Laptops are never going to be cheap to repair, but if you’re someone who depends on one as your primary work machine (like me, John Gruber, Jon Hicks - although his plan has fallen apart rather suddenly - and plenty of other folks), you might like to keep note of some of the hardware hacks you can use in case of breakdown.
There’s a natural fear of opening up the case of a computer, particularly a laptop. Fear of “am I just going to make things worse?” Many repairs are not that difficult, but do require a methodical approach and a steady hand. The most attractive feature of home-grown repairs is the astonishing amount of money they can save you.
I particularly like the post by Gregory Dudek on Macintouch, which describes how the backlight bulb in his Powerbook went dead. Getting it replaced professionally would have cost a thousand dollars (might as well buy a new machine); but Gregory tracked down the replacement part on some Yahoo store for just five bucks.
Of course, the procedure for replacing the dead bulb was anything but simple, and his re-assembly lacked the professional finish; but the end result was a machine that worked, and a considerable cost saving. I’d say that was a success.
Do you fear the insides of your computer, or are you a fearless tinkerer? What’s the most complicated repair you’ve ever attempted?