I know, I know, I
hate looping GIFs too, but this is what many owners of Apple
's 17-inch LCD Studio Displays
have to look at every time they use their computers. Annoying, isn't
it? The sequence of
two short blinks followed by one long indicates that the display is
a backlight problem
. In March of 2002, I purchased one of the
displays for $999. They currently retail for $699. The display was only
subject to what I would consider normal use, I set it to sleep after 20
minutes of inactivity, and only ran it at half brightness. After nearly
two years of almost flawless performance, I was introduced to this
blinking pattern. I woke my display from sleep early one morning, and
noticed that the top part of the screen was much dimmer than usual, and
gradually got brighter towards the bottom. I am not the kind of person
who would go and make an anti-Apple website simply because I got
unlucky with a piece of hardware. In fact, if you visit other areas of my website
, you will see that I am generally an Apple
enthusiast. If you read the information contained on this page, you
will see why I am so upset about this particular issue.
I first tried to fix the problem by using some common techniques. I
restarted. I shut down. I booted into OS 9. I zapped the PRAM. I did
the Apple-option-A-V trick. I left the computer and the display
unplugged (from power and each other) overnight. I tried the display on
a different computer. No luck. I then headed to Apple's Support
site, which is
generally very helpful, so I recommend starting there if you have an
Apple-related technical problem. I searched the articles, and learned
that the blinking sequence indicates a backlight problem, which
explained the dimness. One of the backlights must be out. I then headed
over to the Apple's Discussion
to see if anyone had a quick fix for the problem or how much
it would cost to get repaired. I entered a few keywords, and was
directed to a post describing the same exact problem I have. As of
18, 2005, it has 604 replies. Apparently what I am experiencing isn't
Reading through the thread, I learned a few things very quickly:
- Within the first two years of use, the top or bottom part of the
display goes dim, and the power light flashes.
- The problem is only widely reported on the 17" displays.
- An out-of-warranty repair (standard warranty is one year) costs
- Those who went through with the repair learned that the problem
is not the backlight itself, rather it is the DC-AC inverter that
supplies power to the backlights. Proof of Repair documents have listed
part #0500-0105-0171 labeled "P30A Inverter DC-AC" or part
#0500-0105-0170 INVERTER ASSY P 30 as being replaced.
Not willing to pay 75% of the price of a new monitor on a repair that
is only guaranteed for 90 days, I went to my local Apple Specialist and
explained the problem. The service technician just shook his head and
told me, "it's not worth getting fixed," instead of quoting a repair
Following a suggestion made by several members in the thread, as well
as one customer's blog
, I submitted a letter
to Apple via
included my phone number at the end of the message. About a week later,
I found that I had a voicemail message from someone at "Apple's
Corporate Executive Offices on behalf of Steve Jobs" asking me to call
her back regarding my Studio Display. I called back the next day, and
explained the issue, mentioning the high repair cost and the fact that
I believe it is a common defect. She told me that she would investigate
the issues with Apple's engineers to see if there was a known problem
with the display, and call me back on the following Monday. On Monday,
she called as promised and said that there was "no known problem" with
the displays. She then gave me a list of Apple-Authorized Service
Providers in my area, and said that they offer "competitive pricing" on
repairs. She also asked me to call her back and let her know if they
were able to help me.
The next day, I called every service provider she listed, as well as my
nearest Apple Store. Here were the responses:
- "We're not allowed to fix those. They have to be sent to Apple."
- $390 for most parts, but that's not recommended as it's only
guaranteed for 90 days. Suggested I purchase a new monitor.
- "Is it still under Apple's warranty?" (no) "Take it to a TV
repair shop. We don't service monitors."
- "Apple doesn't make the parts available to us. We would add a fee
for our services and then send it to Apple."
- The Apple Store simply connected me to the AppleCare line.
- "We have to send those in to Apple."
Apparently "competitive pricing" means less than $20 difference from
Apple's flat rate ($409 as of the time I called.)
Before calling Apple again, I went back to the discussion board thread
and compiled some statistics in an AppleWorks
. Of the 378 replies at the time, I found 172 unique user
names reporting the same problem. Some had multiple displays with the
problem, bringing the total number of affected displays to 180. Of the
172 users, 75 indicated in their posts that they had contacted Apple
regarding this particular problem by calling customer relations,
calling AppleCare, getting the display repaired by Apple, et-cetera.
Using data from those who reported the age of the display at the time
of failure, I found the average life of the display to be 18 months. I
also noticed that some displays had the inverter board fail again after
getting repaired. One member reported three such failures on the same
Armed with this new information, I called Apple back one last time.
This is what we discussed:
I told the representative (by the way, I spoke with the same one every
time) about my calls to the service providers. Her response was that
Apple had recently made the parts available to the service providers,
and perhaps they didn't know that they were available. She also noted
that it was at the service provider's discretion whether or not they
would service the displays or send them to Apple. I had heard about
this recent policy on the discussion boards, so I mentioned it to some
of the service providers when I called, and they didn't know anything
I also gave her the information contained in my database. That didn't
impress her very much. She gave me the usual "we have shipped tens of
thousands of displays and that number is insignificant" response and
also said that people don't go to the boards to report good
experiences. I told her that not everyone who has the problem posts on
the board. Not expecting a clear answer, I asked how many reports it
would take before Apple considered this a known problem. She told me
that she's not an engineer, and can't answer that.
I suggested that Apple revise its warranty options for their displays.
Currently they offer a 1-year warranty. A 3-year AppleCare warranty is
available for $249, but only when the display is purchased with a Power
Mac, or $349 with a PowerBook. For comparison, Samsung
offers a 17-inch LCD of
similar price (around $700) and specifications with a free 3-year
warranty on parts, labor, and backlight. The Apple representative's
reply was that there has been very little demand for AppleCare on
individual displays, and that I purchased my monitor with the knowledge
that it only had a one-year warranty. I reminded her that many users
their displays fail within the first year, which should indicate that
the life of the displays is not as long as Apple thinks.
I suggested that Apple adjust its repair costs. Charging 3/4 of the
purchase price for a repair is insane. For a while, Apple charged $255
plus a mailing fee to replace an iPod's battery out of warranty. This
turned out to be about 75% of the purchase price of a mid-range iPod.
Many consumers, including the (in)famous Neistat Brothers
understandably upset, and Apple has since changed its policy, offering
a $99 battery replacement program for out of warranty iPods, as well as
a $59 extended warranty. The Apple representative didn't have much to
say about that.
Knowing that the conversation was getting nowhere, I tried some "I know
people" remarks. I mentioned that I know people in charge of making
large computer purchases for schools in Tennessee and Pennsylvania, and
that I would have no choice but to tell them about my situation. I told
her that these people had experienced the problem with the first
generation eMacs, which Apple also initially refused to acknowledge as
a common problem. Because of this, they were already suspicious of
Apple's quality control and customer service. I told her that one of
them was starting a laptop program, and because of the recent PowerBook
"white spots" issue, he was following Apple's quality control closely,
and was interested in my experience regarding my display. The Apple
representative simply told me that they should contact their Apple
sales representative should they have any concerns.
And to close the conversation, I informed Apple that I was contacted by
someone who is very close to filing a lawsuit against Apple regarding
this issue. I didn't give any specific information; I just felt I
should give fair warning. Of course, not being an Apple legal
representative, customer relations was unable to comment.
That was basically it for our call. She said that she would keep my
case number on file and I can call back if I have any further questions.
After the last call with Apple, I decided to launch this website to
encourage customers with the same problem to contact Apple. By putting
this information on an external website, I am hoping that users who do
not know about Apple's Discussion Forum will come across this site when
searching for a solution. At the very least, this page will let
the problem know that they're not alone.
I am hoping that Apple will:
- Make the inverter board problem with the 17-inch displays a known
problem, and fix it. Displays will then last longer, and consumers who
are considering the purchase of a new display will be assured that the
problem has been fixed in new models.
- Adjust its out of warranty repair pricing to be more reasonable.
- Extend its existing free warranty to three years, or at least
make AppleCare available on display-only purchases.
For more information, read the Apple
. If that link doesn't work, try this path:
Discussions Home -> Apple Displays -> Displays Forums -> Apple
Studio Display 17" LCD -> Half dimmed flat panel display. The topic
should be one of the first five in the list, and is usually #1.
One of my posts, replying to another user's question about who would be
interested in a class-action lawsuit, was deleted by Apple. I looked at
the number of replies at the time (370) and noticed that it was eight
less than the number of replies that existed the day before, (378) so
obviously I was not the only one to have a message deleted. A copy of
the offending message can be found here
is the automated notice from Apple.
If you would like to view an archive of the thread, which includes some
messages that were deleted by Apple, (ooh, bonus features!) I have a
(Warning: It's long.) If you
want to print out and mail/fax it to Apple, here's
a handy PDF file
. The archive was last updated on November 15,
and is 137 pages when printed. To make your own archive, follow these instructions
If you are experiencing the problem described on this page, I encourage
you to contact Apple directly so they will know that there is a flaw
with the voltage inverters used on the 17-inch Studio Display.
Apple Customer Relations: (800) 767-2775
Apple's mailing address:
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino CA 95014
(Use this to email Apple.)
for Apple to acknowledge this as a known problem. If a
similar petition already exists, please email me and I may link to it.
Since the site that hosts the petition is sometimes down, I will
archive it periodically here
(Last update 2-9-2005, 432 signatures.)
If you are still under the standard warranty (unlikely now since the displays have been discontinued) or have AppleCare, the easiest solution is to call AppleCare at (800) 275-2273 and have Apple repair your display for free. Also, thanks to Neal for informing me that purchases made with a Visa Platinum card automatically have the warranty doubled on the purchased product. He was able to have his display repaired for free under this agreement. Check with your credit card company to see if your purchase qualifies for an extended warranty. Some stores also offer extended warranties or "protection plans," so perhaps you got lucky there.
Apple Authorized Service Provider
We know that Apple will charge an arm and a leg for repairs, but an
independent service provider probably won't. When I first started calling
service providers, things looked pretty grim, but Apple is no longer withholding the necessary parts from the authorized service providers. Since the providers don't have to send the displays to Apple anymore, they can offer much more reasonable labor rates. Find authorized service providers here
"Apple Retail Store" results) or use this form
to limit your search to Apple Specialists. For a first-hand account of
why it makes sense to visit an service provider, read Apple's
$440 Piece of Plastic
by Ted Landau on The Mac Observer
Recommended by many display owners, The IMAGE will fix your display for
$175 plus $25 shipping and handling. Turnaround time is usually 1-3
days, and the standard repair warranty is 90 days, (same as Apple) with
extended warranties available.
MoniServ will repair your display for you (rates
), or, if you
want, they will sell you the inverter
you can perform the repair yourself. Many people have opted to perform
the repair themselves, and have been successful by following Bill
you can solder
An anonymous author has provided instructions for repairing the
inverter board without replacing it entirely.
If you're willing to wait it
For more repair information, please explore the rest of this page, and
also visit the Apple
to read about repair experiences and advice.
Replacement: (This section contains affiliate links, so
I'm not sure if I can call the advice "unbiased.")
Miscellaneous repair/replacement notes:
Many readers have asked for non-Apple
replacement monitor suggestions. After using my broken display for over
a year without repair, I finally bought a 17" Samsung
. Recently, I added a 19" ViewSonic VG920 to my desk, since I like working with dual monitors. The ViewSonic is connected via DVI and the Samsung via VGA. I'm not too happy with the colors on the Samsung, but the ViewSonic colors are very close to what I'm used to on the Apple display. Both displays run at the same resolution of Apple's 17" LCD, and best of all, have a 3 year warranty which covers the backlight.
Several readers have sent me emails asking
about getting parts for their displays. Since I don't have a forum of
my own, I suggest that those looking to buy/get or sell/give a part to
use the existing
on Apple's discussion board, so we are all
looking in the same place.
If you're looking to repair a 20" display, please note that the 17"
display inverter from Moniserv will not work. The Apple part number for
the 20" display inverter is 922-5987, available from ApplePalace.com
. You may also be able to order it
through an Apple Reseller if they're willing to let you perform the repair yourself. You cannot order the part directly from Apple.
Since Apple seemed unimpressed when I mentioned the number of people
reporting the problem on the Discussions
, I asked Manuel of The
how many displays they had fixed with this same problem. Last
year, they repaired approximately 50 of these displays with the
inverter problem. If this is only the number fixed by The IMAGE
, then just imagine
how many Apple itself has repaired. "No known problem." I don't think
If the incessant blinking of the power light is driving you crazy, use
a black Sharpie
marker to color
in a Post-it
and place it over the power button. You may wish to use a piece of tape
or second Post-it to secure the bottom of the colored note, so the
light does not escape out the bottom and reflect off of your keyboard.
5-6-2004, 3:27 AM:
Extra-special thanks to Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing
to the petition
Have you signed yet?
5-6-2004, 5:03 PM:
My post linking to the petition
is deleted after almost 12.5 hours on the board
Apple Rumors links
to Boing Boing
which links to The
which links to this page! Thanks CARS! (By the way, if
you've never visited the site, I suggest that you do. It's hilarious.)
Eric Siegmund, the lucky customer who had his
out-of-warranty monitor repaired for free
by Apple, reports
that the monitor has
gone bad again
after 9 months. The repair only had a 90-day
guarantee, so Eric has purchased a NEC 19" LCD monitor, which costs
about the same as the Apple 17-inch did (Apple has discontinued the
17", leaving the $1300 20-inch model as the least expensive in Apple's
line), is larger (duh), and has a three year warranty
I've replaced the Post-its with black electrical tape:
Andrew was kind enough to email me with a solution
to the blinking light:
"All you do is disconnect the smaller of the two plugs that
are plugged into the bottom of the mainboard of the display. The
attached service manual
provides diagrams and disassembly tips, etc. If you look on yours, note
the small labels next to the socket that say which wire does what.
However, unplugging the whole connector for the power button will
disable the power button completely, so you'll have to press the power
button on the mac itself to start the computer."
Note: The service manual is for a 20-inch Cinema Display, but the
procedure remains the same.
More from Andrew:
"I examined the power connector for the front button today in detail.
There is a small wiring diagram printed next to the connector with
labels corresponding to each wire. The wires are entitled "FN POWER,"
"+5V," "LED," "GND," "FN FORCE," and "LED INHIBI." I believe "LED
INHIBI," the blue wire at the rightmost part of the connector, is what
controls the flashing. [see update from Brian below before
disconnecting anything] In other words, the main board sends a
that wire to the white LED in the power button to flash."
He didn't test his procedure because he doesn't need the power button
and doesn't want to impact the resale value of the monitor by cutting
the wire. I'll give it a shot and report on the results when I get
around to opening up my unit. If anyone else wants to try, please let me know
how it goes.
Update to the above instructions:
Brian writes: "After replacing the inverter, ordered from
Moniserv, the power light continued to flash, though the backlight
itself was back to normal. I tried the fix recommended on your site:
Pulling the "LED INHIBI" blue wire. This does NOT work. Doing this will
cause you to lose the ability to turn on your Mac from the monitor, and
the light will continue to flash. Instead, disconnect the "FN POWER"
wire (the black wire on the left of the connector). This will preserve
the functionality of the power button, but the light will no longer
come on. Instead of cutting the wire, I was actually able to pull the
wire out of the connector, allowing me to re-connect it in the future
The petition now has
over 400 signatures. Apple hasn't
listened to my statistics in the past, so if anyone else would like to
give it a shot, try mailing them a copy of the petition. If you do
this, please shoot me an email
know about it. Thank you!
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014.
editor of The Macintosh Guild
fortunately become a victim of the infamous backlight inverter failure.
I say "fortunately" because he took action and wrote an excellent how-to article
complete with pictures, on how to do the repair yourself.
For the more
technically inclined, someone has posted
on how to repair a failed inverter without replacing
the entire board.
$440 Piece of Plastic
. Writer Ted Landau personally experiences why
one should bypass Apple and go to an independent reseller for repairs.
- Tony spotted a mention of the petition on theunofficialappleweblog
- Ralph saw a story about it on MacDirectory
- Like reading your Apple and Mac news ¿en Español? NoticasMac
about Apple censoring posts on the Discussions Forum. My
Boing Boing entry is mentioned briefly.
- Mac Move
posted a skeptical entry
about the petition on the afternoon of May 6th, the day I launched the
petition. At the time, only 15 people had signed.
Thanks everyone for the publicity!
If you have any information or questions regarding this issue, please
feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is quite possibly the second ugliest website I've ever created.
definite ugliest.) If you'd like to service the Apple community by
redesigning or reorganizing this page, I'd be happy to see what you
came up with and give you credit. Translations of this page are also welcome as I am only fluent in English.