My computer workhorse is a 17″ G4 Powerbook that replaced my old 15-incher. At the time, my PC was having severe memory issues and I couldn’t adequately play World of Warcraft (WoW), so I convinced myself that getting Apple’s high-end pro laptop would fulfill my gaming needs, since it had the best graphics card of the available Powerbooks. In this role, the 17″ wonderbeast performed adequately, albeit not as well as my then two-year old PC with new performance memory and a slightly better graphics card.
Enough of the backstory; my 17″ Powerbook became my main system for all-things computer, since everything I did non-gaming-wise was on OS X. I’ve never had any problems with the computer until recently, when a couple weeks ago, a single yellow vertical line appeared on my display. I attempted the usual software fixes such as resetting the display, clearing PRAM, et al. After doing some additional research, it turns out that this is a known defect, albeit not one Apple is admitting to. While Apple claims that these problems are “isolated,” there are approximately two-hundred independently reported cases of this issue. Almost every single report refers to a 17″ G4 Powerbook, produced in Shanghai China, in the same factory, in the same time frame, with similar serial numbers.
The problem is commonly referred to as the Bridget Riley defect, and as I can attest to, is horribly annoying, and aggravating. Since my computer is only two years old, I feel somewhat bamboozled by Apple for selling me a machine that ran for about $3,000 that is having these kinds of issues. I did not purchase AppleCare on the machine because extended warranties are generally a waste of money, and for these kinds of problems, defects are to blame which ought result in a recall or repair-bill reimbursement. Instead, I’m quoted prices between $600 and $1300 depending on what Apple decides to replace (the LCD or logic board, respectively). For that kind of bill, I’m better of just purchasing a new computer.
The sad thing is that if I were using a laptop manufactured by Compaq, Gateway, or HP, I’d never buy their crap again. However, as an OS X user, my options are simply not there, and my defective product will ultimately be replaced by another Apple machine. What’s worse, I’ll now be tempted to shell out for AppleCare, because if Apple doesn’t initiate a free repair for this defect, I know they’re not to be trusted. So much for Apple not being less evil than their PC counterparts.
07/29/2007 Update: My PowerBook now has three vertical lines. The second line, about one-third from the right of the screen, is light blue in color, and sometimes shows up solid, while other times flashes. It’s been staying solid longer, and I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before it stays solid. The third line that showed up is yellow, like the first, and is in-between the first two lines.
An Apple “Genius” told me that the repair would cost between $350 and $900, depending on whether they do the upgrade at the store, or ship it in. Apparently, shipping it in is the cheaper of the two solutions. The “Genius” believes that the screen is all that needs to be fixed, and doesn’t know why it would be a logic board issue. Unsurprisingly, he and his immediate coworker knew nothing of the Bridget Riley defect.