My MacBook is broken (again)

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A few weeks after my Apple MacBook arrived, it had to go for repairs after the plastic top cover in front of the keyboard split.  To be fair to Apple, they repaired it under warranty (as they should – this is clearly a design fault – although they also scratched the top case and had to replace that too!).  Today, just 8 months later, I’ve noticed that it’s split again.  This is obviously a weak spot where my palm rests as I’m typing (after all, that is what the palm rest is for) but I’m not happy.  Looks like the Mac will be off to the Apple Store for repairs again soon but I really don’t want to be without my primary multimedia machine over the Christmas holidays.

Last week I wrote about how Steve Jobs said that Apple couldn’t produce a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk.  It seems to me that Apple doesn’t need the diversion of a small form factor PC (the context of Jobs’ comment) – they need to get the build quality on their normal (overpriced) models right first of all!

9 thoughts on “My MacBook is broken (again)

  1. To be fair to Apple, they fixed this the same day. I dropped it off with a “Genius” at about 9.40 and by 17:30 I’d been called to say I could collect the MacBook (which I did). This issue is supposed to have been resolved with a modified top case but clearly something is still not quite right with this design…

  2. if you are taling about the plastic on either side of the mouse pad, I think the cracks are caused by the “feet” of the opposing top cover. I think that when the cover smacks down, it shoots stress into the keyboard surface.

  3. @sophocles – exactly… or that’s what the Apple Geniuses suspect; however this particular MacBook spends most of its life on my desk and the cover is rarely closed. Either way it’s a design fault on a machine which costs 40% more than equivalently specified PCs.

    And since it returned there’s a certain amount of flex in the bottom cover next to the SuperDrive and the USB ports – although the Apple Store say it’s “within normal tolerances” it didn’t used to flex like that…


    (Maybe I should have hung out for another 9 months and waited for an Aluminium one… but that’s even more expensive)

  4. I’m struggling to find an equivalently specified portable computer which costs 40% less than an Apple MacBook.

    I’m at the Dell website looking at the XPS M1330 which is currently priced at £799.

    Compare that with a white MacBook which Apple are currently offering at £704.

    The processor, bus speed and caches are equivalent. Obviously there are other factors like RAM, HDD, WiFi, OS and GFX to take into account, but in my opinion, they pretty much balance out — and I don’t feel like listing everything like some sort of nerd ;)

  5. @Alex – I can’t be bothered to compare exact specs either, but I’ll justify the 40% number by saying that, within the last couple of weeks, I bought a Dell Inspiron 1525 for a little over £400 with 3GB RAM, Intel Core2Duo CPU, 320GB hard disk and all the usual stuff (Bluetooth, WiFi, DVD writer, etc.) – it’s a 15.4″ model rather than a 13.3″ but the weight and size are similar. It’s also ugly… but it’s functional.

    There’s little doubt in my mind that Apple products are priced at a premium – it’s just that, based on my experience with this particular MacBook, I’m not sure that premium is necessarily justified.

    Furthermore, that sounds as if the white MacBook is still selling for pretty much the same price as it was a year ago – even though it’s now been superceded (by an even more expensive model) and it’s normal for PC prices to drop as the components get cheaper…

    Would I buy another Mac? Probably – I like to work on a Mac for my digital photography workflow and it’s useful to have a Unix machine around at times for some of the web stuff I do too. Do I think that this one was good value? That’s debatable – but it’s probably worth noting that it’s no longer my primary portable machine – a decision that was based, in part, on the fact that it’s nearly at the end of its warranty and it doesn’t seem a particularly robust notebook PC.

  6. That’s interesting. The Inspiron 1525 is now £529 and as you say, it’s for a pretty similar spec. I wonder what the difference is between that and the premium-priced XPS M1330 which is also not particularly attractive.

    I am tempted to list the myriad reasons I’d choose Apple over Microsoft but that’s not going to go down well on this site, where the only Apple posts in recent months seem to be complaints so I’ll just mention the main reason.


    *runs away*

  7. Complaints… about Apple… surely not… after all Macs “just work” ;-)

    Anyway, I wrote a post only yesterday about submitting podcasts to iTunes… how much more Apple do you want? Perhaps I should be jumping on the media bandwagon and speculating about how because Steve Jobs won’t deliver the Macworld Expo keynote next month and Apple won’t even be there in 2010 that it’s somehow a reflection on Jobs’ health (for what it’s worth, it seems to me that one man dictating everything from the top is actually holding Apple back and it’s a good thing to share the load around the management team – no one person should be indispensable).

    Seriously though, I write about what I find as I bumble through a life in IT… and professionally that means I do more with Microsoft, whilst personally it’s a mixture of various things (including some Apple-related bits and pieces). As for complaints – my Fujitsu-Siemens, Compaq, IBM and Lenovo PCs haven’t fallen apart in my hands twice this year (you witnessed one incident…) – and even you acknowledged a few months back that Apple have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to what counts (concentrating on shareholder value over their user experience).

    To answer your question on the Dell front (although it’s easier to pick up the phone…) the XPS is a premium line whereas the Inspiron is more of a standard consumer device. Then there are other labels used for business PCs (which are generally better built than consumer models – at least that’s the theory, although I haven’t seen much evidence of that with Dell). As for pricing, you need to shop around for the deals… that’s something that most PC vendors give us from time to time… (although they are few and far between with Apple, because they see that as diluting their brand – the obvious exception being refurbished units). BTW, the Dell purchase was a gift for a family member – if it were my money I’d be buying a Lenovo ThinkPad.

    There are undoubtably myriad reasons for some people to choose a Mac over a Windows PC (I’ve already said I prefer a Mac for my digital photography workflow and, I imagine you are influenced by the fact that you also use Macs at work); however there are also many people who choose the other way around… about a billion users I understand (or, to put it another way, over 90% of PC users worldwide) but, when you return after running away, can you tell me, have you ever actually used Vista? And, if so, what was it that you found so objectionable? Really – I’d like to know. Or did you just get sucked into the media hype that tells us all how bad it is? (usually peddled by journalists who need to write good copy, or by people trying to run the latest and greatest on their aging and obscure hardware). Even my mother-in-law said “Vista… but that’s not very good is it?” and she knows sweet FA about PCs (her source was a cousin, who’d probably only heard something from someone else… or maybe he read it on the Interweb…).

  8. Of course I am going to be influenced by the machines I work with, just the same as you are. I do still run Windows on several machines though, but it’s XP every time.

    I have never read any press reviews of Vista, just heard from people with first-hand experience who have said it’s very similar to XP, but with more bells and whistles and some of the settings have moved to odd places.

    I ran the Microsoft tool for checking whether my machines would run Vista. Apparently, my three-year-old laptop would run Home Basic. I am not aware of any benefits of Vista Home Basic over Windows XP Home. Moreover, I do not want to “upgrade” to an OS that runs slower. If I were to buy a new PC, why would I not run XP on it to get the speed benefits?

    Incidentally, when I upgraded a Mac from Panther to Tiger, then from Tiger to Leopard, each version of the OS ran faster than the previous one, on the same machine, despite offering more features. Each version was also cheaper upon initial release than any Vista versions I saw, although Vista seems much cheaper now.

    I admit I don’t know anything about Vista’s copy protection, but I imagine it uses product activation. As a Mac user, I have the luxury of being able to reject product activation on principle. As a victim of Windows XP’s product activation failures, I am grateful for that.

    I would say Vista’s biggest failing, however — or rather, Microsoft’s — is that people like me, potential customers, have no idea what advantages (if any) upgrading to Vista would bring. I could not mention a single feature or application that has been added to or improved with Vista apart from the processor-hogging eye candy.

    the XPS is a premium line whereas the Inspiron is more of a standard consumer device.

    That’s the marketing answer. Where’s the actual difference?

    Merry Christmas! :)

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