Display Wars: A New Hope

Gather ’round, my friends. It’s story time.

Five years ago, it seemed like a good idea. The Apple Cinema Display was 22 inches of pure visual stimulation. I had to have it, for the productivity it offered, and the wow factor. I shelled out $4,000.00 for the display, and $3,500.00 for a new G4. I still have a tiny bit left to pay off on the loan, but it was worth it. The display was amazing… for about a year.

Toward the twelve-month mark, the display began to exhibit ugly, shadowy distortions in the top-left corner of the screen, stretching partway across the top. They looked a bit like water damage on a drywall ceiling. I called Apple, and they told me they were normal. I sent a photo through email. They sent me a box. Since I was just within my original 1-year warranty, the repair would be covered.

I got a call from Apple. They wanted to replace the display with a unit featuring an ADC connector. My system had no ADC connector, and could not support the newer display. I let them know that the only option was to fix it. They did so, and I got my display back in about two weeks, long after the original promised return time of 5 days.

The LCD panel had been replaced, but poorly. Over time, the display began to exhibit problems in the upper-right portion of the display. Finally, the unit would no longer turn on. Unfortunately, it was outside the 90-day warranty of the last repair. One day outside. I had paid $4,000.00 for the cadillac of displays, only to have it die after a year and three months of use. It sat, carefully covered, boxed, and stored for nearly four years.

Recently, I found myself wanting to use my flat-panel display again. The sting of the initial purchase had worn off, and I decided to bite the bullet and pay to get it repaired. I brought it into the Apple Store and asked that, given the unsucessful repair history of the device, they would replace it instead of attempting repair. The Genius felt that replacement was a strong possibility.

A little over a week later, the display came back. The Geniuses and the store Creative examined the unit, and found that it had been repaired, not replaced. The repair, however, was horrible. The display would turn on now, thanks to a replaced power unit, but the luminosity of the LCD panel was blotchy all over, with distinct, fingerprint-shaped marks at the top of the screen, descending to the left. The Geniuses let me know the situation, and display was looped back to repair immediately, with notations that the display “had already been repaired several times,” as a suggestion to replace the unit outright. This time, at the Genius’ suggestion, I paid the $500.00 repair fee ahead of time.

Another week-and-a-half later, the display was back. This time, they gave it a quick glance, and thought it looked OK. I brought it home, and powered it on, only to be massively disappointed. There was an entire row of pixels out across the bottom of the display. I set the background to a pure-black image, which revealed two fingerprint-sized spots in the middle of the screen, surrounded by a speckling of dead pixels, and light blotchy areas spanning outward from the center. This panel was either used, or very old. I was heartbroken at the sight of my once-amazing display looking that bad.

Click here for pictures!

It was returned to the Apple Store, and is now being sent out for the third time in a month. The Genius made a strong recommendation that the display be replaced, not repaired, in his notes. Wish me luck.

The Story Continues!  Click to Read On!

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