The iMac's notorious flickering problem has been solved through a firmware update. And after a few weeks' hiatus, Apple has continued shipping 27-inch iMacs. This may be it.
Can You Safely Buy a New iMac Yet?
Nope, but you might be able to next week.
There are two noted problems with iMacs—the 27-inch models in particular. First is an issue where their screens flicker. Apple released a firmware update for the problem, but it didn't seem to fix it. However, the second firmware update looks to have been more successful. How successful?
Combing through about 30 pages of this thread (thanks Kyle), dozens have found the second update successful—and similar threads have come to similar conclusions. A few outliers still exist, but the vast consensus seems to be that the issue is nullified when the update is properly installed.
So it looks like the flickering problem is fixed for most users. This is great news—a huge breakthrough in this whole saga. If your iMac is still flickering after the update, call up Apple and demand new hardware. It finally seems safe to say, you're probably in the minority.
But the existing, huge question mark is regarding the yellow screens. Are these fixed yet? Apple halted production lines in what we assumed as an attempt to solve the yellow screen problems (among other iMac quirks). Now they're shipping new 27-inch iMacs again.
Theoretically, the yellow screens could be behind us. But until customers actually receive and test these iMacs, we don't know if Apple was able to solve whatever problems are going on.
Apple most certainly hasn't made claims either way.
What Ever Happened With Those Apple Pay-outs
We received reports from the UK, and then the US, that Apple was essentially buying back faulty iMacs for 15% over the sticker price. It was until later, however, that we learned the catch. What once looked like a pretty great deal turned out, well, mediocre. The 15% was a flat payback rate that was meant to cover both tax and shipping. We assume it covered purchasing expenses, but a money hand-out it was not. It's also worth mentioning that this deal was handed out sporadically, and I'm not sure it's still being offered to customers at all.
Quote of the Week
"[Apple] said they can issue me a refund via check that'll come 4-6 weeks. That's nearly $2600 of my money they're going to hold for over 2 months since the day I paid for this messed up computer."
Apple Is All In
So this is it, the big moment of truth. Without official word, we are forced to interpret the delivery freezes as both a silent admission that there were problems with iMacs and an attempt to fix them. But who knows if Apple actually solved the yellow screens. Especially if the source of the issue is really in the LG panel itself—which some suspect given similar complaints with similar Dell monitors—it's possible that Apple can't cure the jaundice without raising hell down at the factory, or shopping for another supplier. (This problem shouldn't be the consumer's inconvenience, of course.) We won't know until we see the latest iMacs in the wild.
We've got a lot of sources—retail/repair spies, plenty of tipsters who are on their third or fourth faulty iMac and, of course, all of you—just waiting to share their replacement experiences. Tip us at firstname.lastname@example.org and join in.
Apple, I hope we can put these problems behind us because neither of us wants to see how bad that apple on the table can rot.