My worst ever Mac

My current Mac, a glossy white Macbook with Intel Duo chip, is the worst in the line that started with an LCII, progressed to a PowerMac 6100, and enjoyed years with the beautiful and largely trouble free G4 Cube.

Performance wise, the MacBook is fine: it runs at speeds that make my PC look like a sloth – and in particular takes a fraction of the time to start up – and the design is excellent. But compared with its predecessors, the build quality of it, its components and its accessories is terrible. Without doubt it’s an Italian sports car of a machine: beautiful and fast, but bits fall off or go wrong.

Take the Matshita UJ-857 DVD-writer. This drive has repeatedly burned coasters throughout its life and cannot be trusted to produce reliable data DVDs. Apple has produced one patch for the drive, but for reliable disc burning I use an external Lite-On drive in a D2 casing.

The internal Bluetooth is flaky. Apparently there is a cable fault which means that the Bluetooth connection sufferes an intermittent fault. The cheap fix, compared with the costs of getting to and going to a service engineer, has been an external Bluetooth adapter.

Even so, the associated Apple Mighty Mouse and wireless keyboard are far from reliable. The Mighty Mouse has long since been replaced by a Logitech wireless mouse: the Mighty Mouse suffers from three big faults: unworkable right button clicking, a bottom plate that repeatedly falls off, and a scrolling ball that works intermittently and which is impossible to clean. The wireless keyboard often needs re-registering via Bluetooth, and the keystroke lag is unacceptable.

Finally, after a year of use, the top plate of the MacBook’s own keyboard has cracked above the battery case. Out of warranty, this is a fix only achieved by superglue. Attractive it is not.

The worst thing is that all the above faults or behavioural oddities are often reported on Mac forums, or in reviews on Apple Store, yet if you ring Apple support it’s as if no one has heard of them happening before.

Macs are cheaper than they ever used to be, but I can’t help but wonder whether build quality has declined as the price has dropped.


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