You can turn some of your best gear into so much more with a few of the right modifications. The problem is, hacking your gadgetry often means voiding your warranty. Today, forget the shackles of warranty terms and dive right in.
10. Hack Your IKEA Furniture
IKEA furniture doesn't necessarily come with a warranty to void, but they have a fairly generous return policy. You can ensure you'll never be able to return your IKEA furniture by hacking, modding and generating new uses for the inexpensive products they sell. For a full listing, check out our IKEA hacks tag page and our top 10 IKEA hacks.
9. Hackintosh a Netbook
Even with the new MacBook Air, Apple doesn't exactly have a netbook. There's no super cheap, ultra low power mini laptop you can buy with OS X. You can make one however, and the Dell Mini 10v is an excellent candidate for Hackintoshing. While it's not your only option, it's one of the most OS X-compatible netbooks you can buy. We prefer more powerful machines, however, so if you don't want to void your netbook's warranty but want a fast OS X desktop, we recommend building one yourself. A Hackintosh Mac is a bit more work, but it's well worth the trouble and a very fun project.
8. Add Amazing New Features to Your Canon Camera
CHDK, or Canon Hacker's Development Kit, is a firmware enhancement that can turn your Canon point-and-shoot into a super camera. If your camera doesn't support RAW, CHDK can add it. CHDK can also make your exposure settings a lot more flexible (like adding support for extremely long and extremely short exposure lengths), it provides you with more on-screen information, and it runs tons of awesome program scripts. While it's only for Canon point-and-shoots, if that's what you've got it's well worth the effort and the voided warranty.
7. Add an Inexpensive Touchscreen to Your Netbook
If all the iPad touchscreen hype has got you drooling over touch capabilities but you don't want to sacrifice your keyboard, installing a touchscreen overlay to your netbook is a lot easier than you might think. As evidenced in the video above, awhile back I mutilated my Hackintoshed HP Mini 1000 to create a slim, OS X tablet computer and wrote a basic Adobe AIR application to create a heads up display. While adding a touchscreen is pretty easy, once you have one there are a lot of new possibilities for what you can do with it. Touch is a lot of fun, especially if you retain the versatility of a keyboard.
6. Replace Your Optical Drive with a Solid-State Drive
Solid-state drives, or SSDs, are expensive but well worth the investment. You can upgrade to a faster processor or add more RAM, but adding an SSD is really the most significant upgrade you can make. SSDs get very expensive as their spatial allotments grow larger, so one solution is ditching your optical drive to install an SSD in its place. That way you can keep your laptop's existing hard drive around for mass storage and use your new SSD as the boot disk. We have a guide for swapping your MacBook's optical drive for an SSD, but in theory you can perform this (or a similar) mod with virtually any laptop. If you do this, be sure to research how your laptop connects to its optical drive so you order a compatible SSD.
5. Turn a Pogoplug into a Fully-Featured Linux Web Server
Although a bit of work, turning your PogoPlug into a web server is completely worth the effort. You can pick up one of these devices for about $US50 nowadays, and it makes for a really excellent web server. While it might be a little underpowered to serve up a popular site, it's at least capable of being a good staging server for your various projects. It runs surprisingly quick, and although the process is a little intimidating at first it's pretty easy to do. If you're in need of a low-power, local web server for your various coding projects the hacked PogoPlug is an excellent option.
4. Hack Your Wii for Homebrew
Any gaming console modifications will net you a voided warranty, but we love hacking the Wii for the convenience of backing up and playing games from an external hard drive. This is also a great way to play games out of your country's region. Whatever your reason for hacking, the convenience of having all your Wii games at the ready is hard to beat.
3. Root Your Android
Jailbreaking an iPhone feels like exhaling after a long breath because you can suddenly do so many things Apple prevents in iOS. Rooting your Android is a different experience because you're going deeper into an already pretty open platform. That said, the version of Android you get from the hardware manufacturer is not necessarily the most flexible version of Android you can have. Often times you get stuck with applications you don't want, a crappy user interface layer (like HTC's Sense), and features crippled by your carrier. If the provided experience doesn't cut it for you, it's time to root. Fortunately we've got a complete guide to rooting your Android phone covering the process as it generally applies to any device. The rooting process does vary from device to device, however, so be sure you're comfortable with steps for your particular phone before you dive in.
2. Jailbreak Your iPhone
We've given you the top 10 jailbreaking hacks for iOS, so by now you shouldn't need convincing the your iPhone is better off with the ability to install whatever you want. At the time of this writing, Limera1n is the way to go for jailbreaking iOS 4, but you can keep up with the various advancements on our jailbreak tag page. Although jailbreaking your iPhone will void your warranty, that's only a relevant concern if you're caught. While you can mess up your phone during the jailbreaking process, and you should always back it up, it's pretty hard to brick it. You can do so much more with a jailbroken iPhone, but if you don't like the results you can always restore to an unaltered version of iOS. There's really no downside and such a minor risk.
1. Install Custom Firmware on Your Router
Most router hardware is pretty standard, but cheaper routers come with a pretty basic feature set. If you want to unlock your router's potential, you need to install custom firmware. DD-WRT can help you turn your $US60 router into a $US600 router, giving you all sorts of options such as creating a wireless bridge. Custom firmware like DD-WRT gives you plenty of new options and supports many routers, but it doesn't work with everything. Be sure to check your router's compatibility before you get too excited. Alternatively, for a more user-friendly experience, you can install Tomato instead. Installing custom firmware is a particularly great warranty-voiding hack because it's an extremely easy hack and adds so many new possibilities to your network. If you don't like it, it's just as easy to revert back to your old firmware.
BONUS: Forget Warranties Altogether
It's Evil Week so we're taking this one to 11. Warranties are just constant, nagging reminders of what you can't do with your device. Sure they'll help you if your product accidentally breaks, but you're usually only covered for a year if you don't spend money on an extended warranty. Instead, insure your own purchases with an extended warranty fund. By putting aside money for the inevitable problem, you not only can use that money to fix issues yourself (rather than dealing with customer support) but you're free to hack as you please while knowing you're covered in case of a problem.