Not too long ago I accidentally dropped my MacBook Air onto a hard floor and the screen cracked. I knew that I did not have the time or patience to let Apple take it away for repair for what, in my experience, would be at least two weeks (not to mention the exorbitant cost). I ended up putting TechRestore.com to the test after a suggestion from a reader (Thanks Mike!).
TechRestore pride themselves with affordable service and fast turnaround time. For a standard MacBook Air screen replacement, they charge 399 USD. The best part is that they promise a 24-hour replacement, not including any shipping time. For a bit more (69) they offer door-to-door overnight shipping but if you're fine shipping it yourself and receiving return overnight shipping it's only an extra 29. I went with the all-inclusive shipping option and they sent me a padded box overnight.
After getting the box to fit my Air by taking out a few slices of the padding, I filled out a little sheet detailing my problem. In my case, I just checked that it was going in for a screen replacement. The sheet also had other areas for providing login credentials, should they need access to the OS. I did not need to provide TechRestore any passwords but I did turn on FileVault to encrypt my home directory, which I always do when handing away my computer to anyone else.
I sent out my laptop to TechRestore on a Wednesday afternoon and received it back that Monday afternoon. To TechRestore's credit, they had finished working on it Thursday, the same day they received it, but the weekend came before FedEx could bring it to Texas from California.
So how was their service? Frankly, I was pretty disappointed at what I saw when I opened up the box. The new screen was put in properly and working, but the bezel around the screen was bent and popping out. The Air did not close completely due to the bezel popping out of the top right corner. In addition, the lower right corner of the new screen had some small white spot on it. Not a pixel problem but some other type of panel or filter issue.
I let TechRestore know that I wasn't too happy with the work performed and they let me know what had happened. They put a special note on my order to get it out faster than usual, seeing as how I was going to review their service, and that did not provide enough time for the screen bezel's adhesive to set.
They offered to fix their work and email me a shipping label. I shipped out the MacBook Air in the same box that day and received the Air back in 3 days (Tuesday to Friday).
The final repair was much more satisfactory, although I had hoped for a bezel replacement rather than a refitting. Once the aluminum bezel is bent, it is hard to get it flat again and I was still able to spot and feel the ripples in the bezel, although more subtle.
The top right corner of the screen displayed light scratches from labor to fit the bezel properly. My only concern with those scratches is that if I ever take my laptop to Apple for an unrelated service, they might believe I tampered with it and void my warranty.
TechRestore did also replace my screen a second time. The white spot from the previous panel was gone. However, I was let down once again when I spotted a blue dead pixel along the right side of the screen. Although I will say that the absolute edge of the screen is the best place to have a dead pixel if I had to choose.
I'm not sure if TechRestore runs any diagnostics on new hardware, such as installing the screen and running software to flash random background colors, making it easy to spot dead pixels, but it would have caught something like that.
On the upshot, they were able to flatten a dent on the top of my Air from the drop.
Overall, I liked TechRestore's speed of service and price but the quality was a bit shy of my expectations. In their defense, I am a pretty picky person and am a dash of perfectionist. I have no doubt that most people would be more than happy with TechRestore's service. However, I did pay top dollar for the MacBook Air mainly for aesthetic reasons and have certain expectations of repair services for it.
If I had gone to Apple, they would have charged somewhere around 800 USD but would have replaced the entire top assembly - screen, bezel and top cover. Then again, Apple would have taken a lot longer. Compromises, compromises..
Have you ever used any such Mac repair services? Have you ever broken or cracked a laptop screen? How did you fix it?
Disclosure: TechRestore covered these repair expenses for this review.