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The Faulty iMac Saga, Chapter 3: We Have Your Internal Memo, Apple

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While Apple released the iPad this week, we scored their internal work order admitting the iMac's yellow screen problem, and one of our readers may have figured out how to fix it.

Can You Safely Buy a New iMac Yet?



In the last week, ten readers have reported receiving yellow screened iMacs—the majority of whom are on their third system. Both the yellow/flickering screens have yet to be fixed.


What's Being Done?

We've seen two very interesting developments since the last iMac update. First, Apple delayed shipments on new 27-inch iMacs (but not 21-inch models) for three weeks in what we can only assume is an attempt to fix any manufacturing/shipping issues. Meanwhile, they're addressing the flickering problem, again, with a second patch that's coincidentally arriving in "roughly three weeks" itself.


The Leak!

Here's Apple's internal guide on the jaundiced screen problem. Obviously, they've noticed customer complaints, no matter what customer service might tell you.

(click to enlarge)

The main points you should take away from this memo are that Apple knows about the problem but wants you to ignore it, they're choosing to replace screen components rather than complete iMacs (bad news for those of you who rightly desire a purely new product off the line), and again, Apple seems to be arranging a fix in 3 weeks time that I'm guessing correlates with the main 27-inch iMac delay. Oddly enough, Apple makes no mention of 21-inch systems having yellow screens, even though problems have been reported (albeit not as often).


What Could Be Wrong?

The same reader who tested the color temperatures of his yellow iMac display last week—and coincidentally fixed his jaundiced iMac without knowing how he did it—thinks he may have figured out the issue:

I now am fairly certain that the yellowing of the display is a manufacturing defect involving the distance between a layer of material used to diffuse the LED backlight and the LCD panel. To show a perfectly even color, this light scattering panel has to be absolutely flat and free of any warping, kinking, or thickness defects. It is this layer that I believe is at fault, and causes the color to drift and give the perception of yellow stripes, fields, and corners.

This would be absolutely consistent with the reports of horizontal and vertical stripes (a vertical or horizontal kink) or corners (a bad tuck). I believe these defects may not appear in the factory. Rather, with the rough handling the monitors receive when shipped this layer gets knocked out of alignment.

I don't know what Apple could do to solve this problem, other than a wholesale change of manufacturer for the panels, or a complete redesign of the panels themselves to better pin the diffusion layer.

It also explains why my careful assembly and dis-assembly resulted in the yellowing disappearing. By being cautious, I basically returned the monitors to the original factory state of perfect alignment.


If anyone wants to test this theory on their own machine, let us know how it went at Just use caution, as I've heard cracking your case this deep may void your warranty.

Quote of the Week, Apple Apologist Edition

"Running a business is difficult."

How Can you Test Your Machine?

A flickering screen will be immediately obvious. As for issues where the bottom half of the screen looks a bit yellow, you can confirm those suspicions here.


Keep those updates coming to I urge you all to tweet this story to get the word out. The louder everyone complains, the less iMacs Apple will sell and the more likely this saga will have a happy reasonable ending.

And maybe, just maybe, Apple will choose to test their new products on someone other than their customers next time.