Friday, April 14, 2006

New $2,500 Apple MacBook Pro disabled by $0.25 CD

Some friends have called me a traitor for buying a brand new MacBook Pro. Anyone who’s gotten their hands on one of these can tell you how sweet they are to use.

Apple seems to be getting really serious about increasing their market share in personal computers, especially with their introduction of Boot Camp – which I installed and found quite stable.

But any new product has it problems, the first model always having the most defects, and the MacBook Pro is no exception.

Daily Tech: One Week with Apple's MacBook Pro - Despite its popularity as a "must have" Apple product, the MacBook Pro is encountering a lot of issues. Many users are reporting similar issues to the ones I pointed out. To recap from my blog:

  • AirPort does not automatically rejoin a preferred network after waking up from sleep mode. This does not happen with my PowerBook. Settings are the same.
  • AirPort would drop down to nearly 1 block randomly once in a while. This also does not happen with my PowerBook.
  • At the lowest screen brightness setting (one block), the LCD's backlight flickers noticeably. This is pretty annoying.
  • Heat is a big issue. The MacBook Pro gets so hot that I cannot place it on my lap if I'm wearing shorts. And even if I am wearing pants (instead of shorts), it's still very uncomfortable. Using the AC power, the palm rest area becomes very warm, and the area above the F keys is very hot.

Apple is aware of these problems and has released different revisions of the laptop. My current laptop appears to be revision E, but still suffers from the extreme heat issue. Still, the heat I can stand; what has me fuming is the fact that my laptop has been completely disabled by a mis-burned CD.

Anytime a recording program burns a CD, it locks the disk into the drive so that it cannot be ejected in the middle of recording. When a burn goes south, the recording software sometimes forgets to tell the drive to let go of the CD. The easy solution to this problem is to reboot your computer and reset your CD drive, which should let you release the disc.

Unfortunately, this does not work with the new MacBook Pro. The CD stuck in my drive is preventing the laptop from booting, because the system cannot determine whether the CD is bootable or not. The drive continually spins up and down trying to read it. No commands can be issued--not even the emergency CD eject command. After some searching on the Apple support forums, I found the answer: send the laptop to Apple for repair so that they can replace the drive.

The problem does not appear to be with the hardware but rather the firmware. The new Intel Macs use something called EFI, not the standard BIOS system. And the first revisions appear to have no retry-limit failsafe.

Hopefully, Apple will provide a firmware update to fix the problem.

7 Comments:

Blogger Leigh Beadon said...

I was browsing some other MacBook Pro woes when I found this shocking benchmark. Apparently, thanks to the need for Rosetta,OSX has set a new low for running Photoshop--perhaps Intel Chips were the beginning of a slippery slope.

April 14, 2006 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you try booting into the open firmware mode?

Command-Option-O-F

Then type "eject cd"

Also if you hold down the option key while booting, it should bring up a choice of available OSX installs to boot from.

And lastly, you can always try holding down the mouse/trackpad button as it boots up.

April 14, 2006 8:32 PM  
Blogger Brian Bento said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 18, 2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger Brian Bento said...

Unfortunately, I've tried that all those suggestions.

The problem is that the computer will not accept any commands what so ever. If I could choose to boot into OS X, I would. I would then just enter the terminal and eject the cd.

About the "boot into Open Firmware" suggestion, the MacBooks don't use Open Firmware - which was user accesible - but rather EFI - which isn't user accesible.

Command-Option-O-F doesn't work anymore.

Thanks for the advice.

April 18, 2006 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Use a clip as a lever. it's kinda weird but it works. my cd just popped out right after I pulled the cd with the clip.

May 05, 2006 6:37 AM  
Blogger Pyro said...

Hi,
A friend of mine had THE EXACT SAME PROBLEM. However, Apple fixed it for her, no questions asked. They even replaced the entire lower casing, so no more scratches. But I totally feel your pain. I went nuts over it for about two weeks. They ended up replacing the entire main logic board.
She called me up just now saying that her trackpad no longer functions after about 3-5 minutes. Go figure.

May 23, 2006 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i tried the clip as a lever thing. IT WORKED. i was scared that i might damage something, but i just used an ordinary paper clip and sorta stopped it from spinning, messed around and it popped out. Thank god. hope this helps

July 15, 2006 6:43 PM  

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