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Sergei

Apple hardware quality

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I just wanted to share my Apple experience as a recent switcher. First a little bit of history. I discovered Maccast in 2005 and became instant fan. I also watched Steve Jobs' keynotes on Tiger and upcoming migration to Intel. It looked so much better than Windows. I went to Apple store to check out recent model of iMac which was G5 at a time, but I decided to wait until the release of Intel Mac.

 

Right after first 20 inch iMac was released, I ordered one. I was really looking forward for its arrival and when it finally arrived week later, I could barely wait to unpack it. I set it up, but and to my greatest disappointment it was a total lemon. Extremely uneven LCD back lighting, clusters of dead pixels, and high pitched noise from speakers were just some of the problems. I called AppleCare and they immediately sent me a replacement.

 

Replacement iMac was better, but not perfect. Keyboard would quit working after 10 minutes, Airport throughput was slower than that of a dial-up modem and there was funny speaker noise again, although not too loud. I was eager to try Mac OS X, so I only requested keyboard replacement from Apple and ignored two other problems for the time being. I started using my iMac and I was very impressed with Mac OS X and iLife. In fact, I was so impressed that I managed to convince IT dept. at my work to give Apple a try and order MacBook Pro to test in our environment and if the test went well, we would order a couple dozen more.

 

Well, the first Mac Book Pro that showed up was no better than my iMac at home. Dead pixels and super-hot operating temperature. After couple of hours of use it locked up because of over heating. Back it went for exchange. Second MacBook Pro did not have any dead pixels, but would run just as hot. I sent it for exchange again. Third one ran hot again! This time I decided to take it to Apple Store for service rather than exchanging it. Every exchange took two weeks I was hoping repair would be shorter. AppleStore replaced logic board and heat pipe. Repaired MacBook Pro ran cooler, but now it developed high pitched sound. I took it for repair a second time and this time again logic board and hard drive got replaced. Finally after two exchanges and two repairs I had a working MacBook Pro. Needless to say, at this point I would have a very hard time convincing my IT department to buy any more Macs.

 

Frustrated with constant repairs and exchanges which would take weeks each time, I wrote a letter to Steve Jobs expressing my concerns about hardware quality. Two weeks later which was in the beginning of August, I received a call from Cupertino from one of Mr. Jobs' assistants. We had a long conversation about my "Apple experience" and he assured me that it was highly unusual and that Apple will rectify the situation. I mentioned that my iMac that still had a list of issues which recently was added by recurring disk errors. I was hoping Apple will simply replace my iMac, but I was told that since it was so long since it was purchased, their policy is to repair it. Apple set up on site call to repair my iMac. The technician replaced logic board, hard drive and two power supplies. After technician left, everything appeared to be working except after about 20 minutes into installation, my iMac would suddenly power down. I tried reinstalling Mac OS X several more times, but it would die every time. I called Mr. Jobs' assistant again and told him that they better give me a new iMac or I will switch back to PC. Again, he insisted on repair and mentioned that other customers have no problems and in general Mac sales are up! Basically, he made it very clear that he (Apple) do not care. A week later another technician came and again replaced everything inside the iMac with exception of LCD panel. This time Mac OS X installed, but soon I would get corrupted video on the screen.

 

I got tired of calling Cupertino and decided to try Apple store again. After they saw my pile of repair receipts, they just said they would replace my iMac. Finally, I thought, I will get my iMac fixed. Well, it has been three weeks since I dropped it off. After checking repair status on Apple web which would say Status Unavailable, and calling Apple store 5 times, I finally learned today that all this time my iMac was sitting in the store because they didn't receive shipping labels to send it back!

 

It just goes on and on and on. I am network engineer by day and I've been working with hardware from pretty much every major computer maker, but I have never seen such poor hardware quality and such poor support. I own multiple iPods and I had to send one for exchange once which went just fine, but when it comes to computers, Apple is consistently letting me down.

 

I will probably keep this iMac if I ever get it back, but I can't bring myself to ever giving Apple another dime. I have a strong feeling that my next Mac is going to be PC.

 

Please don't treat this post as Apple bashing. I still love Mac OS X and honestly, I wish I could run it on generic PC hardware, but at this point it has been over a month and still don't have my Mac. I am curious if anybody else had something like this happen.

 

Regards,

Serge

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Well, I got a followup to my Apple drama (or comedy) today. I got a call from my contact at Cupertino and Apple tried to make it up to me. Instead of shipping replacement iMac to the Apple store and make me wait another week in addition to a month and a half I was without my iMac, they had the store give me the one from their local inventory. This is something they normally don't do. They did it for me because it was their fault that my old iMac was sitting in the store for three weeks instead of being shipped to Apple right away.

 

Obviously they no longer carry first generation early 2006 iMac, so I got latest model 20 inch iMac. Apple Genius at the store said "I guess it worked out alright", but I told him I wasn't so sure. I admit I am excited to get the latest model, but honestly I'd rather still have my old one, than going through multiple failed repair hell and many frustrating phone calls.

 

Now, normally I don't upgrade computers every year, but it sort of happened this time, so I thought I'd share my first impressions comparing latest generation iMac with my first generation Intel iMac.

 

Apart from the design , the speed difference isn't that great, although it always depends what you do with your computer. I'd say CPU speed increase alone wouldn't justify the upgrade, unless you want to have more than 2 Gb of memory or new FireWire 800 port and 802.11n wireless.

 

I got the same amount of RAM. My first iMac I custom ordered with single 1Gb of RAM. Latest iMacs come with 1Gb standard. It's the same type of memory: DDR2-5300. New iMac comes with faster CPU. It's 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo and my previous iMac was 2 GHz Core Duo. The hard drive is slightly bigger: 320 Gb vs 250 Gb in the old one, but that doesn't affect the speed of the computer. New iMac feels about the same, may be a little faster, although I just started running Migration Assistant and haven't reinstalled any applications yet.

 

My biggest slow down with previous iMac was Parallels. It seemed things got slower last time after installing Parallels. Even before running any virtual machines. It installs some kernel extension(s) and virtual network drivers and that slows things down a bit, especially at startup time.

 

One thing I was a bit concerned about once I learned I was getting a new model is the new keyboard. It's a bit annoying to have volume, eject and couple other keys change location. I keep going to the old spot to change the volume. It may be even more annoying to the recent switchers. Being one myself I just got used to the Apple keyboard and I have to adjust again. On the other hand I can see Apple's reasoning behind this change. I recently talked to person who just got the Mac and she kept asking me which function keys activated Dashboard and Expose. It may be easier for new Mac users with the new keyboard.

 

Another concern of mine was the feel. The older keyboard was softer. This one feels more like a laptop keyboard. I think I like the feel so far, although I've been only using it for a couple of hours. Some people expressed the concern that the new keyboard was too flat, but it hasn't been bothering me so far. Another welcome addition is USB2.0 in the secondary USB keyboard port. It's great that I don't have to lean over my iMac to plug in USB 2.0 flash drive every time I need to copy a couple of files.

 

I can't test other advantages of new iMac yet such as 802.11n wireless and FireWire 800. I simply don't have any devices that can take advantage of these new feature, but I am sure time will come, especially with wireless.

 

Yet another difference with original iMac is the glass coating on the LCD. Reflection is the concern. It seems OK at night, but I haven't tested it during the daylight yet. As far as readability, the text does look more crisp. Anyway, these are my impressions so far. I just hope this new iMac will work out for me.

 

Sergei

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I hope things will work out, too. I think you should upgrade the RAM to 2 Gb. 1 Gb really isn't enough if you're running Parallels. Also, you may want to consider a UPS that would condition your power source.

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I hope things will work out, too. I think you should upgrade the RAM to 2 Gb. 1 Gb really isn't enough if you're running Parallels. Also, you may want to consider a UPS that would condition your power source.

 

I was thinking the same thing about another gig of RAM. I just got one from Crucial and now Parallels really flies. As far as UPS, I was thinking about it too. The power in my area is not very good and the outages are frequent especially in the summer months during thunderstorms. I am wondering if disk problems I experienced with my previous iMac were due to power surges. Anyway, thanks for the feedback.

 

Btw, I really like new aluminum iMac. A lot of problems that I had with generation 1 are gone. The only thing I am not too excited about is glass coating on the screen. There is too much reflection and also it messes up colors. It seems it looks more bluish compare to regular LCD panel on my Mac Book Pro. I tried to run display calibration utility and it looks a bit better, but still not what I had on my old iMac. I wish there was still a choice of LCD without glass coating. Other than that, it's a great Mac.

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I was thinking the same thing about another gig of RAM. I just got one from Crucial and now Parallels really flies. As far as UPS, I was thinking about it too. The power in my area is not very good and the outages are frequent especially in the summer months during thunderstorms. I am wondering if disk problems I experienced with my previous iMac were due to power surges. Anyway, thanks for the feedback.

 

Bad power can really mess up disk drives. The only HD I've had that crashed beyond repair was one that was writing to disk at the time of an outage. Apparently, it caused physical damage to the platter because all I got from it after that was the click-click-click denoting an inability to mount at all.

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Bad power can really mess up disk drives. The only HD I've had that crashed beyond repair was one that was writing to disk at the time of an outage. Apparently, it caused physical damage to the platter because all I got from it after that was the click-click-click denoting an inability to mount at all.

Indeed, brown outs are bad for your system. It could well be the source of the problems you had with the iMac.

 

A long time ago, I had a power failure for only 1.7 s in my home town, and many (if not most) computer installations in town went down. In my case, my Commodore 128D only reset (which took a second or two), so I lost what I hadn't saved to floppy disk. So, in my case, having a simple computer was a blessing in disguise. I'm sure the business IBM clones with HDDs (of that time) that were active during the power failure had much more problems.

 

I should buy a UPS as well, because a single brown out or power failure can potentially destroy the platters of your internal HD.

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