Books written by Ray Sullivan

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Enough to Make Me Screen

I reported a little while back about the unfortunate discovery I made when on holiday in the Lake District.  After a day out walking on a relatively mild trek - honest there are some easy bimbles up there - I took my Nexus 7 out of my side pocket to find the screen cracked from arsehole to breakfast time, as a wise man once said.

The front screen image looked fine, apart from the cracks criss-crossing it.  That and the stubborn refusal to let me enter the four digit PIN to unlock it.  I took it home and while I fumed for a few days I was rewarded with the constant sounds of emails and updates popping in and of calendar diary date alerts ringing, at least until the battery ran down.

I looked up the website of the company that had sold us the Nexus, PC World, where I found the number to ring regarding warranty issues.  After ten minutes of automated choices that never actually seemed to address what I was looking for I ended up on the selection that related to Asus products.  Luckily for me I knew the Nexus was an Asus product, because I'd still be making selections now if I'd been waiting for the automated voice to suggest Google.

So I made the selection and was advised, in level automated tones, that Asus warranty claims were handled by Asus themselves.  An eleventeen digit phone number blasted out and I found myself listening to the dial tone.  Now the Asus number isn't a free phone number and although it counts as a local rate number on a landline, it costs an undisclosed amount per minute on a mobile.  Probably not a huge amount, but it doesn't half feel like being held to ransom.  Oh, and their office hours are more reasonable than mine so I had to stack early to get home in time to call them.

The young man I spoke with was very helpful.  He listened to my tale and didn't even snigger, let alone accuse me of lying. We went through a pointless exercise while I tried to identify a number he insisted I had to be able to read before I could register a claim.  Apparently it's written on a transparent sticker on the reverse near the speakers and the letters are only marginally less transparent than the sticker itself, as well as being infinitesimally tiny.  Anyway, we agreed that was  something I could do later using a scanning electron microscope - I'm sure I saw one in the shed the other day when I was tidying up - so we got down to basics.

Here's how it works. First I register with Asus on their website - that's why I need that number - then they arrange for someone to pick the Nexus up, hopefully at a time more accessible than their helpline opening hours.  The Nexus is sent to an independent repairer who decides whether the repair is a warranty item or, in their opinion, user inflicted damage.  If they decide it's a warranty repair then they'll do it, but if they decide it's my fault then I have two choices - first to pay for a repair, cost unknown but expected to be in the region of £150, about the price of a new Nexus.  Alternatively I can have the Nexus back, unrepaired and £50 lighter for the privilege.

So I've been back to PC World and after a flurry of emails got to speak to a human who didn't sound too interested in my tale to be fair.  Anyway, probably in an attempt to get me off the line he told me to take the Nexus to my local PC World store to access the 'Knowhow' technicians to have the device evaluated.  If they agreed it was a warranty repair then they'd phone a number and maybe start a ball or two rolling.  So this evening I popped into the local store and found two men behind the counter, an older guy serving a customer and a young man.  To be fair to the young man, he listened to my tale without interrupting, but then made a point of stating that they weren't technicians and he'd have to send the Nexus off to Asus for a determination anyway. Knowhow? Know nothing, more like.

Anyway the older guy had overheard enough and he popped over to help his colleague out.  Seemingly they've had loads of these - shouldn't that be telling somebody something? - and he said that every one they sent to Asus came back unrepaired with a £50 bill attached.  His advice - walk away.

So I've been trawling the internet for replacement screens, and guess what, it's a minefield.  First off, you can buy the LCD screen (which may not be damaged on my Nexus) or the digitiser, the transparent device that sits on top of the LCD screen and works out what your grubby fingers are mauling at.  That's probably what's gone south on my machine, in my opinion.  Or you can buy both in one unit.

Before you even start bidding on eBay for any of these - and by the way, there's a heck of a lot of Nexus 7s with cracked screens for sale on there for spares or repair - take yourself off to YouTube.  There's a number of videos on there showing you how to replace your screen and you might be a little surprised to find that it's not the most straightforward of jobs.  There's at least one very detailed video on there - it's been viewed almost 100,000 times for goodness sake - that shows you in very fine detail how to do this task, including each and every Philips screw removal - and there are quite a lot of those.  The bottom line is that you go in through the back, and no, that isn't euphemism.  it's like a plastic surgeon doing your nose job from the rear of your skull, but there you go.

Anyway I watched this very detailed video - nine minutes to get to the screen assembly - and then it started reassembly without showing how to separate the digitiser from the LCD screen, which was a shame as I'd just found a digitiser for sale for about £22 including P&P from Hong Kong.  So I did a bit more digging and it seems that although you can buy the LCD and digitiser separately, they are fused together on the Nexus.  As is the front cover, although there are various reports that the cover can be removed by judicious heating with a hair dryer. Or a hammer and chisel, you takes your choice.

So, there's a bit more to this than meets the eye and just buying relatively inexpensive components may not result in a working Nexus, but will probably just result in you being even more out of pocket.  I'm going to fix this device, of that I'm sure, but I'm going to have to dig around a fair bit further .  I'll keep you all posted, but it's on the back burner until the price of spares drops or the UK performs an economic miracle.  So don't hold your breath - it's bad enough being held responsible for self cracking screens.


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