporting and kind, and my experience with them is positive. I don’t know whether they design the laptop chassis, but I would imagine that those are actually produced by a third party, as there is plenty of similarly looking chassis, for example those by Slimbook and Purism. So, perhaps what we should learn from this is the following: the hinge might be a weak spot of this family of chassis. Don’t leave them open too long, and handle with some care.
The fact that the laptop broken by itself could be a deal breaker for many, and I felt a bit disappointed too. However, I appreciated how easy it is to open this laptop and repair it, so I am sort of giving it a pass. Some higher level of fragility does often comes with the ease of opening and customize the hardware, so I am not completely surprised. It also should be remembered that the laptop is more than 2 years old, and screen/hinge are indeed among the parts that break most often in laptops.
I hope that this failure report helps anybody that would like a Linux laptop in selecting the best chassis for the intended device use, and have the correct expectation in how to handle it.