Saturday, February 03, 2007

Macs & Low Quality Hardware

Over the past few years (I’m still amazed that I’ve been writing in this space for years), I have discussed virtues, myths and tips for Macs. Using a Mac at law school won’t put you at any disadvantage. The operating system is super stable. There are many more viruses, worms and nasty bugs that attack Windows. And the biggest myth: Macs are more expensive. As Michael Gartenberg writes (the article is from 2003, yet prices are about the same today):

Though Apple is certainly not a discount brand and will almost never offer the cheapest computers available, Macs are certainly price-competitive with PCs. Users do pay some premium for both the Apple brand and the innovation that goes into the company's often brilliant hardware design, but the premium isn't out of line with what users already pay for name-brand systems from vendors such as Sony, Hewlett-Packard or IBM. In many cases, comparable Apple systems are priced similarly, and in some cases they're even cheaper than the competition.
Anyhow, I’m not here to talk about the virtues of Macs. In fact, I would say that, I am currently not impressed with Mac hardware and reliability. My PowerBook G4 (the same computer that I gushed with praise here) has had every major component fail. Yes, that’s right: everything.

Here’s a rough sequence of events:
Purchased my PowerBook G4: May 2004
Hard Drive failed: June 2005
LCD Display replaced: July 2005
Battery replaced under the Sony recall program: October 2006
Optical Drive failed: December 2006
Logic Board failed: December 2006
Note that I purchased the machine in May, 2004, so all the components failed after the first year. Hence, none of the repairs would have been covered by the complementary warranty. Thankfully, I purchased AppleCare and so all the replacements were covered. (In retrospect, it was money well spent. The $250 for AppleCare paid for $2400+ of service and parts.) Also, I was very fortunate that none of the major components failed during exams.

But I must confess: I can no longer vigorously endorse the purchase of an Apple computer. The components on my laptop should not have failed so quickly in the first place. It seems that their effort to cut costs and compete with the PCs, Apple has sacrificed quality.


At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems more likely that you a) bought a lemon; b) have somehow (perhaps unknowingly) put your computer through some kind of stress to cause these failures. I have owned Macs going back to 1984 and while I've had a few problems over the years, I've never even heard of your situation.

At 2:51 AM, Blogger Lawyerlike said...

Yeah I've been using my Mac iBook nearly two years now and sure there are some freezing problems with the occasional app, but nothing more than that.

I'm positive that whatever could happen anyway, I'm never going back to Dell.

At 12:44 PM, Blogger a blawger said...

Glad to hear that you guys have positive experiences. It could be that I bought a lemon ... I certainly work my PowerBook hard. It's basically an extension of my appendages.

But my wife has had many problems with her MacBook and my sister-in-law has been having problems with her iBook. All the issues have been hardware-related.

Honestly, if I could run MacOS on a Thinkpad, I'd probably go with that (yeah, I'd never get a Dell). Or, if Vista is as good as MacOS ....

At 9:35 PM, Blogger Lawyerlike said...

Vista as good as Tiger? Not likely.

At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dropped my G4 titanium last year on the sidewalk. It landed on the corner of the machine and dented the hell out of the form factor. Despite this, I haven't even had a dead pixel.

There are a million reasons why any computer can start acting up and some of it's just bad luck, but I don't think you can say that Apple doesn't make quality hardware. They do.

At 10:42 PM, Blogger a blawger said...

Here's an update to this post. It's 16 January 2009 and the keyboard on my PowerBook G4 is dying. I actually don't use it that often since I graduated but it is still sad to see it on its last legs.

I would say that the quality of Macs is good but pretty much the same as high quality Windoze machines.

I'm looking to get a new iMac, as soon as they update the line.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Marketing Brillo said...

I've noticed the same thing about declining Apple quality and blogged about it two days ago at marketingbrillo.blogspot. Then I wondered if anybody else has noticed this. Yep, we/they have.

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At 7:53 AM, Blogger rajesh said...

I have a iomega external hard drive and I recently discovered that it's corrupted. There is some data on there which is important and the "mac disk utility" can't repair it. I need a free software (not limiting demos) that can do either of the following: Transfer files from my external hard drive to my mac repairs the hard drive without erasing the data


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