MacBook Air Acting Up, Just in Time for Holidays

18 Comments

The launch of Apple’s new unibody aluminum Macs hasn’t been the smoothest ride, for both the company and its loyal customers. There was disappointment over what didn’t (Firewire) and what did (HDCP) make it into the new machines. The innovative new trackpad design nearly underwhelmed thanks to a glitch that resulted in it failing to recognize clicks every so often. Finally, two graphics-related issues began cropping up in MacBooks and MacBook Pros, problems which Apple is currently investigating.

Click image to see detail

Apparently, the MacBook Air was tired of its bulkier cousins getting all the negative attention. Recent reports from users indicated Apple’s ultra-portable is also experiencing problems associated with graphics output. Machines are being returned to Apple because of “laid” displays, a problem in which faint, horizontal or slightly angled gray lines appear, spanning the entire width of the notebook’s screen. Luckily (or maybe unluckily, depending on your perspective), the lines are said to appear immediately after booting, so you’ll know right away if your machine’s affected. The photo to the right shows what to look for if you’re unsure about your own Air.

TidBITS estimates the spread of the issue to be significant, based on the number of views and posts on the subject at the Apple Support forums. Apple still hasn’t officially acknowledged the problem, although given its similarity to the issues found in the new unibody MacBooks, expect an official investigation announcement soon.

When you consider the common element of the introduction on Nvidia chips in all Apple notebooks, reports of video problems begin to take on ominous connotations. Nvidia chips, after all, are behind video problems on older model MacBook Pros, a problem which was acknowledged to be the fault of the chip maker shortly before the release of Apple’s new machines. It may be that a firmware fix will solve everything, as many hope, but the spectre of a persistent hardware problem and massive recalls could soon sour the growing Apple-Nvidia relationship.

Are you experiencing problems? Let us know and/or post images for comparison below.

18 Comments

MBP 17 User

I have had this exact issue with two unibody Macbook Pro 17″ computers. They both have a display model of “9C99” as shown in display profile (System Pref->Displays->Color->Open Profile->#13->Model). One was 2.93 GHz and the second the new 3.06 GHz but both had the 9C99 model display.

Two MBP 17″s with a model of “9C98” did not have these distracting, awful lines in the display.

Arhi

Normally I don’t leave a comment but:
-faint thin horizontal lines
-only 1 USB port.
-no optical drive :(

Ai.bob

I’m 100% sure that it’s a hardware problem, because I can see the lines when the screen is off… Under a bright light.

Al

The Firmware that was release yesterday didn’t do anything to fix the line issue nor the flickering. I got a call from Apple today telling me that they will send the Air to engineering for further tests. Looks like Apple still doesn’t know whats happening. I wish Apple would give out some type of official Statements instead of relying on forums. Makes me feel like they don’t care after you buy their crap.

Joeã…‡

I purchased MacBook Air (1.8/128GB) two weeks ago, and had ‘faint,flickering’ screen as everybody else had. It was really disappointing. I paid $2700 for this piece a junk from Apple that I trusted. I replaced them ‘3’ times from Apple and still, no improvements at all. Matter of fact, lines got worse and worse. I called them again, this time they connected me to higher office, I talked about this crappy experience I had and they told me they finished investigating this issue and it will be software issue not hardware. So I was confirmed that firmware will be released soon. I will keep my eye on them.

Peter

“I returned my MBA rev B because of the horizontal line issue. On top of that the screen was flickering which gave me an headache after using the MBA for more than 5 mins.”

same here, waiting for the third one.

Eideard

The more the merrier. Maybe this is why there are AIR refurbs going to $1199 (and less – after rebate).

Al

I am curious whether anybody received a replacement with a working screen?

justit

Yes the photo is not representational. On mine it’s like a layer of grime when compared to Gen A Macbook Air when viewing a white screen. Other than that, the new rev B is an incredible machine.

JL

All in all I got 3 replacements. All of them had the same issues: flickering screen and grey lines.
I really hope that Apple will address these issues asap.

sengyee

I have the faint thin horizontal lines too… Very annoying and makes me tired too easily. There are people who returned their defective MBA (due to the lines) several times yet still receiving defective unit again and again.

Tom

I also returned my MBA rev B. Also the replacement unit I got from Apple. The grey lines were easy to see in normal working conditions and I got headache when working longer than 20min at a time with them. Switching back to my old MacBook Pro I recognised that the MBA Display is much more exhausting for the eyes than the display on the MBP.

Al

I returned my MBA rev B because of the horizontal line issue. On top of that the screen was flickering which gave me an headache after using the MBA for more than 5 mins. I hope Apple will be able to replace or fix it. Otherwise I will have to go with with a Vaio or Thinkpad.

DB Smith

I have a new MBA 1.86/SSD. It has no display issues and runs perfectly. It even runs both Vista/Fusion and Vista/Boot Camp slightly FASTER than my 15″ MBP Santa Rosa 2.2. I’m delighted with the form factor, the extreme light weight and the keyboard “feel”.
I purposely stayed away from v 1 of the MBA. But v 2.0 is a terrific laptop.

Darrell Etherington

@Connor

I believe the photo (from TidBITS) is just meant to demonstrate the “laid” effect, as it doesn’t claim to be a photo of the problem on an actual MBA. Sorry for the confusion.

Connor Jackson

I dont put much faith in this photo, because it is highly unlikely that this is a MBA. The Apple Logo is blue, which means it was running Tiger or Older. Since the MBA came out After Leopard, there would be no MBAs running Tiger.

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