View Full Version : 17" Switch Tragedy

Sep 24, 2003, 06:16 PM
So I made the switch hook, line and sinker. I purchased a 17" powerbook, 23" LCD Monitor, an iSight, a 30 GB iPod, and a Airport Extreme Base Station.

I was super excited about the switch and finally having a robust Unix laptop (sorry Apple calls them portables 'cause they're too hot to sit on your lap). The joy lasted for about 2 days when I noticed a number of pixels had died or glowed continuously bright red, not only on the powerbook, but on the 23" screen as well! I figured I could live with the funky pixels and went merrily on my way when 9 days into the trip the latch stopped working, and I had to use rubber bands to carry it to meet with clients. (How embarrassing was that?)

By this time I'd fully transitioned to the powerbook and have grown accustomed to the speed, wireless access, and ease of always having a shell at my fingertips. Even though it was still under warranty, I had gone ahead and bought the extended AppleCare warranty because after all, old notebook computers can be temperamental. I called up Applecare and described my woes. They were great. They decided they would RMA the system and send out a replacement system so I wouldn't have to experience any downtime. Three weeks and several phone calls later the RMA sticker finally arrived. Another week past and phone call, and they confirmed that the replacement system had been sent from Taiwan. It arrived at last, and I proceeded to learn how to transfer a completely configured system to one that is fresh out of the box. If anyone has to do this, the key is a FireWire 800 cable, target disk mode, logging in as root, and a simple drag and drop. (Make sure you know what you're doing with the system files or you'll really screw things up) Some of the files that wouldn't copy for some strange reason worked if you use diskcopy and then move the disk image file to the new system.

So, then I was all setup on the new system and ready to run again. Latch worked, no dead pixels! Yay! BUT WAIT! Not only has Apple released an updated 17" powerbook, but now the Airport Extreme only works if you are in the same room as the base station. You can't even go around the corner. It seems to only work line of sight. <Sigh> Here we go again. I called AppleCare again. They stepped me through a number of networking tests, no luck. They determine that the antenna must be detached. They told me to call a local authorized repair center. The repair center, a local business and certified Mac specialist, was very friendly and since I had bought the AppleCare support, they would send someone to my house the next day! So when the repairman finally comes four days later, he tells me he's never worked on a 17" powerbook. Ok, now I'm nervous. He attempted to open the system, and struggled. Just short of forcing it and seriously damaging it, he called his shop where someone looked up the repair information to correctly remove the keyboard and access the Airport card and antenna. The repairman was a genuine nice guy, but we discussed what a joke it is these days to actually get a certification from Apple or Dell. Apparently they don't really offer technical training like they did in the old days. Well, the technician fiddled around, unsure if what he did would work or not. After he closed it up, it did seem to function better, but I think in retrospect I was just anxious to see it that way. After he had gone and it got a real work out, I discover that in fact, it still got miserable reception. I was SOL.

Back to AppleCare. This time I'm back on the front lines with people who, despite reading the case notes need to replicate many of the same tests from the last call. Gone are the representatives who will do whatever it takes to solve the problem (including an offer to return the system for a complete refund). Now it is left to me to surrender the system to the same tech people who have tried to fix the system once. Sadly, my livelihood depends upon this system. It costs me several hundred dollars a day to be without it. Does that concern Apple? Not any more. Although they won't come right out and tell you that, it is certainly implied in statements such as "Lost work is not covered in your warranty." And, "There is nothing more I can do for you." And, "You're welcome to address complaints to the corporate headquarters. Here is the address..."

So what am I to do? Of course I'll take the system in to see if my Airport works with the repair shop basestation. That's what Apple wants, and as a sheep-like consumer, what alternative do I have? What I really want to know is what happened to the old Apple I remember from before I switched away and back? I had really hoped that Steve Jobs being back had elevated Apple's self-esteem. Instead it appears it is nothing more than a soul-less corporation who only cares about increasing their revenues even if that means peddling faulty products. I waited for months to be able to afford making the switch with all the bells and whistles, and I've really been let down. Now I'm stuck with a brand new (yet out-of-date) system that isn't functioning as advertised, and the Apple representatives seem to be trying to make me feel as if for some reason this is my fault.

My recommendations to you if you are considering a switch: Don't be too quick to trust that Apple will fully stand behind their product. Make sure you have good backups of your data in case Apple deprives you of your brand new system for a week or more. I believe knowing the person from whom you are buying the system is helpful. That way, you have a friendly face to whom you can go with unexpected problems. Phone support can really be cold and heartless.

Sep 24, 2003, 07:16 PM
ok a couple of things. sorry to hear about your powerbook, doesnt happen often but can happen. as for the repairmen talking about it being a joke, he just wasnt smart enough. if had never worked on before than they sent the wrong guy. as for the airport extreme, i would try moving it around. some locations can really mess it up, and i dont know why. just bad locations and interference. and for you powerbook being out of date, that is no ones fault. new computers come out, i recommend next time doing some research on when to expect new product releases. hopefully everything gets working fine, keep us posted.


Sep 24, 2003, 07:28 PM
One thing I failed to mention is that the Airport on the RMA'ed system worked flawlessly. I could even go downstairs and outside into my backyard and have a fine signal. It is definitely not an issue with the base station, but rather the Powerbook.

Yes, it's regrettable that I had to buy the 17" before the updates came out, but there was a timeline that was out of my control. I had to make the purchase before a certain date or lose the funds that were available to me.

Sep 24, 2003, 07:30 PM
sorry to hear that, but trust me, you have one kick ass machine. good to hear about the airport. the airport is hard to fix on the 17's just because they are built in and not user accesible.


Sep 25, 2003, 07:07 PM
I took my Powerbook to the local Apple recommended specialist. Although they were not able to offer much help fixing the system, it did serve to show that the Airport is not functioning correctly. I called AppleCare and this time the representatives were more civil. What a relief.

They're going to send a box so I can express ship the Powerbook back to them. It will leave me without a system for five days (costing me $3000 in lost business). The kicker is that the AppleCare agent told me that they had made a mistake in not telling me to take the system to the Apple Store where they could do a direct exchange withing the first five days after I had received it. (I first called them on day two.) However, now that it's been more than five days, I have to send it in. I am still highly disappointed with Apple. I suppose if they send me back a completely functional system, which does not cause me any additional problems, the bad taste in my mouth will eventually fade, but right now the decision to switch is costing me large amounts of time and money.

Oct 15, 2003, 12:04 PM
I thought I should give another update to this unfortunate story. I received my PowerBook back from Apple repair a day earlier than I expected. However, they didn't fix the problem. In fact, upon examination and a discussion with AppleCare, I discovered they fixed some other problem having to do with the screen blacking out (something that had never happened to me before). The next day the screen went dark and stayed that way. The only way that I could use it was to plug it into my external monitor. Upon calling AppleCare again, I finally spoke to someone who empathized with my predicament. They are now going to do an "unheard of" 2nd replacement, and to make up for all the trouble they even offered to upgrade me to the latest model! So I now have very little room to complain (other than the fact that I'm without a PowerBook for several weeks while I wait on the new one). My hope is that the new system will be flawless and I can return to happy Mac land. I even have this fantasy of having the new system in time to attend the Night of Panther at my local Apple Store with my new system in tow.

Something really notable for me is that I have had to use a borrowed IBM laptop while waiting for my PowerBook. I've found that my productivity is only a fraction of what I was able to achieve with my PowerBook. So, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the latest replacement.

baby duck monge
Oct 15, 2003, 01:10 PM
Originally posted by sadmac
[BSomething really notable for me is that I have had to use a borrowed IBM laptop while waiting for my PowerBook. I've found that my productivity is only a fraction of what I was able to achieve with my PowerBook. So, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the latest replacement. [/B]

definately sad that you have had trouble getting your machine worked out. i am glad that steps are being taken to get you the best product possible, though. also incredibly happy to hear that you have seen how much more productive you personally can be on the mac. best of luck in completing the "getting it all worked out" process, and enjoy your new 'book when it gets to you.

Nov 3, 2003, 01:28 PM
After two and a half months after receiving my original 17" PowerBook. I have my 2nd (and final?) replacement. It's been 72 hours and everything is perfect. Apple was even so kind as to upgrade me to a 1.33 GHz model sporting Panther. May I just say wow?!? While the past few months of my switch have had moments of pleasure and pain, it all has finally come back to the positive.

I thought I was careful with my precious new system before, but now this new bundle of joy is really getting baby treatment (at least physically).

Kurt Cobain
Dec 1, 2003, 07:11 PM
Thats a great ending to a painful story.. I can understand the disappointment and misery you've been going through, mainly after getting such a kick ass system.

Glad it came to a perfect ending ;)

I happen to have a bad luck with brand new machines, but for a while it seems to fade away when it involves Apple products.

Dec 1, 2003, 07:31 PM
Everyone loves a happy ending.

Well, almost everyone...

Kurt Cobain
Dec 2, 2003, 12:41 PM
perfect ending is better than happy ending:cool:

Dec 3, 2003, 01:06 PM
Man, tough break, but brown happens. I had some problems with my iBook being replaced several times: I'm on my 4th logic board.
But glad to hear it all worked out. Sounds like a freak accident. Good luck from now on!

Dec 3, 2003, 01:30 PM
it just gets me in the happy Xmas spirit!
congrads dude! Welcoem to Mac!

Dec 28, 2003, 12:04 PM
I was thinking about screen resolutions and how this latest PowerBook has no dead pixels when I remembered this thread. I'm surprised to see so many responses, but I'm happy to report that everything is still going well. In fact, I feel like my PowerBook has been surgically grafted to my body, as I seem to use it during the majority of waking hours. I have become far more productive. To any would-be switchers out there, despite my problems, if you have a fully functional system, you just can't beat it! I can't believe how remarkably fast this system is. I have a hard time imagining what the G5s must be like.

Furthur advice, unless you get some sort of remarkable deal like I did, buy your system from an Apple store where you can walk in and replace a broken system on the spot. Mail-in replacements are trying at best. Despite the additional cost, I'd also recommend the AppleCare plan. Even though my system was under warranty, it was clear that the fact I had purchased the AppleCare plan made a difference when I was on the phone with Apple. I remember back with Apple would handle every customer with kid-gloves (back before I was forced to switch away from Apple), but now they have evolved into another large corporation. Although they do make a superior product, you still need to be a vigilant consumer.

Let me say I did get a lot of envious looks as I watched a DVD on my flight home for the holidays! What a great way to pass time on an airplane. It's really got to be the 17"!

Dec 31, 2003, 04:50 PM
Glad to hear Apple finally got you running again. I think your story inadvertantly makes a point that should be touched on. You must have a backup for all critical systems. The three grand you lost during part of your downtime would have paid for a second 17" powerbook. And if you lost three grand there, you probably lost a couple more during the entire series of episodes.

Maybe a 17" powerbook isn't the most practical backup machine but a 12" ibook or powerbook certainly would be. Sure, they're less powerful than the 17" and their displays are a lot smaller but think of it like one of those space-saver spare tires. It may not perform as well as the original but it's a heck of a lot better than sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Especially when every minute spent on the side of the road is costing you a considerable amount of money. It's a lot less stressful, too. :)

Dec 31, 2003, 05:38 PM
geez, you sound like you need some therapy.

There's one thing to air out your pains on a thread; there's quite another when that "airing out" process becomes an overextended diatribe.

Dec 31, 2003, 06:00 PM
Hey, Ive had issues. Ive had something like 15 macs personally and Ive bought 50 more for companies Ive worked for.

Ive had better and Ive had not so "better."

Apple recently allowed me to upgrade to the 17 from a tibook. Actually the guys at the apple stores are great. Over the years Ive traveled and had problems and at every store they have bent over backwards. They dont have ESP and dont always know right away, but if u are patient and respectful they will go the extra mile.

They lemoned my tibook right before the warrentee was up, because then they could do nothing for me. So I got a 17, and yes the new one came out. Couple things, the new one is almost the same in performance. It lacks some of the cache the origional has. So depends on the program but they are pretty close. And I ran a rom patch on my DVD drive to get the 2x burning speed.

I will say this is the most perfect computer I have ever owned. While the tibook was horrible keeping that wireless connection up, often dropping and reconnecting 10 times a minute as someone might walk by, the 17 is rock solid. Ive tried amazing angles and distances and it just locks on.

Like U I am attached to it. Look into a Ogio Metro bag. This fits it like a glove, AND it's light and has 1 million pockets including for a hydration blader.

Next time you have a problem go into the store. Heck I went in last week because a rubber foot fell off. These guys went looking for an hour to find the right ones to order AND did you know there were 2 different kinds on your 17? Oh and non of the powerbooks use the same feet, now that is kinda dumb, but typical apple. Amazing design but on mass production and process they dont squeeze every penny.

If you want to buy a gift for ur 17 get eyeTV. Tivo for the mac. It's amazing and when u travel u catch up on the tv. Heck if u want a break while working at a wifi spot just turn it on in mini size and keep typing while u watch.

good luck and be careful with that powerbook!