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Portables (Apple) Bug Displays Hardware

Grey Lines Mar MacBook Air Displays 288

adamengst writes "Numerous users have been complaining about grey lines that muddy the crispness of the displays of the recently updated MacBook Air. Doug McLean explains the problem in TidBITS, along with what Apple appears to be doing about it."
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Grey Lines Mar MacBook Air Displays

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  • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Informative)

    by Constantine XVI ( 880691 ) <<trash.eighty+slashdot> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday December 05, 2008 @09:43AM (#26001951)
    LED-lit.  The display itself is LCD.
  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @09:45AM (#26001965)
    Only tangentially related:

    I've had an intermittent graphics card problem with an '06 MacBookPro for a while now... it leads to occasional system freeze, maybe once a day, sometimes recently a lot more. One warning that a freeze may be imminent is the appearance of thin horizontal light blue lines during what appear to be block-copys of graphics (like scrolling a browser page) - freezes often come during intense operations like a Genie style minimize, but even turning all these off, the freezes still come. There are scattered [macrumors.com] reports of similar problems, mostly when new, and my experience tracks with these (more frequent when external monitor is connected, etc.)

    Bottom line - I didn't pay the 15% AppleCare tax, so I'm SOL in terms of support from Apple, they haven't admitted to anything systemic, though it obviously is at least somewhat reproduceable. What I'd really like them to do is publish a kind of tech bulletin telling how to correct the problem if you have it, but I suppose that might take business away from their Genius bars (nearest one being 2 hours drive from here.)

    If they wanted a reputation as a truly awesome company, they would develop and release that kind of info instead of suppressing it to affect the (false, and repugnant) air of perfection.

  • Re:tag: appleispants (Score:5, Informative)

    by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot@davidge ... k ['.co' in gap]> on Friday December 05, 2008 @09:48AM (#26001993) Homepage
    "x is pants" is a British phrase meaning "x is rubbish".
  • by rockout ( 1039072 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @09:52AM (#26002031)
    In my statistical study of one sample unit (mine), I've had my eye on the display since April, and I have no complaints with it.

    However, I do notice that it takes longer to find wireless networks than my old PowerBook used to. Not sure why this is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:00AM (#26002107)

    The article is in German and not freely available online, so I'll summarize it: The problem is in the display electronics. To prevent the liquid crystals from polarizing themselves (sort of a burn in effect), the polarity of the voltage is reversed after each frame. If the center voltage is not exactly between the low and high voltage, then the pixel is brighter or darker, depending on the current polarity of the control voltage. The display drives the lines with alternating polarity, so this deviation causes an alternating pattern of slightly darker and slightly lighter lines.

  • by RMH101 ( 636144 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:04AM (#26002143)
    Woah there. Want the good news or the bad news? Bad news: if you've got an Nvidia GPU, your MBP's fvcked. The GPU's almost certainly one of the very, very large number Nvidia managed to screw up. The ball array soldering is faulty, and it isn't fixable.

    Good news: Apple have acknowledged this as an issue and are fixing out of warranty. See http://apcmag.com/apple_acknowledges_macbook_pro_graphics_glitch_offers_fix.htm [apcmag.com] for details.

    Mine's in the faulty date of manufacture range so I'm just waiting to get hit with it too. Ric

  • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:04AM (#26002149) Journal

    submitted by somebody at a blog, a vague summary about a 'story' at... that same blog!
    Maybe it's not a blog - sure reads like one.

    "Numerous users have been complaining about grey lines that muddy the crispness of the displays of the recently updated MacBook Air."
    That line in the summary -is- the 'story'.

    "Doug McLean explains the problem in [the advertised blog]"
    No he doesn't. He just recaps what the supposed problem would be in some detail with an example image. Kudos for the image, but there's no explanation of the problem - what causes it, why it's only apparently in late 2008 models, etc. etc. you know.. explanation - whatsoever. There's wild guessing as to what's causing it...
    "Theories about the lines are scant, but the main ones attribute them to the new anti-glare coating or the new Nvidia graphic chips. Many users seem suspicious, though hopeful, that a firmware update will resolve the problem."
    But that alone should make you quirk an eyebrow... I do hope those 'many users' are on the side of 'the new Nvidia graphic chips [are the cause]", as I've got no hope whatsoever for those who think that a firmware update would fix an anti-glare coating.

    "along with what Apple appears to be doing about it."
    Well I guess including that information in the summary would mean even less people would click on the 'story', but the answer is "we don't know". As usual, with Apple, I know, but from the 'story'...
    1. "Apple has issued no official statement on the matter"
    2. "we hope Apple [...] takes [...] steps to resolve it"
    i.e. "we don't know what Apple appears to be doing about it"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:04AM (#26002151)

    It appears to be a calibration issue. Here is press release about a chip which obviates manual calibration: http://www.electronicspecifier.com/Industry-News/VCom-calibrator-reduces-manufacturing-costs-in-TFTLCDs.asp [electronicspecifier.com]

  • by mario_grgic ( 515333 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:08AM (#26002183)

    The new aluminum Macbook is a better Macbook Air. Seriously, it is almost as sturdy, it has DVD burner, better CPU, more and easily accessible ports, and stereo speakers (although totally useless on both models).

    It's not as light, but it's not much heavier either.

    On the other hand, my Macbook has no heat issues, it's actually amazingly cool for normal use.

  • Re:What Grey Lines? (Score:3, Informative)

    by rockout ( 1039072 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:11AM (#26002227)
    If you click on the pic, a larger version comes up and you can see the lines on that one.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:12AM (#26002237) Journal
    Google for 'fan control'. I had a fan control utility for my PowerBook that some apple techs accidentally left on the machine after a repair, which let me manually activate the fans, and there's a nicer one for Intel machines that lets you define the fan speed to temperature relation. When the MacBook Pros were released these values were wrong. The fans would not kick in early enough and the machine would become unstable. Tweaking them a bit made the machine a bit louder and shortened the battery life slightly, but stopped it crashing (the CPU was fine, but the memory chips got too hot). A subsequent update fixed the problem and I don't have the fan control or temperature monitor utilities installed anymore.
  • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:30AM (#26002425)

    Having a high-quality cable made sense in the days of Analog audio, because a poor-quality cable could distort the sound, but in this new era of Digital audio (1's and 0's) there's no longer any need. "The AK-DL1 will bring out all the nuances in digital audio reproduction" is just nonsense. The nuances come from the computer DAC chip's ability to turn 1's and 0's into sound, and that's where audiophiles should spend their money, not on a $500 gold-plated cable.

    Fools and their money are easily parted.

  • Re:tag: appleispants (Score:5, Informative)

    by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @10:34AM (#26002455)

    Actually, you have that precisely backwards.

    in American English: Pants = Trousers or Slacks

    in British English: Pants = Underpants. It's also where the word "panties" (aka: women's underwear) comes from.

    So in America, "Underpants" became "Underwear". In Britain, "Underpants" became "pants"

    In Soviet Russia.... well, I have no idea what they call their underclothes, but I'm sure it has something to do with the underclothes wearing YOU. Or something like that.

  • Re:tag: appleispants (Score:2, Informative)

    by Freultwah ( 739055 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @11:07AM (#26002785) Homepage

    In Soviet Russia.... well, I have no idea what they call their underclothes, but I'm sure it has something to do with the underclothes wearing YOU. Or something like that.

    This is "trusiki" or "trusary" for you. And sometimes they do end up wearing you.

  • by paazin ( 719486 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @11:09AM (#26002817)

    Thank you, Captain Obvious, for that enlightening post.

    He added to the discussion explaining something for those who aren't familiar with the issue

    And unlike you, he got +1 Karma point for it.

  • by spiffyman ( 949476 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @11:26AM (#26002995) Homepage

    Sorry to hear about your problems. Given your comments below, it looks like your MBP is completely effed. I would look into getting a new mobo (I don't think you can replace the GPU on those boxes) and finding a good guide (look around here [lowendmac.com]). Otherwise, sell it to an enthusiast when it dies.

    I had something similar happen with an iBook G4 many moons ago, and it taught me a very important lesson: buy the damn warranty, especially with a laptop. I've done it with every laptop I've bought since then, Apple or not, and it's absolutely worth it.

    If it seems like it costs too much, there are two things to do:

    1. Consider whether you need the laptop you're buying - would that last $200 be better spent on the warranty?
    2. Remember that much of the time you're able to purchase the warranty up to a year after the purchase of the machine. This means you can distribute the cost of the warranty. Often it makes sense to go ahead and make the purchase and then buy the warranty 6 months later.

    The one thing that's really not an option is to just bank on your laptop living through your use of it. You'll stress it, abuse it, maybe drop it one day - and you need some kind of support when that happens.

If this is a service economy, why is the service so bad?