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Hue and cry over color-constrained MacBook displays


One could allow Fred Greaves and Dave Gatley some latitude for extreme frustration. Both Mac-toting photographers found themselves, along with other MacBook and MacBook Pro owners, dealing with 'sparkly' and 'grainy' color on their laptop screens; as color-sensitive professionals, this rankled. Being told by Apple support that they were hypersensitive and they should get over themselves? Not good. Seeing discussion threads on the issue squelched on Apple's support boards? Infuriating. So, the two men decided to avail themselves of the last tech support refuge of the American consumer: the class-action lawsuit.

At the heart of Greaves and Gatley's action is the belief that Apple deceptively promoted its laptop screens as having superior color performance, when in fact the displays are only capable of displaying 18-bit color (6 bit * 3 channels, about 262,000 colors; contrast with 24-bit color, 8 bits per channel for 16.7 million colors). While almost all laptop panels are 6-bit models, and other laptop manufacturers use similar dithering methods (Frame Rate Control) to achieve the perceived wider gamut of millions of colors, this seems fishy to G&G. Additionally, the subjective experience of some MBP owners indicates that the banding/sparkling issues are nonexistent when the machines are booted into Windows; hence, a software or firmware issue on the Mac side would seem to be degrading the display/adapter performance.

I'm no stranger to the hardware problem that's oddly OS-specific, and I sympathize with those who expected Pro color on Pro laptops. The 6-bit vs. 8-bit issue aside -- it's industry-standard, and some Apple tech notes even acknowledge the distinction -- and as frustrating as the color conundrum must be for those affected, I can't imagine that this lawsuit is going to allow anyone to see green (aside from plaintiff's attorneys, that is).

[via Ars Technica]

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