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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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Apple's spec wording
By nanospec on 5/23/2007 9:55:17 AM , Rating: 2
I find it interesting how Apple words their specs for various Mac displays..

For standalone displays, they say:
"Display colors (maximum) = 16.7 million"

16.7 has been stated to be an indication of true 8-bit panel (24-bit color)

For the iMacs, they say:
"Millions of colors at all resolutions"

This is listed as its own bullet point. No specific color number given.

For the MacBook, they say:
"13.3-inch (diagonal) glossy widescreen TFT display with support for millions of colors"

Note the wording here -- SUPPORT for millions of colors. Support could imply software enhancement, dithering, or otherwise. Also note the color level is not its own bullet point like on the iMac spec page.

For the MacBook Pro, they say:
"15.4-inch (diagonal) TFT display, support for millions of colors; optional glossy widescreen display"

Again, same wording of "support for millions of colors", and not its own bullet point. They are consistent with their wording there between both laptop display specs. Again "support" may imply manipulation to simulate more colors.

So it seems Apple considers their laptop displays "different" at least on how they word the color level support. The iMac comes in a little stronger with its own bullet point and no mention of "support", and the standalone displays seem to be listed as true 24-bit displays with 16.7 mil listed specifically.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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