Just one month ago at the beginning of January, I got rid of my old 8GB ASUS Nexus 7 and upgraded to a shiny new 32GB tablet from Google. I’ve been enjoying the extra storage space quite a bit, for everything from games, to media, to productivity. Unfortunately, my tablet met an early end just yesterday, even though I didn’t even drop it or subject it to any excessive abuse .

I use my Nexus 7 to take notes and work on documents in class, so I usually carry it around with a number of textbooks and a laptop. It stays in a leather folding case, and is kept in a separate side pocket from the books and other papers, so I tend to assume that it is fairly safe. However, that wasn’t the case when driving home yesterday. It seems that my backpack rolled over while driving and crushed my tablet’s screen, which must have required a chance angle or an odd pressure point. Even worse, the digitizer also stopped working completely, meaning that the device’s touchscreen doesn’t work at all – an unusual symptom for a small crack.

Of course, that isn’t the really important part of the story, as plenty of things can break the fragile glass on a tablet. Interesting is what I found when I went online this morning to try and find a replacement digitizer for the tablet. I’ve replaced broken digitizers on several iPhones, the OG HTC EVO 4G, MyTouch 4G, and Samsung Fascinate, and am used to finding good digitizers costing anywhere from $5-$20 dollars. Surprisingly, the only digitizers I found for the Nexus 7 were priced at over $150, even on eBay.

Obviously, there is no reason to buy a new digitizer when it costs as much as the tablet to begin with, so I decided to find out if ASUS would fix the tablet for a reasonable price. I wasn’t able to get through to the support center on my first call, and the support center was closed before I had the chance to try again. However, what I found out while browsing various internet forums wasn’t promising. According to others with broken Nexus 7 tablets, the quoted repair cost from ASUS is anywhere from $80-$160 dollars, plus shipping, handling, and processing fees to be paid by the buyer.

While I was at first hoping to get my tablet fixed for no more than $50 dollars, it now looks like fixing the Nexus 7 really isn’t an economical option. Any repairs would cost nearly as much as a new tablet, and factoring in the money from selling the broken tablet on eBay into the equation means that repair simply wouldn’t make sense. I’ll still give ASUS a call come Monday morning to see if they can help, and may drop by an independent shop to see if they can do anything, but I’ve pretty much admitted to having a completely worthless Nexus 7 now.

Based on eBay prices, it looks like I’ll only get about $100 for it if I’m lucky, so I’ll have paid $130 for a month’s worth of use. While still my fault, this is quite disappointing, and made me realize one problem with devices as cheap as the Nexus 7: It is cheap enough to be seen as disposable, meaning that there is less of a market for replacement parts and repair costs are high, but isn’t cheap enough that it doesn’t still sting when it gets broken.