Last week, my head buzzing with new gadget endorphins, I wrote a fun post about my new iMac, teasing whether or not it arrived in one piece. But now, I've realized, there is something wrong. And I'm not alone.
(No, the punchline isn't, "I'm using a Mac instead of a PC! *rimshot*")
I, like many, many other iMac owners, am typing on a screen that has a cold color temperature up top and a warm temperature at the bottom. In other words, pure white goes from icy blue to jaundiced yellow. See what I mean:
Those are cropped photos from a screen test taken with the same white balance settings on my dSLR. In other words, the greys and whites should match. Clearly, they don't.
At first, I didn't notice. The gradient occurring over a 27-inch monitor is surprisingly subtle. But once you see the problem, you cannot unsee it.
What's upsetting isn't simply that I got a bum computer. It's that a LOT of iMac buyers are getting bum computers with, not one, but a myriad of potential flaws.
And this color temperature test is extremely simply to run. Any idiot can see the issue when using a calibrating image—I've personally proven that point. So there's no excuse as to why Apple isn't catching this defect, which doesn't seem to possibly arise through shipping, straight off the assembly line. My iMac should have never shipped to me in the first place.
I've asked Apple exactly what's going on with iMac production and why QA testing is missing issues like jaundiced screens. They haven't gotten back to me, but it appears Apple is cognizant of the issues, as they've delayed future 27-inch iMac shipments (even though 21-inch systems seem to be having issues, too).
Still, what about all those iMacs sitting under the Christmas tree since Black Friday, aging beyond their 30-day no questions asked exchange window?
Apple did not respond to that question, either. (OK OK, they didn't respond to any of my questions.)
However, on the phone with technical support arranging my exchange (which is promised to be "expedited," but will still take 2-3 weeks), I was surprised that Apple specifically asked whether I felt the jaundice issue was "functional" or "cosmetic." I considered that should the consensus goes to "cosmetic" and Apple labels it so, such a designation could vastly alter return rights. But an Apple Store guru informed me that it shouldn't make a difference. However, they did say:
"It sounds like they may be gathering data to come up with a repair extension plan for iMacs. Apple does that when certain units have larger than normal failure rates."
Not that we couldn't reach that revelation on our own.
[Thanks Vic for showing me the (yellow) light!]