The good news is my MacBook Pro is coming back to me. It left Texas at around 6:00AM this morning. The bad news is I don’t know whether it’s fixed or not. In any case, I’ll be happy to move on to the next phase of this process. If it’s still busted, then I’ll be pushing for a refund or (if they want to gamble on it) a replacement. While it’s not very encouraging that new owners of MacBook Pros are still reporting the CPU whine, I have heard that it is at least quieter on some than on others. Perhaps quieter would be marginally acceptable to me. Otherwise, I’ll wait and hope that the MacBook or a later Pro edition is more suitable for “quiet work.”
John Siracusa over at FatBits wrote a great article a month or so ago, validating the the noise complaints people are having with Apple’s recent products. Today he passes along information from one of his astute readers about a job opening at Apple for an analog engineer. The job listing was posted in February, mere months after the final designs on the MacBook Pro must have been completed. The job listing includes specific language about DC converters and power supply design for desktop and mobile computers. These are the apparent culprits in the “CPU whine” category of annoying noises.
I can’t help but read into this job listing. Does it mean that Apple had a person filling this role who didn’t cut the mustard? Or are there several engineers in this capacity all working together to come up with solutions? Did they just realize in February, after all the Apple executives started toting around MacBook Pros, that the problem was as bad as it is?
Here is the history of the last several thousand dollars I have given money, along with a brief description of the quality of the product:
- iPod 40GB – $300. My girlfriend’s iPod. Works perfectly. Changed her life.
- PowerMac G5 – $2500. Big, pretty, fast, reliable. Makes a high pitched chirping noise that will drive me out of my effing mind if I don’t run a script to “disable CPU napping.” Sticks in my craw as the “top of the line Mac that will forever require an annoying hardware workaround.”
- iPod Nano – $250. Small, beautiful, doesn’t even scratch too much in my pocket. My only complaint is that I can’t unplug the dock cable while the headphones are plugged in. I use it to listen to Podcasts every day. Changed my life.
- ADC Membership – 2 Years. $1000. Reliable access to pre-release software. Hardware discount on price of defective MacBook Pro. Responsive tech support representatives. All in all a good deal – especially if you’re buying hardware.
- MacBook Pro – $2000. Sleek, fast, beautiful. Innovative design. Brilliant Intel-native software blazes and rocks my world. Noisier than any computer I’ve used since my dad’s Kaypro IV.
Seems the more money I give Apple, the less satisfied I am. The two most expensive products listed above are the two that have caused me the most grief. Shouldn’t Apple be making customers of its $2500 products as giddy as customers of its $200 ones? Perhaps my determination to not rest with this defective MacBook Pro is the result of Apple “using up its pass” with me on the G5. It’s been a long time since I owned a Mac that didn’t have an irritating aural defect. It surprises the hell out of me that a company with a self-proclaimed audiophile and perfectionist as a leader could allow these products to continue eroding Apple’s reputation for highest quality.
Have you ever stood at the top of a large cliff, or peered over the edge of a bridge, and curiously wondered what it would feel like to jump? Not suicidal – just indulgent curiosity. It’s the kind of thinking that makes you take a step back and double-check your grip on reality. I do know that I would never do that, right? Lately my thinking about the Mac has led me to such frightening thought experiments as “what if I lose confidence in Macs and abandon them? Can I get used to Windows?” This isn’t likely to happen. I’m so incredibly dependent on the Mac OS X software and the Apple development APIs, that I would essentially be giving up computing if I abandoned Macs. I don’t want to use any other computer.
I don’t want to use any other computer, yet I’ve indulged in the curiosity of whether I would. Apple is pushing me to that point. I’m not jumping ship yet, but I need a hero. I need an analog system designer of utmost skill and confidence – somebody who can save Apple’s computer business. If I end up buying a third top-of-the-line computer with a completely ridiculous noise defect, it might be the last $2000+ Apple ever gets from me. And that would be sad. Where would I dock my iPod?