Chromebooks “not designed to last,” U.S. researchers say

Chromebooks “not designed to last,” U.S. researchers say

U.S. researchers have indicated that the Chromebooks “are not designed to last” and would have presented irreparable failures just three years after being acquired by educational centers in this country.

This is one of the conclusions reached by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PITIG), which has assured that these devices, designed for online work, defy parts supply and automatic update expiration dates.

Irreparable failures

This body, which has produced a report entitled ‘Chromebook Churn’has determined that many of the batches purchased during the pandemic by U.S. institutions have begun to break down due to irreparable failures.

The Chromebooks are laptops intended for the educational environment that run Chrome OS, based on Chrome, with functionality such as cloud storages and other Google features.

The PITIG paper indicates that about three years after registering a large increase in sales of Chromebooks in educational institutions, “more than 31 million units sold in the first year have begun to see device failures.”

Researchers have identified three factors that determine that the useful life of these devices is less than expected, among them, that spare parts are not sold and cannot be repaired with others.

This factor contrasts with Google’s initiative launched early last February, when the company shared a series of repair guides for these computers with directions on how to replace certain hardware parts and where to find these components.

PITIG, on the other hand, claims that “design choices frustrate repair and reuse” for these users and that, although some brands offer certain exchange products, such as screens or hinges, these do not cover all of the devices’ needs and come at very high prices.

Also, the researchers highlight in this report that, unlike computers, which upgrade their operating system when support for their native OS ends, the Chromebooks Have a “built-in” expiration date.

“Many major manufacturers typically provide OS updates for their devices until they no longer meet the minimum hardware requirements. Google, on the other hand, assigns one to each model of Chromebookso this default expiration date is likely to be before the hardware reaches end of life.

A scenario that may change

The Education Fund of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, finally, has determined that “the. Chromebook are not designed to last,” but that the company developing them “has the power to change that.”

Thus, he assures that the company can adjudicate hardware and software standards to be followed by third parties, such as Dell, Asus, Acer or HP. In doing so, he indicates that the manufacturers officially set an end date of use so that the Chromebooks “last at least eight years in actual use by schools.”

“The Chromebooks should last as long as other laptops. Software should not be the reason for discarding functional computers and the automatic update expiration should be eliminated altogether,” the researchers have qualified in the conclusions to this report.

In doing so, they have stressed that manufacturers should produce spare parts based on 10 percent of their stock, since these computers are “worthless if technicians do not have access to the necessary parts.”

They have also said that parts should be standardized across models and manufacturers, prioritizing batteries, screens, keyboards and other components “across all models to enable reuse and repair.”

Finally, he has insisted that Google should “facilitate the installation of alternative operating systems” so that users can “tinker, repair and modify the devices they purchased, including the operating system.” “The choice of operating system is not only a consumer right, but would extend the resale and reuse value of the laptop for years,” he concluded. (With information from Europa Press)

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Daniel Chapman