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How (and why) I modded my Tosh Satellite 1115-S103

Discussion in 'Laptops' started by Jeff S, Jul 29, 2003.

  1. Jeff S

    Jeff S Guest

    Purchased this notebook new late Nov '02, and due to a very brief price
    war between Best Buy and Circuit City, ended up getting this
    1.4GHz/256M/20G/DVD/14" notebook for about $460 with 0% interest
    financing.

    Initial impression was very good: Decent all-around, with a good if
    unexceptional screen (it suffers by having a limited optimum viewing angle
    and it's particularly noticeable when watching a movie). The housing is
    done up in textured, unpainted plastic, which suited me just fine,
    because IME, it wears well. This was my first notebook which incorporated
    a cooling fan, and I can't say I was too thrilled by that, but happily, it
    only runs intermittently.

    Then I started having troubles breaking things: First I managed to snap
    off the PC card eject buttons. Twice. Fixed under warranty both times.
    Problem is, they're too spindly, they stick out too far, and if you
    attempt to put the computer into it's slipcase while they're extended...

    So I stopped using that particular slipcase and all was good until one
    morning, a PC card door fell off, and it didn't take long to figure out
    why: The door's hinge pins were a particularly thin part of the plastic
    casting, and they're fragile. Talk about annoying, particularly since the
    basic computer was working just fine, and I had gotten it's audio, DVD
    playback, power management, etc all working just fine under Linux. I came
    really close to having it serviced one last time, then eBaying it. I
    became less enthused with that idea after considering what I'd be buying
    to replace it: Even some pretty pricey models seemed little better,
    particularly around the card eject buttons.

    But in the end, I took screwdriver in hand and disassembled the thing.
    Fabricated new PC card door hinges out of brass rod soldered to sheet
    brass (THAT ought to last awhile). The original plastic doors were trimmed
    a bit, then cemented to the brass sheet so that,
    from the outside, the notebook looks stock. As for the eject buttons, I
    thought of casting replacements out of metal, or a rubbery substance. Or
    even trimming them down so they're recessed a bit. But for now I've
    decided to leave things well enough alone, as this 2nd replacement is
    still working okay, and hopfully now that I've stopped using the
    aforementioned notebook slipcover, I won't have these problems again.

    Internally, the layout is very clean, and for a notebook, it's easy to
    service: The DVD and PCMCIA are actually bolted to the motherboard so
    there are a lot fewer cables to deal with than I'm accustomed to seeing.
    Plastic is a rather thin ABS/PC blend, and additional strength is provided
    by a white metal casting around the case perimeter. The screen hinge is
    bolted to this casting, so hopefully I won't have hinge problems with this
    notebook as I have had with others. PCMCIA card cage? Once the
    motherboard's out, it's a 1-minute replacement. Original part is by
    Foxconn, and doesn't seem to bear any part number, and there are no
    electronics involved-it's nothing more than a card cage with electrical
    contacts and eject buttons. If possible, I may look
    into keeping a spare card cage onhand, for peace of mind if nothing else.

    So for now, a cautious bit of renewed optimism, and a growing suspicion
    that a higher pricetag sometimes only buys more features, not better
    build quality. Sometimes.
     
    Jeff S, Jul 29, 2003
    #1
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