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Lawsuit claims LCD screens on Apple's current notebooks are not capable of millions of colors

Apple Inc. has been in and out of the courtroom a number of times this year for patent infringements, product defects and mostly to defend its iPhone. This week, Apple finds itself in the courtroom again, this time facing a class action lawsuit alleging the LCD screens on its MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops are substandard. The claim also alleges Apple advertised its screens as being superior, but knowingly shipped screens that did not meet its original claims.

The class action lawsuit points out the glossy screens Apple introduced with the launched of its MacBook last year. Apple advertised that the new glossy screens provided users with deeper blacks and whites that are more vibrant. However, many customers experienced graininess and sparkling effects common to dithering techniques, according to the lawsuit.

According to the complaint:

Many such dissatisfied purchasers were chastised by Apple agents and employees for being too picky about their assessments of the quality of the display. Other dissatisfied purchasers were told that they were imagining the complained about defects.

The complaint also points out that many of the disgruntled customers posted messages on Apple's own forums only later to have their posts moderated or completely removed by Apple forum administrators.

"It appears that Apple has engaged in substantial editing of the posts on the discussion forum," the lawsuit indicates.

The lawsuit alleges Apple uses dithering techniques to create an illusion of colors that don't actually exist. In fact, the lawsuit claims if a MacBook or MacBook Pro users installs Windows XP, they will notice superior image quality in areas such as gradients. The test seems to indicate Apple is using some sort of software at work in OS X.

"The displays are only capable of displaying the illusion of millions of colors through the use of a software technique referred to as 'dithering'," the lawsuit claims.

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RE: Say what?
By psychobriggsy on 5/18/2007 2:54:42 PM , Rating: 5
Most (if not all) laptop and budget desktop LCD displays use 6-bit panels.

That's 6-bits per colour component.

2^(6+6+6) = 262 thousand colours.

I don't know how LCD panels dither. I am assuming that they dither temporally here:

Because TN screens (which are usually the 6-bit screens) are quite fast to react however, you can create shaded inbetween those colours by switching between them faster than the human eye can notice or discern. e.g., If you had a 1-bit mono display, flicking between white and black would produce grey, effectively. On a 6-bit display you could create the illusion of a 7-bit display by switching between two adjacent colours. 2^21 is 2 million colours. I'm sure that they can emulate an 8-bit display as well, either with different timings for the dithering effect, or by using different colours to dither with.

Apple are accused of advertising their screens as handling "millions of colours". Make of it what you will. I think the problem regarding graininess is somewhere else than the screens themselves, it might be possible that a driver fix could fix it, but if so, then Apple really should have done something about it.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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