Serious Problems or Sensationalism?


A few months back there was a blog posted about a bad experience with PriceRitePhoto. The power of the internets combined and mob rule broke the business down as they saw fit. Then slightly more recently, a lady lost her camera while on vacation. A family contacted her that they’d found it, but had given it to her son and wouldn’t return it. Readers of her blog repeatedly asked for information to be able to take out their mob justice on the ethically-challeneged family.

The internet is a big place yet a single person’s voice can be very clearly heard. A ‘damsel in distress’ is something that people flock to with the intent of righting all the wrongs brought on them in the past. Whatever, put all that aside for a moment. Let’s focus on something less philisophical and more on-topic with this site – Apple’s MacBook.

There’s a seriously long thread about the discoloration of the white MacBooks over at Apple’s Support site. I haven’t taken the time to tally the folks who’ve actually responded with the discoloration issue, so this isn’t a fact-based, hard target search sort of deal, but the actual number of affected notebooks seems sort of small. This is in NO WAY lessening the issue these consumers have experienced. But, everything being relative – in this case, the size of the internet compared to the discolored’s responses – is the MacBook Discoloration an epidemic that all consumers need worry about, or merely a matter of the vast internet bringing the handful of unfortunate incidents together in one thread?

Of course the many blogs only serve to perpetuate the issue, making it seem that much worse by plastering it everywhere (for a day or so it seemed to be every 5th title in my RSS feeds). But that’s what we’re all here for, isn’t it? Have an experience, write about it, discuss it until it’s been beaten to death several times, rinse, repeat.

On the topic that prompted this diatribe, I sincerely hope it’s nothing more than a few isolated discolorations by unlucky consumers. It hasn’t deterred me from planning my own white MacBook purchase. (Though I have pre-emptively ordered the MacBook Invisible Shield from Shield Zone.) But whatever the nature of the issue, be mindful of the power of the collective internet. Use these red flags in a way that best suit your needs and measure them accordingly. Be informed. Be smart.


ed taylor

I bought a macbook in may and im pretty impressed with it. I bought the black 2GHZ version and i’ve only got a few problems. the bottom left handside of the laptop gets extremely hot which is quite worrying and ever since i installed word, excel, powerpoint, and microsoft messenger it seems to be alot slower.
The type of plastic that Apple have used for the black version seems to get very dirty easily. apart from that the screen quality is amazing and is very good for photos. also the imovie software is brilliant. i would advise you to buy the ilife software. recently my speakers sound partialy distorted even when i plug earphones in, i’ve put the equaliser off bass booster and still a little distorted. Also the battery life is disappointing. when watching DVD’s etc, on long journeys, i recomend you turn the screen brightness down to conserve the battery life. i would rate the macbook 8/10. i would recomend this 10 times over than getting a dell.


Well, internet hype nothwithstanding — and I agree that there’s an amplification problem associated with the internet, single, puny, voices, having their say, oh woe is me — I’ve had several Apples, love them in many ways, but I must say Apple doesn’t really seem to give Sh** about what people think. My new MacBook had a Random Shut down problem (after fewer than 4 months after purchase, which I wil add Apple fixed – fingers crossed — right away) and the mouse pad yellowed even sooner (Apple paid no attention to this). Does the yellowing affect anything? Not for a minute. But if you’re going to distinguish yourself by being WHITE better make sure it lasts for a while. And to the person who said wash your hands, well, that, unfortunately isn’t the problem, else it would wash off wouldn’t it mate?


This is somewhat off topic, but the invisible shield by Shield Zone was mentioned and I want to see some pictures of the black MacBook (which I have) with this on it. Does anyone know where I an find any pictures or even reviews of the black MacBook with the shield on? I would appreciate it so much. I have been searching and searching. Thanks.

Digital Dude

Well, I have a week-12 MacBook Pro and I don’t have any of the issues that have been posted thus far. It isn’t necessarily a very durable portable like’ say, a Dell Inspiron or MacBook. Actually, it’s rather fragile in construction although I enjoy the performance. Since I have no life, I hang out on the Discussions Forum every day and I can attest that the discoloration issue is posted about twice a week. The heat issue sorta died out following the System Management Control update.


Ryan i agree with you for the most part.
It looks like it is a very small number of users that have a small problem. has only 58 reports untill now for example. Because of that, people shouldn’t really make such a big fuss about it.

“Keep in mind a ‘white car’ could range from $15,000 to $150,000 and a MacBook is $1000 – $1200. Just to put things in a bit of perspective.” Keep in mind, a car cost’s $15,000 because it costs around 10,000-13,000$ to fabricate it. So that’s not really putting anything into perspective, you expect both machines to work and look(at least for a while) the way they should.

Even if 0.1% of users is getting the problem, it’s a design problem. The machine is not operating withing expected parameters. If it wasn’t a design flaw it would be a different case for every person.
But especialy if it is such a small number of users apple shouldn’t be making such a big fuss about replacing them either. It wil cost them next to nothing and it’s great PR to be a “consumer friendly” company.
In any case it would be a real shame for this to have an effect on apple sales.


“If i bought a white car, and after a 200k drive yellow discolourations…”

Keep in mind a ‘white car’ could range from $15,000 to $150,000 and a MacBook is $1000 – $1200. Just to put things in a bit of perspective :)

My fiance ordered her Macbook about half a week after they announced it and recieved it shortly thereafter. Since then she’s been taking it to school daily, running it pretty much non-stop (still turns it off at night unlike my 12″ PB :)) and taxes it pretty hard especially for only having 512MB of ram. The thing gets pretty hot, but less hot on the bottom than my 12″ PB. There’s no discoloration of any kind whatsoever and I have seen the videos of the dismantling of the system and the plastic on the top of the machine IS WHITE, it can’t be like ‘rubbing off’ like some people are saying and therefore it’s literally a ‘discoloration issue’ and the cause of which is unsure. Whatever the cause, my fiance is not doing it to her laptop. It’s also nearly silent, far more quiet than my 12″ PB.

So to anyone thinking about buying one and waiting for Apple to ‘admit’ to the ‘problems’ or announced they ‘fixed’ it or something, I’d not bother. Like someone was saying even a few hundred incidents of discoloration is not even close to enough for it to even necessarily be apple’s fault! There’s hardly any reports of overheating (moreso with the MBP than the MB) and the discoloration is clearly quite limited becuase I’ve been in Apple stores recently (quite a long time after they went on display) and none of them have discoloration issues. Infact when I went to the Apple store a week after they were announced I put a small test document in the users Library folder – to make sure it was the same machine when I came back. A month or whatever later I went back and no discoloration, test document still there!

Something to think about…


I picked up a macbook on a thursday at 7pm- used it for a couple of hours that night and about 5 hours on friday (limited social life). On saturday morning in the light of day i noticed a yellowish colour on the left of the trackpad button. Tried to clean it with damp tissue, then alcohol with no result. Now it’s quite faint but if it’s succeptible to this after a few hours use then i can only assume it’s a material defect. I’ll continue to use it till next thursday and see if it discolours anymore.

If i bought a white car, and after a 200k drive yellow discolourations appeared on it which could not be removed i would go nuts- so would most people. To say it’s just a cosmetic issue and not covered by apple would be an insult- I paid for the cosmetics and i would expect it remain white or at least respond to regular cleaning methods for 6mths-1 yr.
I’ll post back with my experience in the shop.


I intend to buy a macbook… But Im actually waiting for apple to first say they have fixed whatever manufacturing problem caused the stains/heat. At least the stains anyway. Im giving them to August when i have to go back to school, if they dont, i wont buy one– its as simple as that for me.

Btw apple does sell their computers not only as “fast” and “cool” but as “well designed and nice looking” — this problem really affects those last two features and i think people are fooling themselves if they blame the users because its clearly not isolated or due to any fault of the user.


“Apple is one of the most heavily scrutinized companies in the world”
Well it is the outsider, and they are always saying they are better than anyone else.

The weird part is that people actually believe apple and because apple claims to be better at everything, people expect the Mac to be an infallible piece of equipment, and of curse it’s not.
So its a little disappointment mixed with a little ripping and some jealousy.


I just wanted to chime in to let everybody know my two cents. I own a black macbook that doesn’t whine, moo, melt pens or scramble eggs. The screen is perfect, the construction of the machine is solid, from a service standpoint the design is genius (magsafe, HD & RAM Installation, Magnetic Latch). Apple is one of the most heavily scrutinized companies in the world and it seems to me that most naysayers wait like vicious dogs ready to rip apart every new product as it is announced. Thank you, I feel much better now.


I got the base white model — 1.8ghz 60gig 512.

This machine is wonderfull. The noise levels are minimal and perfectly acceptable. I wonder have any of the people complaining ever had a pentium 4 dell inspiron!
The heat is more what I would call “very warm”.
The build quality is excellent.
The screen is beautifull when viewed straight on.
It performs very well on most things although I will definatly be getting more ram soon, Tiger loves ram.
itunes opens in one bounce!

I guess its just as important for people who are happy with their macbooks to post about it online too.

If I get any discoloration Ill come back and let yall know but so far I think this is a really fantastic laptop and great value for money.


Somone is trying to gather everyone having the same problem. So far, the numbers look like it is a marginal problem.

I just ordered a Macbook too, and now I am wondering whether I should send it back without even opening the box and wait for the next batch.


Well stated. I agree that this is a handful of macbook owners with defective units. I have had my Macbook since June 3rd, and have noticed no discoloring. I hope that nothing happens, but if it does, I will not hesitate to go to Apple and demand answers. It would be quite frustrating, but I knew I would get these problems buying a Rev. A product. However, I have had absolutely no problems with my Macbook.



Nice article.

I will be purchasing my macbook in approximatly 15 hours.

I cannot honestly say that Im not worried. I will be buying it from my local Apple store here in Dublin and will make sure to grill the assistant about returns policy etc before parting with my hard bummed dole.

Here is a worrying [albeit confusing] quote from a guy who works in PCworld here in Ireland:
“yeah we have 3 in pcworld, they run 12 hours a day, all have warped plastic below the screen. bottom of screen colours are off. stupidly hot. and they just sit on the screen saver. and have air conditioning above them”


I havent read enough about happy macbookers, so either way, Ill pop back soon and let you know how I get on..


Angel, thanks for the info, I haven’t got a Mac book but from the picture here it just looked a lot like a heat thing. And since people were complaining about both…

Wash your hands, buy a black macbook or wait until you hear from apple about the matter then?


I frequent the Apple boards and wouldn’t let some of this complaints deter me from buying a Macbook. I’ve actually read posts on the forum where people have asked whether they should be worried because there WASN’T any whining or mooing. A lot of the people are complete newbies to Apple and seem like they exaggerate somewhat. The extremely long thread on the board isn’t filled with non-stop complaints about the discoloration. I have a white Macbook and have had it for a number of weeks and I don’t have any discoloration. As far as the heat, I use a lap pad so it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t really seem that much hotter than my husband’s PC laptop.

@Mantiz – If the discoloration is actually a machine flaw and not just the result of someone who is sweaty and doesn’t clean their machine, I don’t think it’s heat-related considering that area doesn’t get warm at all. The heat is concentrated at the upper left hand corner of the notebook.


Those two issues – discoloration and heat, really don’t plus me since I’ve been seriously looking into getting one of these as my first notebook and Mac. I know most people aren’t do-it-yourself types, but with a little know-how I’m sure these problems don’t raise too many eyebrows to the trained eye.

If You are worried about discoloration or scratches, get a shield – it only makes sense.

As far as heat, I’ve seen several people that have reapplied their thermal paste and don’t have that problem even at full load. Of course, there have also been reports of people not removing the clear plastic film from the vents that also may contribute to the overwhelming heat issue.

I guess it depends on the type of person you are whether those kinds of problems bother you enough to shy away from a product. For me personally, it isn’t enough to keep me away from an otherwise excellet machine.


Yeah well.
One of the arguments for buying a Mac is the design, imagine showing your work to a client on a Mac book that looks like the one in the picture.

“For one I don’t think that it’s Apple not taking things seriously enough but Apple just having Version 1.0 problems.” – That’s why companies usually test products before shipping. Although I do think that it’s in such a small scale that they could have missed it.

“Of course it all depends on the extent of the problems. A dozen defective Mac Books is not enough reason to say “Mac Books suck!”.” – That is the question, is it just a dozen, or a lot more that are not reporting it in blogs?

In any case, because looks are so important on a Mac and because it’s a design flaw and does not come (if you believe the people reporting it) from abnormal use, it should be covered in the guarantee.
And by the way I don’t think that a Mac Book Invisible Shield would stop the problem, it looks a lot like a heat thing. If you leave a white piece of plastic near a heat source you get exactly this kind of discoloration.


It’s funny how the problems with the Mac seem to be cosmetic in nature. The battery expansion is one that is a bit of both. New Apple owners complain about the finish of their product more than any other computer manufacturer. The last four or five big brou haha’s have all been about cosmetic things. Cube plastic defects. Ipod nano scratches, MacBook glossy screen, Discolouration of Macbooks, (I heard Magic Eraser does the trick). For one I don’t think that it’s Apple not taking things seriously enough but Apple just having Version 1.0 problems. Most PC users don’t care about the look of their machines. Most don’t care about their machines at work at all , It’s IT’s department mentality at work.


I’ve been admiring Apple products for years, although I haven’t managed to buy a Mac yet (I have an iPod and was/am intending to get a MacBook), and I must say I’m impressed by all these problems.

Apple products supposedly focus on design, quality and ease-of-use. But the problems they have affect both. Whether it’s screen scratches on iPods or MacBook stains, it seems that the quality of the products have not been taken care of seriously enough. And I wouldn’t mind if my dull laptop had stains on it, but one of the reasons for buying an MacBook is its looks, too.

Of course it all depends on the extent of the problems. A dozen defective MacBooks is not enough reason to say “MacBooks suck!”. (The iPod nano on the other hand, is so perfect until you dare drop it in your pocket naked). But the internet notifies the users of all the possible problems they may have, and ends up being a little terrifying.

The company has another chance though to deal with the issue. Customer care, replacement of defective products and preventing further problems is the key for satisfaction of all parts.


There are a lot of problems going with Apple first generation products lately, I’m just gonna wait for the second genaration MacBook and take black as it its color will not be damaged. I hope )


Many people have reported that their MacBooks are getting so hot that the system freezes. That is the worst part of the complaints for me. It’s definately not OK for it to lose it’s color but you can get over. Now, a system freezing because of the heat? What about the guy who had his pen melted down because he left it on the top of his MacBook?
I have more than one friend who were getting them a MacBook but now are thinking about other options because they wan’t something that can just turnout to be expensive and of no use.
Apple needs to come out and speak about it.


While I have no intent of buying a MacBook, I too have been watching this issue very very closely. My brother just bought a MacBook and it would make me very upset that his first Mac would be troubled with such a problem. I do hope that the issue is limited to a small number of MacBooks, and not as widespread as the thread would have you to believe. Fingers crossed!


I’ve been watching this issue like a hawk also. The same goes for the heat issue. While both issues certainly raise problems for the MacBook, I’m still going to get one. I hope I don’t experience these issues, but if I do, I think I’ll still love my MacBook. Next Thursday I’m taking the trek to the closest Apple store, so wish me luck on my purchase.

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