The unusual flakiness of the MacBook Pro…

I have had four MacBook Pros and even more power supplies for MacBook Pros since the top-of-the-range Apple laptops launched in March. I love the machines, but hot damn has my experience of them been unusual. Let’s start with the pins inside the MagSafe plug deciding not to extrude:

The only solution here was getting the damn thing replaced. I wouldn’t have minded had not the same thing happened to Matt Biddulph less than a week later.

Then the machine started to act really weirdly. It would get extraordinarily hot, had a weird and unresponsive trackpad that drove me insane and a mouse button that had a strange grinding touch to it and the whole thing sounded like a vacuum cleaner when it was running. There was clearly something wrong with it, but they couldn’t fix it without taking it away and I couldn’t be without a machine for a couple of weeks while they fixed it, so I bought myself another one so I could get the first one repaired and then sell it on ebay. Two days after I bought the new one, the battery on the old one just stopped charging completely.

The new one had an exciting feature wherein every so often it would decide that although it was not in num lock mode, keys on the right hand side of the keyboard should only produce numbers no matter what I asked of the machine. Ones on the left continued to produce letters. I took that one back within a week, and got my current MacBook Pro, which I love.

And then today I noticed that the weird MacBook Pro that had been causing me all the trouble with the trackpad and where the battery had completely stopped charging had miraculously gone even more peculiar. I’d not got around to taking it in to be repaired because I’d been travelling so much, but I think spontaneously changing shape counts as a significant flaw:

I’d take it back today, except I tried to book a session at the genius bar at 1am this morning and apparently they’d already run out of appointments for the day. It’s pretty extraordinary to me that I’m still using Apple products after the last six months. All I can say is that when they work, they work very well and make me genuinely happy. It’s just a shame that recently they’ve not been quite as reliable as my previous experiences would have led me to expect…

21 replies on “The unusual flakiness of the MacBook Pro…”

I feel the same way about my Macs. I had numerous problems with my old PowerBook. Apple messed up the warranty — effectively cutting my right to service very short — the power-cord broke, it did the weird shape-changing thing and finally, it would spontaneously and randomly crash several times a day.
But when it worked… It was the best computer I’d ever had. It would crash, I’d reboot it and after the initial grumbling, forgive it all its sins. It just made me feel that much more productive.
Now I own a MacBook. And thus far (6 months), no problems. Keeping my fingers crossed with this one.

1am? I’ve found the Genius Bar booked solid at five past midnight. I’ve talked many family members into getting Macs over the last years, and the number of hardware issues we’ve all experienced recently has been very dispiriting.

I have the same problem with the right hand keys producing numbers (the least of the problems listed above) and this is on a PowerBook.
I find turning the numlock on and then back off again helps. Confused the hell out of me when trying to enter my password the first few times, until I entered it into the username box just to check.
Good luck with everything else.

Everyone’s been having trouble with the MacBook Pro – and I just got a Mac Pro Tower which I had to take back because the CPU overloaded every twenty minutes (although the second one is fine). Apple’s QA seems to have gonme through the floor.
The Genius Bar is just insulting – you can only sign up on the day, and it’s booked up by 9am every single day.
But, you know, they’re beautiful…

I feel you pain. October 2005 –> July 2006 saw me replace my Powerbook 15″ 3 times due to the HD giving up the will to live. Upon the third one dying i had no choice but to replace it with a 17″ [which I had to pay to upgrade!] as the 15″s were discontinued, being replaced by the MacBook Pro.
Then in July 2006 the HD in the 17″ died. Causing me considerable pain.
So to cut a long story short, I reverted back to a Windows laptop.
I still love Apple and am considering getting a 12″ Powerbook just to satisfy my needs

im still contemplating whether or not I should make the pc to mac switch. Ive been very tempted these past few months to treat myself to a macbook/pro as im starting to feel the need to have a laptop in my life. Thing is what with all these battery, heat, power adapter issues people seem to be having with the new range of macbooks im growing ever more reluctant to buying one! –

Everyone I know who’s bought one has had to have it replaced or repaired at least once within a few weeks of getting it, and I know of more than a handful of people to have gone through four! It’s the main reason I decided to stick with a PC, just got myself a dell inspiron and it’s been perfect so far. It’s not as pretty, but it works and it’s great value.

I know this sounds ridiculous, but I would still rather use my MacBook Pro than I would any PC. I’ve just decided that the old truism about not buying first generation Apple products is completely true and that people would be better off waiting a little while. My current MacBook Pro is gorgeous. It works perfectly and I’ve really been able to bond with it, which I wasn’t able to do with the last one. I wouldn’t use another computer. It’s just weird that it took me so long to get to the point where I’d found one that worked. To those who are having anxieties about switching, I really wouldn’t. Just get a model that’s been out at least six months. Think of it this way – if my daily experience of using a Mac wasn’t so much better than my experience of using a PC, why would I put up with this stuff?

That MacBook Pro is showing all the signs of SERIOUS (ie dangerous) overheating, and you should get it replaced (not repaired – the internal heat will have damaged or compromised other components) pronto.
If you haven’t already, I’d really recommend you also take Ben H’s advice and get ProCare. It’s ¬£80 or so, but it means you can jump the queue for the Genius Bars, book appointments to suit you, and they’ll also clean your machine for you (which given the amount of crud my keyboards has lurking underneath it is a real bonus 🙂 ). Plus they prioritise your repairs over non-Procare customers. Doubly handy for you, as it works in any Apple store worldwide – so if you’re in SF and your machine starts acting up, you can get it sorted fast.

Hi Tom,
It was weird seeing your post, as I had been speaking to a journalist complaining about the same power connector problem as you.
I had to take my MacBook Pro back for repair, couldn’t book on the genius bar and went to Square Group instead for a fix.
They will take your machine in but are backed up by 10 working days and you can expect to wait around a week for the parts. I have had to rent a machine the meantime. The man on the desk there admitted that they were overrun.

It’s weird isn’t it. I’ve had my share of trouble with my latest powerbook (the ibook before that never gave me any trouble btw) but still i would heartily recommend thsi machine to anyone. The macbook pro stories are scary though, bad intel karma?

hey guys —
they don’t tell you this on the apple website but after midnight it’s a free-for-all at the genius bar. you can’t make an appointment between midnight and 5am. their website is set to tell you that there are no more appointments if you try for those times: you can just show up.

I’ve had PCs for 20 years and now have a 4 month old MacBook Pro laptop which is my first Mac.
Initially I thought it was may lack of knowledge on how to tune and tweak the Mac, but I’m starting to realize that there are real problems with this laptop. Overheating, poor wireless connectivity, iPod sync problems, corrupted apps…
This is my primary computer and I depend on it each day and it is useable, but frustrating at times. Although, still looks kewl to flip it open at Starbucks…

I had been planning to get a new MacBook but am thinking twice after hearing all these tales of woe. I have a 2003 G3 iBook which has always worked well (apart from some completely inexplicable waking-up issues), but earlier this year I bought a Mac Mini and immediately had to have the logic board replaced. Generally it’s a very slow machine too, and should never have been shipped with as little RAM as it has (256mb). Running Mac OS X Tiger, with all its processor and RAM-intensive tricks and widgetry, it just grinds to a halt all too often.
I think Apple have diluted their products too much and will start to pay the price pretty soon.

I was speaking to a sales guy at Regent St Apple Store yesterday (as I accidentally bought an iMac – whoopsies!) and asked what the secret was to getting a place at the Genius Bar, saying I couldn’t get an appointment (for my MacBook that needs some lovin’ from the mothership), even if I tried at 8am (as per their previous advice). Apparently their new system now releases slots every 1 throughout the day to try to keep things slowly moving along.
The renovations upstairs involve them increasing the size of the Genius Bar, and they’ll be employing more staff.
Dang. And there I was thinking that dropping £900+ on another Mac might give me a 1 time queue-jump ticket.
It’s annoying – the Genius Bar is a great concept – as long as you can get appointments. When you can’t, it just pisses you off.

Jeez, I can’t help but laugh at some of you. I mean come on…you’re paying at least double what you’d pay for a PC laptop and getting something that is more or less guaranteed to need replacing within a few weeks/months. And yet you STILL love your Macs to bits and wouldn’t have it any other way?? Man, Apple have you bent over a barrel, counting your cash.
Seriously, when will you learn that reliability is FAR more important than aesthetics and ‘bonding’ with your machine. I don’t know about you, but I find that actually getting my work done is the no.1 priority…

Quick Tom, Break your laptop again and demand one of those sexy new Core2Duo Macbook Pros they just annouced! ….grrrh im even more tempted with one now!

Overheating? Yep. Grinding mouse button? Yep. Unresponsive trackpad? Yeah, that too.
Damn. Every issue I’ve had with my Pro since I bought it, you described in your post. Between this and my experience with the Nike+ iPod accessory I’ve been using (it completely destroyed my ability to control my playback volume until I reset the damn thing) – I’ve been rethinking my slavish devotion to Apple’s hardware products.
I’ll still buy and use them, of course – I prefer them to anything else on the market. But is it matter of waiting longer? Waiting for second or third revs of these products?

i’m on my second one, well, i will be when i collect it from being repaired this afternoon. the first one i got was doa out of the box, and then the video card in the replacement one would output random garbage.
i was happy to get it fixed so i could then sell it on ebay and get a thinkpad, but then they released the new core2duos and the resale of the machine dropped in half.
its like apple has it in against me for recommending them to all my friends and co-workers .

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