Apple’s EPEAT withdrawal underscores disposable ethos

There are probably more Apple computers in California than anywhere else in the US, if not the world. Before long, though, you may not find any new ones in the hands of workers employed by the city of San Francisco. According to the Wall Street Journal, the city’s agencies have been told that Macs can no longer be purchased with city funds.

The ban comes in response to Apple’s withdrawl from EPEAT, otherwise known as the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. EPEAT sets certification criteria for “greener electronics.” Among other things, it establishes standards for energy conservation, the use of environmentally sensitive materials, and end-of-life considerations like how easily a system can be disassembled for recycling.

That last item may have been Apple’s point of contention. As iFixit discovered when tearing apart the new Retina-equipped MacBook Pro, a couple of key components appear inseparable. The gorgeous Retina LCD is fused to the glass panel covering it, and the battery is glued to the unibody aluminum chassis. Rather than have the Retina Pro deemed non-compliant with the EPEAT, it seems Apple has decided to bow out entirely.

The decision could affect more than just government workers in San Francisco. In accordance with a 2007 Executive Order, 95% of the computers purchased by the US government must be registered with the EPEAT.

To its credit, Apple appears to have taken great strides to reduce its environmental footprint. Old Macs and iDevices can be returned to the company for recycling, and you might even get an Apple gift card out of the deal. Also, according to an Apple representative quoted by The Loop, all of the company’s products meet the US government’s Energy Star 5.2 requirements for power efficiency.

EPEAT interim CEO Christine Ervin admitted to GreenBiz earlier this year that its current standards are “a little long in the tooth.” Given Apple’s seemingly green practices—at least versus others in the industry—there may be no reason for eco-mentalist hipsters to avoid the company’s products on environmental grounds. 

Good luck removing the glued-in battery. Source: iFixit

That said, the fused display and glued-in battery are still reasons to pass on the new MacBook Pro. You can forget about buying cheap replacements for either component. Apple will replace the battery for $199, which is a lot more than the going rate on Amazon for older MacBook batteries. The rest of the Retina model does its best to thwart off-the-shelf replacement parts, too. Instead of using SO-DIMM slots, the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. Apple also uses a proprietary design for the solid-state drive, ignoring the mSATA standard adopted by others in the industry.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Apple has never been friendly to folks who want to poke around inside their PCs. Mainstream consumers don’t seem to care about easily replaceable components, either. They certainly don’t expect to be able swap parts in other devices, like televisions and stereos. Those are consumer electronics, a category that has traditionally excluded PCs. Apple seems intent on blurring that distinction, and its iPhones and iPads already bridge the gap.

Obviously, simplified devices like smartphones and tablets have fewer parts that one might be inclined to replace—and no well-established standards for the ultra-tiny components required by their smaller sizes. Size is particularly important, because the smaller and ever-slimmer designs that Apple has pursued naturally favor greater integration over support for standardized components. SO-DIMM slots have a higher profile than RAM soldered to the circuit board, for example. The glued-in battery, in addition to having the cells inside the chassis, probably shaves millimeters.

The SSD is more questionable. It snubs the similarly slim mSATA standard in favor of a custon design using the same physical connector as the MacBook Air. But MacBook Air SSDs won’t work with the Retina model. Apple can’t even maintain compatibility across its proprietary interfaces. 

The Retina MacBook Pro’s proprietary SSD. Source: iFixit

New EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee told the Wall Street Journal that Apple indicated its “design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements.” That direction, it seems, is to make computers as closed as consumer electronics devices while catering to the population’s misguided obsession with slimness.

PCs are starting to follow in those footsteps. Look at ultrabooks. They don’t go as far as the Retina MacBook Pro’s level of integration, but they certainly sacrifice easily-replaceable parts, expansion ports, and battery life in the name of meeting the arbitrary thickness requirements defined by Intel.

We’ve already passed the point of diminishing returns for ultra-skinny notebooks. Rather than further dieting, it would be nice to see a renewed focus on servicability. A notebook’s memory, storage, and battery should all be replaceable. The process should be easy, ideally, but I’m willing to be reasonable. There are structural benefits to unibody chassis that lack large access panels and cut-outs for removeable batteries. However, users should be able to get at the guts with no more than a screwdriver. They definitely shouldn’t have to deal with glue after getting past the first line of defense.

These days, one can revitalize an older notebook simply by adding RAM, a solid-state drive, and a fresh battery. Doing so might void the warranty, but by the time you upgrade, it will probably have expired already. Of course, if you could swap those parts easily, you might not buy a new notebook. No wonder Apple is making the practice as difficult as possible.

Steve Jobs once told MSNBC that “if you always want the latest and greatest, then you have to buy a new iPod at least once a year.” That ethos, and the innovation that fuels the regular refreshes, has permeated Apple’s lineup and driven its profits. At the same time, it’s produced products that seem more and more disposable with each generation.

To be fair, the non-Retina MacBook Pro has a standard 2.5″ hard drive and SO-DIMMs. Also, its battery is screwed rather than glued. But Apple’s EPEAT withdrawal suggests those conveniences aren’t part of its future plans. I can only hope the rest of the industry takes a break from copying Apple and doesn’t follow suit.

Update 7/13: Apple has changed its tune on the EPEAT. In an open letter published today on its website, Senior VP of Hardware Engineering Bob Mansfield calls Apple’s exit from the EPEAT a mistake. All eligible products will be back in the program starting today. Mansfield goes on to reiterate the company’s desire to pursue environmentally responsible products, although it remains to be seen whether the trajectory toward less servicable PCs persists.

Comments closed
    • vamsy
    • 7 years ago

    AArgh!
    Apple is not a technology company. Please stop posting articles about apple in techreport. They are sellers of decorative art. For god’s sake, please stop comparing art pieces with real gadgets.

      • TakinYourPoints
      • 7 years ago

      Since the 70s they’ve pushed the industry in both physical and software UI, and the industry continues to follow them as things continue moving in the direction of laptops and smartphones.

      Even if you don’t use their products, you should at least be thankful that the companies you do buy from either copy or are heavily heavily influenced by them.

    • GatoRat
    • 7 years ago

    Might I suggest that EPEAT is a fraud so companies and governments can pat themselves on the back for being “environmentally responsible” even though they are doing nothing of the sort one way or another.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      *GASP*… kind of like…[url=http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-470/<]Energy Star[/url<]? Say it ain't so!

    • WaltC
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Apple has never been friendly to folks who want to poke around inside their PCs. Mainstream consumers don't seem to care about easily replaceable components, either. They certainly don't expect to be able swap parts in other devices, like televisions and stereos.[/quote<] Oh, come on!...;) Stereos have been sold as "components" for the last 40 years or more--you mix and match amps, speakers, receivers, turntables and disk players, not to mention portable players--at will--whatever you want. The "one-piece" humongous stereos as big as a sofa and housed in fine oak or cherry cabinets that you couldn't crack without voiding the warranty died out decades ago. The reason televisions aren't updated in that fashion is because they were never *designed* that way. The Very High Voltages inside the first TVs, and inside TVs for decades, meant that you *had* to design a sealed or semi-sealed enclosure, because poking around inside of a TV could literally kill you. But even that is beside the point. Ever since the invention of the ISA slot--and that goes way back--computers, especially desktops, have been *specifically designed* to upgrade and to be build-able, piece by piece, component by component. That's why we see "slots" of all kinds and descriptions on motherboards today, not to mention the addition of multitudinous expansion ports of all types festooning the rear of every one of them. But if we hop inside a time machine and travel back to the 1980's, when the personal computer was in its infancy and just beginning to proliferate, we see pretty much what Apple is doing today in a few of its "Retina" (I think "Retsina" is more accurate) portables: motherboards on which everything was surface mounted--even the cpu--and there were no slots. You could not upgrade the cpu, gpu, ram--anything--because everything was surface-mounted on the motherboard (if you are unfamiliar with the term "surface mounted" it simply means "soldered to the motherboard.") If you wanted to add more ram/update the cpu/etc., there was only one way of doing it: buy a new motherboard. But that option itself wasn't always available, either. In the beginning, system OEMs didn't sell their motherboards separately--to get a new one, you had to buy an entirely new computer! One-piece, all-in-one computers were commonplace--and I don't mean Apple's. Thank goodness the industry grew out of that phase rather quickly. But then, this is exactly why I don't buy laptops, Apple's or anyone else's...;) In portable computing, being portable is top priority. Everything else is a distant second, third, fourth and fifth place consideration, including value per dollar spent. [quote<]I can only hope the rest of the industry takes a break from copying Apple and doesn't follow suit.[/quote<] Thank goodness I don't own a single piece of hardware copied from an Apple design! I intend to keep it that way. I also think it is very prudent to recall that Apple "copied the PC" when it moved the desktop Mac and OS X to Intel x86--and now Apple sells only an x86 clone desktop which is neither designed nor manufactured by Apple, just like pretty much every other x86 clone desktop maker. Apple copied them to such an extent that it even provides a standard software utility inside of OS X that allows any desktop Mac user to install and run Windows natively on any desktop Mac. In fact, Apple's x86 portable Macs are the only place in which Apple custom designs the hardware to differ with stock Intel off-the-shelf components, and you might say that Apple's Retsina portables are the ultimate expression of Apple's own custom-design philosophy. Back in the 1980's when surface-mounted motherboards were the x86 desktop kings, it wasn't "slimness" or "thinness" that drove the surface-mount technology. It was economics. Today it's the same--using horse glue and surface-mount tech in Retsina Macbooks guarantees a higher profit margin for Apple than is the case for the screws 'n slots designs for Apple's non-Retsina Macbooks--and I'm not even talking about the replacement factor. It may actually be true that some companies are copying Apple in certain respects, but it's for sure I won't be buying any of those products. Most likely, I am buying and will continue to buy the products that Apple will continue to copy...;)

      • End User
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Most likely, I am buying and will continue to buy the products that Apple will continue to copy...;)[/quote<] What hardware do you use? [quote<]and now Apple sells only an x86 clone desktop which is neither designed nor manufactured by Apple[/quote<] Who designs Apple products? [quote<]Apple copied them to such an extent that it even provides a standard software utility inside of OS X that allows any desktop Mac user to install and run Windows natively on any desktop Mac.[/quote<] No way! Get out! Thank goodness you are keeping us informed.

      • TakinYourPoints
      • 7 years ago

      The only thing more amazing than your delusion is the length of your mind numbing posts. Holy crap.

      • TakinYourPoints
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]But then, this is exactly why I don't buy laptops, Apple's or anyone else's...;) In portable computing, being portable is top priority. Everything else is a distant second, third, fourth and fifth place consideration, including value per dollar spent.[/quote<] We get it, you don't leave the house and spend most of your time writing ridiculous posts. Your above comment says a lot about how limited your viewpoint is. How are portability and value mutually exclusive? The whole point, at least for those of us who actually work, is power and portability in a single package.

    • Corrado
    • 7 years ago

    Does anyone else find it odd that the retina MBPs are listed on EPEATs site as EPEAT Gold approved? Every Apple Notebook has 21 points on the scale. Dell, Sony, Asus and Samsung have none with more. HP has 1 out of 90 with more (22). The only notable company with any amount of laptops that have more than 21pts is Lenovo, which maxes out at 23.

    [url<]http://ww2.epeat.net/PublicSearchResults.aspx?return=pm&epeatcountryid=1&ProductType=3&manufacturer=32[/url<]

    • windwalker
    • 7 years ago

    Everybody got what they wanted:

    Apple have all their computers, including the Retina MacBook Pro on the EPEAT list.
    They also got EPEAT to admit their standards are outdated and to pledge to move faster in updating them and to better account for design innovation in the future.

    EPEAT got Apple back to maintain validation of their existence and even got them to apologize so EPEAT would not lose any face.

    EPEAT saved face and Apple got the changes they wanted.

    And finally, bloggers got to pretend that something actually happened and wrote stories that made them look and feel important.
    A true win-win-win.

    • deathBOB
    • 7 years ago

    How many of you have ever replaced an led display or one of its components on a laptop? I could understand this complain with bulb but not LEDs

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Senior VP of Hardware Engineering Bob Mansfield calls Apple's exit from the EPEAT a mistake[/quote<] Nothing more than a PR mistake, I'm sure. They underestimated the backlash

      • tfp
      • 7 years ago

      Did people stop buying Apple products or is it just nerds complaining?

        • indeego
        • 7 years ago

        An entire Hippy city stopped. As if the specific purchase of laptops is the ultimate savior of the environment.

          • Corrado
          • 7 years ago

          Well lets be honest, how many computers did they buy in the 3 days since this all happened?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            That’s a little bit of a red herring since they did say there would be no more Macs. The question is more like how many they would buy in the future. Still a drop in the bucket to Apple, I’m sure.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        Well, the trendy nerds (oxymoron, I know, but it’s like 15% of the US laptop-buying market now) are nearly universally environmentally conscious. Or at least pretend to be. So if Apple stops pretending, they’re in pretty serious trouble.

    • Corrado
    • 7 years ago

    FWIW, they are back into EPEAT as of today.

    [url<]http://www.apple.com/environment/letter-to-customers/[/url<]

      • End User
      • 7 years ago

      Thanks for the update.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Yay for legalspeak qualifications!

      [quote<]all [u<]eligible[/u<] Apple products are back on EPEAT[/quote<] Derp...so they simply un-withdrew, it doesn't necessarily address the underlying issues that caused them to withdraw in the first place.

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    Here’s a thought: “Easily disassembled for recycling”, when applied arbitrarily, is a dumb criteria to be using on a $1k laptop computer. It’s not a disposable razor, it’s a durable good that is supposed to provide years of use. If it somehow comes to a choice between making it durable OR making it easy to recycle, I’ll take “durable” every time.

    The focus on ease-of-recycling misses another important point: epoxies and adhesives can offset a great deal of mechanical manufacturing processes such as extra welding, machining, retention brackets and hardware, etc. Something which is glued may be harder to recycle, but it may also use less resources in the first place, and produce a product which is lighter and therefore (usually) more durable under daily handling. I doubt that’s Apple’s objective — they seem to place the design aesthetic ahead of everything else — but EPEAT doesn’t appear to have any way of measuring it.

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      It turns out that laptops exist which are both durable *and* user-serviceable. The two are not mutually exclusive, unless we’re talking Apple.

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        How many use high-density displays?

          • A_Pickle
          • 7 years ago

          Depends. What defines a “high density display?” A DPI metric that only Macs win? How convenient. The ASUS Zenbook (and other ultrabooks) offer 1920×1080… on a 13.3″ display. There was no fanfare, and no accolades for these screens, even though 1920×1080 at such a small size is unmatched even by the infallible Apple. And, while the RAM is soldered on, you can replace the SSD in these ultrabooks with a SATA-compatible one (not a 2.5″, but mSATA).

          Also, it’s [i<]staggeringly[/i<] ignorant to claim this as a bonus point. The non-Apple side of tech doesn't sit on it's laurels. High DPI displays will be coming to PC's. Enjoy it while you can, before the rest of the world gets it better and cheaper.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Why do you assume that people who don’t share your biases must be writhing under the load of another set of biases?

            As it happens, I don’t own a single Apple product and never have; the most I have ever spent on a laptop was $600. But I can see an entire industry shifting to mobile space and demanding displays that are always brighter, lighter, and higher resolution, and Apple is merely on the leading edge of what it takes to get there, not some sort of Rolling Doom Machine. I don’t see any evidence whatsoever that the glue-fusing of Apple’s retina displays is somehow the harbinger of the environmental apocalypse, which leads me to wonder what, exactly, EPEAT was measuring and whether it was even relevant.

            • A_Pickle
            • 7 years ago

            I readily admit I have a bias, but I don’t think it’s a crime to do so. I feel like my bias is pretty well justified in the context of the evidence, and I don’t hate Apple because it’s hip or cool. Indeed, there are things that Apple does that I like, that I give them credit for, and that I wish the non-Apple side of tech would adopt. Unfortunately, there are (in my opinion) far [i<]more[/i<] things that Apple does that I dislike, that I criticize them for, and that I fear the non-Apple side of tech will adopt. I assume that you (and others) have a bias because of what I perceive to be undue lengths to which you will go to defend Apple. Perhaps we simply don't see eye-to-eye, but I think making a 15.4" notebook as non-user-serviceable as they have with the Retina MacBook Pro is a regression overall. You say that you "don't see any evidence whatsoever that the glue-fusing of Apple's retina displays is somehow the harbinger of the environmental apocalypse." You don't? Well here, [url=https://www.npr.org/2010/12/21/132204954/after-dump-what-happens-to-electronic-waste<]let me help[/url<]. E-waste is a growing problem, and while it's awfully thoughtful of folks to pay to have an electronic item properly disposed of, it is most often [i<]not[/i<] properly disposed of. Most of the time that stuff ends up on container ships to China, Cambodia, and other places where people desperate for work and income begin deconstructing 21st century technology (complete with it's BFR's, PVC's, lead, mercury, cadmium, rare-earth elements, and more) with prehistoric technology (like fire and acid). Fumes from this stuff get into the air they breathe while they work to get piddling amounts of metal, and acid pours this stuff and other compounds down into the water table. Re-use is the best possible way to recycle electronics -- preventing them from going overseas to e-graveyards all over the world. This MacBook continues that trend, and, in fact, forces it. It just so happens that, at least as far as personal computers go, the horse (Western civilization) has been led to water (industry-standard COTS-based repairable computers) -- and some of us drink. I've got computers going on eight or nine years that I've kept up and running. They're by no means the best out there, but hey, my HP laptop is running Windows 8 CP after I fixed it up. I've got a client running two Sony Vaio laptops that are packing Pentium 4's that he didn't throw away because I disassembled them, sucked out all the dust, and re-applied thermal paste to make them run without overheating again. I've got a client for whom I repaired the barrel plug on her laptop using a power drill and a zip tie. I've got a friend with a Dell Inspiron E1505 that has received a memory upgrade, a storage upgrade, several cleanings, a battery replacement, and an AC adapter replacement -- it's run for six years and counting.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            [quote=”A_Pickle”<] Enjoy it while you can, before the rest of the world gets it better and cheaper. [/quote<] That's a good point, because I've really been enjoying the fantastic track pads that have proliferated across the entire PC ecosystem. PC vendors do an amazing job of anticipating their customer's needs, which is why they have such a growth market market on their hands.

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      So it saves 301 Wh in manufacturing, only to be condemned to a landfill where it takes four hundred and seventy-two years to melt away. Enormous win.

        • TakinYourPoints
        • 7 years ago

        Its a good thing I only own laptops made from naturally biodegradable components

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          you’re missing the point.

          • A_Pickle
          • 7 years ago

          It’s a good thing I only own laptops that I can repair, upgrade, and continue to use.

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        First, the screen fusing allegedly improves rigidity, which might require fewer raw materials in the entire screen design; second, even if the only savings was energy use, energy use does have an immediate environmental cost.

        Third, why would it be landfilled?

        No consumer product on earth cleanly disassembles into components that require just one sparkling clean step to recycle. Even an apparent no-brainer, the aluminum beverage can, has to be specially handled in order to deal with the label inks that make the product attractive to consumers, and the clearcoats that prevent the beverage acids from dissolving the aluminum. You can’t just toss the can in the furnace.

        What we humans typically do is disassemble a product to the greatest extent possible, shred the disassembled bits, and then use a mixture of mechanical, chemical, and thermal processes to sort the rough pieces into their most basic industrial feedstocks. Some of the pieces are not re-usable regardless, and will end up in a landfill anyway. If the total environmental cost of re-using the pieces is less than the total environmental cost of extracting new resources, then typically you have a win. If not, then you may have a bunch of people patting themselves on the back for being environmentally responsible with one resource even while merrily trashing some other resource they never thought too much about, much like parents who eschew disposable diapers for washables, then look at you like you have five heads when queried about where the water comes from.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Non-replacable batteries seemed like the dumbest decision to ever hit battery-powered devices, and you can probably pin the blame on Apple for pushing it into the market and making it look acceptable for other vendors to do the same.

    Most Li-ion/Li-poly batteries are near-useless after about 500 charge cycles because even though they still take and hold charge for anything up to another 500 cycles, your 6-hour battery life has been reduced to 2 hours, and it’s no longer a useful battery.

    Let me be wildly optimistic and pretend that you get a whole 5 hours out of each charge cycle*. That’s still less than 2500 hours.

    * – Anand’s [i<]light-usage[/i<] battery tests had the 11" and 13" MBA's running for 4.5h and 5.3h respectively. Under real-world loads, such as flash websites and video it was more like 3.7h and 2.8h, bringing that worryingly-low 2500 hour battery lifespan down to as little as 1400h, which is less than two months!

      • End User
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Non-replacable batteries seemed like the dumbest decision to ever hit battery-powered devices,[/quote<] The batteries are not replaceable by the end user. They are replaceable by Apple.

        • Dashak
        • 7 years ago

        Well, yeah… for $199. We read the article too.

          • End User
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]We read the article too.[/quote<] Apparently Chrispy_ did not.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            quit being dumb.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            Watch out for those Es. They’ll getcha.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            FIXED. THANKS BRO

            • Chrispy_
            • 7 years ago

            If a user cannot replace the battery themselves, it’s not a replacable battery.

            Of course Apple can replace the battery. They have the equipment required to replace practically anything.

            I would say that the MBA I used in my example counts as non-replacable. For a start, Opening a MBA requires unusual tools. Secondly, it’s difficult to do non-destructively even [i<]with[/i<] the specific tools. Thirdly, the batteries are dangerous to remove - there is a risk of rupturing the cells, which can cause fire. Lastly, your product warranty is invalidated. Hell, by your definition of replacable even my kidneys are replacable. Context is everything.

    • Omniman
    • 7 years ago

    I suppose it’s all about praying nothing fails with them.

    • Ronald
    • 7 years ago

    When Dissonance attacks!

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]That said, the fused display and glued-in battery are still reasons pass on the new MacBook Pro. You can forget about buying cheap replacements for either component.[/quote<] Not limited to Apple, that's the reason i hate OEMs in general.

      • Ifalna
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed.

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      Name another OEM with [i<]fused[/i<] display assemblies.

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        Apple is kind of leading the market in display technologies right now so that’s not exactly a fair challenge. If Apple was just doing it to be cheap in products they sell for a small fortune, that would be one thing, but this seems to be specific to the high-density display technology of which Apple is a market leader.

          • A_Pickle
          • 7 years ago

          I fail to see why a higher pixel density in an LCD panel requires it to not be removable. I have replaced laptop LCD screens that were 1280×800… and I have replaced laptop LCD screens that were 1920×1200. The process to do both was [i<]exactly the same[/i<].

            • TakinYourPoints
            • 7 years ago

            The fused display isn’t the product of pixel density, it is the product of making the rMBP thinner. It also has the effect of putting the LCD surface right up at the front; no gap between the LCD and the surface like you normally have.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            right. it is not required. it is something they CHOSE to do to make it thinner.

            • Corrado
            • 7 years ago

            It also makes it more rigid and less likely to to break. If theres a gap between the glass and the screen, theres more room to flex and break. If its all 1 piece, its exponentially more stable.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            that might be true. i’m not sure how it impacts rigidity.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Considering that Apple was apparently able to re-enter EPEAT since the original story broke, apparently without changing the manufacturing process on this display, I would say that either EPEAT’s criteria was toothless and never should have been taken seriously in the first place, or else the adhesive fusing of the glass to the LCD is a remarkably small problem in the grand scheme of things.

            But on the upside, at least we found something pointless to argue about.

            • Firestarter
            • 7 years ago

            Or maybe Apple bought some EPEAT official a nice dinner with benefits. I don’t buy for one bit that right after some hefty PR-backlash the same product that failed to certify previously suddenly gets OK’ed by the same authority without some heavy lobbying or outright bribery.

            Then I read some comments on Arstechnica like “Instantly puts the issue to rest” and “I can understand why an organization like EPEAT which is bureaucratic and slow to change and update standards could be seen as a hindrance to a company like Apple”, are we really that easy to appease? Not to mention the open letter from the CEO from EPEAT, which reads like an extended brown-nosing session.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            If EPEAT can be bought that easily, then we’re back to the theory that its criteria are toothless and never should have been taken seriously.

            Look up the history of the “Energy Star” certification and you’ll see one possible flameout trajectory for EPEAT, if they don’t stay impartial and keep their criteria relevant.

            • A_Pickle
            • 7 years ago

            I don’t really care about Apple’s withdrawal from EPEAT.

            I care that they made a 15.4″ notebook that [i<]isn't user serviceable[/i<].

            • Corrado
            • 7 years ago

            The apertures are much smaller, and thus more delicate. Its VERY possible that the screen flexing that’s acceptable on a normal display is enough torsion to crack the much smaller/finer elements of the high density display, leading to the need to glue it to something more rigid. Since they couldn’t really add something behind it, as the cables and controllers and back-lights live there, the only solution was on the front. And since you need to see it, the only acceptable solution was fusing it to the glass.

            But don’t let the engineering get in the way of a good hate post.

            • A_Pickle
            • 7 years ago

            I thought about that, and if so, why not say so? I don’t know — but it [i<]does[/i<] frustrate me that this thing is irreparable. We'll see, if more PC makers start making display assemblies that are impossible to break into, I think that'd be fair evidence that such tiny pixels could be fragile to the repair process. Even then, though, I highly doubt it -- it's on a screen that's designed to be opened and closed, most of the time from a single point of stress. There's also no warning against touching the screen or anything. I'm not so angry about it being fused to glass so much as I'm frustrated that, if your fancy, expensive-ass Retina display goes kaput -- you better have some dough to cough up for a [i<]whole new display assembly[/i<]. It's certainly not as egregious as the non-standard SSD interface, the soldered-in RAM and the glued-in battery, but it's still frustrating for people who like to fix electronics. The most environmentally friendly thing you can do with a computer is reuse it -- recycling them is often [i<]very[/i<] harmful to the environment and the workers that handle them, and it's far from a fully 100% material-recovering process.

        • Arclight
        • 7 years ago

        I can’t think of one, as i’m not versed with laptops, but on the desktop side i know plenty of them used custom parts (like the motherboard, case, cooler) which prevent you from replacing them easily, usually requiring furthur investments and/or lose of warranty.

        eg. A few months ago a friend asked me to help him reinstall windows on a (Windows) laptop. As it turns out i couldn’t. There was a chip on the motherboard which loaded a proprietary DOS software before boot which was specifically made to prevent users from installing the OS by themselves. It’s not a fused screen but it is an example of OEM BS.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 7 years ago

    Geoff, in my opinion, this is the worst op ed you’ve written. Way to monger for those site hits. :/

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      What’s wrong with it? Seems valid to me. I’d like to see better electronics, not thinner. If Apple is greenish, then why are they making it so you have to buy a new laptop everytime? This direction hurts everybody, and even if apple uses safer materials, they’re not totally safe. Its the same stupid crap with phones that’s trending across to oems now. Let me change my battery, and have it last, rather than just being 2mm thinner

        • Meadows
        • 7 years ago

        Phones, for example, [i<]aren't even comfortable to use[/i<] if they're too thin. I'm not saying I want my phone to drag down my pocket, but I do not specifically desire thin electronics.

          • Anomymous Gerbil
          • 7 years ago

          Huh? For me at least, today’s phones are wide enough that they’re comfortable to hold, regardless of how thin they are. Not that I especially want phones to go even thinner, but I can’t say I’d care if they did.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            thinner means crappier battery life. MAKE MINE A BRICK.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          For phones and laptops, I totally agree. As long as it’s not overtly weighing me down, who cares if a phone is 9mm thick or 11mm thick. That’s a big reason I have a case on my current phone; it helps make it a bit thicker and easier to hold.

          And the same is true of laptops. Who cares if they’re 25mm thick or 15mm. As long as it’s not super heavy to carry around, I don’t really care. Any 13-14″ laptop is sufficiently light for me.

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 7 years ago

      I think its a valid and fair piece.

      • Welch
      • 7 years ago

      I thought it was well written and made a good point (albeit obvious to some who have followed the new Mac ultrabook fiasco). Way off base with this one ssid

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      ssid: this is the worst comment you’ve written. Way to be a punk.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 7 years ago

        flip-mode is on point.

    • BIF
    • 7 years ago

    I say good for Apple!

    Government rules and regs are way out of hand. It’s all about power, control, and the cash grab, not about the environment.

    Eventually Apple will return to the fold, because government money is too addictive for companies (and people) to quit for good. But for now, it serves as a temporary thumb in the G’s eye. I can live with that!

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      It sounds as if you think EPEAT is a government agency. It’s not, it’s more like the 80+ program.

        • Jason181
        • 7 years ago

        Or that 95% of the US government’s purchases must be from registered with E-PEAT, in addition San Francisco’s requirement. I don’t understand all of the downvotes for BIF; what he said was factually correct.

        If people (and I have no idea if you individually downvoted him) disagree with his opinion, call him on that.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          Well, which one is it? This:

          [quote<]what he said was factually correct[/quote<] or this: [quote<]with his opinion[/quote<] ? His post is pure opinion, I'm having a hard time finding any facts.

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      Have you read the article?

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 7 years ago

      You must be joking.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Governments never should have been buying Macs in the first place. Talk about a waste of taxpayer money.

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      Name your alternative suggestion

        • flip-mode
        • 7 years ago

        +1, no reason for downvotes for this question.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          he’s likely getting downvoted for the obviousness of the alternatives. there are a great many other computer manufacturers that are quite good, and affordable.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            Exactly, and tht’s why I didn’t even bother replying. If the alternative isn’t obvious, well…

            • flip-mode
            • 7 years ago

            It’s not obvious. Who has hardware on par with a Macbook in terms of quality of fit and finish and durability? Plastic breaks. Keyboards vary widely. Screen reslution differences? Display panel color range and contrast range and other qualities? Trackpad functionality? Size and weight? Running surface temperature? Cooling noise? Are the warranties all the same (seriously, are they?)? How does the customer service rating compare? Video card comparisons? What’s the lowest price I can get a comparable Windows laptop for?

            It’s not obvious. It’s pure hatred of Apple that would lead to voting down such a question. I’m not foreign to Apple hatred. I harbor a bit of it myself (I hate the operating system). But this question is legit.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            there are a great many systems. excepting the new AMAZING ZOMG retina display, apple isn’t alone on any market. lenovo makes a number of great computers, and individual systems from a variety of manufacturers get very high reviews.

            for example, our own lovely, beautiful, handsome, french cyril said the following about the dm1z: “The HP Pavilion dm1z is, therefore, fully deserving of our Editor’s Choice award. Right now, I’m considering ditching my MacBook for one of these. That’s saying a lot.” there are good laptops on the market.

            while apple might do will in the high end, they are high end, and expensive.

            apple has decent enough warranty. it usually trends high. but so does lenovo.

            I’m not saying that apples have no place, but i think that the number of places i’d see one serving as a needed machine are limited.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            You are right, they should be using linux based systems.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            I wouldn’t have an issue with that. linux is plenty powerful, and the price is right. i guess it would come down to productivity/$

            • A_Pickle
            • 7 years ago

            I would way rather the government use Ubuntu and LibreOffice vs. pay for umpteen-millions of Windows + Office licenses. Outlook is garbage.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            Government productivity?!?1/1?!/!/!?!??

            *head asplodes*

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      That’s a stupid way of thinking.

      The government still needs to attract talent and if the talented people want Macs, buying them a Mac could be more economical than other ways of attracting them.

        • Arclight
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]The government still needs to attract talent and if the talented people want Macs, buying them a Mac could be more economical than other ways of attracting them.[/quote<] Dang. Not sure if troll....

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        Right, that’s always my first question to a prospective employer in an interview…’Do you use Macs or Windows PCs?’ I love limiting myself to a tiny fraction of employers, it makes a job search so much easier!

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        ROFL.

        How about making the salary on the job offer $2000 a year higher? That’s probably what buying into the Apple ecosystem costs per year compared to perfectly decent alternatives.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        Talented people all have real jobs.

      • bhtooefr
      • 7 years ago

      If they’re the best tool for the job, then it’s not a waste of taxpayer money.

      The prices are in line with comparably specced higher-end Dell and Lenovo machines, and it’s false economy to buy cheap machines that aren’t built to last.

      That said, Apple’s lack of on-site service is an issue.

        • Welch
        • 7 years ago

        Sorry, but that’s an uninformed response. You can buy a similar or better specced Windows PC for cheaper almost any given day of the week. Just because somethings price tag adds an extra digit to the end of it does not imply that it is built in a superior way.

        Talking about buying machines that are perfect for the job, what about the fact that Windows PC still make up the VERY overwhelming majority of the computer market? Should the government agencies ignore that and instead just pretend that all of their employees can hop on a Mac and be as productive with a Mac compared to an OS that the majority of them are familiar with?

        Chances are the reason they use Macs is because they got a sweet heart deal from Apple to promote their products as a “California Made This” sort of thing…. just a theory so to say.

        • Washer
        • 7 years ago

        Eh? Comparable? I guess if you’re only talking about the all-in-one market. It can’t be laptops or workstations. The cheapest 15″ MacBook Pro costs $1800, equipped with integrated graphics, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB 5400RPM HD. Yeah… that’s a hot deal right there. A ThinkPad T530 or W530 at the same price is crushingly better equipped. Apple has basically admitted they’re not competing in the workstation space for the time being. Not to mention you can’t go down the chain on Apple, you can get a $700 T530, no such MBP exists.

        You also can’t dismiss the separation in service levels between Apple and Dell, Lenovo, HP. On-site service, the ability to have certified employees on staff to do repairs under warranty, etc, are all not available from Apple. Not to mention going forward it clearly seems to be Apple’s plan to not even allow the possiblilty for on-site repair.

        I’d also like to know when a Mac is the better tool. For doing what? Because they’ve certainly let any advantage they (arguably) had in video, audio, and photo editing slip. The best version of Office is only on Windows. Are there a wide range of OSX only government applications I don’t know about? Now that sounds odd.

          • heinsj24
          • 7 years ago

          Not OSX applications, but government loves POSIX. All Macs are fully POSIX-compatible thanks to OSX; not all versions of Windows 7 are; it’s limited to Enterprise and Ultimate.

          [quote<]You also can't dismiss the separation in service levels between Apple and Dell, Lenovo, HP. On-site service, the ability to have certified employees on staff to do repairs under warranty, etc, are all not available from Apple. Not to mention going forward it clearly seems to be Apple's plan to not even allow the possiblilty for on-site repair.[/quote<] Complete BS. Apple has certified technician and enterprise support programs like anyone else: [url<]http://www.apple.com/support/products/enterprise/ossupport.html[/url<] including 1 hour response.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        What software does Apple have that makes it better than a normal windows PC?
        There might even be some! (I’m not claiming to be a Mac software expert)

        Whether it’s necessary for the government to use that software is another question which I suspect doesn’t favour their use of Apples though….

          • Beelzebubba9
          • 7 years ago

          As someone who supported small to mid sized businesses running Macs, I can say that 90% of their advantage is….

          …OS X is more idiot proof than Windows.

          I’m amazed at how resilient Macs are to the sheer idiocy of the average computer user, and you’d be amazed how few virus infestations it takes when you’re being billed $90+/hr to blow the cost advantage of a PC into the weeds.

          • A_Pickle
          • 7 years ago

          I do not like Apple.

          But I’d say iLife kicks the crap out of any pre-installed software any day of the week, and while Windows Live Essentials is “nice,” it’s also incredibly weak comparatively.

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 7 years ago

      I used to work for a Managed Service Provider, and we had a number of OS X heavy or all OS X customers. The TCO delta between Macs and PCs for many of them was often small (or non existent), so a case could be made to use Macs for many small to mid sized companies. Though hardly a small company, Gilt Group is a mostly-Mac shop and they’re closing in on $1b a year in revenue (a former co-worker of mine left to build their first corporate AD domain).

      There are a million reasons not to build your network around Apple products, but you’d be surprised how viable of a solution they can be for many companies.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    They’ve always wanted their computers to be appliances, going back to the Lisa days. Now this is how they’re going to force it on their public. In a way, I’m kinda glad I got out of the Mac stuff before this happened. I always liked tinkering. If that’s what the buying public wants, then so be it, but I won’t buy a non-upgradable machine that can’t be disassembled. Nothankyou.jpg

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Now this is how they're going to force it on their public.[/quote<] I have to complain about this phrase. It sounds like some crap from a political commentator. I'll give you credit for "their public" rather than "the public" ... but come on.

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