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Fixing the Dreaded iBook Backlight? 173

Posted by Cliff
from the do-it-yourself-repairs dept.
Aliencow inquires: "I've recently bought an iBook, and it started having the very common backlight problem. Basically, there are two types of things that can cause the problem: either the screen hinges pinching the cables, which is pretty easy to fix if you're not scared of opening things up; or it could be the logic board, which is what happened in my case. I've heard of someone being able to fix it by doing a bypass operation on the board, soldering a wire before the break and soldering it directly on the backlight connector. Aside from that, however I haven't been able to find much about how to fix that particular problem. Have any of you iBook-owning Slashdot readers had to repair your iBook like this? Any hints? If my repair is successful I'll surely snap a bunch of pictures and make a website, as this is a problem that affects a lot of iBook owners."
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Fixing the Dreaded iBook Backlight?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have a dual usb iBook and have a problem with the backlight on the LCD going dim. According to apple, this is a common problem that comes with the age of the screen. I suppose thats an answer, but its a sucky one when the iBook just went out of warranty.

    Which backlight problem are you talking about?
    • If an iBook is "just out of warranty", you can still buy the extended warranty (AppleCare, 3 years for about $250, IIRC), and get it repaired for no cost beyond the warranty extention.

      Extended warranties are a joke when it comes to most electronics, but laptop computers see enough abuse over three years that it's not a bad idea.

  • by Kevin Burtch (13372) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:53PM (#7988399)

    If it's this common a problem, Apple should recall them.

    Danger replaced my HipTop (AKA T-Mobile Sidekick) without me even contacting them, when a very large production run was found to have a defective hinge that may (or may not) damage the wires going to the display.
    This must have cost them a fortune, but is good business and impressed me enough to recommend the product highly.

    On the other hand, my Vaio F-series has the oh-so-common won't-charge-the-perfectly-good-battery problem and Sony wants to charge me something like $400 to flash the BIOS to fix it (they refuse to post the fix for download)... not to mention I'd be without the unit for a month since it has to be shipped to their repair center, etc.
    I won't buy another Sony after this (there's much more to it than that, including a brand new $250 battery that took over a year and a half to get, etc.).
    • by ce25254 (25706) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:24PM (#7992845)
      So how come Sony doesn't get tons of nasty press about charging for fixing a consumer's equipment (the "oh-so-common won't-charge-the-perfectly-good-battery problem"?), but Apple gets hate-movies made when the iPod battery has the same characteristics as many other PDA batteries (i.e. non-user-replacable), or when they have trouble with their iBooks?

      Maybe it's because the Vaio runs M$Windows (by default)?

      Hmmmm?

      • No idea.
        The way I found out it's actually a BIOS bug (and not a fried charging circuit) was an article in Infoworld a while back (Cringely, I think).

        I was quite shocked when I read that many had complained to him, but I hadn't read about it anywhere else.
      • Maybe it's because one specific bios, in one specific laptop (as far as I can tell from the parent) is the culprit. Of course, Sony has more variations in their Vaio line than you can count on all your digits, so having one faulty item, while very dissapointing I'm sure for the owners, does not disrupt every Vaio on the market. You can't point to Sony and say: "Your bios' are faulty, this is an outrage!" because it's simply not true. It's far less newsworthy to tell the truth, which is that they have a spec
    • Have you been reading Megatokyo lately?. In this rant [megatokyo.com] Piro talks about Seraphim's iPod backlight failing and his frustrations with Apple Care.
  • by MoneyT (548795) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:08PM (#7988586) Journal
    Call Apple to get it fixed.
  • by crahan11 (530704) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:08PM (#7988587)
    I had that problem 6 months after I bought my ibook. Closing the lid halfway would make the backlight go off for no apparent reason. At first I thought it was the suspend mode kicking in, but since the little blinking light didn't come on and it started to happen when I barely touched the screen it had to be the backlight. Good thing it was still under warranty. On a side note: I had a problem with one the rubber feet a few months back. It kept falling out so I decided to go buy a new set at the local Apple Store. I was rather surprised to here the clerk tell me that they didn't sell those anymore. If I wanted to have the rubber thingies (or just one) replaced, I'd have to send it back to an Apple Service Center to have it replaced. In the end I decided that a big blob of glue would solve it a bit faster.
    • You can order them from apple, you dont have to send it in. They charge like $7 plus shipping for five feet.
    • I had a 12 inch powerbook covered by Applecare and the initial one year warranty. One rubber foot came off. I called the 800 number for applecare and they sent me a set of four bottom feet and two for the lid, glue, and instructions without any charge and very quickly. I was too lazy to do that and so i went to the nearest apple store and didn't even bring the stuff that i got in the mail, they just glued the one that was without any question. maybe it just depends on who you happen to talk to. this all too
    • About 6 months ago my dual usb was one week out of warranty when screen backlight refused to work beyond about 30 degrees open.

      Searched around on google and found it to be a relatively common problem. Took it into an Apple Store and got if fixed within 3 days.

      I questioned the 'genius' about what I found to be a common problem and was told that they had not see such an issue before.

      I was a little surprised but I guess they wouldn't say if it was common. Was a little bummed that it occurred just one week o
  • Apple's Support (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phlyingpenguin (466669) <phlyingpenguin@p ... .net minus math_> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:10PM (#7988620) Homepage
    That sucks pretty badly. I had a bad fan, and then the oh so common the logic board (As seen on blackcider), and then I had the logic board problem. Even though I was thoroughly disgusted with Apple for selling me such a worthless piece of garbage that it never worked for 3 weeks straight, I must say that every time I used the warranty, it came back within two days. As in I ship it Monday, it's with apple Tuesday, and it's back Wednesday. That kind of service is incredible seeing as how they must be swamped with repairs given the record of known issues. That iBook is gone, I had it for six months (The end of the warranty) and dropped it off on eBay (It was working at the time of sale) for a Dell which hasn't had an issue to date.
    • Almost sounds like they were swapping your problem-ridden stuff with other people's problem-ridden stuff ;).

      Fix your stuff in two days :).
  • Quality hardware? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:13PM (#7988663)
    Thats all I have been hearing for years. Now that Apple is becoming more "cool" and mainstream though, all I hear about anymore are the problems. Have things changed, or were the apple zealots just fooling us?
    • Re:Quality hardware? (Score:4, Informative)

      by addaon (41825) <addaon+slashdot.gmail@com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:23PM (#7988781)
      A little of both. The iBook is the cheapest, lowest-margin laptop Apple has ever made, and it has had a high failure rate. On the other hand, even if the failure rate is half that of Dell, say, you'll here more about it because Apple users expect more. So the iBook does suck, quality-wise, for an Apple (I'm typing from one now), but it's still better than a PC. Also, Apple has been fixing the iBooks out of warrantee, if you ask nicely. I can't imagine Sony ever doing that.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        you'll here more about it because Apple users expect more

        I rather think that you'll hear more about it because Apple users paid more. Any piece of equipment can fail, but when the relation ``more money -> more quality'' doesn't hold, it's like getting ripped off twice.

        The iBook is the cheapest, lowest-margin laptop Apple has ever made, and it has had a high failure rate.

        For any particular company that has several similar products at varying costs, it's not a good idea to have a quality/money
        • by addaon (41825)
          What company /doesn't/ have a quality/money tradeoff? Features are, in today's electrical age, essentially free, up to a certain point. Even when you have a feature tradeoff, that can only take you so far... and on the cheaper item, the consumer really expects it to be cheap, so costs must be cut somehow. Look at Apple, yes, with there 12" iBook vs. 12" pBook. Look at Canon and there consumer vs. L series lenses. Look at any bike company, say Shimano. Look at movie theatres. Look at shoe companies!
          • What company /doesn't/ have a quality/money tradeoff?

            True, but Apple's problems aren't related to quality/money. They're related to laptops. Even their most expensive TiBooks have a history of product defects and other problems.

            Apple laptops may be sexy, but they're much more poorly built than their desktops. I still have a Mac Classic that was built in 1990 and it still works. I'm confident in saying that none of Apple's laptops will last 10 years.

            We have 10 year old ThinkPads that still work.
      • As of this moment I'm writing on my ibookg4 and I love it. It hasn't had any problems at all and it's definitely hands down more functional and practical than my Dell P4 2.8 desktop which crashed on a bidaily basis.

        I've heard a lot about the ibook G3s but I think they might have stepped up quality control a notch this generation.
        • Eh. I had an iBook G3, which was a bad unit, got it replaced with a G4. I badly miss my G3... better keyboard, better screen construction, better battery life, software over/underclockable... the G4 feels too much like a PC to me; it's nice and all, but it doesn't have that Apple polish.
    • Hmm, I only have second-hand accounts with regards to the iBook but from what I gather they are pretty tough little cookies with regards to drops & spills. Yet, I have also heard of issues like the backlite. With regards to the price, I have heard that they are reasonable when compared to other brands, especially Sonys
      Now for the tiBook. I have been rather impressed with the quality of mine and have had no issues to date. Then again you expect it when you pay and arm and a leg for your laptop. A comm
    • by Clockwurk (577966)
      Apple hardware has never been subject to any higher manufacturing standards than dell or any other OEM. Apple gets their laptops made by AlphaTop, the same company that makes IBM and compaq [theregister.co.uk]
      • Re:Quality hardware? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        That article is rather old and probably refers to the previous model (the toilet seat iBooks, they were ugly but very solid). I believe the current iBooks are made either by Compal or Quanta.
      • Even if they have the same manufacturer apple can supply better quality components and design.

        FUD
        • Which is why the apple-designed hinge is responsible for the iBook's screen failure.

          FUD? Yeah I guess pointing out the truth (that apple's are mass produced by the same companies that make everyone else's notebooks) would induce fear, uncertainty, and doubt in someone who believes they are getting "better quality components and design"

          • Give me failure rates and I will start listening to you.

            If you want a vocal minority here is one. I have fixed my Dell about 8 times in its 4 year history.
            2 Mobos
            1 Keyboard
            1 HDD
            2 Hinges
            1 Screen
            1 CD-Rom

            I have fixed my iBook (also 4 years old) once. The burner went out on it.

            Yeah, they are mass produced in the same factory but they are made of different components with different quality assurance and engineering. That was my point and it is VERY valid.
  • Very common problem. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:17PM (#7988712) Journal
    I've owned three Apple laptops-- A powerbook 140, an Powerbook 1400, and an iBook 500. They've all had problems with the backlight or scan lines turning on or off. It's probably not specific to Apple, though.

    • I bought a bunch of Apple hardware when 10.1 was released and it seemed to be pretty good quality. I am still using it all regularly. BUT I have noticed a general trend with their new products; quality control seems to be slipping. My new iPod has crash the system several times, and my girlfriend's iMac seems to be cheaper than previous models. This all might not be true for everyone but it is something that I noticed with the products around me.
    • I've owned three Apple laptops-- A powerbook 140, an Powerbook 1400, and an iBook 500. They've all had problems with the backlight or scan lines turning on or off. It's probably not specific to Apple, though.

      You had problems with three out of three laptops. Admittedly a very small sample size, but judging by the other posts here, it seems to be a very widespread problem with Apple laptops.

      Here's my experience. My wife is on her second Sony Vaio, I used to have a Thinkpad, and I know at least a dozen p
      • by JonathanBoyd (644397) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:03PM (#7993247) Homepage
        Well you're in a thread discussing problems with Apple laptops, so you're vastly more likely to hear about problems than you normally would. Personally I have an iBook G3, as does my sister and both my parents have Powerbook G3s. They're all running great, with no problems other than my power cable wearing through, which is a genuine concern for Apple laptops. The only major problem aside from that is me putting a plug through the screen. It cracked, but still worked fine. The replacement seemed a wee bit brighter as well. Survived many a drop from tables and chairs and being run through the rain once while on. Not trying that again.
      • Hmm. Perhaps, over a period of ten years, Apple consistently told its outsourcers, product designers, and assembly lines, to "weaken the hinge mechanism". I haven't had any experience with non Apple laptops, though. Perhaps I abuse them in a fairly consistent fashion.

  • On a related note, as of this week the Blackcider.com web site has nearly 1,800 signatures (give or take some trolls).

    It isn't hard to see that Apple's policy of denying widespread iBook failures is going to bring about blowback. Can it really be worth the bad publicity, loss of customer loyalty and damage to the iBook brand? Does modern corporate experience teach that acknowledging product flaws is always a last resort, is Apple management just in denial, or what?

    • Out of 3,000,000 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Onan (25162) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @05:58PM (#7991222)
      Apple's SEC filings indicate that they sell about 250,000 ibooks a quarter. The dual-usb model came out very nearly three years ago. So even if every one of those 1800 signatures is accurate and unique, that puts the incidence rate at around one in two thousand units.

      That doesn't exactly sound like lawsuit time to me.
  • What if it fails? What would you do with the pics you snapped *hoping* it worked? Would you still make a website so we can all see the mangled iBook? Perhaps you could find some way of turning it into an iBookquarium?
  • Good service anyway. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:44PM (#7989117)
    I had my ibook die on me a few months ago. It was still under warranty, so I didn't have any trouble getting it fixed. I was very impressed with their service turnaround. It sat at my house boxed up longer than it was gone. It only took 2 days to come back to me. I'm hoping that they would have fixed the problem while it was there so it won't happen again.

    On a completely unrelated note, my hard drive is starting to make horrendous click of death noises. Only a month out of warranty, damn. Probably would help if I didn't use it all day long. I love my little machine.
  • I'm curious as to how common this problem actually is. I've read lots about it recently (mainly on /.) but as of yet have not experienced it on my iBook (1.5 years old now). Am I one of the lucky ones, or is it something more on the order of the vocal minority? If it's the former, this would definitely affect my decision in buying another iBook.
    • Re:I'm curious (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by MacEnvy (549188)
      I'd say it's a vocal minority (and a whiney one at that). I know many people who have iBooks (including 2 myself), and I've never seen or heard of this problem except on Slashdot and the Mac web.

      If it's under warrantee, quit bitching and get it fixed. If it's not, you should've bought AppleCare. Learn how to fix it yourself, like this guy, or buy a new LCD. They aren't that hard to install, believe me.

      • Re:I'm curious (Score:4, Informative)

        by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:32PM (#7989884) Journal
        Yes, it is a just a bunch of whiney people that purchased a product from a highend vendor that doesn't work.

        What are they going to do when the warranty runs out? Screen and logic board problems appear to be an ongoing thing with newer apple notebooks. Just sending it in and getting a temp fix doesn't help when it breaks again, out of warranty, because the root cause of the problem hasen't been fixed.

        • Re:I'm curious (Score:3, Informative)

          by addaon (41825)
          What are they going to do when the warranty runs out?

          Do what I do. Ask nicely if they'll fix it anyway. In every case Apple has said yes, and a few times has specifically said "if it's been less than one year since your last repair, we're authorized to do it." On the other hand, when my Sony died, no luck. When my Dell died, no luck. When my Compaq died... well, honestly, I was so happy about that thing dying that I didn't ask.

          Gateway might be different... like Apple, they actually have a place you can g
          • Sorry, but I am not going to trust their unwritten 'promise' to fix it. If they were really the 'highend' 'customer focused' company they claim to be the would extend the warranty on the replaced parts by 12 months. After all the sell a permium product so they should back it up.

            • You seem to be saying that these people have paid a lot of money for their systems, so they deserve extra-good support? The ibook is among the least expensive laptops one can get, and the bottom end of apple's product line.

              Now, I'm not saying that that means apple is excused from offering support; I wouldn't've thought of the two issues as being related at all. But if you feel they are, keep in mind that the ibook is not a "premium" or "highend" product in the senses which I think you mean.
            • They do back it up, for 12 months, or, if you want to buy the premium warrantee, for 36 months. You certainly shouldn't trust any unwritten 'promise,' and, in fact, I never mentioned a promise. But I do wonder whether the people who say "what should I do?" ever considered just being polite and asking for help.
      • I thought kinda the same way you did. I didn't think the problem was really widespread. Now it's happening to me, too. My nice iBook wasn't AppleCare'd (College Grad gift, I would have AC'd it myself). I basically have the choice between an expensive repair option or no iBook at all. I'm still trying to decide which is best.

        I mean, what assurance do I have that this won't happen again?

        I'm all for being reasonable, and I'm not trying to get a class-action lawsuit going, but events like this hurt my trust o
      • I'd say it's a vocal minority (and a whiney one at that). I know many people who have iBooks (including 2 myself), and I've never seen or heard of this problem except on Slashdot and the Mac web.

        Having your computer repeatedly die suddenly tends to make one cranky, and with good reason. When I sent mine back for its second logic board replacement, the Airborne Express guy looked at the label and said, "iBook?" "Yup." "Is it a dead screen? I've been seeing a lot of these packages lately." I was amazed this
      • Trust me, its not. I'm a technician for a school district, and I've personally worked on about 20 of these ibooks in question. One of my co-workers have done many more. The dim screen issue is rarer than the main logic board issue. The video cable being pinched between the case & hinge is pretty rare.

        Ibooks, while a minority of our total equipment inventory, make up a majority of the repairs. Granted, they get used very heavily, but the logic board and screen problems are known defects. I suspect
    • I purchased an 1Ghz 14" iBook G4 immediately when they came out and I have had absolutely NO problems with it. I also never had any problems with my Duo 230, Duo 2300 and PowerBook 5300. I've also had a dozen or so desktops and only had a problem with one (Performa 6320 refurb) which had a bad mic port. I called and had a technician at my door in three days who replaced the motherboard at no cost.

      No complaints from me.

    • Re:I'm curious (Score:3, Informative)

      by Halo1 (136547)
      I think it's fairly widespread, as Apple's CFO mentioned the unusually high number of warranty expenses for Powerbooks (due to initial white spots problem with the 15" AlBooks, now completely resolved according to them) and iBooks (not further specified) as the reason that their margins were lower than expected during the previous fiscal quarter.
  • I had it happen... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zaren (204877) <holdthis@mail.com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:16PM (#7989659) Homepage Journal
    and I sent it in to be fixed. I dropped it off at the only authorized Apple service center in the area on Wednesday, and got it back Friday afternoon - and yes, they shipped it back to Apple to get it fixed, and yes, they sent me back the same iBook (unless part of their service involves putting all the same dings and chips in a new machine so it looks like the old one). They said it was a problem with the motherboard.

    In other words... yeah, the fix is to send it back to Apple to have them take care of it. That's what warranties are all about.
  • I sent my 2-year-old iBook in for service under AppleCare. AppleCare's repair depot lost it (yes really). So they sent me a shiny brand new one.

    I've only tried this once, though, so I don't know whether it will work for others...

    Oh, and in Apple's quarterly earnings call yesterday, I believe they specifically mentioned setting aside some money to deal with the "white spots" screen problem some new PowerBooks had, and maybe also the iBook video issue. I didn't hear that part of the call myself, though

  • Just had the same (Score:4, Informative)

    by adamgee (700745) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:29PM (#7989847)
    thing happen. Out of warranty. Apple tech told me over the phone its $319 flat rate, including shipping. Clearly this must be happening all the time as the tech didn't even ask me to try any troubleshooting steps. Two days later I got it back and they even replaced one of the little rubber feet that had been missing for some time. Then the number 1 key popped off, but thats another story... $319 for a new logic board installed is not bad. Ever try taking an iBook apart? Not for the faint of heart!
  • by John Harrison (223649) <johnharrison@gma ... minus physicist> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:58PM (#7990322) Homepage Journal
    A laptop is about the only item that you should ever purchase an extended warranty for. It is worth the peace of mind.

    This goes for any brand of laptop out there, not just Apple.

    • Well, not exactly. I bought a flat-panel iMac the month they came out, and I got the AppleCare with it. It was a completely new design, and I was concerned about the 'first model year' syndrome. In particular, I wondered how stable the LCD and arm would be over time.

      Fortunately, it hasn't been a problem. OTOH, I had a bearing go out on the optical drive, so it was replaced for free. At the time, that was about $300 itself. And I still have a year left, in case pixels go south or whatever. Also, you get fr

  • by mean pun (717227) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @05:28PM (#7990786)
    The hinge fault and the motherboard fault are more frequently reported, but my previous iBook had a third variant of the problem: the video chip got partially disconnected by a motherboard that flexed too much. Distinguishing this problem from the hinge problem is easy: if wiggling the lid makes the problem appear or disappear, it's probably the hinge, if applying pressure to bottom of the iBook under the left palm rest helps, it's probably the video chip. I don't know how to recognize any other motherboard problems, but if it can be fixed with a bypass it must be a third version of the problem: the loose video chip can only be repaired by resoldering, but since it's a BGA chip that is impossible to do with ordinary tools.

    I tried to repair it, but the only thing that fixed it permanently was forcing the control signal of the backlight (a PCM signal) to maximum by soldering a pullup resistor at a strategic point in the lid. I deliberately leave it as vague as this: you really should know what you're doing when you try this, and you should be able to fill in the details yourself. Google is your friend.

    Have any of you iBook-owning Slashdot readers had to repair your iBook like this? Any hints? If my repair is successful I'll surely snap a bunch of pictures and make a website, as this is a problem that affects a lot of iBook owners."

    Some repairs are documented online, but more are always welcome.

    Disassembling an iBook is hard; reassembling it is even harder. Unless you really, really, REALLY know what you're doing, you're shouldn't try this. Even professional repairmen consider it a difficult machine to work on.

    If you still want to do it, the procedure is roughly: remove bottom case, bottom shield, top case, top shield to expose the motherboard. Illustrations can be found online, but be prepared for surprises, in particular lots of sticky tape and screws at weird places. Most importantly: carefully document the origin of every screw you remove. I find it helpful to keep the screws from different disassembly steps separate, so that a sanity check can be done for each step of reassembly.

    The video chip is located on the bottom side of the motherboard, under the harddisk, but again, resoldering a loose chip requires professional equipment. The wire loom to the display starts roughly under the 's' key, and goes through the left side of the hinge.

    • Most importantly: carefully document the origin of every screw you remove. I find it helpful to keep the screws from different disassembly steps separate, so that a sanity check can be done for each step of reassembly.

      When I disassembled my iBook 2001 for replacing the harddisk, I used a large piece of cardboard underneath it. On this cardboard, I used doublesided tape and wrote the locationname of every part next to the tape and gave it an incrementing number. Like this I had all parts documented, and on

  • by e1en0r (529063) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:08PM (#7991370) Homepage
    My iBook has the same problem. I got it for a Christmas / birthday present in 2002 and the backlight started dying in December 2003. I bought AppleCare from the website on Dec. 13 but they wouldn't accept it as apparently my iBook was purchased on Dec. 11 and was therefore 2 days out of warranty. Even though it wasn't registered until Dec. 25 they wouldn't make any exceptions.

    My specific problem is when I open up the screen and turned the iBook on the backlight would flicker and I'd have to put a little pressure on the back of the screen to push it forwards a little bit for it to work. I had to hold it like that for a while and then it usually took 10 minutes or so until I found a position where it would stay on. Oddly enough though, after it's been on for a while I can move the screen any way that I want and it'll stay on.

    So my solution was to set it up as a music server, connect it up to some good speakers, leave it open on my desk and buy a PowerBook. I'm a little pissed, but on the bright side I guess I now have a 12" PowerBook and a sweet little web based interface to iTunes that I wrote last week. On the downside my employer hasn't paid me for 6+ weeks so perhaps the PowerBook wasn't the best idea.
    • I had this EXACT same issue, only the AppleCare admin girl told me that I COULD buy the warranty, but her manager had to do it. Only problem being the mangers we on vacation until January 5th.

      I called back January 7th or 8th for good measure, and they wouldn't sell me the warranty.

      I filed a formal complaint with customer relations (who didn't care and wasn't sympathetic at all) and informed them that I will not be buying an apple portables any longer. (unfortunatley i love the platform too much to give
  • I fixed mine... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I have a dual usb that is almost two years old (few months) and out of warranty I had a problem with the backlight going out. It was caused by the hinge crimping the cable. I took the entire assembly apart, rewired the cable with a new splice and did a better job insulating and moving the cable so it wouldn't happen again. Took me a good 4 hours of work...but saved me a ton of dough.
    • Same problem, same solution. Took me a little longer but I also replaced the original 10Gb HD with a new 40Gb drive. Sweet.

      That hinge arrangement is an absolute disgrace.
  • Badly engineered (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GrahamCox (741991) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:16PM (#7991463) Homepage
    The problem with the iBook hinge is bad engineering, not low cost. Doing it properly would not cost any more, in fact it would probably cost less because the wires wouldn't need to be crushed into such a weird assembly. Have you noticed how swish and stylish the hinge looks though? That's the problem, they have sacrificed function for form. I wrote up my hinge problem and solution to it (i.e. full disassembly, remaking of the cable and reassembly) on my blog here. [blogdrive.com] I haven't had a problem with the video connector but I did notice in passing just how darn fragile it is - the slightest movement of the connector (at the screen end anyway) caused bad scanlines, weird colours, or complete blanking. I figured that was another fault just waiting to happen, but so far just left well enough alone. Apple should sort these issues out before they start to damage their reputation - they are stupid, easily avoided issues that would cost nothing to get right. They need an engineer there who understands reliability issues (hint: it's always the connectors, and always where there is mechanical movement. They should spend a little time building some rally cars, they'll soon learn this!)
  • I have an iBook G4 12" which I bought in October, got the 29th, dropped the 30th, and took me until the 32 to make it boot again. However, I have no more problems and it's been rather resiliant, going back to Ireland with me, getting treated not too particularly well, tho not being blatantly abused either, and then back to America. where I've turned it off once since the 30 of December.
    I have not noticed any backlighting problems, or in fact, any problems at all.
  • logic boards (Score:4, Interesting)

    by i0wnzj005uck4 (603384) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:13PM (#7992106) Homepage

    I'm on my second iBook since my switch from windows, and while I love them, I'm also on my *fourth* logic board.

    Generally the backlight issue is solved by repairing the connector between the screen and the board -- a lot of times, the opening and closing of the lid kind of makes the wires bend back and forth, if you're unlucky, and like a piece of plastic they can snap or grow weak. Pulling it apart yourself is ... difficult. I've done it a few times, and I don't recommend it. You can probably find the actual apple repair manuals on some sites [torrentskickass.com] (*cough*) if you want to do that yourself.

    However:

    I'd say a higher percentage of the time *any* problem you have on an iBook, particularly the recent ones, is due to logic board failure. The problem is that *everything* is on the logic board, and if one thing goes wrong (IE, the modem shorts out, or a chip on one side of the board gets too hot, etc) the whole thing can have a cascade failure. I've had discussions about this with trained apple repair men, and they've all hated the iBooks because of this issue (which, incidentally, is shared by the Powerbook 12", but those machines fail at a lower rate due to higher quality parts).

    So despite whatever you end up doing to fix your machine, you may still need to replace the logic board anyways. If you replace the connector between screen and board and your backlight doesn't come back on, I'd recommend you looking into the logic board replacement, as having one thing go bad on it can lead your machine down a dark path.

  • My girlfriend's iBook has (clamshell, graphite) just devloped backlight problems. When you switch it on the back light fires up but as soon as the OS starts loading it cuts out. I believe it's also when the PMU kicks in, but whether it's the PMU (resetting the PMU hasn't cured it), tube or driver bord. Anyone have ant insight into this problem?
  • by superdan2k (135614) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:30PM (#7992888) Homepage Journal
    My iBook is currently at Apple's repair center. But my story starts much earlier. I ordered my dual-USB iBook 500 the day after Steve announced them, in March of 2001. It took until early-June to receive it. I didn't want to finance the cost of AppleCare, so I figured I would buy it later. In October, I joined the ranks of the dot-com unemployed, effectively destroying my plans to order AppleCare that month. I wasn't particularly worried, though, as I had experienced no problems.

    Fast forward to late April of 2002. I'm living at home, in my parents' basement piggybacking off their T1 (no shit), paying down debt via a combination of frugal rent-free living, unemployment checks and the odd freelance gig thrown my way. I'd sold my Win(D'OH!)s machine awhile back. I started getting mild electrical shocks from the metal rings around the footpads on the iBook, and the screen was flickering like mad and wouldn't go to full brightness. I needed to wrap things up on a freelance gig, so I called Apple, still well in warranty and got them to send me a box. It gets to be June 1st or so and I send it in. They repair it and I have it back in-hand less than 48 hours later, functioning perfectly. Life is good...up to a point. A choad at the Apple Store in the Mall of America tells me that I have 30 days in which to make a warranty claim if the repairs go bad.

    ~45 days after the repair, I'm out of my main warranty by a long shot, and I think I'm out of the repair service warranty. Problems begin to recur. Basically, I think I'm fucked, so I kinda decide to put off repairs until I absolutely have to. I'm back at work full-time and kicking ass on my bills, so I should be able to cover it. Well, about 120 days after the repair work was done, I'm in the Apple Store, looking at the toys, and I overhear mention that service work has a 90-day coverage. When I talk to the clerk about it, he tells me it's always been 90 days, and that he's sorry the other guy was wrong, but that there's nothing he or I can do about it.

    So I stewed for awhile. Fast forward to 12/30/2003. In a fit of boredom at work, I drop an email to sjobs@apple.com, explaining the above...not asking for anything. I just want him to be aware of the communications disconnect in the store and expressed disappointment in the quality of the product.

    I come home on 1/5/2004 and there's a message on my answering machine from someone at Apple that wants to discuss the email I sent to Steve. I think "practical joke" and then realize that I didn't tell anyone about the email. The guy and I finally make contact with each other last Thursday. He wants to hear the story, so I go into detail about it, again, and we talk for a bit. Then he says, "Well, we want to make this right. We'll cover it outside of warranty this one time. And you'll still get the 90 days of coverage on the repair work."

    My jaw literally dropped. He hooked me up with the tech group, filed a repair ticket for me, and had a box sent Airborne Express overnight to me. I talked to the tech, and he told me that the work order ticket basically covered anything wrong with the laptop, including cosmetic damage. I nearly shit. So we went over the problems, and that was that.

    I shipped the iBook out this Tuesday morning (1/13/2004). I spoke with the people at Apple today and they informed me that they had replaced the entire upper shell (cosmetic damage), several parts of the power subassembly, the little rubber footpads (god, how that warms my heart), and went down a laundry list of other items. They said it might get back onto a truck tonight to come home.

    This isn't the first time that Apple has come through for me, I'm sure it won't be the last, but they've cemented me as a Customer For Life.
    • "This isn't the first time that Apple has come through for me, I'm sure it won't be the last, but they've cemented me as a Customer For Life."

      What I wonder is that if Apple really came through for you, would you have had so many problems with your computer as you did? I think its great that they fixed ur comp outside of warranty because of a screw up on their part, but I also think that when you buy something it should last, especially something as important as a computer.
  • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosityNO@SPAMsbcglobal.net> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:31PM (#7992897) Homepage Journal
    If you bought it that recently, the one-year warranty should still be in effect.

    Take it to an Apple Store, or fedex it to Apple (after calling 'em up for an RMA), and wait a week.

    I did that when mine went out not 3 months in. Haven't had any problems since.
  • Keep in mind that those without problems usually don't complain.

    My Dual USB 700 14" laptop is 1.5 years old. No LCD problems at all. I used it several hours a day every day. The hard drive started acting up (after warranty expiration) so I swapped it out for a 60 gig. You can't expect a hard drive to last very long these days anyway. Now that Quantum is gone, hard drives don't last very long.

    In fact, after 15 years and 6 Macs, the only real Apple hardware failure I've seen was when the sound went out on my

  • by severed (82501) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:23PM (#7993450) Homepage
    Do yourself a favor and send it back to Apple. The iBooks are pretty well sealed until you pop it open, then it becomes a mess of different size screws and rf shielding.

    About two months ago, my girlfriend's iBook was having problems. Unfortunately it was way out of waranty, and we had bought it second hand (at a very reasonable price). The hard drive was making clicking noise of death. So I thought, no big deal, I'll just swap it out.

    So I talked with the people at the Genius Bar at the local Apple store (great folk by the way), and verified that it was just a standard ide laptop hard drive. They said it was, but advised against me doing it myself. I thought, yeah, whatever. less than 48 hours later I found myself wishing I had taken their advice, but I get ahead of myself.

    Anyways, I decided to do a dry run on my 15 inch powerbook, just to see if there would be any surprises. It was easy enough to get to the drive. Satisfied, I decided to go ahead with her iBook.

    Now, if I would have just googled for instructions on how to dismantle an iBook, I would have discovered the magnitude of my mistake. iBooks are laid out very different from powerbooks. In fact, in the iBooks, the hard drive is pretty much the last thing you get to.

    Now, your problem isn't the hard drive, it's the backlight. that's much easier to get to, in much the same way a hand grenade is much easier than a nuke. However, if it's still an option, just ship it in.

    Take it or leave it. You might be more inclined in the ways of hardware than I am. However, if you decide to go forward and do it yourself, get yourself an empty egg carton, or something similar. Label the holes, and keep track of which screws went where, because you're going to have a lot of them.
    • Now, if I would have just googled for instructions on how to dismantle an iBook, I would have discovered the magnitude of my mistake. iBooks are laid out very different from powerbooks. In fact, in the iBooks, the hard drive is pretty much the last thing you get to.

      I successfully replaced the hard drive in my 500 MHz dual USB, using these instructions [mac.com]. The first time I took it apart, it took three hours - two to get the hard drive out, and one to re-assemble it afterwards.

      Everything appeared to work at

  • by BMonger (68213) on Friday January 16, 2004 @10:57AM (#7997699)
    Just to clarify for the unknowing... this is a problem with the iBook G3 and not the iBook G4.
  • Might help (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stonent1 (594886) <stonentNO@SPAMstonent.pointclark.net> on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:39PM (#8001014) Journal
    My website has a section for replacing backlights that might help http://home.comcast.net/~stonent/screenfix.htm [comcast.net]
  • by calyphus (646665) on Friday January 16, 2004 @06:11PM (#8002831) Journal
    how come Sony doesn't get tons of nasty press... but Apple gets hate-movies...?

    It's a love thing. Really, I'm serious. It's the hazard of loyalty. That loyalty has been cultivated personality that equates Apple and it's proponents on a human level. Mac users have a hard time seeing Apple as just another callous, bottom-line first organization. It's part of having built an OS from the the user's perspective. The engineering serves the user. The user isn't forced to serve the engineer's laziness. When people get accustomed to having things work well, they take offense. It's unexpected.

    It's tough to live to such a standard, and some people take their loyalty, and any betrayal of it a little too far. Some cheated spouses will forgive. Others carry through quite acrimonious divorces. Sorry to say, those hate sites are aggrevied spouses.

    That's one group, but there are those others that have never liked Apple or it's products. They just like those people who take an instant, unaccountable, dislike of another individual. Having taken a dislike, they will look for reasons to rationalize it. Using the thinnest of reasons, they will tear down the other's character without even knowing the other person.

    The fact that Apple suffers from stupid attacks is testament to it's ability to make people think of it as a friend, a company that is looking out for their best interest. Despite the fact that it's a corporation, people ascribe the company a measure of humanity.

    I can't think of another company that engenders such affection. Hate, yes, but the best example of that is M$, and the hate directed at them is, for the most part, a defense of the love of Apple (or Linux).

    For the most part, we don't expect corporations to have our best interests at heart. Hell, we don't expect them to have a heart, just a cold avariscious greed to separate us from our earnings. So, when Sony, or another corporation, treats customer's poorly there is little protest.

    We've learned to take corporate mistreatment with diffidence. Apple is very rare in this respect. We expect them to treat us well. When they act like any other corporation it's a betrayal of those expectations, and betrayal is one of the most aggrieved emotions.

  • Luckily I bought AppleCare on my iBook dual-usb 700 back in summer of 2002 - since then it's been in for logic-board replacement FOUR times!!!!!

    kinda sucks but since I haven't had to pay for anything except my time, I'm not yelling too loud.

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