Computers: Repair or Replace

Since laptops and netbooks are getting so cheap, what should we be doing about our broken laptops?

I’m fixing a laptop now, needs a replacement screen which will cost $100 or so, that’s a lot considering you could get a brand new laptop from Dell for $300. Even when we put Ubuntu on P4 machines to refurbish them, are they as useful as a new machine would be given the low costs?

Is it worth doing at all? Has anyone managed to come up with a way to calculate the benift/cost of keeping with the old and repairing it or throwing it away in favour of something new? Surely in the computer world we’re going to be experiencing this at a much higher rate than in other industries. So what’s to be done?

Should all complex equipment to be sold have to have disassembly instructions? component and materials lists? It wouldn’t be so bad if you could repair basic faults like broken plastic with some Fab lab equipment, but no manufacturer releases models or specifications for even the smallest parts of their designs.

What about more complex parts, screens, main boards? should we be recycling them? should we be forcing manufacturers to pay for recycling or accepting them back to deal with (so called reverse shipment)? Is it possible to disassemble modern electronics into material forms for use in newer parts?

I think we may have lead ourselves down a rickety road of resource misuse. Getting this house back down the stairs will difficult, costly and interesting, if we ever learn of course.