Wednesday, March 26, 2008

MacBook Pro is gone

I've written about my less than stellar experience(s) with the MacBook Pro a few times on this blog but I haven't written about it lately mostly because I have been having more issues with it and was working with Apple on a resolution. I've been a fan of Apple computers for a few years now and I wanted this computer since they were announced. I finally talked myself into to purchasing one when my girlfriend's laptop started to die and I gave her my iBook. I started to have issues with it as soon as I took it out of the box, though.

* Sometimes there was an unbearable amount of heat generated and transmitted through the bottom of the laptop. (This concern was never really addressed.)

* Annoying fan noise from the fans that ran consistently at 2,000 RPM at idle and much faster and louder when playing games or even using Google Earth or Street View. (Was told this was normal and that I'd get used to it.)

* Keyboard and trackpad intermittently not responding. The keyboard on a couple of occasions required a reboot of the machine because it wouldn't respond. The trackpad took a few swipes of my finger to recognize that I was touching it. (The keyboard issue seemed to be resolved with Software Updates but the trackpad problems persisted.)

* MagSafe adapter failure at about 1 month old. (Resolved with a new MagSafe adapter.)

* Fans surging and running very fast when the laptop was plugged in. This usually happened most when the battery was almost dead and was first plugged in while running.

* Speakers crackle a few times when I wake the computer from sleep.

* The squared off front edge of the palm rest was sometimes uncomfortable on my wrists. (Which was not a functional issue that I brought up as a problem but it did diminish the amount I liked the computer.)

* SuperDrive issues which included grinding noises when the laptop was held even slightly off level while a CD was spinning and it also randomly spit out CD's as soon as they were put in.

* Scratched CD's crashed iTunes with no warnings or errors just a solid freeze of iTunes while the SuperDrive spins up and down.

* Random program crashes (iTunes and Firefox mostly) plus the screen saver preference pane crashed every time I tried to open it. (The screen saver issue might have been caused by BOINC but since I never tried to open it before I installed BOINC, we might never know.)

* Boot Camp install of Windows XP Pro crashed and burned. It went through the initial stages to the first reboot and then booted to a black screen where it hung. I ended up having to reboot, hold the Option key to get a list of drives to boot from and pick my Mac HD and then reselect that as the Boot Drive as well as remove the botched XP partition. I had XP running previously with VMWare Fusion but I wanted to be able to run Windows natively because I work with HUGE spreadsheets in Excel, I wanted to mess around with Visual Studio again and I wanted to play the occasional PC game.

* Display not waking from sleep intermittently at about 1 1/2 months old.

I was finally prompted to contact Apple to let them know how unhappy I was with the computer after the MagSafe and SuperDrive issues (which were logged with my third Case number) but the Boot Camp and display not waking from sleep issues finally brought me to my breaking point. I contacted the person that I had previously been in contact with and asked for a refund. Before those I was just attempting to let them know I was unhappy but not asking for or demanding anything in return...

I was VERY impressed at how polite and professional the person who contacted me was. Outside of the emails that went back and forth I had a couple phone tag voice mails and a couple phone conversations that were VERY non-confrontational and apologetic.

It ALMOST restored my faith in Apple until I had to go back to the Apple store today and deal with the as... (*ahem*) associates there to claim my refund. I waited behind another customer for a few minutes to speak with the manager who, I felt, treated me like a criminal from the very beginning.

I told him I was there to return my laptop and that I had a case number. (The person I was in contact with at Apple had already contacted the store and they knew to expect me... but he gave me a hard time, anyway.)

He looked at my receipt and said I was out of my return period. I said I knew that and repeated that I had a case number and that someone from Apple was already in contact with a store manager who authorized the return. He asked me what my problem was. I explained and then he grudgingly gave the laptop an look over and focused on, examined and wiped with his finger on a smudge on the screen that he probably made opening it. (I gave it a nice cleaning and inspection last night before packing it back up.) He gave me a dirty look while cleaning it with something that he pulled out from under the register. He powered it up to the welcome screen to the fresh OS X install that I did. He (again) asked me what my problem was and politely explained that the computer had been in there three times for various issues (which I listed) and that I kept having more problems with it the latest being that the display would intermittently not wake from sleep and said that all of this should be listed in the case number which I provided to him. He excused himself and went into the back room and came back out in a couple minutes and continued to give me a hard time.

I (again) told him that I had been in contact with someone from Apple (I did drop a name and department) and repeated that the person had contacted a (different) manager at the store (who I also named) and that they had already authorized a refund. He asked if I had brought it in to the store before contacting Apple directly. I told him that I did, three times, two of which were within the return period asking for a refund or exchange. (The third was only to replace the defective MagSafe adapter.) I was only offered a return or exchange with the $199 restocking fee on the first two trips because they deemed my computer "non-defective". Both times I (hesitantly) objected to the fee and decided to just attempt to stick it out.

The manager kept giving me a hard time saying that I was past the refund period and just generally being unpleasant. I kept telling him to check my case number if he had any more questions since everything was noted in my case (which I was instructed to say if I had any problems). After a little while of this back and forth he went into the back (again) to "check something" and came back with a SLIGHTLY better attitude and processed my return with little more drama. I thought it was funny that he had the nerve to ask if I wanted to exchange it after all of that...

So it's gone. (I just have to keep checking my credit card to make sure that they post the refund, once that's done this whole saga will be over.) I miss having a laptop right now but I'm really not that sad to see that particular one gone.

I really do prefer OS X to Windows but the MacBook doesn't appeal to me. (I don't like the keyboard, glossy screen or integrated graphics.) The MacBook Air isn't functional enough plus it doesn't appeal to me. (It has integrated graphics, non-upgradeable memory and no internal CD-ROM plus I don't like the keyboard or glossy screen.) The MacBook Pro is obviously out... so I think my time with Apple is (unfortunately) coming to an end. I'm going to continue to use my old (but stable) PowerMac G4 until it expires but it probably won't be replaced with an Apple unless the MacPro comes down in price. The only issue I've had with the PowerMac is that I can't leave my iPod, printer or external hard drive powered on and plugged into the third-party add-on USB card when the computer goes to sleep or it won't wake from sleep. That's it. Other than that it's rock solid.

As far as a laptop goes: If I don't get a (Dell) laptop from work in the next couple months I'm thinking about a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p or a Dell or HP laptop will become my main machine. Anyway, I just thought I'd share my experience.

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