Lenovo repairs NSW DER laptops free of charge

Despite case redesign, the company still claims there is no direct connection between the ill-fitting cases and claims of damage to laptop screens

Lenovo has redesigned the protective cases issued with laptops distributed under the NSW program of the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution (DER), and is working with the NSW Department of Education and Training to distribute them to students free of charge.

The redesign follows a letter issued by high schools to parents back in June, indicating the cases were ill-fitting and could cause damage to the laptops that would not be covered under warranty. The letter informed parents of NSW school students that the protective cases issued to students for their laptop could not be closed as the lid placed stress on the laptop screen.

“Any damage to the laptop attributed to the plastic case being closed will not be covered by warranty,” the letter from one high school’s principal advised parents at the time. The letter, sighted by Computerworld Australia, stated that new cases were at least two months away from delivery and that all due care should take place.

According to Lenovo, two production engineers and two design engineers were appointed to redesign the cases and have made a number of adaptations on the previous design to suit the updated model of ThinkPad Mini 10 laptops being distributed to Year 9 students. Specifically, support ribs have been added to the protective plastic case and the space between the laptop, and the case has been increased by 2mm to reduce interference between the Mini 10 hinge and the lid of the protective plastic case.

It is understood Lenovo and the department began distributing cases in August. The distribution was accompanied by alterations made to the laptops of some students, including the installation of a strengthening bracket behind the screen to minimise further incidents.

Despite the redesign, Lenovo still maintains the laptops have “always” fit into the cases.

“As a preventative measure the cases were redesigned, but a clear link between the protective plastic cases and the damage to the notebook screen was not identified,” a spokesperson for Lenovo said. “Lenovo understands that the school environment presents tougher challenges on a mobile computing device than is otherwise present in general day to day use which is why it took pre-emptive action and adapted the design of the plastic cases.”

Lenovo would not disclose exactly how many cases were being replaced or when the distribution would take place.

Although initially stating it would not cover any damage to the laptop caused by the case not being closed, Lenovo is honouring all warranty claims.

“Lenovo has funded the newly designed cases,” the spokesperson said. “Schools, students and parents have not been financially inconvenienced by the replacement of the cases.”

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