Uneven Illumination, as bad as White Spots - Having problems? Speak up!

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Darkside, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. Darkside macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2004
    How many of you have experienced a PowerBook display failure, characterized by half of your screen being dimmer than the other?

    Over in the Displays category of Apple Discussions, there are a lot of 15" Aluminum PowerBook users that have had this Uneven Illumination problem, myself included; after a few weeks or months of usage, half of the screen (usually right half and bottom-right corner) becomes noticably darker than the other half.

    This is very noticable when the Brightness is not turned all the way up, and especially on a white background. To test your display, turn down the Brightness (even just two or three bars will do), then open up and resize a TextEdit windowm to cover the whole screen.

    Many users are initially unsure if the uneven illumination is a problem. Here are some comments I've seen:

    - "It's only noticeable on a completely white background."
    - "I don't see it if the Brightness is all the way up."

    Those uncertainties, combined with that fact that the standard Apple background (the blue Abstract with the "swish") has a dark gradient at the bottom, probably means there are a lot more people with this problem that don't realize it's a problem!

    There are a number of reports from people that have had their screens replaced twice already, and the problem is still reocurring. The "Uneven illumination" threat at Apple Discussions is informative. Apple's increasingly attrocious customer service is not reassuring, for anyone. Apple Support has been largely unhelpful, and sometimes rude and accusatory.

    There has been no official information about the cause of this issue. Apple hasn't acknowledged it as a problem. But professionals like myself--Graphic Designers, Web Developers, etc.--and other prosumers deserve to have these issues addressed candidly.

    We've payed $2,000 or $3,000 for our PowerBooks, and for that price they should work. If repairs are necessary, so be it; but the technicians need to identify and replace the defective parts instead of blindly swapping out screens.
  2. Darkside thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2004
    In order to generate some more discussion and awareness of the Uneven Illumination issue, I started an Apple Discussions thread: "Uneven Illumination; Help me w/ facts, cause".

    It addresses some of the popular theories and fixes floating around in the Apple Discussions forums and elsewhere. It's also been a great to realize we're not alone: users with this problem tell their story, voice their concerns, and get some friendly support, rather than the often abrasive treatment from Apple.

    Some of these have been suggested by Apple technicans (NVRAM / PRAM resets), others are theories of users. It is important to note that none of these are an official fix, since Apple hasn't even acknowledged Uneven Illumination as a problem.
  3. bryanc macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2003
    Fredericton, NB Canada
    I'm generally very happy with my TiBook but...

    I've got this problem too. My display was beautiful when I first got my 667MHz TiBook about two years ago, but as it aged (and it has been used *very* heavily) it began to develop an uneveness that isn't really a big deal, but is less than perfect.

    That, in combination with the logic board failure I had to pay $920 to fix after owning the thing for only 18 months, have convinced me that my next purchase from Apple will include full AppleCare to cover this kind of stuff.

  4. Darkside thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2004
    Re: I'm generally very happy with my TiBook but...

    To clarify, the Uneven Illumination problem I'm referring to seems to be manifesting exclusively in the new Aluminum PowerBooks, particularily the 15" model.

    Many AlBook owners have this problem develop in a matter of weeks, rather than your case of dimness developing after years of usage.

    Also, the dimness in the new models is more than "unevenness"; for Aluminum PowerBook owners, the difference is quite severe, sometimes causing headaches and eye strain (although most send it in for replacement before it degrades to this point). It persists after the screen warm-up when the Book is first turned on or woken from sleep.

    The problems AlBook owners have experienced with Uneven Illumination are dramatic and severe.
  5. Paolo30 macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Yes, well, you know me...first machine DOA'd ten days after purchase in September 03 for uneven illumination. Replacement machine had screen replaced ~December 23 o3. Uneven illumination showed up on new screen 3 days later, gradually worsening.
    2 machines, 3 screens.
    AppleCare did not - generally rude and seemingly ignorant, but actually told not to admit anything was wrong with the alpb (I got this out of two of the AppleCare people I talked to - I was getting a little pissed at the obviously feigned ignorance and I backed them into a corner on it - naughty, I know.:D )
    fourth (?) guy I talked to was very good but genuinely didn't know what the problem was.
    I hope they fix it with rev B, coz I'm going to keep kicking and screaming til I get what I paid for.:p
  6. Shaughn macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2004
    Just figured I'd chime in, bump this thread and say I've also had this problem and am looking forward to an official and working fix.

    I submitted a note to Apple's Knowledge base, I'd suggest that we all do the same. :)

  7. Shaughn macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2004
    I saw that thread, Micheal. Unfortunately, the problem looks like it's still not being acknowledged by Apple.

    Be it a cable problem, screen problem, lid assembly problem... nobody knows at this point, it's still a mystery to everyone.

    Here's hoping that Apple gives us an official response.

  8. Paolo30 macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2003
    well, I just got a phone call from somebody way up in the food chain at Apple Australia actually apologising for all the crap I've been through with this (these) machine(s). It's nice to know they really do care.... and Steve Jobs really does read his email.

    I have asked my new friend in Apple to investigate this issue - shall keep all informed of progress.
  9. Shaughn macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2004
    Please do, Paolo. I'm on my second screen, and while the problem isn't nearly as bad as the first one, it's still there.

    I still can't get a handle on what's causing this. Though I suppose my curiosity would be less piqued if there was a working fix. :)

    Don't leave us hanging, there are plenty of people who would really like to get to the heart of the matter.

  10. Shaughn macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2004
    Called Applecare Education today, spoke to a really friendly tech. Told him I was currently on my second screen and he said he hadn't heard of the problem before. I tend to believe him as well, he did mention the white spots and that he'd had calls about them. Reset the NVRAM to no avail.

    So I'm getting sent out a repairbox, and I'll probably send it in while I'm on vacation in a week or so.

    The downtime is really unfortunate, but so far so good as far as how I've been treated.

    I'll be sure to keep you posted. Wish me luck!

  11. winwintoo macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2003
    My white iBook has a similar problem. Does it count??

  12. Gallows Pole macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2004
    Got my PowerBook G4 Alu 15" some days ago.
    I powered it up just to update the system to 10.3 then update this update to 10.3.2. So I did not took a close look at the display even or uneven illumination.
    Now I'm working with the thing and as soon as I turn down a little the brightness of the screen…_there you go : uneven illumination.
    Asked some friends of mine to confirm that it was not only me seeing it. They were all able to onfirm.
    I really do NOT think that this is related to the LCD display itself. If it was, I could not explain to myself why the problem does not occur when brightnees is turned to max.
    I have to take it to the reseller to check a thing or two. I'll ask him about this issue then.
  13. jprickitt macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2004
    How to handle Apple?

    Glad I found this forum and message thread. I got my 15" AlBook just before Christmas and just started noticing the uneven illumination/ screen lighting yesterday. I haven't called Apple yet. It sounds like it will be hit or miss about whether the tech I talk to will know that it's a problem. Before, I thought that I would never need AppleCare, but now I think I will pay for it, at least for my PowerBook.

    Has anyone had a permanent fix succeed? (If so what is it?)

    Any tips on when I talk to Apple? What is this I hear about being able to have a temporary machine while mine is being worked on? How does that work?
  14. Paolo30 macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2003
    According to my experience (3 machines, 4 screens) there is no fix. Apple won't acknowledge it because their banking on most of the Plebs who bought the thing not noticing the problem. After all, you'd have to be into graphics to see it, wouldn't you.
    As for speaking with Apple, you have to be inordinately nice to them, coz they sure as sh*t won't be nice to you.

    I'm getting a refund and getting out. Anybody with me?
  15. Gallows Pole macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2004
    Hi Paolo,

    Well, if you look at history from Apple, I would not give up all hope to see the fixing the problem some day.
    Remember the unbelievably loud AC Power supplies from the MDD PowerMacs ? They didn't recognized the problem…_and all the sudden they offered a replacement program !
    Let's hope with this issue.
    As far as experience with Apple customer service goes, I always talk not directly to Apple but with an official Apple Center that has always been nice to me. Let's see what they say about it here in France.
    Don't get me wrong : I'm not defending Apple and I really believe the uneven illumination problem is a scandal !
  16. Shaughn macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2004
    I don't know, Paolo.

    I don't do graphics work, and I noticed it as soon as it started to happen. I've seen some of my friends' 15" Alu Books and they certainly do NOT have this problem. A couple in my local Apple Store do not have the problem either.

    It's not something that's in all of them, at least not in my experience. What the missing link is between why so many of us have the problem come back time after time is a mystery to me.

  17. Gallows Pole macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2004
    Hi all,

    To all those with uneven illumination problems, here's what I suggest.

    1°) tell us the exact machine they got
    2°) where they got it from (local store, Apple Store, Refubished or "Genuine")
    3°) if possible Serial Number (that one can be found using the "Get info" menu or Apple system profiler
    4°) power adapter used (should be 65W but apparently some 15' Alu shipped with 45W power adapters)
    5°) conditions under which the uneven illumination happens the most visibly

    Maybe that kind of info will help !

    By the way, one pixel of my screen just died. I think Apple tolerates up to 2 of them. Will an Apple Care help get the display changed with one dead pixel ?

  18. Shaughn macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2004
    Nah, Apple won't budge on one dead pixel, sorry to say.

    As for the rest, my power adapter is the proper one. Bought it online in early December, developed uneven illumination in mid January. Second screen also developed the problem in about a week's time. It's most noticeable when the PB wakes up from sleep and when brightness is even a couple notches off maximum. However, after extended use at maximum brightness, the screen will show the same problem, albeit to a lesser extent.

    Probably going to go into the shop again this week; I'll be out of town to see family and don't need my PB with me. Might as well do it then.

  19. howyoudoin macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2002
    apple does know about white spots.

    I have a Alu powerbook that i got in october. After about a month five white spots appeared in the center of the screen all seperated about the same distance apart.

    I called apple support (i have applecare) and as soon as i said white sports to the customer service rep he replied immeditatly that they knew about the problem and told me it would only take about a day to fix.

    He said apple has been getting a lot of problem but said fixing it has been a top priority.
  20. Gallows Pole macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2004
    Hi all,

    Here's the info I think might be useful and ask others to give us.

    PowerBook G4 Alu 1,25GHz (anyone with a 1Ghz experiecing the same problems ?)
    Bought on the first days of January from SmallDog as a Refurbished machine.
    Serial Number begins with RM352ZP1.
    Came with a 45W Power adapter instead of the 65W.
    Problem shows up when the screen isn't set to full brightness and hasn't "warmed up".
    As Shaughn, the problem also shows up after an extended use at full brightness, but then again, I think even if not normal, it's tolerable.
    Hope this will help find out where the problem is…
  21. Paolo30 macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2003
    well, when I was in my reseller's shop pointing out the uneven illumination on machine number three, the tech said "All fifteen inch aluminium Powerbooks have unevenly illuminated screens because of the lid construction." I was then told that this is considered within spec.
    The fifteen inch that they had on display had a very uneven screen when I put it on solid white desktop, and was returned to the abstract Apple desktop very quickly by staff.
    My previous powerbooks were perfect for the first week or so - this one had spots and uneven illumination out of the box.
    Maybe I am being too harsh, but I've lost a lot of time and money because of this and the novelty has thoroughly worn off.
  22. Gallows Pole macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2004
    Hi Paolo,

    Well, I don't know what applicable laws look like where you live.
    But here in France there's a law that forces the seller and/or manufacturer of a product (whatever it is) to inform the customer of the precise state of the machine.
    So, as I have seen nowhere written that the screen has uneven illumination, then as a customer I am enabled to give it back to him and ask for a refund.
    The exact same thing goes for dead pixels. It's writtent NOWHERE that the screen might have 1 or 2 dead pixels. So if I find one, I have to be enabled to give the computer back.
    I'll see if this argument works for me… to have them get me a new machine.
    If they don't do it willingly, I'll see if a legal action will help, as I am a bit of a lawyer myself…
    I'll keep you informed.
  23. Gallows Pole macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2004
    Here are the latest news on my machine.
    PowerBook G4 1,25Ghz.
    Concerning the uneven illumination.
    I just called Apple in France.
    They did not seem to know about the problem. But they did not tell me it is normal and tolerable either.
    They said : Your machine is under warranty. You can either send it back to us or go to the nearest Apple Center and let them have a look.
    Apparently, if the problem is obvious, they are willing to do something (even though I don't really know exactly what for now).
    Let's wait, see and hope ;-)

    Maybe they'll change the display, and I will get one without the defective pixel…
  24. GrizzlyHippo macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2002
    on the sofa
    Me too...

    Just chiming in to say I had white spots, illumination problems, VERY bad battery life, and warped screen lid.

    Waited as long as poss. for Apple to get their **** together.

    Sent it in for repair.

    Got it back, fired it up, white spots immediately evident. Hinge now creaks and snaps loudly when opening the lid, battery life as bad as before, screen lid warped (or probably bent on purpose) in the opposite way.

    Had a f*cking fit.

    Called a senior person at Apple.

    Replacement PB ordered for me, but none available until first week of Feb... updates? Hopefully at least they've stopped production to sort all the problems and the new batch will not have Jonathon Ive's design faults in them.

    Now awaiting my new machine and cursing Apple. This is the fourth Mac in a row over the last 4-5 years that I have had problems with and that has gone back to Apple for repair and they've f*cked it up more than when it was sent to them!

    -- Most of this is already posted on the Apple discussion started by Darkside, only under my alias of Tom Grzelinski!!!


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