Am I being too uptight about my Macbook screen?
November 19, 2009 12:46 PM   Subscribe

I have an appointment to see the Mac Geniuses tomorrow regarding my Macbook's screen, which looks rather dim. However, I'm not sure if I'm asking too much, since I know the older displays dim over time. I have some photos inside comparing my Macbook to an almost identical model that is one year older than mine. Could you take a look at these pics and let me know what my chances are of getting a repair?

Other stuff:

Both are 13.3" polycarbonate white Macbooks. Mine was purchased in spring of 2007, the other was purchased sometime in 2008.

I have AppleCare.

The Apple store is a 150 mile round trip.

I checked the color calibration settings, and they are the same.

Please let me know what you would do if you were me. Other experiences with dimming screens would be appreciated as well.

Thanks for your help.

Photos are here and here.

The first photo was taken in the dark and the second was taken with the lights on.
posted by 4ster to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Looking at those photos a second time, I have to add that what looks yellow on the Macbook on the right, looks more like "dim" in person (if that makes sense). Part of the problem is that I kind of suck at photography.
posted by 4ster at 12:50 PM on November 19, 2009

I presume you meant to write that the other 'Book is a year newer than yours? I don't think your screen should look like that, but you may have trouble convincing a Genius to have it replaced if there isn't a policy on fading. I'm sure you're nice, but it always helps to be very nice and appreciative to the Geniuses, as they has a lot of leeway in getting your stuff fixed.

A word of unsolicited advice--you're going to the Apple Store, presumably to get your Mac fixed. All the work is done in Texas or Mars or something--not in a workshop in the store. If you want your screen fixed, they'll have to send it away.

Last I heard, Apple makes no guarantees about 1) returning your original computer or 2) returning your data. BACK IT UP before you send it off. Moreover, if you have anything on the hard drive you wouldn't want the world to know, ERASE IT NOW.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:56 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Thanks, Admiral. Yes, the brighter one is a year newer, not older.
posted by 4ster at 1:01 PM on November 19, 2009

Actually, depending on how common the problem is, they MIGHT be able to fix it in-store. My wrist-rest breaks all the time, which apparently happens to a lot of people, and they always fix it within a few hours.

But you should back up your stuff anyway.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:06 PM on November 19, 2009

Not all repair work is done off-site. I had a bad video camera in my Macbook display, and they replaced the entire screen panel in the back room.

I don't know what your chances for repair are or their policy on "dim displays", but I think you would not be out of line asking for the display to be replaced since you are still under AppleCare. Since the store is so far away, it may be a good idea to call ahead of time and see if you can get someone there to guess if it will be fixed.
posted by dhalgren at 1:09 PM on November 19, 2009

YMMV but I've got an ancient Pismo powerbook with a screen that's still nearly perfect. No dimming whatsoever. I don't think what you are getting should be happening and certainly not in a computer that's not even four years old yet.
posted by fenriq at 1:11 PM on November 19, 2009

Are you sure it's dimming? The 2006-2007 MacBooks had really atrocious screens, among the worst Apple has ever shipped. It may be that you're just noticing this in comparison to the better panel on the newer version. If that's the case, the Geniuses are unlikely to help.
posted by bonaldi at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2009

You have Apple Care? You should have no problem getting in repaired or replaced for nothing. It is an excellent program. If the drive is a problem for you, they will actually mail you the packaging so that you can ship it to them. (One friend's experience). Of course, that increases your time without your machine.

Another friend used to do computer repairs. So he inventoried his computer just before the Apple care expired and called in everything that was even the slightest bit off. They took care of everything.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2009

It might be a problem with the photographs, but are you sure that the 'yellowish' one is actually dimmer? It looks like it has a really bad gamma setting.

Go through the color setup wizard thing (Preferences > Displays > Color > Calibrate) and follow the instructions closely. Check the "expert" box for finer control.

It's just a wild guess, but if that actually fixes it you'll be happy to not be embarrassed at the store, I bet! :)
posted by rokusan at 1:56 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Or, if the OP's right that the color calibration is the same on both machines, a yellowish tint could well be a symptom of the backlight starting to fail and naturally starting to tend toward the red (longest length) end of the spectrum. I've watched an out-of-warranty LCD gradually turn yellowish, then reddish, then a nicely demonic solid-shades-of-red, over the course of a few months.

I agree what you're seeing here is not just par for the course for old laptops (my 4-year-old MacBook Pro soldiers on, and while it has physical issues, the screen and bulbs are still perfect) and that AppleCare should mean this issue will get addressed.
posted by kalapierson at 2:43 PM on November 19, 2009

I should have added that yes, if the AppleCare is valid, don't settle for less than a replacement. Back up before going.
posted by rokusan at 3:20 PM on November 19, 2009

FYI, the displays on all MacBooks are not interchangeable. Bonaldi is correct that the first generation MacBook has the worst display of all of them. When a tech replaces the LCD, they are instructed to replace it with a like part, especially since Apple has recently started tracking individual part serial numbers. Some big shops, I think, were playing fast and loose with parts-replacement and it was damaging to Apple's bottom line and increasing the (albeit meager) profit the AASPs were collecting for repairs. So Apple's redesigned their parts supply chain to prevent and discourage this kind of abuse. It's more work for the AASPs and technicians like me, but better in the long run for everyone.

My guess here is that you simply have a first generation display that is not the same quality as the newer generation displays. You might get lucky and get Apple to agree to replace the display, but if the technician is following Apple's repair guidelines, you'll be getting the exact same part (probably part no. 661-4211 or 661-3959) put back in your MacBook. And if the problem is just that it's a lower quality display, it's not going to really solve the problem.

More specific information about the two MacBook models could help. Use MacTracker to help you identify precisely which models you are looking at. You can also enter each MacBook's serial number here and it'll return a precise model for you (MacBook 13-inch vs. MacBook 13-inch, Late 2007 vs. MacBook 13-inch, Early 2008).
posted by at 3:28 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I won't be able to check the serial of the newer one until later this evening, but the older one comes up as MacBook (13-inch Late 2006).
posted by 4ster at 3:50 PM on November 19, 2009

All, due to work, I haven't been able to make the drive to the Apple Store, but as soon as I resolve this, I will post here. Thanks to all for your help!
posted by 4ster at 6:26 AM on November 26, 2009

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