After extensive testing, I couldn't determine what is causing the lines on the MBA!

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Scottsdale, Jun 14, 2009.

  1. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #1
    I am editing the original posting with all of the results being inconclusive. I couldn't understand any reason why the displays are showing lines.

    The remainder of this thread has a bunch of ideas but nothing proved accurate.

    The one hypothesis that I didn't fully test or research was the layers on the display. These clear coat type film layers are said to be the culprit by some, but I disagree.

    I do believe it stems from power, but I cannot prove anything!


    Good luck to anyone who could figure this out. I spent a lot of time and money on it myself with no real further understanding.
     
  2. Regaj macrumors member

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    Aug 15, 2006
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    Virginia
    #2
    Quite a project you're undertaking there, Scottsdale! I applaud your curiosity and your commitment to the MBA community.

    I will observe that some of the angst around the lines issue seems a bit overdone. Worrying because one can see the lines from 4" - a bit of contortionist behavior that's not part of normal use - seems to speak as much to user OCD as it does to any engineering decisions Apple made.

    What I'm suggesting is that folks discriminate between significant defects which materially affect their use of something; versus defects which are rarely or never seen in normal use.

    There are no perfect laptops. They all exhibit some number of issues. But the vast majority fall within the design and manufacturing tolerances spec'd by the maker.

    As you note, the lines issue probably is unnoticeable to the vast majority of MBA buyers. Apple sells tens of thousands of these things. That would suggest that most owners are happy. Forums like this one tend to be frequented by a very tiny subset of knowledgeable, committed, obsessive, anal, pay-attention-to-the-tiniest-detail individuals (take your pick). We certainly don't represent the overall customer demographic that Apple is seeking to sell to.

    In any case, I'm simply arguing for a bit of perspective. That's easy for me to say, of course, given that my brand new MBA appears perfectly fine!

    Best of luck with your adventure.
     
  3. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #3

    I was not passionate at all with the line issue on the rev B MBA. Quite frankly, the first seven rev B MBAs I saw were all line-free... including MINE. I bought a rev B MBA with 1.86 and SSD, and the display was the same high quality display I remembered from the original MBA. I looked at six others (maybe seven) before buying mine as the issue was on the boards. I didn't see any lines from 2" or 2' or more... not from angles... not from different colors.

    The problem is, the line issue has progressively worsened. NOW, when I walk into an Apple Store, like Friday, I can spot the lines instantly on HALF of the MBAs I see from 2' or normal viewing distance. Most are reporting more than slight or moderate lines. More people than ever are seeing the lines too. The thing is, I think the 9C9A was sometimes very slightly affected... but for some reason 9C90 was reported often as the most problematic display in the rev B MBA.

    Here's the thing, once you see the lines on your own MBA, it's extremely frustrating. Because once you see them on your own MBA, it's ALL YOU SEE. It's like a dead pixel that you cannot stop looking at, only it covers the entire display.

    Now, if this problem were minor, I would let it go... but since it has affected so many units, I want to fix it. Let's just try to figure this one out is my theory. Apple isn't going to do it or is thinking too much or something. I really think it's either a firmware fix, which someone pointed out, which would mean the display probably isn't getting enough power... OR, it's a simple fix of something overlooked. Why it's affecting a higher percentage of one display over another does concern and perplex me, but I want to check the simple and obvious first.

    I am glued to my MBA eight to twelve hours per day (on workdays). I also use it as my primary Mac and personal machine. I want it to look right. HOWEVER, I know I am being a little obsessive with my new MBA. Quite honestly, the lines aren't viewable from NORMAL VIEWING DISTANCE. So, I should be fine with it. But, I know they're there, and I want them gone. NOT LIKE I AM SPENDING $100k to fix them... but I am trying to do good for ALL of those who want an MBA but cannot pull the trigger because of these stupid lines. I used to think people were blowing it out of proportion because I couldn't see the lines from normal viewing distance... BUT, lately that has all changed as I have seen MANY affected displays in the new MBAs. It's extremely disappointing, and I want to see if it can be fixed with a few extra hours of my time, and a few hundred bills from my pocket, MAX.

    So, I plan to figure out all of the power, wires, and identify everything going from the logic board to the computer. Then, I will have this electrical engineer guy I know (who does electrical/computer stuff for an aerospace company) go over my findings. I will show him all of the interior parts and hopefully the differences between a display without lines and one with lines. I hope he will be able to test the wiring and perhaps try wires of higher grade, different gauge, and etc to just see if that may be the culprit. ALSO, I want to see if we can send more power to the display, and ask how those things work. I know he had gauges and ways to send very specific amounts of current through a wire and etc. But, I don't know if we will be able to do any of this, as I don't know if it will result in needing to destroy anything, or if we will have any of the exact correct information on specs and etc. Would be nice to have an exact manual diagraming everything from a computer engineer's perspective.

    MAYBE I AM DREAMING AND WE WILL ACCOMPLISH ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

    MAYBE I AM DREAMING AND WE WILL END UP DESTROYING MY MACBOOK AIR!

    MAYBE I WILL HAVE A SOLUTION AND APPLE CAN FIX THIS FOR ONCE AND FOR ALL! MAYBE ALL OF MY NEWFOUND FRIENDS ON MAC RUMORS CAN BENEFIT FROM THIS???

    BUT, I WILL NEVER KNOW UNLESS I TRY.

    If I get together with this dude and he says, we cannot do anything without risking total ruining of your logic board, I will say, Forget it! What he said over phone/email was we could take a look at all of it but didn't know what we could test or do. He said he may be able to tell me if any of the ideas I come up with are plausible, or if I am a ******** having delusions of grandeur thinking I can figure out what two Apple employees couldn't (meaning it seems that Apple doesn't care enough to put anyone on solving this problem)...

    Maybe Apple will send us all a free rev D MBA for coming up with the solution! If there is an Apple rep looking at this page now, I sure wish you could tell me if you know the problem (and just cannot go through with a fix because it's too expensive or whatever)... LOL. It could save me a whole lot of heartache and money and time!

    Heck, I don't care about anything for free. I just want us all to enjoy our MBAs without worrying about the damn lines. I would pay the $2499 again just to have an MBA without lines! And that is the point!

    I love championing the MBA, and I don't feel I can continue to push it without a bunch of "legal copy" at the end of every post describing the lines.

    Now, after the "legal copy" comment, Apple will not be offering us free MBAs for helping them solve it... LOL!
     
  4. h1d macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    #4
    We've heard lines on boot camp too, so the chance of it being the gpu driver seems a bit less.
    Also I think I read someone saw lines on first Apple logo on boot, which makes driver issue more or less moot.

    I'd like to point out some ideas, since sticking to only few theories blindly might not be too healthy. That it could be due to non display parts like you mentioned that could be faulty but were made faulty during the time that overlaps while 9C8F were produced. And another less possible theory is the lines could appear as time passes and could be the reason no QA team caught it but then I assume no-line machines do not start producing lines as time passed.

    Also, while people are at it, don't be too deseparate, and you will disppapoint no matter how faint the lines are. Being desperate in finding the cause/solution is great but I would keep cool not to regret on every MBA even if I felt nothing if I didn't know about it. I nearly felt I saw lines on MBP, which is obviously an illusion.

    Sorry for no PM, but here are some of mine (posted elsewhere before though). I still own rev A and hesitated to buy rev B, I did actually just order rev C online as I saw very very faint lines at Apple store but won't be coming until 22nd, even if the account page says "3 days shipping"... (what is the math here???)

    Here is the MBA I saw yesterday at an Apple store (Shibuya, Japan)
    ---
    model : rev C 2.13
    display : 9C90
    line : very faint, visible on white within 4inch but only if you know lines exist. if you didn't, it will not catch you.
    ---
    model : rev C 1.86
    display : 9C90
    line : totally faint, not visible on white bg. slightly visible on light grey/blue within 4inch. you will not know of a problem unless you knew about the lines.
    ---
    cause : no idea
    solution : only if i knew...

    diagnose1 : swap rev A display onto rev B/C if possible. if lines go away, rev B/C display sucks. if it shows, display is all cool.

    d2 : lower the power setting to minimal, undervolt using coolbook as low as possible (on b/2), kill every application possible including any daemons to keep cpu use absolutely near 0, turn off every device possible (wifi, bt, usb, cam, everything. remove kernel extension where possible not just turn it off via gui and reboot or if it exists use something like hdparm/sdparm/smartctl to get hardware into "steadier" condition) observe any changes. (disabling various hardware is the more important part here) and optionally if possible, boot into single mode and drop gui totally and somehow get the display into the condition that can check for lines with lighter background (how? crazy ascii art with chars that take as much room as it can?).

    d3 : just taking from another thread, but check display temperature. warm it up, cool it down, and watch for lines. didnt aussie people have no lines from apple store? because it's cold now? :rolleyes: noobish guess but we need them coming.

    d4 : again, from another post but tilt the display to any angle, try different brightness, even almost dark but use external light source to verify.

    good luck to those already own them. I'll try mine when it arrives. (Unless I get lucky :D)
     
  5. redcrow240 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    #5
    Perhaps a stupid question, but since i dont have a macbook air yet I wouldnt know. Do you guys have any energy saving features turned on that would limit the amount of energy going to the display? Also, at what level is your backlight? What web browser is being used while seeing lines?

    Did you calibrate your screen yourself or just got a profile from the forums? What is your gamma setting? Could you do a proper calibration of your display in a darkened room?

    Are you on battery power or Power adapter? Are you using a multi outlet at your home? (like apple is using in their store that would explain why you see lines there as well). If you have access to a power conditioner, could you use it and document the results?

    These questions might seem stupid, but they should be done and documented if you are serious about troubleshooting. Im very interested in finding out exactly what is going on here. Coming from the home theater world, one of my personal theories is that you are seeing lines in certain "light color" areas because its a low bit panel. Maybe its more pronounced depending on the backlight level,angle and lighting conditions of the user. I bet that the rev A line free panel used was a higher bit panel. a higher bit panel does a better job at gradation and transitions in colors (fades better from white to grey to black for example). A lower bit panel would show lines. Below is a link that explains what im talking about. It might apply to computer displays as well, it might not. If I were seeing these lines on my living room lcd tv, I would think that I had an 8 bit panel instead of a 10 bit.

    http://www.hdtvinfofaq.com/10-bit.html


    notice the picture in the link. Turn it horizontal to get horizontal lines. Is this what you guys are seeing? If not then we continue troubleshooting.
     
  6. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    U.S.A.
    #6
    Thanks. The grade or bits of the panel could be a simple and obvious conclusion that would be what most people seem to think. Apple went cheap to raise margins on the ultra portable yet highly expensive and Apple like super margins with components priced similar to a MB, yet end user pricing similar to the PRO models at the time. Is there a way to check the bit-rate of the panel? Do any of those colorimeter devices also detect the display bit-rate output? That would be an easy test if so??? Otherwise, I guess we need to determine the exact panels used.

    We are now getting a new Apple which will no doubt not care about the 5% of us enthusiasts who expect a display which is high quality which we are used to getting from our Apple Mac notebooks. I like the direction Apple is going, because this pricing will allow the MBA to grow well with a much larger defined target market. It will also grow sales and interest in the MBA to a point where Apple can add back in a high-end version with 4 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, and etc once the MBA has regained some status within the ranks of those who evolve the Mac notebooks as interest of buyers allows evolution. In the short run, the display line problem is there, but in the long run, an OLED display will replace the current line problem display with a more beautiful display and probably add an hour OR MORE to the battery life between charges itself!

    If it's the panel, simple and done. Nothing we could do. It's definitely possible, but doesn't really explain the largely varying differences within the same models. But I will definitely check it out if possible.
     
  7. taphil macrumors regular

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    Jun 16, 2007
    #7
    I was thinking about buying a MBA which is why this issue has me interested.

    Maybe this is a stupid answer, but everything you've said here points to crappy LCDs. Within the 9C90 display itself, there are likely variations in production which make the issue more apparent on some LCDs compared to others. I do not see any other explanation, and everything else you've said seems too far fetched or complicated to be reasonable. The ultimate test would be to put a Rev A LCD into a Rev C model, and I bet it will indeed be the case that the LCD is better on the Rev A.
     
  8. taphil macrumors regular

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    Jun 16, 2007
    #8
    Almost ALL notebook LCDs are 6-bit. There is only one 17" LCD I know of from LG that is 8-bit.

    Thus, the question and issue is moot.
     
  9. Airforcekid macrumors 65816

    Airforcekid

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    #9
    I have never seen lines in person on REV a and b. I looked very hard. Who assembles the led screens samsung last time I heard.
     
  10. entatlrg macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

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    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    #10
    VERY well said, double on the OCD comment ... seriously, look how many words and paragraphs you wrote, not just in this thread but in others too ... you'll be eclipsing Apples Engineers notes at this rate....

    GIVE IT A BREAK ... this is going beyond "too much" :eek::eek::eek:

    Go ENJOY your MBA ...
     
  11. entatlrg macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

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    #11
    I'll bet you could of went and picked up an MBA and never see any lines whatsoever .... until somebody here planted a bug in your ear .... now you'll be the next one in the Apple Store staring 4" from the screen, LOL, (I hear some stare so long they see lines :D)
     
  12. aleksandra. macrumors 6502a

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    Warsaw, Poland
    #12
    Reading this thread I went over all I've heard and observed myself about lines. I always found lines most visible when screen brightness was high. I thought I saw them "pulse" when looking at them closely - like darker areas moving horizontally, slightly off in adjacent rows, creating an illusion of angled lines, but since no one else posted similar observation, I'm not sure about it. I thought it may be an issue with coating - apparently there're many defects, including different sort of lines, that can be caused by any small mistake in the process. However I was unable to find any pictures, so I don't know if they resemble MBA's lines. Then I thought again about how lines were most visible with high screen brightness...

    I did a simple test... I've set screen brightness to minimum (0 bars, no backlighting or so it seems), directed very bright light at the screen and looked very closely (definitely less than 4"). I'm shortsighted, but I see very well from extremely close distances. I could see a grid of pixels, but no lines. (Perhaps staring 4" from the screen for too long can stop one from seeing lines where they are, as well? :D)

    If other people do this test and see no lines, it would provide some clues: the issue is certainly not with the LCD itself, but with backlighting (power issue would be very likely then IMO), or it's very specific defect (possibly between layers of coating) which is only visible when enough light shines through it. Personally I think the latter unlikely (shouldn't coating imperfections be visible, if only barely, in external light as well?).

    That leads me to wonder how LED backlighting is powered. In LCD itself, current is sent in rows and columns. If backlighting is powered in rows, it'd be consistent with my impression of horizontal "flow" in the screen. Perhaps regular drops of current cause LEDs to dim? I don't know if it's even possible, or how it would happen, that's just pure speculation...
     
  13. taphil macrumors regular

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    Jun 16, 2007
    #13
    The LED backlight is just a strip of white LEDs (perhaps 12-20) running along the bottom edge of the screen, in place of the old fluorescent tube running along the bottom.

    The backlight does not explain the lines.
     
  14. aleksandra. macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Thank you for the reply. As I said, I have no idea how it really works except the most basic. So all my conjecture is wrong. Not LED, not LCD itself... any ideas where the issue could be? Coating defect?
     
  15. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #15
    Well, no matter how discouraging some want to be about me wasting time and money, I don't really care. I am doing this for all of us. It may be stupid for some, but I cannot just do nothing for a Mac I use eight plus hours per day. I want it to be perfect not just for me but for everyone. I am not doing this just for me, as mine is about as good as can be while having the lines... at the same time, I see so many terrible displays on the new MBAs, and I want to know why. CURIOSITY more than anything else. But, also the feeling that it really isn't the display itself. I am convinced that this is interference somehow and it could even be interference between backlighting and display. I just want to make sure there isn't a SIMPLE solution. If it cannot be done with a few hours of actual work, or I risk ruining my MBA, I will pass. I also am considering getting an original because I want the nice display. Would be great if we all could just throw in a new $350 display and the problem would go away. I predict that isn't the real culprit though. Maybe it's all a waste of time, but I will give it a few days of testing, researching, and time. If no results with what I am thinking of, I will pass. I was just hopeful to get some other ideas on potential causes, as it seemed that others are passing on the MBA just because of these lines, and that's disappointing. I love the MBA, and I want it to succeed more than any other Mac.
     
  16. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #16
    When I fire back up the MBAir I'll give you my data but your wall of text may get more attention if you bullet point your thoughts.
     
  17. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #17
    Um, the only stuff worth reading is my request for everyone else's ideas as to what could be the cause and solution. My rambling is my defense of myself for tackling the possibilities myself. I am really sick of the complaints, and Apple isn't going to do anything about it. So if I want it fixed, I can do it myself or learn to live with it. I decided to give it a shot. Don't really care about anything written by me here... all I care about is ideas from others that may challenge or differ from my ideas that could be a potential solution.

    Thanks for the constructive criticism though. It could have been a much greater attack given the poor writing on the page.
     
  18. justit macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    #18
    OCD? :rolleyes:
    You must use your MBA at the pool like a lounge toy. For the rest of us that depend on our laptops to make a living, the lines are a real issue for heavy duty users.
     
  19. stoconnell macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Location:
    Rockville (Despite REM's plea.)
    #19
    I have the faint lines on my Rev B with the 9C90 display. I was going back and forth trying to decide whether to try and get Apple to RMA the screen or not. It took a little while to notice and was really outside of the 14 day period when the sad realization set in :( I also wanted to see if they corrected the problem in the next release giving me ammo to go after them, and I didn't want to go through a churn of returns where the lines might get worse as I really do want to be able to use the machine and not have it in RMA limbo.

    To me, it almost feels like my eyes are completing the lines of the pixellation. It really doesn't seem to matter what brightness setting I have my screen on, and it does seem matter what angle I am viewing the screen.

    I have to wonder if anything short of class action lawsuit will get their attention. It is a shame, but even with this flaw, I still really do like this machine .. now if I'd only waited about 2 and a half months .. alas.
     
  20. h1d macrumors regular

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    Nov 30, 2008
    #20
    On another thread, it is said display swapping is possible (at least from rev A to B transition) and luckily I own a rev A right now, ordered rev C, and will try once I get a display with lines (though I hope I do not). Hope the other thread gets the reply.
     
  21. entatlrg macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

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    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    #21
    Thanks for your comments ... anyone else here notice some of the elitists here are a defensive 'smart-assed' bunch ??

    You're wondering where I use my Air, and if I use it as a "toy" and if I depend on my laptop to make a living, and whether or not I'm a heavy duty user. Is that why you're trying to say???

    I'd be happy to answer your questions. Well, I don't have a pool so I can't use it there. As for a "lounge toy", while it's not that, it certainly is an enjoyable notebook to type on, my favorite notebook so far and I've owned many.

    Yes, I very much depend on my computer to make a living. I'm a business owner, we own a manufacturing and design company, (we design consumer parts and products, I have a small staff of Engineers, Production and warehouse personel, I also own a Marketing Company doing anything from launching our products through to TV/Video promotions.

    I'm on my computer 7 days a week, 365 days a year, we manage Projects on three continents, I have a 3G Internet stick, my MBA suits "anywhere computing very well". Without a doubt I'm on a computer far more than the average person, my hobbies like surfing macrumors, movie watcing etc all entail a computer .... so yes I'm a heavy duty user and a computer is crucial to my work.

    I've answered your questions, thanks again.

    Now, let's go back to this line issue. Among my staff and friends there are 7 MacBook Air's, all Revb's bought at different times. There's no lines :eek::D Yup, I said it again. Can we find lines on the screen? Yes, the faint grey lines you mentioned here, we've looked at them all, in different light settings you can see it to different degrees *BUT* only if you look really really close, or tilt the screen a little.

    Let me give you an example, I wanted to check out my friends MBA, it was closed on his desk, I flipped it open, went to google notes, (white page) and guess what!? I saw lines :eek: You know what else? I then tilted the screen just a touch, forward or back, 1mm, and like magic the lines can't be seen.

    I called my friend over and asked him, he saw no lines, I moved the display forward and backward a little at a time and asked him to watch carefully and finally when tilted just a certain way he could see the 'faint gray lines'. Another way to find them is to put you face 4" in front of the screen - you may or may not see them...

    After looking at 6 MBA's of associates, plus my own and the displays at the Apple Stores/Best Buy etc in my experience it's not a problem. Just tilt the screen 1mm if you do see anything, turn down your brightness or the easiest of all look at the text your typing or reading, don't stare/focus on the background.

    Lines or no lines my rant it how it's been written about here, 10's of thousands of words, posts of 'mega-paragraphs' on and on and on about lines, you're bringing people down, and YOU YOURSELVES admit that maybe you can't see them all the time, or you're not sure, and 95% of the people will never ever see them, yet you're the first ones who chirp and smart-ass at people who can't see lines or don't think it's a big issue as some of you do here.

    OK, let's say it is a problem and you want it fixed ... then why the hell are you writing novels here about it? Whining, concocting special tests, and on and on some more ... it is ridiculous !!

    You have a problem and you want it fixed then PHONE APPLE !!! That's doing something constructive and may just solve your problem. Has Apple ever said "No" to anyone who's bought a notebook, had a display issue and asked for it to be fixed?

    This is a VERY informative forum, but it's been recently littered with endless junk posts, and in this case posts complaining about things you all admit 95% of the population will not notice ...

    Anyway, write the final chapter, close the book, got a problem call Apple, the MBA in my experience is a GREAT machine with an outstanding display .... see lines? tilt the screen 1 or 2 mm, if that doesn't work call Apple OR continue to be silly and write here about it were no one can really solve the problem for you, LOL...
     
  22. Manix macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    #22
    Thank you @entatlrg for your excellent post ! I'm a 100% with you. Noting more to say here. Please close the threat.
     
  23. aleksandra. macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    You forgot control + option + command + 8 ;).
     
  24. madoka macrumors 6502

    madoka

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    Jul 17, 2002
    #24
    You've done lost your mind. :eek:

    Returning a computer because you could see lines when 4" from your face? "Doctor, it hurts whenever I hit myself on the head with a hammer. What should I do?" Perhaps it's time for you to stop hitting yourself in the head dude.

    I keep picturing that dude buying eggs in Clerks when I think about your quest for the perfect MBA.

    BTW, I'm a happy Rev. A owner with no heat, line, or hinge problems. But the way you make out Rev. A is that they are worthless monstrosities. I'll be ording a Rev. C in the next month or so and I'm sure I'll be equally happy with it.
     
  25. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #25
    The Rev A's don't have the lines (I had three different models due to other issues, and all had great displays). The Rev B's screen was immediately noticeable as being horrendous. Good luck with the "C" but don't say we told you so.

    I don't have mine anymore, but I had two different Rev "B"s before switching for a Pro. And Scottdale is right, once you see the lines, that is all you see.

    I also saw about 9 in two different Apple Stores, only one did not have the lines (and one at a local best buy did not).
     

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