Dead Apple Pixels
May 22, 2004 5:47 PM   Subscribe

How many pixels need to be broken for Apple to replace one of their laptop screens? (more inside)
posted by garethspor to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
My friend got her Powerbook replaced after she could point out two dead ones.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 5:53 PM on May 22, 2004

Response by poster: My girlfriend just bought a brand new 17" G4 laptop from the apple store last week. Last night we put a DVD in and when the screen went black we were greeted by a bright green stuck pixel that stayed on for the duration of the show and afterwards. We took it back to the store to have them check it out but they told me that Apple wouldn't replace the screen if only 1 or 2 pixels were broken. I asked them how many needed to be broken before they would replace it and they told me that information was... CLASSIFIED. Strange huh? Also, we checked the screen and found the pixel to be fixed again (separate question: how could a broken pixel be intermittent?) anyways, I thought all of this was strange so I thought I'd post it on the green and see if anyone out there had any insights for me.
posted by garethspor at 5:55 PM on May 22, 2004

The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, The answer is blowing in the wind.

Did you check the warrantee card? Generally LCD screens are separated into several different classes of quality. I'd think apple would warrantee them as the most highest quality (ie no dead pixels), what with them being an expensive brand and everything. But apparantly not.
posted by fvw at 6:05 PM on May 22, 2004

For your "separate question": There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that dead pixels can be massaged back to life. It makes sense that it could be intermittent if you realize that pixels are actually moving parts. Each subpixel has a bunch of liquid crystals that physically twist to change the subpixel's brightness. I don't know what exactly causes dead pixels, but it's plausible that if the solid-state (no moving parts) electronic bits are fine, the liquid crystals might be stuck in the wrong orientation or solidified or some such.
posted by whatnotever at 6:33 PM on May 22, 2004

Test it with a program like Dead Pixel Identifier to confirm whether that's the only one. Rumor has it the magic number is five.

Do try the rubbing trick. If that doesn't work, here's another possibility if you act quickly and can live with a 10% restocking fee: don't bother trying to get permission for an exchange or repair, just exercise the (10 day) right to return it. If you choose to buy a replacement, ask the clerk to open the box so you can run a pixel test right there in the store before accepting it. If you find any dead pixels on that one too, tell the clerk to go back into the stockroom and try again. If you do stick with this one, I would at least ask the tech for some documentation that it has one dead pixel already. Maybe it'll help you get resolution when (if) additional pixels fail.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:50 PM on May 22, 2004

Quick Google gave me this. I had an AOC panel that had a dead pixel. I ended up eBaying it after a year (having never tried to get it replaced, I might add), and buying an Iiyama TFT that is perfect.

As that link points out, there *are* ways to kill a few pixels manually. Although the article recommends heat, I have a friend who's a partner in a small IT business who, when buying an Apple Cinema display for a fastidious graphic designer, added a few more dead pixels to the screen with the fubber end of a pencil, to make it bad enough for Apple to take back.

Jus' sayin'.
posted by armoured-ant at 6:51 PM on May 22, 2004

I have also heard 5, and apple's lcd displays aren't all great. The stand-alone ones are very good quality, the ones that are on imacs are good, but nothing spectacular.
posted by rhyax at 6:56 PM on May 22, 2004

Way back in August, that "classified" information about how many dead pixels are acceptable leaked to MacRumors.

Apparently a display is defective if it has meets of these conditions:
- Five always-off pixels
- Five stuck (always one color) pixels
- A total combination of nine off or stuck pixels

However, this supposedly is specific to 17" displays. Interestingly, the day after this document hit the streets, MacRumors published a correction, saying the leaked information was outdated and the requirements for replacing a display are now much more lax. Maybe call Apple Store a couple times, and each time tell them you have one more dead pixel? Find out when they offer to replace it.

Every time this topic comes up I thank my lucky stars that my 17" iMac has a perfect (though often dusty) display.
posted by Sfving at 8:26 PM on May 22, 2004

If your girlfriend bought it at one of the Apple stores (as opposed to online), it couldn't hurt to go back and talk to the people working there about waiving the restocking fee. You never know what they might decide to do if you're nice to the retail lackeys.
posted by gyc at 10:19 PM on May 22, 2004

I've heard five as well, but this may be a rumor from the old days of PowerBooks, when pixels could be stuck either black or white. Back then, the rule was that you could get the screen replaced if you had any of the following:
  • five pixels stuck white
  • two pixels stuck white within an inch of each other
  • one pixel stuck black

posted by oaf at 4:34 AM on May 23, 2004

Ugh, I guess I had a typo up there. I meant, "Apparently a display is defective if it meets one of these conditions." Not all of them.
posted by Sfving at 8:37 AM on May 23, 2004

As far as I know some company replace LCD monitors if they have at least 5 broken pixels forming a line.
posted by elpapacito at 7:17 PM on May 23, 2004

I know an Apple tech, and the magic number is indeed five. This is more of a guideline than a rule however.

I will second going in to a retail location and talking with one of the geniuses. I had a 17" powerbook with only one stuck pixel that was replaced with little more than some whining on my part.
posted by esch at 8:03 PM on May 23, 2004

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