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What You Said: Are You Willing to Void Your Warranty for Geek Pride?

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The comments have been read and the votes totaled; hands down the How-To Geek crowd voids warranties like it’s an Olympic sport. Read on to see how, when, and why, your fellow readers void their warranties.

Earlier this week we asked you to weigh in on whether or not you void your warranties to tweak, customize, and otherwise personalize your gear. You answered in force and we’re back with some highlights from the busy comments thread.

I Was Born to Void

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Several readers were quick to point out that they were voiding warranties before they even really knew what they were. Some people are born to tinker and early on they are wielding screw drivers and soldering irons to alter their toys. TheGeek started out adding LEDs to his toys and moved on to rooting his phones. Photo by Extra Ketchup.

I took apart electronic toys and put in “extra” LED’s when I was a little kid.

Reader _Ron echoes a similar experience:

I took apart every hand held game I had when I was a kid. I had replaced tinny speakers in them with real speakers, added LED’s, found diagnostic modes, etc.

Reader Wrocky started young with DIY electronics repairs and moved on to taking apart everything he could get his hands on.

I remember taking apart a transistor radio of my dads to fix the volume control and while I was in there, added another speaker and then fixing the tube hi-fi console after the local shop couldn’t. I took electrical engineering in school and have taken apart almost every electronic thing I own at some point.

I Void Warranties to Improve My Gear

The most common reason cited for warranty voiding is to improve the stock device in some way (often in a huge way that makes you wonder why the manufacturer didn’t just ship it with that functionality to begin with). Reader Atomsk highlights how warranty voiding can take you from having one kind of stock electronics to having a totally different kind of gear when you’re done:

Oh, I forgot my Nook Color!  That thing sucked as an e-reader but now its a full blow tablet with Gingerbread! Mmmmmmmm Gingerbread Cyanogenmod!

Neener shares a similar experience hacking an e-book reader into a tablet:

Got a Pandigital Novel E-reader gift. But have been hacking it with the help of some online forums, and now it’s a tablet PC with great graphics, web surfing, email, games, etc…. for a fraction of the cost of an I-Pad. Despite some problems and some issues – its fun to take the challenge, and I plan to continue – bazzinga!

Some of you have grown so used to voiding warranties that you often forget you’re even doing it; Hermes weighs in:

Oh my gosh! I have not realized that I have done all mentioned above; jailbreaking the iPhone, modding my game console and DD-WRT the Linksys Router—all with the purpose of use them at their full potential. The iPhone is now more user friendly, the game console became an entertainment center and the router lets me fine tune the settings to my family needs.

I Own It; I Get to Take It Apart

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Adding functionality is a big part of the warranty voiding process but equally as big is the drive of the voider to understand and control their gear. Photo by iFixit.

Reader Michael Pults writes:

I void the warranty on everything! Usually within a day or two after buying it. I do my best to hack every piece of electronics I own to make it uniquely mine. Most of my friends make fun of me for it. But lets face it. Warranties are for people who don’t know how to fix their own stuff. I’ve even bricked a few things but haven’t yet found an item I couldn’t unbrick. LONG LIVE THE HACK!

Lostalaska muses on lack of curiosity in the non-voiders:

I enjoy seeing the guts of electronics and figuring out how it all interrelates and works. I guess that’s just a basic part of who I am, I want to understand how things work. In my mind it seems strange that people don’t care about understanding how the devices they use work.

I Error on the Side of Caution

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Not everyone unboxes their new Xbox 360 and busts out the screw driver and soldering iron. Several reads pointed out ways in which they played the odds or outright steered clear of voiding their warranties. Lostalaska notes that it’s worth waiting and weighing your options:

I usually wait until the new smell has worn off and the short warranty for most electronics (90 days?) is already over before I’m cracking open the case or installing hacked firmware and then it’s only if the hacks offer a degree of functionality and features that are worth my time and chance of bricking the device.

Robert Dunn also echoes this sentiment:

The only time I won’t hack is when the device isn’t mine or the benefits aren’t worth it, like jailbreaking an Apple TV to get SSH and the weather.

RoseTyler logged a solid no vote, backed up by financial reasons:

No. Being a single parent with the economy the way it is, money doesn’t grow on trees in my house. I can’t afford to buy a new one (cell, game console etc), so I take care to use the one I have according to the warranty. If I were rich and didn’t care about money, then I wouldn’t care and would readily risk it.

It’s a point worth heeding. Don’t break your kid’s heart by wrecking his console unless you can buy a replacement!


Have a question you want to put before the How-To Geek audience? Shoot us an email at tips@howtogeek.com with “Ask the Readers” in the subject line and we’ll see what we can do.

 

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/25/11

Comments (16)

  1. MetaNova

    I put firmware and mods on anything I can manage.

    Set up DD-WRT on my router and RockBox on my MP3 player all in the same day. Fun fun fun.

    I didn’t even know that there was a open source firmware alternative for my Sansa Fuze (v1, I think it works for v2 also…) until DD-WRT’ing my router and exploring a bit more… VOIDING SPREE!
    Actually, the warranties on both expired years ago… but it doesn’t loose any of the fun! :)

    Anyone with a lower class MP3 Player really should try RockBox! Setup is SUPER easy, just plug your device in, point the program to it, and push the “install” button. For my Fuze (and probably others), there is even an option to uninstall in case you don’t like it. TRY IT!

  2. rob

    it’s “i ERR on the side of caution”

  3. KB Prez

    I don’t even begin to qualify as a geek, but I love all the great info I get on this site!

  4. gary

    Does rooting your Android phone void warranty?

  5. Barry

    No, I don’t think it does because you aren’t tampering with the hardware, but I’d seriously advise caution unless you know exactly what your doing [And I really mean exactly] as you may need to totally reinstall the OS so that it works [And I've never had to do that, so I don't even know if it's possible, though I'm sure it is IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING]. You could end up with a screen, a processor, and a case, rather than a phone. Seriously, rooting your phone I essentially like logging in as root on a Linux/Unix machine. You can do just about anything. And there in lies the problem. Unless you know how what, and more importantly why, you want to do it [In serious detail] then I’d not do it at all. If you don’t know weather it would void your warranty my guess is that don’t, so my advice is is please don’t root your phone, chances are that it won’t be a phone when you’ve finished poking around the kernel…

  6. Magicat

    I’m afraid I am like Rose, single parent, limited finance, yadda yadda yadda and I wait till the warranty ends before I play. But every piece of kit that comes into my house gets an ‘internal examination’, mainly because manufacturers are shoddy builders and build without care. Most poor connections and potentially dry joints I fix at this point of the time.
    But when it dies and it’s out of warranty, then it’s mine and anything goes. 99 times out of a 100 I come out on top, and I am still a great believer in “If it aint busted, then don’t fix it” so I don’t often modify gear that is working the way it should be.

  7. Bob Williams

    It’s worth a shot to contact manufacturers with support issues; however, many companies offer poor support with untrained and unqualified low wage tech support and have rediculous return policies or will firewall you with websites that only provide an opportunity to leave email questions.

    Check first to see what support elements are in place. If they back their products, use them for support.
    If they don’t support their products, then warranties don’t matter in which case, you can take charge and follow your dreams. You are free to set up, modify as needed to twek your dream system.

  8. Lem

    @gary Rooting your Android device absolutely voids the warranty. Even though it’s not a permanent change, you can potentially fry your hardware by over-clocking or running a poorly built kernel.
    If your provider finds out that you’ve rooted it, they’ll flag your account so you can’t exchange a brick. You just have to remember to revert to stock before taking it in to a store.

  9. Daniel D'Laine

    I was born to void as well! Whats the point in having a box of tools if you don’t put them to good use?
    And just think how much more you learn by digging right into the middle bits, breaking them, then having to find out every fix going to get the thing going again.

    Laptops are the best… all those tiny screws and fiddly bits. I’ve become expert at fitting power sockets, USB sockets and adjusting monitor hinges – and I only broke three Tosh Satellites figuring it out :0)

  10. Kevalin

    @Rob: I keep telling them that, too, but they don’t seem to believe it.

    Geeks, yes.

    Grammarians, not.

  11. Anthony Maw

    Ummm….I guess most geeks don’t have wives or girlfriends waiting for them to “come hither”…..

  12. Tyler

    @kevalin and
    @rob:

    It is a pun guys, come on.

    ERROR as in the message you are afraid of getting if you screw things up?

  13. Scott

    If I own it, it no longer has a warranty, in fact I have the “I void warranties” shirt. I crack a device open to improve it’s functionality and sometimes just to see what else I can make it do.

  14. Nigel

    I fixed a radio my electronics tutor couldn’t fix when I was 11. Fixed tv sets “valve” for mates mums and dads and built several high output valve amps 3kw for my mates. Sometimes I would screw around so much with stuff to see how it worked I would screw it up completely, then hand it back saying it was unfixable. They believed me !
    Now, at 48 I only mess with stuff that could be improved from original, usually after several days of research via google.
    Even today I can’t resist removing the “void warranty” sticker and take a peek inside. I do not own any piece of electronic equipment that I have not had the case apart at some time :D

  15. Bryan

    I usually wait a few weeks before trying to tweak anything, just to make sure im not gonna have to return it do to some factory defect.

  16. Kris

    I guess I qualify I rooted my Android phone; I love messing w/ software ; cracking It open & looking @ hardware for some reason still makes me uncertain. I wanna buy an ipad 2 just to hack it but can’t bring myself to hack my ps3 tho.

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