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Wed, Nov 30, 2005

... and my PowerBook killed itself :-(

Well, well, well... Not so well, actually. Last week my 12" PowerBook G4 (1st gen. 867 Mhz) died. It started with freezes that went away after some seconds, went on with scrambled graphics and crashes (no kernel panics; complete freezes that required a forced reboot) and a black display after wake from sleep. Then there was a final crash with scrambled graphics during checking mail (which corrupted my e-mail database), and I have not been able to boot into Mac OS X since. I can reach target disk mode, but the display shows (usually) vertical lines that change their position and colour whenever the firewire symbol moves across the screen:

This looks pretty much like the problems that led to the iBook Logic Board Repair Extension Program - and the serial number of my book falls within the range of eligible machines (UV321...), only it's a PowerBook G4 and not an iBook G3... Apple Hardware Test reports the following video ram error: "2NVD/1/4: 0x8". The book is out of warranty, but I phoned Apple support nonetheless to ask if there's a repair program for PowerBooks. There is no such program (yet?) and they had not heard of any PowerBooks or iBooks with such failures (which is hard to believe). They said they were really sorry but such a failure can happen to a graphic card after 2.5 years, and they wished me a nice day. Thank you.

Sure, this can happen to one or the other PowerBook and maybe I just had bad luck (and maybe today's hardware is not built to last that long any more). But if you read current reports, these failures seem to be quite common, at least for iBook G4s. As the 12" PowerBook shares many components with the iBook G4, this may be a general design flaw which Apple should take care of (regardless of expired warranties, just like they did with the iBook G3).

This is not a matter of warranty anyway, but a matter of consumer satisfaction and trust in the brand. Getting the book repaired is not an option, as a new iBook (with twice the speed) costs only a little more. But why should I buy a new iBook now if current books still have these problems and if I cannot be sure that Apple will show accomodating behaviour when such hardware failures happen again?

There used to be a time when Apple's quality (both software and hardware) was so excellent (and worth the extra price) that you could actually rely on your Mac. But times, they are a-changin' (Mr Jobs, you know this song?). It feels strange if out of three computers at your office, your two Macs are dead (see my previous posting) and only the cheap Windows PC is working...

Posted by Thomas Much at 11:31
Categories: Apple & Mac OS X