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Portables (Apple) Apple Hardware

As More Users Complain About Poor Keyboard in Current MacBook Pro Lineup, Critics Say Apple Should Consider Recalling the Device (theoutline.com) 212

Last year, a report outlining what it described as a major flaw in Apple's current MacBook Pro lineup became a talking point in the industry. The issue was that a piece of dust could render keys on the MacBook Pro lineup useless, and that Apple had no idea how to fix it. Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline: MacBook Pro's keyboard keys stopped working if a single piece of dust slipped under there, and more importantly, that neither Apple nor its Geniuses would acknowledge that this was actually a problem. Today, Best Buy announced it is having a significant sale on these computers, marking them hundreds of dollars off. Interesting. Still, I'd suggest you do not buy them. Since I wrote about my experience, many have asked me what happened with the new top half of the computer that the Apple Geniuses installed, with its pristine keyboard and maybe-different key switches. The answer is that after a couple of months, I started to get temporarily dead keys for seemingly no reason. Again. Longtime widely respected commentator Jason Snell says, "I know that we Apple-watchers sit around wondering if Apple will release new laptops with new keyboards that don't have these issues, but Apple's relative silence on this issue for existing customers is deafening. If these problems are remotely as common as they seem to be, this is an altogether defective product that should be recalled."
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As More Users Complain About Poor Keyboard in Current MacBook Pro Lineup, Critics Say Apple Should Consider Recalling the Device

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  • this is Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fred6666 ( 4718031 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:07PM (#56507135)

    So Apple users are going to be buying the next version anyways.

    • Re:this is Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pike ( 52876 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:12PM (#56507187) Homepage Journal

      Not me, not until they've been out for a year and I can tell there aren't any major issues like this. Even then maybe not. Been an Apple customer since 2010.

      • This applies to any new tech including cars - Never buy the first year of any new model/generation; it will have bugs!

        Actually, this applies to software as well. I've learned that with OSes; specifically in firewalls, I'm always conservative to stay a generation behind, but still new enough that it's in mainstream support that it's both mature and always patched with the latest in critical updates. You can't do that with hardware design flaws.

      • Man...they are REALLY missing Steve Jobs.....
    • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:15PM (#56507221)

      Actually I got cash in hand, waiting to see if the MacBook Air gets replaced by something with a crappy keyboard or not. If it does, I'm buying an old MacBook Air at a deep discount once the replacement is available.

      • Actually as someone else mentioned, the (lack of) travel on the new keyboards is so bad that I might buy a MacBook Air anyway.

        • That's a super subjective call. There are plenty of people that love the keyboard EXCEPT for the part where it's so badly engineered that a single piece of dust renders it useless, and when Apple replaces it, they have to replace the whole top half of the laptop.

          I have a theory that this was tested under clean-room conditions at all times, and even employees that got to take it home were probably treating it with kid gloves. Apple should say sorry, offer trade-ins or replacements and move forward. It sounds

          • It's already costing them replacement parts, repair time and a lot of people not buying any of their new laptops because of the problem.

            The old keyboard, like the one used on the MacBook Air, previous MacBook Pros and their old aluminium wired keyboards are really, really though and still have a small enough travel compared to regular keyboards. But no, mr.designer-in-chief wanted to shave 2mm of the keyboard thickness because a thin keyboard is more important than a usable one.

            • This keyboard is like the Titanic. It was never supposed to be susceptible to dust at all because of its design...but once the dust ignores the intentions of the designer, it utterly destroys the keyboard. :P

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          How about an LG Gram?

          - Dual SSD slots
          - RAM socket
          - Easily removable battery (no glue)
          - Plenty of full size USB ports
          - Thunerbolt port
          - SD card reading and headphone jack
          - Good performance and battery life

          You could make it a hackintosh if you really need MacOS.

    • by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:34PM (#56507385) Journal

      This is Apple... So clearly they are holding it wrong.

    • by phayes ( 202222 )

      The corollary is that people who don't have any Apple gear are going to be coming out of the woodworks to complain how "Horrible" the imagined "problem" is and how "Apple has lost it's way since Steve Jobs died".

      • by BronsCon ( 927697 ) <social@bronstrup.com> on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:10PM (#56507697) Journal
        I've ffound the problem to be quite real, my ffriend. Like you, however, I also ffigured it was just made up bullshit... until 2 days ago.

        Sent ffrom my 2016 15 inch MacBook Pro.
        • by phayes ( 202222 )

          You're not like me. None of the Macs in our household have the keyboard implicated & I never denied that some people may have a problem.

          The imagined problem may or may not affect more than a tiny minority of rMBP users with that keyboard. As Apple has excellent product support, if there's really a widespread problem, there'll be a program announcement like there was for my 2012 rMBP battery that was replaced gratis (https://www.macrumors.com/2017/10/13/apple-free-battery-repair-memo/).

          My point wasn't th

          • Oh... I forgot to address this:

            My point wasn't that the problem doesn't exist, it is that many Apple Haters who don't even own a Mac will claim that it is more of a problem than it really is.


            how "Horrible" the imagined "problem" is

            Imaginary things do not exist, that's why they're imaginary. That's exactly what your point was. And also:

            Apple has lost it's way since Steve Jobs died

            Looking around my Apple-filled home, I don't think it's the people who don't own any Apple gear who say this. I say it and, well, like I said -- Apple-filled home.

      • by joh ( 27088 )

        No, this problem really is horrible. Do you have one? For how long? Do all keys work? If they do, just wait a bit.

        • by phayes ( 202222 )

          White Macbook: 8 years, MBP: 10 years, rMBP: 6 years, Macbook Air: 5 years, Retina MacBook: 3 years. All still working in our household without any keyboard issues.

          None of the 5 PC laptops used over the same period here work anymore except for a noisy old Lenovo with an XP only USB media capture dongle I dredge out to digitise VHS tapes who's trackpoint & keyboard are now so flakey that I need to use an external keyboard+mouse.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        This has been going on for 15+ years, well back into the Jobs era.

        Remember the first unibody Macbooks that weren't really unibody? They were actually two bits of metal stuck together with glue... And the glue was right where the fans vented hot air, and under a lot of strain from the hinges pulling on it. Maybe you can remember what happened.

        So they made the next generation a real unibody, but the hinges were made out of really thin flat metal. Most laptop hinges are an L shape for strength, but Apple must

        • by phayes ( 202222 )

          When compared to the problems encountered by PC makers at the same time, Macs were generally much better built.
          PC Laptop issues:
          - Uncountable plastic bodies that flexed and broke (you didn't need that power socket did you?),
          - Hinges that wore out after 6 months (here, use these books to prop up the screen so that it doesn't slam shut),
          - The screen wiring that was just a bunch of poorly insulated wires passing through a too small hole where they eventually rubbed together and shorted out (oh well you can alw

    • I lucked out that Apple decided to be "brave" by adding that Touch bar and added too few USB-C ports while stripping the rest out. Otherwise I would've upgraded from my MacBook Pro 2014 and been hosed with that keyboard bug to boot.

  • by 8127972 ( 73495 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:13PM (#56507197)

    .... And because of that there is zero chance that there will be a recall. Because that would be an admission that they've done something wrong. And they rarely admit that they've done something wrong or apologize (the Apple Maps fiasco or the "I Am Root" fiasco being the only two times that I can think of that they've said sorry for something). That's something that Jobs preached pretty aggressively.

    What's more likely to happen is that they will come out with a new keyboard design at WWDC in June and call it an "innovation" and shove it into every notebook they make to make this go away over the long term. And they'll likely come out with a repair extension program for this crappy keyboard if they have to so that the bad press goes away over the short term. .

  • dead keys here too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by umafuckit ( 2980809 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:15PM (#56507215)
    I'd noticed this happening from time to time on my MBP but hadn't searched to see if the problem was widespread. Typically a key becomes dead for few strikes before coming back to life. Happens once every few weeks.
    • by I4ko ( 695382 )

      Very often. I can rarely type a password with my normal typing speed and have it come right. The keyboard just misses strokes. I am using an external bluetooth Logitech. I wish I had chosen a surface book instead of Macbook pro when my new workplace gave me an option.

      • by LQ ( 188043 )
        Yup. Me too with an official Apple USB keyboard. And don't get me started on the rubbish Apple mouse that you have to clean every day or scrolling stops working. I really don't know how Apple maintains any sort of good reputation.
        • by Wolfrider ( 856 )

          --I just got a used 2008-era iMac; really, a cheap generic 3-button mouse works fine with it. No reason to pay the Apple premium for mice.

    • In fact, for me, it was the shift key. It went totally dead, and then came to life a couple weeks later. Quite annoying if you want to type anything with proper capitalization.

  • by almaden ( 631213 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:15PM (#56507225)
    While visiting the Apple store for an iPhone battery replacement, I tried the MacBook Pros that were on display. The "new" keyboard is positively terrible - not much key travel and poor feedback.
    • That's what I felt when I first got a new MacBook Pro (I develop software for a client on it, so it's a requirement). Weirdly though, going back to the previous MacBook Pro with the previous generation keyboard that now feels very imprecise and wobbly by comparison.

      It's odd what you get used to and start to feel is 'normal'.

      • by berj ( 754323 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:37PM (#56507425)

        Agreed completely. I didn't think I'd like this keyboard at all. I *loved* the previous generation. Then my wife bought one of the new Macbooks. I tried the keyboard and was surprised at how much I liked it. I went to the store to try one of the MBP keyboards since it's a little different (more key travel mainly). Typed on it for 10 or 15 minutes. Completely converted. I didn't buy one for a while after that but I was confident in my choice when the time came.

        Now when I type on an old style keyboard I'm the same as you. I find it squishy and messy by comparison. Though it's still miles better than any other keyboard I've tried.

        • I have to agree strongly with this! At an impressionable young age I was typing on this dang thing [oldcomputers.net]. No measuring what damage that did to me (I am still suspicious of "island" style keyboards!), even at the time I knew this was a terrible keyboard. Inputting those cool computer game programs in BASIC was just torture.

          Actually, that thing might make a person grateful for any keyboard that is not that one..
          • by sconeu ( 64226 )

            Meh. I learned to type on an ancient manual typewriter. Even after 35 years on CRT terminals and PC keyboards, I *STILL* pound the keys. Muscle memory is a strong thing.

            And heck, some of those CRT terminals required some serious keystroke pressure. Ever use an ADM-3A?

            • Never have, had to look up the ADM-3A. That is a solid looking piece of kit! I will take your word for it, definitely. I use a unicomp keyboard today because I also enjoy kinetic typing.

              The problem with the aquarius kb was not that it needed heavy pressure, more that it was finicky about registering anything at any pressure. The keys mushed laterally somehow. And was small for even a kids hands. An abomination.
          • I cut my teeth on this one [oldcomputers.net]. I even still have one in a box.

            • by Wolfrider ( 856 )

              --Oh man, I used to have one of those... Programmed my own stuff (including a text-based Voltron game) in Extended Basic and saved it to an AM/FM radio with cassette tape. It had sprites and we had no idea how shitty it was, 'twas all we had and we liked it :)

        • I highly recommend Corsair mechanical gaming keyboards. They/some come with Cherry mechanical switches. You can get clicky or silent, and smooth or tactile (which might or might not technically be "buckling spring" but feels exactly like a spring buckling). Fantastic to type on.
          • by berj ( 754323 )

            I used to have an great actual buckling spring keyboard back in the mid 90s/early 00s. Was really amazing. Felt great. Loved the sound. Sadly it was an old PS/2 keyboard without the windows/cmd key so it couldn't come with me to the modern era. Also my office-mates hated how loud it was, haha.

            One of the main reasons I love the last couple generations of full-sized plug in keyboards is how flat they are. They aren't very high off the desk and they're at a very shallow angle -- the very latest version ev

    • My work laptop was upgraded to a new MacBook Pro after it started reporting Bluetooth failures. I absolutely hate this new keyboard with practically zero key travel.

      My error rate has gone way up with many more transposed letters than before. My typing maxes out around 120 WPM and this keyboard is just not good for me. I prefer mechanical keyboards, but the old MacBook Pro's keyboard was better than this new one.

  • Recall? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:15PM (#56507227)

    Ridiculous. People are just typing wrong.

  • by denisbergeron ( 197036 ) <DenisBergeron.yahoo@com> on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:15PM (#56507229)

    because users complaint.. haha, never in 10 years!

    They just have to buy the next version, anyway, they will doing it.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      My late 2011 MBP was recalled, and new motherboard 18 months after the extended warranty ran out, due to the Radeon GPU issues. Walked into the Apple Store, they swapped it out no questions asked. On a laptop that was almost old enough to go to kindergarten.

    • by swell ( 195815 )

      My late 2011 MBP was recalled and repaired for free on two occasions, both after the guarantee expired. Also, on both occasions they replaced other components 'just to be sure', so I ended with a mostly new computer. Unfortunately, they removed the hard drive in one case, explaining that it didn't meet their standards. They then installed a better drive and gave me the old, still working, one so I could back it up. On another occasion they removed some RAM they didn't like and replaced it.

      So that was for th

  • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:18PM (#56507253) Homepage Journal

    Most laptop lines have a weak spot. And it's the keyboard for the 12" MacBook and the MacBook Pro. Loads of people experience no problems whatsoever, but some do. I've had a Dell which had an old-fashioned harddrive that heated up the left palm rest. Very annoying. But not annoying enough to get rid of the machine.

    Now I'm sure that some really have defective keyboards, where it didn't have anything to do with dirt or something. That sucks of course. But in general I'd say: simply not eat in front of this laptop, and keep a can of pressured air at home. In my personal experience, it solves the issue.

    Not trying to be an Apple apologist or something, there really is a problem. But unless you have the bad luck of a real mechanical defect, it's easily solved.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:09PM (#56507687)
      A weak spot is usually something the laptop maker skimped on to reduce cost, like a small battery, or a cheap screen, or HDD storage in the SSD era..

      The new Macbook keyboard is a deliberately created new feature. Apple came up with a new keyboard mechanism which reduces key travel in order to try to make the laptop a little thinner (like laptops need to be any thinner). It bombed, plain and simple. What's the point of making the laptop 3mm thinner if it forces you to add a can of compressed air to your laptop bag?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Weak spot" in a MBP keyboard is an understatement:

      1. Given that the keyboard is mechanically the most physically abused piece of hardware on the Mac (now that we have no spinning HDs), it ought to have the military tank ruggedness of the "Selectric" keyboard.

      2. Watertightness is an absolute must, regardless of what Jony and his champagne tastes has to say. Why? Spills happen. The worst case I saw was a glass of wine set down over a foot away from the MBP. The wine sloshed and sent a single drop of wi

      • by Megane ( 129182 )

        I have a late-2011 17" MPB, and one of the things that went out over the years was the keyboard. I was able to find a replacement online for only $15, and while it worked better than the bad one (on which ASD and F would no longer work, and other keys too), the keyboard wasn't very well made, and some of the function key row are very hard to use (not entirely a bad thing), the space bar would get stuck down (not sure when it stopped having problems), and the left shift doesn't always work from certain finge

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Most laptop lines have a weak spot. And it's the keyboard for the 12" MacBook and the MacBook Pro. Loads of people experience no problems whatsoever, but some do. I've had a Dell which had an old-fashioned harddrive that heated up the left palm rest. Very annoying. But not annoying enough to get rid of the machine.

      I'm not buying that as Dell have always placed the HDD's on the bottom of the case to facilitate quick replacement.

      Also that hard drive casings do not get hot enough to cause discomfort. They're expressly designed not to, I once had a WD 10K RPM VelociRaptor hard drive, they were called "VelociHeaters" because of their radiator like properties, even these could be removed after running for hours by the naked hand.

  • Built like Ferraris, recalled like any other carmaker out there.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:29PM (#56507351)

    But really I jut can't ee it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully we can finally get over the quest to make the thinnest, lightest machine possible at the expense of power and features. The keyboard on the 2012 model was just fine. Let's go back to that.

  • I don't get the hate (Score:4, Informative)

    by berj ( 754323 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:33PM (#56507381)

    I've had mine for over a year (13" touchbar MBP).. and I don't baby this keyboard. It's fucking filthy.

    I love the low key travel. I don't feel any strain in my fingers or wrists. It's *by* far the best laptop keyboard I've ever used. The previous winner was the previous style of MBP keyboards.

    No stuck keys, no increase in typing errors. Just love it all around.

    Now this isn't to say that people aren't having problems. I'm just adding my anecdote (and a few others who I know who have this same machine and love the keyboard) to the other anecdotes.

  • Seriously, if Apple can't manage to design PCs, give it to an organization that can.
  • Apple used to build great computers, however they have then moved onto building great "products", which looks nice, but leave the functionality and usability as afterthoughts. Because of this I have left behind my older MacBook Pro. They seem to have no proper upgrade alternative in that product line.

    The new "Pro" does not even have a proper keyboard, dust issues aside, the keys themselves are not fun to type with (I tried using friend's machine). They are too thin giving minimal tactile feedback. There is

  • I've been down this path before with my MBP - after the wireless connection wouldn't connect, they ended up replacing the entire motherboard. Now, they're having similar issues with the keyboard, and - silence.

    They need to go back to the earlier keyboard designs and start replacing them as warranty repairs start rolling in. Frankly, the older keyboard designs would be a massive upgrade. I doubt they will do this.

  • Apple Keyboards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JediJorgie ( 700217 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @12:57PM (#56507611)

    They still call the *Backspace* key *Delete* so they obviously don't care about keyboards. :)

  • ...won't have a keyboard at all. By remove it, Apple says it'll now be waterproof.

    • ...won't have a keyboard at all. By remove it, Apple says it'll now be waterproof.

      And lose the money from "repairing" machines broken by Apple's bad engineering?? Never..

  • My 2015 MacBook Pro, that is. It's not perfect - heck, it's been in the shop twice when the trackpad + keyboard ribbon cable failed. Which is, not coincidentally, when I've had an extended chance to use the newer iteration of the model.

    The first time the ribbon cable on my 2015 MBP failed, for some reason the Apple Store had trouble getting a replacement to them (perhaps this is a common problem) - so I was without that computer for about 2.5 weeks. During this time, I was using a loaner 2016 MacBook Pro -

  • ...SteveJobs long ago stopped trying to please everyone instead abstracting his "slim" aesthetic form factor designs over function.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      I'm pretty sure that the current obsession with thin-uber-alles started after Steve assumed room temperature. The MacBook Air was designed to be thin. The MacBook Pro was designed to be Pro, but then they decided that thin was more important than pro.
  • Why are you using a keyboard when you could use a tablet? Who needs a computer? Just sip content on a phone or tablet.

    Using a keyboard for heavy work, man -- who needs a PC any more?

  • Ok, the Lord knows I have zero love for Apple. I haven't touched an Apple thing since 2008 when I was given a Macbook Pro from work.

    But you purchased the laptop, if you didn't like the keyboard, why didn't you return it? Why didn't you check it out at Apple store before buying it ? As far as I know, the keyboards are not breaking. They are just extremely shitty.

    And therefore the whole "Recall" idea is BS.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.