The case of the cracked MacBook case
I've had my MacBook for a total of 4 months now and have generally loved the little machine, so much so that I switched to Mac completely, dropping Windows and buying a Mac Pro. There has however been one problem that has cropped up recently that is rather frustrating. The front of the MacBook palm rest area has developed a hair-line crack in it.
I treat this machine quite well and am very careful with it so the fact that it cracked after just four months of ownership is pretty disappointing. When I say I treat it well I mean "kid gloves" well. I've never dropped the machine or even handled it roughly. I gently open and close the lid, careful not to let it slam shut. If I take it anywhere it is immediately placed into a snug black neoprene Incase sleeve. Travel means the MacBook is first placed inside the Incase sleeve and then placed inside a padded laptop briefcase. Kid gloves.
My oldest daughter's MacBook on the other hand has developed no such crack, even though it is 7 months older and treated with a tiny fraction of the care mine receives. Hers has a large decal on the shell and makeup stains from residing in her cramped college dorm room. When it's not laying around on a couch or coffee table it is crammed into a large bag with enough female products to go camping for several weeks. Yet hers is fine.
I did a little research on the interwebs and sure enough a large number of people have experienced the same exact problem I have. It even got so bad that Fake Steve Jobs put up a note about it in December.
Not pleased about this I called up Apple Care. The gentleman told me that I could either take the machine to a nearby Apple store for repair or they would send out a box so that I could pack up my precious machine, ship it to them for repair, then they would send it back to me. Since I have an Apple store about 30 minutes away that was my preferred method.
The earliest I can get to the Apple Care store is Monday so this will have to wait until then; I'll add information on this as I go. When I put up a post in April about how to clean a MacBook case with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers Charles mentioned in the comments that the top of the case may be one of the "problem" ones that were not varnished properly. Hopefully when this is repaired it will address the fact that the palm rests gets dirty so easily too.
In the meantime I will be using a machine that sharply pokes right into underside of my wrist as I type.
Update: Check out this Flickr group dedicated to MacBook case cracks.
A good tip to prevent hurting yourself is to put a small piece of tape over the cracked spot.
I hope you'll have your MacBook fixed soon.
The grey screen protector cloth also helps to keep finger oil transferring from keyboard to glossy screen when you close the lid.
Good luck with the repair!
@Ast: It is funny how that works out but I seem to experience the same thing with some belongings.
On closer inspection it's clear that this is a product defect. The screen/lid has two plastic ribs that prevent the screen from actually resting on the keyboard. Those ribs strike the palm rest in the exact same place that the crack developed. When you close the lid on the MacBook and pick it up the natural tendency is to grasp the 5lb device at the leading edge to place it in a case or move it.
Pressing it closed like that is what creates the pressure that ultimately cracks the palmrest. If Apple had moved the plastic ribs closer to the edge of the display or used a soft material for the ribs this likely would not have happened.
Thanks for pointing out that it's covered under warranty - although I don't want to be without my beloved computer long enough for it to get fixed! Decisions, decisions....
I updated the original post to include a link to a Flickr group that has over a hundred pictures of people with similar problems.
I have heard many horror stories of folks that did this for one reason or another and when they got their machine back, they found that the hard drive had been changed and they had lost all their data.
Of course, those stories were for other problems, but my guess is that they are going to give you a new machine to replace the case. In theory, they should swap-out hard drives and RAM, but one never knows about these things.
Just a word of caution...
Hope your MacBook gets fixed though! :)
The other case issue I'm having is that the left-front side of the case flexes. Not a real problem but a bit of a distraction.
Great blog! I've learned so much from reading it. I'm a developer, primarily with Java, and switched to Mac 3 years ago coming mostly from Linux. Actually, a good half dozen computer science students switched from Linux to Mac when the college had a liquidation sale selling the old Macs from the art and design labs. :-)
@Trisha: Glad you like the blog! You are correct, Mac users tend to be a bit more demanding than Windows people. I think in part this is because with Windows it's hard to figure out who to blame: Microsoft? The hardware vendor? The driver author? It's hard to pin responsibility on any one entity. Macs are much easier in this regard.
It protects the outside, looks nice, fits better than any case a the retail store (I know, I'm an employee there), and is cheaper. It generally protects the case from those cracks. That repair should also be covered no problem. They replace the topcase on it.
The Apple Store is able to fix it very quickly, but it can happen again if you're not careful when you carry it/close it.
Have invested in an invisible shield for the wrist rest and a silicon keyboard/wrist rest cover. One to soften the impacts and the other to hold it together if/when it cracks again - i'm guessing 6 mths tops!
This is really shabby of Apple.
Wish me luck for getting it fixed.
Can anyone tell me the cost for the replacement in the US?
The first one happened last summer and it was still under warranty and they replaced it for free...This time, at the G Bar, they weren't going to and tried to charge us $200 but I complained pretty resolutely at the Apple reps and manager and they ultimately said they'd do it 'this time' for free...Seems like such a scam.
I've researched this problem a lot and it's an admitted design flaw from Apple...The magnetic latch for closing the macbook eventually wears down the plastic palm rest and it eventually cracks...They have no solution for it either which seems ridiculous as we spent the last year using a soft layer of felt to try and protect the surface on closing and it STILL cracked a year later (So, surprisingly, even with some sort of cushion layer it still broke in nearly the same amount of time)...This means it will definitely crack again and so I'm not sure what to do...I'm thinking of trying to unload the laptop and simply buy the aluminum version or something...Seems like such a joke...Any suggestions?
And to be honest, it does boggle the mind how Apple simply won't come out with a fix/solution to the problem instead of still peddle these plastic macbooks that will continue to have the same problem
- had it fixed on 8/18
- have only used mouse since & been VERY careful closing cover
- on 8/26 discovered another crack in front and to left of trackpad
- this is discouraging- feel like I'm getting f#%k-ed by Apple
Well, I had the same problems months ago and I have it warranty claimed from Applecare =)
How's your macbook now?
At the Genius Bar, they inspected it and said they'll replace the bezel and top case. No fuss, no fight. Parts were in stock and I got my MB back the next day with a new screen bezel and top case which included a new keyboard and track pad.
My MB (Aug.'06) turned 3 years old the day I brought it in and was long out of warranty.
As others said - it's the feeling of disappointment that our beloved Apple is far from perfect after all...
I hope they replace the box quickly at the Apple store where I am going on Saturday (my computer and warranty were purchased abroad - fingers crossed).
Last week I finally took my Macbook in to find out what Apple would do with it. It was 3 days before its AppleCare would expire and I expected it to be covered under AppleCare - I was told that there was a recent recall on this model so even if the AppleCare expired they'd replace the parts that cracked and the keyboard.
I am very careful with all my notebooks and gadgets. I've enjoyed using this 3 year old Macbook daily but ONLY at home for photos and internet, as it is TOO HEAVY for me to carry around to client meetings - I have a much lighter 4 year old Acer Travelmate I use to carry around for work - so my Macbook has never been subject to overuse or abuse.
I got mine from skinstyler, reputable seller and good product.