iBook G4 (14") - very poor construction/build quality!

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by TrevC, Jan 30, 2004.

  1. TrevC macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2004
    Well, here's my iBook G4 experience so far!

    Problem#1: Airport reception and range has been very poor with my ibook, especially compared to other laptops using the same access points.
    Apple was quite helpfull, and quickly sent me a replacement airport card. The reception with the new card was slightly better, but after a day of usage dropped to the same levels as the old one. I accepted this issue, and learned to live with it. I even built a larger antenna for my access point (this shouldn't be nessesary in a tiny 1-floor house like mine!).

    Problem #2:
    The display latch closes fine, but seems very loose. The display actually bounces around while carrying the ibook. My display case also has a slight curve/warping to it. It really doesn't look straight. I'm not just picky... other people i've showed my new ibook to also pointed this out. Pretty poor quality control here :(

    Problem #3:
    My battery sticks out slightly. This is only a minor cosmetic issue and doesn't really bother me. It's only worth mentioning because it sort of hints at poor quality control/design issues.

    Problem #4:
    My left palm rest has creaked since I first received the ibook. Stuff like this would not normally bother me, unless it caused other things to go wrong.
    Over the next 2 weeks it got bad enough that I could easilly use the palm rest to click the mouse button (using very little force). There's no way this should be possible.
    Another week later I was plugging some cables in behind my stereo and accidently leaned on the area around the trackpad a little bit. I heard what i'm pretty sure was the HD getting damaged/squished. Sure enough the machine was locked up, and could no longer even boot. I had fully killed the HD with only a moderate amount of weight applied to the trackpad area.
    The HD only made a slightly repetitive clicking sound while trying to spin up now. The apple rep I dealt with agreed the HD had failed, and said I could have it repaired locally. I was told by Apple, and the repair shop that it would take 2-3 days.

    I'm not at all rough with my electronics, and in no way expected this would happen so easilly. I'm completely disappointed with the build quality of this laptop, especially considering it's coming from a company with a reputation for _superior_ manufacturing/design. That's exactly why I paid the extra dollars and sacrificed the performace gain almost any x86-based laptop would bring.

    My 1 month old ibook has been at the repair shop for over 2 weeks now waiting for a replacement HD, no word on when i'm getting it back. They say the "part" is on backorder from Apple. How hard could it possibly be to get a 60gb fujitsu laptop HD?

    Have any iBook owners out there had similar issues?

    Is there any possible way to get apple to let me return my order for a refund?
    I'm certainly not interested in waiting for another G4 iBook, or additional repairs. Have any of you convinced Apple to refund an order?

    I've seen 2 additional g4 iBooks that had a creaky left palm-rests. Scary stuff. What's going on with the quality of stuff coming from apple these days? :/
    I've previously owned a laptop from toshiba, and deal with many laptops at work. I've yet to see build quality that's this poor (with the exception of stuff coming from Dell).

    The specs on my iBook are as follows:
    BTO 1ghz, 640mb, 60gb, Airport Extreme, Bluetooth, Bluetooth keyboard.
  2. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    The curve on the screen (the "smile" so to speak) is intentional. There might be something wrong with your AirPort antenna. The battery sticking out is design, so it's not a QC issue. It's either one or the other, design or QC, not both. Well, maybe both, but then you'd have MAJOR problems.
  3. TrevC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2004
    On a completely unrelated note:

    "The Planets, Op.32: 4. Jupiter, the... Boston Pops Orchestra & W..."

    Nice choice! that's one of my favs as well:)
  4. RandomDeadHead macrumors 6502

    Feb 8, 2003
    Have you checked out the similarly priced HP laptops at your local computer store? How about the new Sony's? A friend of my wife just bought a new $2000.00 Sony laptop, got it home, opened the box, lifted up the screen, and the lcd fell out. No joke:rolleyes:

    At my office we use 4 first gen 14 inch G3 iBooks, all of witch have the same "defects" you mentioned. We put them through absolute hell, I allow my employees to take them home with them after work. Around 5:30 everyday they get chucked (not placed, not tossed, not set, but chucked) into the back seat of their cars, and we have NO laptop bags. Our office ratdog (half chihuhua, half teacup poodle) has even had the audacity to lift his leg on one as it was opened but thankfully turned off. We aired it out for a week and it is as good as new, aside from a lingering odor.

    So fret not, if your feeling down about the build quality of your purchase, just drive down to your local computer shack and look at what your money could have bought you there. I bet you will feel better about your purchase.
  5. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    I have not been impressed with Sony's laptops recently. Of the two people I know with one, both are broken. My roommate's keyboard doesn't work, his optical drive tray doesn't latch shut, and something about a clip in the back. The worst part is it's not under warranty after 6 months! The other person I know lives on my floor and has been in a few classes with me. He just Fed Ex'd his back to Sony for randomly overheating and shutting down.
  6. TrevC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2004
    Have you guys heard anything about Apple ever giving refunds? i'm sure it's not common, but i'm curious and crossing my fingers for one.

    I wish Apple offered a money-back guarantee like most companies do. I've seen quite a few that are 15-30 days.
  7. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Theirs is 10 days no questions, minus a 10% restocking fee if opened. After that, I think it requires some sort of problem.
  8. jamdr macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Good luck with that refund...

    Apple does not do refunds. I had an iBook once that had more problem than yours does, but Apple just kept telling me to send it back in for one repair after another. Eventually, I got tired of it and said I wanted either a refund or a new/refurbished computer (as long as it wasn't mine). The customer service representative told me there is NO WAY I'd ever get a new one, and that if I wanted a different machine, I'd have to sell the one I have on eBay and then buy another. I remember spending the whole day on the phone (most of it waiting on hold) getting transferred from one rep to another, higher up. But they never let in. If you do ever get a return/refund, let me know how you did it!

    The funny thing is, I'm sure that all of the logic board and other part replacements that Apple did were more expensive than a new machine would be. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I was astounded at how readily tech support would replace all of these expensive parts, but would never just order a replacement.

    That said, one time I bought a PowerMac G4 400MHz. I had it for about a month, and one day it just died on me. So I sent it in to Apple and waited to hear about what went wrong. And I waited. And waited. Finally I called them and they told me they didn't know what was wrong with my Mac and that they replaced virtually every single part inside of it, and it still didn't work. So finally they just sent me a new G4, and lucky for me the new models had come out with faster processors and CDRW drives!
  9. TrevC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2004
    I'll try my best for a refund.
    I sure hope i'm not stuck with this thing.

    As much as I like OS X (i'm a long time *nix guy), I need a _solid_ laptop. Not a machine that can have a complete HD failure because someone touched the case in the wrong way. :mad:
  10. absolut_mac macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2003
    Dallas, Texas
    Re: Good luck with that refund...

    Apple, like every other company, is obligated to give you a 100% functional computer for your money. If they cannot fix it after 4 attempts, the law obligates them to either give you a brand new working machine, or a full 100% refund. End of story.

    Don't waste time either, because it's on their side. The longer you leave it, the less likelihood there is of you getting a refund.

    The above should definitely be easy enough for you here in Hollywood Land where the consumer rules. If it comes down to the worst case scenario, you can always take them to small claims court where judges are usually very sympathetic to consumers. Especially if you have good records to show that you received a defective machine and tried to have it repaired in good faith.
  11. Paolo30 macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2003
    I'm going for a refund on my 15" powerbook tomorrow, so I'll let you know what happens with that. I've been through 3 machines and a screen replacement and lost a substantial sum of money while waiting for a resolution from Apple. I was also on the receiving end of some very poor customer service from the company.

    I did find that doing a search for your local Apple CEO's email address and then writing them has positive results.
    I emailed Steve Jobs and Tony King (MD apple australia) and immediately received the first real apology I had gotten from the company. I think that the media may be interested in a story like yours, too. You may find Apple suddenly very willing to help.

    As far as pc build quality goes, I've never seen an LCD this bad on anything but the crappiest second-rate machines. I think you'll find some pretty good quality if you spend the same amount on a pc - not to mention higher resolution screens - just shop around and look hard at the warranty.

    Sub par is sub par, no matter what the logo. The fact that the manufacturers who are sub-contracted by Apple to make these things also make many other brands of machines speaks volumes on the mis-placed faith of Apple Fetishists in the "superior design" of these machines. It doesn't matter how good the kit is - if you've got monkeys putting it together you're in trouble.
  12. Rend It macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2003
    United States
    Sorry you've had so much trouble. I don't have an iBook, but I do have one of the notororious 15" Al Powerbooks. As this was my first Mac, I was very impressed when I first received it. It's a work of art. But after about 3 months, I started to notice the much-talked-about white spots, and the tricky latch started to get on my nerves. So, I called Apple a few weeks ago, and they were very helpful. I have a new display (albeit with a number of dead pixels - another repair box is on its way), a perfectly working latch, and a new battery, since mine was under spec.

    Now, all of this may have to do with the fact that I purchased the Apple Care extended warranty, I don't really know. My repair was dropped off at Airborne on a Wed afternoon, and I received it back the following Friday morning (!). A friend of mine has a Toshiba Centrino notebook, and is very happy with it. It was about $500 cheaper than mine, but I still would not have purchased one, because I wanted a Mac for OSX, not the hardware.

    So, it depends on which things are important to your circumstances. If Apple really can't work out the issues, you are certainly entitled to a refund, or at the least a credit toward the purchase of something other than an iBook. And don't hesitate to let the Apple reps know that your time is too valuable to have to wait 2 weeks for a HD repair. And as I have read many times in these threads, if you get a bad customer rep, just graciously hang up, and call again. Some people are just more helpful than others.

    Good Luck.
  13. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Actually, they try to have a turnaround time as fast as possible for laptops, so your case is normal.
  14. EscCtrlPigUp macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2004
    Las Vegas
    Problems...no kidding

    I know how you feel. I bought my 900MHz G3 iBook in late November (along with my PERFECT 10GB iPod) and I've had a few problems. The iBook's AirPort card never worked even though I had it factory installed and tested. Took it to my AppleStore and they re-seated it, ran Apple Hardware Test CD whatever and handed it back to me (then closed shop). I open it up and Jaguar gives me an error...no AirPort. OS 9 knew it was installed but that there was a "pathway error #xyz". I took it back to the AppleStore and they sent it off. Well, four damn weeks later I get my iBook back. I had called them at least a few dozen times during that time. The logic board had been replaced 3 times. Three, and if it wasn't under warranty that would have been about $600 each replacement (ouch). Now that I have it back and have been using it for a few days the fan turns on and it crashes. There are 3 fan speeds, low, medium and high as far as I can tell. When the fan is on low it hangs on whatever it’s on: iTunes will loop the same second of music, etc. With it on medium it will crash with the standard kernel panic...Please hold the power key. And if its on high then it goes into the old kernel dump listing the memory list and at the end, this is the best, says: "help: were hanging here". I talked to Apple Thursday and they sent a box to me the next morning and now I'm waiting to get it back. Now that there is an iBook Logic Board Repair Extension they will have a reason why it will take forever. Another thing that has always bothered me was the same way my left palm rest creaked also. And battery? What is that crap? The 12" PowerBook has the same thing. I really don't see why Apple couldn't put the batter inside the case like they did with the 15". And move the hard drive to under the trackpad...so both palms could be cool. Oh well.
  15. lbodnar macrumors regular

    Jan 5, 2004
    If you decide to go for a x86 laptop... From my experience (around 200 laptops for the last 9 years) one of the best is Toshiba. The worst is Dell.

    I can only assume that it is explained by a lack of manufacturer's experience. Laptops are very special in the level of physical abuse they receive and only experience can tell you what happens with it in 3-4 years. Dell jumped in just a few years ago. Toshiba was there since inception. Toshibas live like tanks - only scratches reveal their age.

    Apple has the same lack of experience as many greedy newcomers - thus all the problems.
  16. PensDevil macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2003
    Just to add a positive note...

    Sorry to hear about all of the problems.

    Just to state the other side of the quality issue, I recently purchased a new 14" iBook (933 G4) with AP extreme card for my fiance. Our experience has been nothing but positive in regards to the computer. No squeaks, wobbles, funky smells or sounds and the LCD is pixel perfect. The only problem has been that we tried to save a few bucks by ordering a 512MB stick of RAM from a 3rd party (Crucial). The RAM caused all sorts of problems: apps quitting, kernel panics and general in stability. So the bad RAm comes out, and the iBook is back to normal.

    Lemon computers come from all manufacturers. The iBook replaced an HP laptop that was waiting to go out for its fourth repair:
    1. Screen would go blink / go blank (external monitor would work).
    2. Bad power connector on the laptop.
    3. Would not start up. HDD made clicking sounds. Bad HDD.
    4. Sometimes same as 1, sometimes same as 3.

    Good luck getting your iBook refunded/repaired/replaced.
  17. Pilgrims Pro macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2003
    I bought a G4 iBook in the middle of December. For the first week or two everything was perfect, then like the original poster I have had many of the same problems (with the exception of the HD). The lid does not sit flush to the base. The battery doesn't come close to sitting flush on the front of the laptop, and the left side creaks regularly. I love my Mac, but I do feel these issues should be fixed by Apple, but I have spoken to other iBook owners and they say the have the same problems after sending it back.

    I purchased Crucial memory for the iBook, and I have not had any problems, so contact Crucial, they will take care of the problem.

    And for the record I have had four Gateway Laptops over the last 10 years, and never had a hardware problem or defect, every problem I ever has was with Windows or other software.
  18. Spock macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2002
    It is really weird that the Problems You have with Your iBook happen over time. How many times have You dropped it??
  19. Pilgrims Pro macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2003
    I have never dropped my iBook. The "problems" that I have are very common among the iBook.

    Here is another thread with many of the same problems and complainants:

    Click Here
  20. Apple][Forever macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2002


    Apple has been making Powerbooks for a long freakin' time.
  21. bmelon macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2004
    New ibook 933 with no build defects

    I just received my ibook g4 933 (stock) from amazon.com. I too was very concerned about the trackpad issue, which I had experienced firsthand on a couple of the ibooks at the Emeryville, CA Apple store. I decided to order one anyway since amazon has a very liberal return policy. The machine I got is, as far as I can tell, perfect. I haven't put an airport card in yet, so I can't comment on that. But no matter how hard I push on the space to the left of the trackpad, and near its bottom left corner, I never make an accidental mouse click. On the basis of my computer, it seems as though apple addressed this problem early on, and it's no longer an issue.
    The machine is very fast (xbench 87 with no extra ram) and a lot of fun. My only gripe with amazon is that they didn't send ilife with it. Not a major problem. My Otherworld computer 8x pioneer firewire dvd burner arrives today, so seeing how the ibook works with that will be the next big test.
  22. fussball macrumors regular

    May 7, 2003
    I realize that your iBook has had problems and I sympathize with that-- I just had my logic board replaced, and it took a month. That said, it was returned to me, with no questions asked about my warranty voiding case mod (painted case) and updated software, for free.

    All manufactured items will have defects along the way- it is a simple matter of course. Also, in online forums you often only hear the sob stories and not the good ones.

    My iBook, before the logic board failure, had survived 2 years of college use, being dragged about everywhere on campus without a case, had been on 18-20 hours a day, every day. And used many processor intensive and HD instensive apps, and has done everything with aplomb. I got a great computer for the price, and I have a 1.33 ghz pb12 showing up tomorrow.

    just remember, that a few anecdotal bad expereinces will happen everywhere, and apple is no worse than any other company. I hope you can sort out your iBook, and can enjoy your mac experience.
  23. Grokgod macrumors 6502a


    Feb 26, 2002
    Deep within the heart of madness!
    It seems that for every computer company there are issues and that each company has their share of DOA's etc dispite QC.

    I was very angry at the issues with the new Rev A Alubooks.

    After sending it to APPLE they stated that it was withing working parameters. Now this can mean alot of different thing to many people and there are many levels of HELP from APPLE.

    I chose to sell the ALubook and get another Ti only a 1 giger instead of a 800.

    I think that the question here is what can you live with.

    All the new powerbooks have a kind of smile in the lid unlike the Ti's that close strong and straight.
    But there were many people that refused to put a peice of paper tween the keys and lcd and suffered marks onthe screen. This prompted action from APPLE in may different ways.

    So, the lid curvature is something that may have to be lived with.

    The noisy palm rest is sometimes a result of poor case manufacturing and not always present. Sadly there is no way to test these things because APPLE doesnt let you see what you buy.
    Which is insane! No other company would get away with this is think.

    So buy from someone that is more permissive.
    Amazon looks good and I am going to look into them.
    Its hard to find their phone number, whew

    As for your HD, do not apply pressure to any HD, I am sure that you couldnt have applied enough to break it, so I think that APPLE has to replace it, pronto!

    Good luck.
    But I think that this is par for the course and those of us that get working models are lucky because there are many that don't!

    Its all an issue of what you can deal with.
    My girlfriend read this and didnt care about any of those issues except the HD failure....YUCK she said!
  24. Xacttech macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2004
    The problem isn't with Apple Hardware IMO, it's more to do with them trying to be Overly innovative. I have no experience with the new ibooks/powerbooks, but I had a wallstreet and I can tell you that it was the best laptop I've ever used, and I had no problems with it whatsever... It just didn't look "cool" enough for apple anymore, since all laptop manufacturers used Black cases...

    But it could withstand everything... Didn't get scratched up.. the plastic didn't oxidize ;) and everythign was designed nearly perfect (latch closures, hinges, CD ROM, Ram and processor access etc.)

    Now I'm sure that there were some who had problems with my style powerbook, but I'm here to tell you that apple used to have a nearly flawless product.

    But now through innovation and being the first they aren't getting the necessary testing done. aL vs Ti powerbooks, nice looking but horrible white acrylics my ipod looked great out of the box, but after 15 minutes its mirror looks fingerprinted and scratched, and the white acrylic has surface scratches all over it.

    Sorry for the near off topic rant...
  25. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    I have several iBooks, all of them take a beating and work fine. I don't have a reason to push on the corners to the left of the trackpad so that hasn't been an issue. If anything, I would have to say the iBooks are some of the toughest "mainstream" notebooks.

    Plastic isn't really an option for Powerbooks anymore. They need to be manufactured from something more robust. Titanium was limiting because it didn't conduct heat well, blocks RF (wireless), and cannot be anodized. Magnesium alloy cracks but isn't a bad option. Aluminum would seem the best option.

    However, that isn't to say that there isn't always room for improvement and design revision.

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