The quality of Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro screens has come under legal fire in a class action that charges Apple with false advertising. The lawsuit, filed May 3 in the San Diego Branch of the California Superior Court by Fred Greaves, Dave Gatley, and "all others similarly situated," claims that Apple deceived customers about the quality of the displays.
The lawsuit states that various MacBook purchasers have "started complaining" that the MacBook display is substandard. "Many purchasers observed that the display was 'grainy,'" the lawsuit said. "Others complained that the display was 'sparkly.'"
Some owners claim to have seen "distracting lines at different points on the display screen," while others "noted in certain programs capable of displaying color spectra that banding appears in the display of gradients."
When these customers contacted Apple, the lawsuit claimed, they were "chastised" for being "too picky" or they were told they were "imagining." The suit also said that Apple purged posts critical of the displays on a discussion forum it hosted.
The plaintiffs argue that users who rely on the accuracy of the displays, such as for the quality of photographs, find that they are unreliable "for editing purposes."
Apple advertised that its MacBook and MacBook Pro can display "millions of colors," the suit said, but, in fact, they are "only capable of displaying the illusion of millions of colors through" dithering. Dithering is a technique for simulating many colors with only a relative few.
The MacBook and MacBook Pro line can accommodate both Apple's Mac OS and Microsoft's Windows, the lawsuit said, but the display under Windows is, at all resolutions, "superior" to the display under Apple's OS.
"If there had been a widespread, significant problem with the MacBooks," said Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Yankee Group, "we would have heard about it by now." She said that it is always possible that the Cupertino, California-based company could have had a "quality issue during manufacturing."
But, she said, Apple pays great attention to its displays, as they are a defining characteristic of the company's laptops. "It would be very surprising if their display had gone from great" to defective, she said.
The suit does say that customer complaints have begun to appear in large numbers on various other Web sites, and cited one posting that said Apple claims "the card and display are BOTH capable of displaying millions of colors, which is NOT the same as dithering with a 6 bit display."
"I just booted into Windows," another poster mentioned, "and, indeed, there are NO gradient issues under Windows XP running either Boot Camp or Parallels. That is great news since it means that there is something wrong with the software/firmware and the way the dithering is executed. If gradients could look like they do under Windows XP, I'd be perfectly satisfied."