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

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By Jason Fitzpatrick on March 25th, 2011

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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 a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/25/11
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