AppleCare Gives Up As MacBook Air Video Problems Persist

AppleCare Gives Up As MacBook Air Video Problems Persist

I’ve had my 13-inch MacBook Air since they were first released and although I encountered video problems initially after the plethora of updates that Apple has released the video problems haven’t returned.

The updates included an EFI firmware update, a specific software update for the MacBook Air 2010 model, and the Mac OS X 10.6.5 software update. I even offered not one, but two suggested solutions to try.

These updates and suggested fixes worked for some, but unfortunately they didn’t work for everyone. People are still complaining on Apple Discussion Forums about problems they are encountering when connecting their MacBook Airs to external displays.

I’ll be up front and say that I seldom connect my MacBook Air to an external display. If I did that it would be like tethering an anchor to a feather. So why bother? I mean really it’s so tiny and the internal display is better than the new 13-inch MacBook Pro from what I’ve heard.

I simply don’t use an external display on my MacBook Air. However, in the interest of experimentation I have been using one recently, an old Dell wide screen monitor, via a Mini-Display Port to VGA adapter . So far so good. I haven’t noticed any problems on the internal or external display. I plan on obtaining a DVI adapter to see how that works out.

Although my luck continues for many others their luck has run out. The discussion thread is approaching ten pages long and several recent posts showed me that the problem does indeed persist and Apple isn’t or cannot do anything about it yet.

One user, lbaum, reported that he had “gone through 2 months working on that issue… several calls with AppleCare, software diagnostics tests, trying different monitors and cables, and lately: even a logic board replacement. ” Eventually he said, “AppleCare gave up…” sending him to to another service center for a logic board replacement. His MacBook Air was tested on various displays and the problem manifested itself again, but his 17’ MacBook Pro worked just fine on the same displays. Finally he came to this conclusion:

…it appears to be a general problem with all new Macbook Airs that the external video signal is pretty bad. Some monitors seem to be more “forgiving” and don’t show any problems (in my tests, Samsung, Apple, and NEC worked pretty okay). If you have one of those, lucky you!

Other monitors (in my tests particularly Eizo and Fujitsu) seem to be less forgiving and show intensive flickering. If you have one of those, bad luck! (Unfortunately, at my workplace we only have Eizos). A replacement Macbook Air will most likely not solve the issue for you!

Another user, schallau ends his post with:

I called AppleCare and got transferred to an L2 and they advised me to take it to a genius bar. The guy at the genius bar confirmed with with my MBA and ONE TAKEN FROM THE FLOOR!! He said that we could send it in, but that replacing the logic board wouldn’t likely fix the issue. So, my question is: WHAT NOW? No resolution isn’t acceptable.

I completely agree — no resolution isn’t acceptable and it’s not like Apple wouldn’t offer one. I’m sure they would go as far as to offer a refund or even another computer to replace a defective MacBook Air. Frankly, I’d rather see the problem resolved because I like my MacBook Air a whole lot and I’m not interested in giving it up for one of those boat anchors…I mean…MacBook Pros that Apple sells.

So what do you say Apple? Are you going to fix our MacBook Airs or what? I intend on pressing the issue with Apple this week until I get an answer. In the meantime let us know if you are still experiencing this problem by leaving a comment.

  • Fasf

    Quit being a pussy and get a new MBA.

  • Steve Jobs

    Dear writer of this blog,

    Please stop being such a fag and just exchange for a new MBA.

    Sincerely,

    Steve Jobs

  • dcj001

    David.

    Keep pushing for Apple to do “the right thing.”

    Also, you might want to start preventing the children from posting their comments that include the words that they learn from MTV.

  • DavidWMartin

    Thanks DCJ001 – we are working to clean things up on here regarding comments. I plan on contacting Apple tomorrow, but frankly I don’t expect an answer. However, once upon a time I wrote to Steve Jobs and Apple did answer. However, I don’t expect to try to contact him again. I want him to get well and I will respect his wishes during his leave of absence.

  • Steven Chaffer

    “Boat anchors”?

  • Johnstar

    I doubt is a good business model to make it perfectly link to a cheap large monitor, since that would really make people think twice about buying an apple monitor or even a larger macbook.

  • DavidWMartin

    Yes “Boat anchors” – after using the new Air (and having had an old one) I don’t know what else to describe a MacBook Pro line. They are positively huge and heavy to boot.

  • Jrbingo1

    Your a total dumb ass the must not do or need much computing power. Why talk shit about the MacBook pro? It’s a by far better computer and if it’s to heavy for you, you must be a real pussy. I guess just being a writer all you need is a MacBook air but when you do a lot of video and music editing you need a computer with ball’s. The MacBook air couldn’t do at all for me what the MacBook pro does. I get so sick of people talking shit about them. I carry my 17″ MacBook pro around everywhere and never do I feel like it’s way to heavy. Grow some balls.

  • Luis Garza

    I have a 13″ MBA (late 2010) and I plug it into my 22″ KDS monitor every night when I get home, and have never seen a problem…hell, I had forgotten about people talking about this until I saw this post…so…add KDS to the list of monitors-that-work?

  • Rob Williams

    Then you must be one sad individual with very little functional muscle mass. Yes, the air is built to be feather weight, but to call the Macbook Pro a boat anchor compared to something like an Alienware M17x is short sighted and poor commentary.

  • tom

    I think it’s good that the author describes the problem and by doing this puts Apple under pressure to fix it.

    Calling the MBP a ‘boat anchor’ is absolutely far fetched, but I understand. If you have been working on the macbook air, the resolution and the weight of the MBP become very noticeable. When not in need for hard core computing power, the MBA is much faster to boot and operate. So depending on your needs, it’s probably not acceptable to switch back to the MBP.

    What i’m saying is, let’s not focus on the crude remark, and let’s not reply with calling him a pussy. It’s childish.

  • Max Ellis

    Shoo back under your bridge. Adults are talking.

    Long-term, I can see why Apple is finally putting Intel’s muscle behind a quality display standard (Thunderbolt/DP display). Then these video compatibility headaches will be forgotten faster than zip drive clicks.

  • OzRose

    I’m currently trying to decide between a MBA or MBP so a friend linked me to this article which has proved interesting. But I doubt I’ll be back to this site. Unless my friend tells me the comments are better monitored. Foul mouthed, meaningless personal attacks leave me bewildered. And waste my time.

  • CharliK

    I’m sure that AppleCare isn’t really giving up. Nor is Apple. they will keep trying to figure it out, or change up the design as soon as they feel they have one that won’t have the same issues

    But I think I would rather they admit that they are stumped then just be all “oh it’s the logic board” pretending they know what they are talking about. Tell me you aren’t sure as of yet and offer to let me trade up to a different laptop that has no such video issues or not if the external display really isn’t a big deal for me

  • tom

    Wow. There are some real douches on this site.

  • jakontil

    mine is a 11″ does this inhabit the problem described? as the title said it’s 11″ MBair but couldnt find anywhere that the author is describing it, please some advice…
    and does the problem happen only when u connect to external display?

  • DavidWMartin

    I’m fairly stout and it is well known I can hold my own. However, my current mass is surpassed by the scope of my sense of humor. I’ve had a MacBook Pro before – great machine, but the new Air is a great machine and I like it a great deal. So far it hasn’t been lacking on anything I’ve thrown at it. I was at the Apple Store this weekend looking at the new models and standing in front of a 15-inch model just felt awkward after using the 13-inch Air. Oddly it felt huge. I had to look at the placard to see if it was a 17-inch model. I mentioned the comparison to a boat anchor to the Apple Store employee and we both laughed.

    So just laugh and move on! Doesn’t anyone have a sense of humor any more?

  • leskern

    Jobs called. He wants his Mac back.

  • gnomehole

    No problems with my MBA… we have a few dozen at our company, nobody having issues.

    Take it to an Apple store and get it replaced.

  • JoseGutierrez1

    Just get a MacBook Pro. Problem solved.

  • firesign

    If you’re using an MBA to do presentations, hooking it up to an external display is kind of important.

  • Matthew

    I would try to elevate things to consumer relations or Apple’s equivalent. When you call, insist that you’ve had it repaired many times, nothing’s worked, and don’t take “no” for an answer when elevating to higher level managers. There are also lemon laws in most states, so check into that, or at least mention the lemon law when you’re talking to Apple’s tech support.

  • guest

    I have never been able to hook up my MBA to an external monitor. My brothers MBA show up but there is a persistent buzzing.

  • DavidWMartin

    What do you plan on using your notebook for? You’d be surprised about what a MacBook Air can do.

  • DavidWMartin

    You could do that, but not when weight is an issue. I also have to carry a second laptop around with me along with other misc. items. I’ve reduced the misc. items to the bare essentials. I’m now seeking a lighter, but sturdy backpack to further reduced the weight.

  • DavidWMartin

    Boy that’s lucky. Sounds like a nice place to work.

  • DavidWMartin

    I saw the problem initially without an external display. However, once the updates that have been released so far by Apple were applied I never saw the video problems again on my 13-inch MacBook Air. Note per the article that I don’t use an external display all that often, but I’m going to do so for the next week to see what develops.

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  • Bauer Jack

    Have same problem with VGA. Macbook Air summer 2011, Lion and Dell 24 widescreen.
    There are some EFI upgrades that are addressed to this issue. But are unable to install them.

About the author

David W. MartinDavid W. Martin has more than 20 years of experience in the industry as a programmer, systems and business analyst, author, and consultant. David has written for CNET's iPhoneatlas.com, MacLife.com, CultofMac.com, BYTE.com and recently for aNewDoman.net. He comes to Cult of Mac's website with deep knowledge and passion for the all things Apple. Follow David on Twitter @david_w_martin or see what he's up to now at davidwmartin.com.

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