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Apple hit with class-action suit over MacBook, MacBook Pro displays

post #1 of 147
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Apple Inc. has been hit with another class-action lawsuit. This time the formal complaint comes courtesy of a pair of MacBook and MacBook Pro owners who charge the company with falsely advertising the quality and capabilities of the displays used in the Intel notebooks.

In the May 3rd filing with the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego, private citizens Fred Greaves and Dave Gatley are seeking multiple forms of relief and reimbursement, in addition to an injunction that would prevent Apple from continuing to market its existing notebook displays alongside claims that they support "millions of colors" and offer views "simply unavailable on other portables."

Specifically, they charge that the Cupertino-based company's MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook displays are only capable of displaying the "illusion of millions of colors through the use of a software technique referred to as 'dithering,' which causes nearby pixels on the display to use slightly varying shades of colors that trick the human eye into perceiving the desired color even though it is not truly that color."

Citations in the suit imply that the Apple notebooks may employ sub-par displays only capable of 6 bits per channel (18-bit color), rather than 8 bits per channel, making them capable of displaying only 262,144 colors without dithering, as opposed to millions. That would explain why within weeks of purchase, a flood of customers reported that their MacBook and MacBook Pro displays appeared "grainy" or "sparkly," according to the complaint.

The 22-page suit includes about 6 pages of sample complaints waged by disgruntled customers on Apple's discussion forms and other outlets, including the AppleInsider and MacNN forums. It notes that a large number of customers have contacted Apple for relief, to no avail.

"Many such dissatisfied purchasers were chastised by Apple agents and employees for being too picky about their assessment of the quality of the display," the suit alleges. "Other dissatisfied purchasers were told that they were imagining the complained about defects."

The matter is of particular concern to MacBook and MacBook Pro users who rely on the accuracy of the displays for graphic use, such as photography, according to the complaint. It asserts that the displays, even at their highest resolutions, are unreliable for editing purposes.

In addition to false advertising and misrepresentation, Apple is also charged with violating the Unfair Competition Law and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act with its failure to address and rectify the situation.

Due to the large number of customer complaints, including complaints on the company's own website, it's apparent that Apple is well aware of the problems, the suit claims. It adds, however, that the Mac maker has taken it upon itself to heavily redact many of the posted complaints, and has even gone to the lengths of "taking down" entire threads devoted to the subject.

Representatives for the Law Offices of Peter M. Polischuk, attorneys representing the plaintiffs, had not returned inquires for comment as of press time.

For those interest, a copy of the complaint is being made available by AppleInsider as a PDF download.
post #2 of 147
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I AM THE FIRST!
post #3 of 147
Y'know, I'm proud that I've never joined a class-action lawsuit against any company. The net result is that you'll receive a check in the mail for 12 cents and feel none the better for it.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #4 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Representatives for the Law Offices of Peter M. Polischuk, attorneys representing the plaintiffs, had not returned inquires for comment as of press time.

For those interest, a copy of the complaint is being made available by AppleInsider as a PDF download.

"the Law Offices of Peter M. Polischuk" will receive a settlement of 200 million USD, and the Macbook owner will get a coupon for $50 USD off their next Apple purchase.

edit: Yeah what SpamSandwich said.
post #5 of 147
I find it interesting that people were complaining the displays were 'grainy'. When I purchased a Macbook not long ago, I had a display that fit this description. It appeared that the display couldn't produce all the necessary colors to properly display images, backgrounds, etc. This wasn't due to the screen technology but was actually a defective screen. Apple replaced the computer due to the issue and the replacement is 'perfect' (ie no more flickering pixels and colors look as they should).

Could this suit be based on a defective product and not the purported inaccurate marketing? That would be embarrassing for the plaintiffs.
post #6 of 147
What I don't understand is, if you need a computer with a display which is perfectly color accurate (for preparing files for print or whatnot), wouldn't that be the very first thing you test for when you buy a computer? And if it doesn't measure up, I'm sure you'd be able to return the computer and get a refund if you do it within a reasonable amount of time (though I admit, I'm not familiar with Apple's return policy).
 
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post #7 of 147
Who knows, but it kind of sounds like they have Apple dead-to-rights on this one. I have no doubt that Apple did these kinds of things. It's arrogance is improving slightly, but only slightly.

And Apple has a history of nearly absurd advertising claims and dismissive customer service. "3X as fast as a Pentium," or "the display floats in mid-air" for the sunflower iMac. Obviously the latter is hyperbole, but Apple tends to go a little far with the advertising to say the least.

I've had few if any problems with my MBPC2D display, other than relatively uneven backlighting. Just FYI.
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post #8 of 147
"The matter is of particular concern to MacBook and MacBook Pro users who rely on the accuracy of the displays for graphic use, such as photography..."

What a bunch of bull crap! No self-respecting professional in his (or her) right mind would ever rely on a laptop screen for critical photo editing for one very simple reason: It is extremely difficult to be certain that the screen is opened to exactly the same viewing angle each time the machine is turned on; and even the slightest change in the viewing angle alters the perceived brightness and contrast of the displayed image. This is a fact of life for laptop users, who should know better than to rely on any laptop screen for absolutely faithful image reproduction. Not to mention the fact that, when traveling with a laptop, the constantly changing viewing environment has a very significant effect on the perceived brightness and contrast of the display. The morons who brought this suit have their heads so far up their asses that it's a wonder they can see anything at all.
post #9 of 147
This is just idiocy. You test a product before you buy it, especially such an expensive one. Unless your particular unit is defective, deal with it. I'm tired of all the class action whiners.
post #10 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Y'know, I'm proud that I've never joined a class-action lawsuit against any company. The net result is that you'll receive a check in the mail for 12 cents and feel none the better for it.

Cept for some real life stories turned into made for TV movies.... Class action lawsuits are all about the fees... The legal fees. The unwashed masses that sit behind the complaint (whether they like/agree with it or not) have next to nothing to do with it... The public is just a "necessary evil" lawyers (unfortunately) need to pull off this form of legalized extortion... They'd remove people from the equation if they thought they could.

I'm just waiting for the day when you go out to dinner and are served a meal that isn't prepared correctly (or to your liking)... Instead of asking the waiter to take it back you jump to your trusty cell phone connect with your lawyer and sue them out of existence.

Lawyers... You can't killem and... you can't killem

Dave
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post #11 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by age234 View Post

This is just idiocy. You test a product before you buy it, especially such an expensive one. Unless your particular unit is defective, deal with it. I'm tired of all the class action whiners.

Perhaps your age is more like your post count. Yes, one tests a product. No shit. What the suit is alleging is that displays get grainy and what not--in other words they DEGRADE after purchase. It is also alleging that Apple has engaged in false advertising and negligent customer service practices. Those are very serious concerns, and ones that seem well founded to me.
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post #12 of 147
The nerve of these whiners! Expecting that their premium-priced purchase would work as advertised! And not expecting to be berated when they pointed out the flaw to Apple!

They are worse than Hitler! And Saddam! Combined!
post #13 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

What the suit is alleging is that displays get grainy and what not--in other words they DEGRADE after purchase.

You're kidding right...

Run out and show me a Display/TV/Projector that doesn't degrade as time goes on...

As a matter of fact... Why don't you show me **any** product that doesn't degrade over time... Pet rocks and sand don't count.

D
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post #14 of 147
I think almost everyone is too eager to defend Apple. If their displays only support 6 bpc color and they say they support 8 bpc then Apple deserves everything they get. I don't care what company is involved, lying and marketing are very close, but there is a line between them, and when that line is crossed the law has been broken.

If the displays just don't look "good enough" to some people that is a very different story, but if there are actual lies in Apple's marketing then they deserve to lose whatever profits come from those lies plus punitive damages to dissuade them from doing this again.
post #15 of 147
I read the complaint. Allegedly, booting into WindowsXP using Bootcamp fixes the issue. That means that either a driver or firmware update will fix this. I don't see that Apple has much exposure here. It's not like they're going to have to actually recall hardware or anything. Apple never claimed that their displays support 8bpc, and according a forum post cited in the complaint you cannot buy any PC laptop for any price with an 8bpc display. Everything is 6.
post #16 of 147
Well aside from the merits of the whole lawsuit. Do the MBPs really have 6-bit displays?
post #17 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Cept for some real life stories turned into made for TV movies.... Class action lawsuits are all about the fees... The legal fees.

I love hearing the legal opinions of someone who starts their post with "cept"!

You're conveniently forgetting the punitive damages that a company faces, and the incentive it provides them to not f*** over consumers.
post #18 of 147
I think these two guys are too picky about their assessment of the quality of the display and should get a life. (wait - isn't that what Apple told them?)
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post #19 of 147
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Originally Posted by wilco View Post

The nerve of these whiners! Expecting that their premium-priced purchase would work as advertised! And not expecting to be berated when they pointed out the flaw to Apple!

They are worse than Hitler! And Saddam! Combined!

Don't be goofy...

Seems like 2 weeks is plenty of time to decide if you like the computer you just purchased...

Apple Store (online): "RETURN & REFUND POLICY - If you are not satisfied with your Apple purchase of a product, please call 1-800-676-2775 for a Return Material Authorization (RMA) request within 14 calendar days of the receipt of the product."

D
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post #20 of 147
If Apple's marketing says that the laptops support "Millions of colors" then they are stating that they have an 8 bpc display. a 6 pbc display will not support "Millions of colors" If no laptop in the world has an 8 bpc display then it is even worse because it shows their arrogance. They thought they could get away with stating something that is obviously false to a great many people.

I am not one of those people as I didn't know that laptop displays were 6 bit. Is this true of all LCDs or just laptops? Are the Cinema displays 6 bpc as well?
post #21 of 147
What do deciding if you like the computer or not have to do with it. If they say (in specs) that the machine will do something, and it doesn't, that's false advertising.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Don't be goofy...

Seems like 2 weeks is plenty of time to decide if you like the computer you just purchased...

Apple Store (online): "RETURN & REFUND POLICY - If you are not satisfied with your Apple purchase of a product, please call 1-800-676-2775 for a Return Material Authorization (RMA) request within 14 calendar days of the receipt of the product."

D
post #22 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by laurence13 View Post

If Apple's marketing says that the laptops support "Millions of colors" then they are stating that they have an 8 bpc display. a 6 pbc display will not support "Millions of colors" If no laptop in the world has an 8 bpc display then it is even worse because it shows their arrogance. They thought they could get away with stating something that is obviously false to a great many people.

I am not one of those people as I didn't know that laptop displays were 6 bit. Is this true of all LCDs or just laptops? Are the Cinema displays 6 bpc as well?

I'm not too sure of most laptop LCDs and I couldn't find any info easily online. 6-bit desktop LCDs are pretty common in the value purchases. Most of the 22" LCDs out today use 6-bit panels I believe. However there are 8-bit panels as well. Not sure on Apple, but Dell sells their 8-bit panels as their "Ultrasharp" brand.
post #23 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilco View Post

I love hearing the legal opinions of someone who starts their post with "cept"! You're conveniently forgetting the punitive damages that a company faces, and the incentive it provides them to not f*** over consumers.

Informal communications -- do me a favor, look it up. On the other hand, If you were seriously expecting me to use the Queen's English in each post to the AI message board I have a reply for you. Bugger off.

"You're conveniently forgetting the punitive damages"

You are kidding right? Punitive damages... you mean like punishing a company (like Ford did in a town near me) for illegal dumping crap in the water & soil? Sure Ford will pay for the clean-up and some fines that go to the state EPA never to be seen again but do you really think it ends their? Hell no, Ford simply add $100 more bucks to the cost of the F150 for the next 5 years.

Here's a little tip for ya...

Shit always rolls down hill... Politicians are at the top of the hill, followed closely by corporations and perhaps the churches and finally at the bottom of the hill is the rest of us - "The great unwashed masses" that always foot the bill one way or the other.

Punitive damages.... that's a good one alright.

D
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post #24 of 147
All laptops use the same types of panel though.

The dithering is a sensible way to obtain millions of colours from a TN panel. Sure, it isn't an 8-bit panel, but on the other hand their batteries last 4+ hours and the laptop is under an inch thick.
post #25 of 147
Okay to try and nip this in the bud....

Found on the net:

"How to Tell if an LCD is 8-Bit or 6-Bit

This is the biggest problem for individuals who are looking at purchasing an LCD monitor. Most manufacturers do not list the color depth of their display. Even fewer will list the actual per-color depth. If the manufacturer lists the color as 16.7 million colors, it should be assumed that the display is 8-bit per-color. If the colors are listed as being 16.2 million or 16 million, consumers should assume that it uses a 6-bit per-color depth. If no color depths is listed, it should be assumed that monitors of 12ms or faster will be 6-bit and the 20ms and slower panels are 8-bit."

- If the manufacturer lists the color as 16.7 million colors, it should be assumed that the display is 8-bit per-color.

- If the colors are listed as being 16.2 million or 16 million, consumers should assume that it uses a 6-bit per-color depth.

Apple simply states 'millions' in the tech specs I've seen... Nowhere does it state "16.7 million colors" - if it did they would need to be using (slower) 8 bit displays instead of (faster) 6 bit displays.

I really don't think these folks have a leg to stand on unless they can produce something from Apple indicating the laptop displays are "8 bit color" **or** they indicate the displays are capable of displaying "16.7 million colors".

Dave
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post #26 of 147
well, seems liek this has many factors which could cause a spanner in the works...
its strange but you sift through the complaint and the crux of it rests on a few very basic, but not minor, details. At first it reads like 'yet another' suit against Apple where a patent infringement has occured or some disgruntled prat is suing cause they feel hard done-by that they didn't think of the idea first...but looks like there's maybe more to it.
Apple state, not imply, that the screens on their MB and MBPs are capable of a much wider gamut than they can achieve. Its not great to be honest, and as a photographer I know that you shouldn't rely on a laptop for all your editing...its best done on a big screen where its easier (I won't go into specifics as its pretty obvious)
The next point implies Apple's customer care is sub-par with regards to it's marketing and approach in all other areas, defective parts do get replaced but failing to address issues without serious consideration and just dismissing them is not good. Especially if it is in fact true (with evidence).

The upshot of this could go a number of ways:
Apple change the wording of their adverts in as much as not state 'millions of colours'
Apple own up to mistreatment of customers in certain issues and devote themselves to correcting their mistakes
Apple does nothing.

...?
post #27 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilco View Post

I love hearing the legal opinions of someone who starts their post with "cept"!

You're conveniently forgetting the punitive damages that a company faces, and the incentive it provides them to not f*** over consumers.

What's up with you trashing every poster who gives arm-chair legal analysis? It's a forum, and people chime in. You're pissing into the wind here.
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post #28 of 147
The proof? The usual parade of class-action wh*res is attacking it too. Oh, look, how we've grown! Note the jurisdiction, where the Hon. William Lerach and his followers hold sway. Watch out, enGadget, for causing all those stockholders distress and a one-day loss of more than a billion which recovered fully the next day.

As others have noted, this is a suit that is begging to be settled to end the bad publicity, after which all the people who sign on will get a free USB dongle or something, and the lawyers will make off with 60% or more of the award -- the standard one-third plus expenses for mailing out all those letters and paying out the $20 checks to 3,000 people.

Not that I'm for "lawsuit reform," because that's all structured to favor big business. I think some higher hurdles for allowing it to proceed might be in order, though.
post #29 of 147
Technically their displays do produce millions of colors, just through an analog function (dithering). In any case, the main complaint in the suit is about a band of light at the bottom of the display that radiates upward, distorting the color image. Apple will fix this with a firmware update.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laurence13 View Post

If Apple's marketing says that the laptops support "Millions of colors" then they are stating that they have an 8 bpc display. a 6 pbc display will not support "Millions of colors" If no laptop in the world has an 8 bpc display then it is even worse because it shows their arrogance. They thought they could get away with stating something that is obviously false to a great many people.

I am not one of those people as I didn't know that laptop displays were 6 bit. Is this true of all LCDs or just laptops? Are the Cinema displays 6 bpc as well?
post #30 of 147
So, what if we found out both of these guys had a lot of money in stock in MS?

Or, even better, bought Apple shares before the Engadget news release, only to see it at a loss?
post #31 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by laurence13 View Post

If Apple's marketing says that the laptops support "Millions of colors" then they are stating that they have an 8 bpc display. a 6 pbc display will not support "Millions of colors" If no laptop in the world has an 8 bpc display then it is even worse because it shows their arrogance. They thought they could get away with stating something that is obviously false to a great many people.

Apple are stating the displays support millions of colours using a 6 bit per channel display in conjunction with dithering. This is how all budget LCD panels and laptop panels work. The dithering works pretty well, most people don't notice it. The graininess appears to be a graphics chip driver issue (someone above mentioned that rebooting into Windows fixed it) rather than a display issue, or it could be a problem with the Intel graphics hardware (there's enough problems there already, this wouldn't surprise me).

Imagine temporally dithering each component (R, G, B) in a 6-bit panel. Flickering between two adjectent values simulates the value midway between, effectively giving you a 7-bit panel. 2^21 = 2 million, which would meet Apple' definition. If you altered the timing you could simulate an 8-bit panel as well, which is probably what TN panels do to get 16m colours.

Quote:
I am not one of those people as I didn't know that laptop displays were 6 bit. Is this true of all LCDs or just laptops? Are the Cinema displays 6 bpc as well?

The Cinema displays are 8 bits per channel due to using a more power hungry type of LCD technology that is also more expensive. Cheaper panels use 6-bit TN panels however, e.g., Dell E225 (not 2207W, that's 8 bit I think).

10bpc LCDs are also starting to appear on the market.
post #32 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

The Cinema displays are 8 bits per channel due to using a more power hungry type of LCD technology that is also more expensive.

And slower... 8 bits per color impacts negatively on response time (it has to)... Which is why 'leet gamers' had always shied away from LCD panels (especially in the beginning) since they were noticeably slower especially when compared to the behemoth CRT they had sitting on their desk.

Dave
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post #33 of 147
Though I sometimes find it hard to tell the difference, I still use my Sony CRT as the main monitor (I have a 21" LCD as 2nd monitor) to do my color correction. If it's true that Apple falsely stated somewhere that their LCDs can show more than 6-bit colors then they should either give out full refunds or offer some sort of rebate to customers as much as I hate the idea that the @#$% lawyers will 200 million for this.
post #34 of 147
The human eye can distinguish between over 200,000 colors, but not millions. The average persons eyes change as they age, which is why older people have different color preferences than younger folks. Color is totaly perceptive, and also associative. If you were to start to edit a photograph in one location and then looked at it in different light, it might look awful. What you had for lunch can affect your color perception.

No serious professional would consider color work on a laptop. But lot's of other image work can certainly be done, and that's why portables outsell towers 10 to 1.

This suit is just another waste of money, time, ink.
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post #35 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

You're kidding right...

Why don't you show me **any** product that doesn't degrade over time... Pet rocks and sand don't count.

D

Leave your pet rock out for a few thousand years and I guarantee it will degrade nicely over time..
post #36 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Perhaps your age is more like your post count. Yes, one tests a product. No shit. What the suit is alleging is that displays get grainy and what not--in other words they DEGRADE after purchase. It is also alleging that Apple has engaged in false advertising and negligent customer service practices. Those are very serious concerns, and ones that seem well founded to me.

So glad you started that off with a gratuitous insult....

I have an MBP; if these "persons" actually *had* a case, mine would be subject to the same sub-standard screen they claim Apple is foisting off on their customers. It is not, ergo, no case - oh, what's that? they degrade? you mean, their performance suffers over time? you mean like everything else in the world? Sorry, Sparky: my MBP is nearing the 18-month mark, and I use it 8-10 hours a day, every day - my screen is, and has been ,crystal-clear, sharp and gorgeous.

In a true class-action situation, all or most MB/P screens would be subject to the claimed defect; not the case: just a couple monkeys fishing in deep pockets. *YAWN*

So remember. kids, jump on every bandwagon that goes by - who knows *where* you'll end up!
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post #37 of 147
[QUOTE=alansky;1083500]"The matter is of particular concern to MacBook and MacBook Pro users who rely on the accuracy of the displays for graphic use, such as photography..."

What a bunch of bull crap! No self-respecting professional in his (or her) right mind would ever rely on a laptop screen for critical photo editing...
......
Since lugging a full sized display is somewhat impractical, Mac Book Pros are used by photographers and art directors on location all the time.

As to Apple's intimidation tactics with defect issues, I experienced that when I bought a MacBook G4. The track pad was defective but they claimed, rather strongly, that the reason it didn'y work was because I used hand lotion, and nearly every associate in the store was called upon to convince me that was true. Fortunately, I'd owned previous model Apple laptops that functioned just fine, with or without moisturized hands, so I didn't buy into that. I've also had posts deleted in their support section if I complained too strongly about an issue.

I've owned and loved Apple computers for 20 years, but their tactics are sometimes closer to the Church of Scientology than you might think.

It doesn't do Apple any good to be loyal to their products, no matter what. That kind fanatism only encourages any dishonest dealing.
post #38 of 147
I remember seeing some specs on the new Samsung LED LCD 15.4" display that could end up in the next MBP. I shuddered when it said it only supported 6-bits per channel or 262K colors. Here's the link: Samsung LED backlit display

Apple's tech specs for the 15.4" MBP reads: 15.4-inch (diagonal) TFT display, support for millions of colors;

If it's only capable of displaying 262,000 colors then I call that false advertising. Why should we have to parse the term "support for?" That's misleading.

What Apple needs to do is be honest or put the quality in that we expect. The goal of a class action suit like this is to get the company to do the right thing.
post #39 of 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

What the suit is alleging is that displays get grainy and what not--in other words they DEGRADE after purchase.

Yeah. :-) Everyone knows that LCD/TFT displays loose about 1 bit of color per year and become useless after 6 or 8 years...

Ok outside the joke, probably, everyone also knows that Apple uses LG Philips screens in (*at least some of*) its notebooks, and LG Philips guys just do not produce laptop screens with more than 6-bit color -- see http://www.lgphilips-lcd.com/homeCon...prd300_j_e.jsp for LG laptop screen details -- except for some 20-inch model (did anyone see 20-inch notebook already?)

So, this is all another ridiculous money-srewing suite. Just wonder, how Apple would come out of it... :-(

(Pardon my English)
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post #40 of 147
Quote:
Since lugging a full sized display is somewhat impractical, Mac Book Pros are used by photographers and art directors on location all the time.

As to Apple's intimidation tactics with defect issues, I experienced that when I bought a MacBook G4. The track pad was defective but they claimed, rather strongly, that the reason it didn'y work was because I used hand lotion, and nearly every associate in the store was called upon to convince me that was true. Fortunately, I'd owned previous model Apple laptops that functioned just fine, with or without moisturized hands, so I didn't buy into that. I've also had posts deleted in their support section if I complained too strongly about an issue.

I've owned and loved Apple computers for 20 years, but their tactics are sometimes closer to the Church of Scientology than you might think.

It doesn't do Apple any good to be loyal to their products, no matter what. That kind fanatism only encourages any dishonest dealing.

Yeah, you sound very credible. Where did you say you bought a MacBook G4 again? I've never heard of it. You're not making all that stuff up are you?
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