Why are the letters flaking off the keys on my iBook?
May 8, 2005 12:55 AM   Subscribe

Why are the letters flaking off the keys on my brand-new iBook?

It's only about a month old. I noticed the letters starting to flake off the keys just about 2 days ago -- the E, D, N, and C are all about 1/4 gone already. I don't type particularly forcefully, I don't have long nails... what could be causing it? And how do I make it stop?
posted by scody to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
It's a known issue (and has happened to my iBook as well). More info here.
posted by trey at 2:41 AM on May 8, 2005

Best answer: This may be a manufacturing error, and given that your iBook is only a month old, you should probably take advantage of Apple's warranty service. They'll probably just send you a replacement keyboard to install yourself- in my 2001 model, it's about a fifteen-minute process involving three screws. They let you keep the old keyboard, too, so if you want to try out something semi-permanent like odinsdream suggests you'll still have a fallback.
posted by monocyte at 7:29 AM on May 8, 2005

Is your skin oily, or do you use mosturiser? That's well known for rubbing them off.
posted by bonaldi at 7:52 AM on May 8, 2005

Best answer: When my PowerBook keys started getting shiny after a few years of (ab)use, I picked up this iSkin keyboard cover thing to try and make it last longer. It ended up being totally awesome. And it keeps ooky stuff out from between the keys. People always ask about it when I open my computer now.

(Erm, that sounds suspiciously like an advertisement, right? Sorry. I just like it.)
posted by bcwinters at 8:59 AM on May 8, 2005

My year old iBook.. the down arrow is now totally clean. Letters are all fine though. I think it has to do with the angle of your presses.

Another issue to enjoy in a year's time is how the white casing gets a mottled blue look in the hottest and weakest areas, primarily the curved bit at the bottom back.
posted by wackybrit at 9:03 AM on May 8, 2005

Best answer: The oils whatnot on your fingertips can become very acidic, and it seems that Apple has a problem with the letter ink binding to the plastic, so the acid is getting around the edges and lifting them.

If it's a month old, though, it's a bad one. Call Apple, they'll send a new one.

The problem with my 12" powerbook (and, for that matter, Dell keyboards) is that the plastic is too soft -- I've worn certain spots to a high polish. The keyboard on my desktop -- the legendary IBM Model M, has no such problems, despite near constant use since it's manufacture date of 04-Mar-1988.

Then again, this keyboard cost $175 new in 1989 dollars, and modern keyboards cost $20. Let's just say they aren't using high-strength polymer blends anymore. (IBM gear used an incredibly tough, and rather hard to mold, blend of Polycarbonate and ABS called BayBlend. Had all the problems of molding PolyC and ABS combined -- but the part ends up incredibly tough.)
posted by eriko at 9:16 AM on May 8, 2005

Just for comparison, I've had my iBook for about a year and a half, and the only key showing any wear at all is the down arrow key. I'd say try to have the keyboard replaced under warranty. (I wouldn't recommend spray painting a keyboard that was still under warranty.)
posted by teg at 9:37 AM on May 8, 2005

This happened to my Mom's new iBook and she called and complained about it and Apple sent her a whole new keyboard in the mail. When I complained about the same thing happening with my two year old iBook -- in the context of a call to get my third logic board replaced -- they told me I'd have to live with it even though I have applecare.
posted by jessamyn at 10:18 AM on May 8, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone -- I'll call Apple on Monday and see about a new keyboard. (Also thanks for the tip on getting an iSkin -- that'll be my Plan B.)

As for my own skin, I did switch moisturizers very recently as well... maybe the residue that's now left on my fingers is interacting differently with the surface of the keys than my previous moisturizer did.
posted by scody at 12:10 PM on May 8, 2005

I'll second bcwinters's recommendation of the iSkin keyboard cover. I used to have a zebra finch that I let fly loose in my apartment. I came back from shopping one day to find her sitting on my PowerBook keyboard, watching TV and pooping furiously. Without the iSkin, I would have had a major hardware problem. As it was, all I had to do was lift off the iSkin, wash it, dry it and drop it back in place.
posted by GoatCactus at 6:40 PM on May 8, 2005

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