Motorola Xoom Teardown by iFixit

iFixit, step 17:

LCD and front panel glass are not fused together. That’s great news for folks unfortunate enough to drop their Xooms and crack their glass.

Something that is easily fixable is good, generally speaking. The 10.1-inch 1280×800 TFT LCD used in the Motorola Xoom is not optically bonded to the cover glass. This is good if you need to replace either the LCD or the cover glass. But this is also bad because between the two there is space, whereto dust will eventually enter. Dust can be extremely annoying and unless you have access to a clean room there will always be dust.

Optical lamination of the display to the cover glass, though more expensive and difficult to fix, offers some benefits. First, there is no space for dust to get in. I used to have an iPhone 3G and when dust settled between the cover glass and the LCD I was not happy, to say the least. Second, light refraction is minimized so visual experience is enhanced. The iPhone 4 is a great example of this: the display looks as though it is right there. Third, space between the display and the cover glass is eliminated leading to a reduction of thickness.

Which one is more important: Easily fixable? Better experience? Well, there is a solution that can address both: get rid of the cover glass. But won’t that expose the display to scratches and make it more susceptible to breakage? Hardening the LCD itself is easy and can be done by applying a single film. But the edge-to-edge look is so sexy though. I’d prefer direct access to the display, which will look even better without an extra layer cover glass. And edge-to-edge is a marketing term so far; there isn’t a single gadget where the display goes edge to edge. The elimination of the cover glass would also make the device even thinner. Oh, and quite a bit lighter. And it would be quite easy to fix.