Thursday, August 17, 2006
MacBook Battery Problem
Well, my initial happiness with my MacBook was short-lived. There was some sort of problem with the battery or power circuitry. Here were the symptoms:
- The battery icon on the menu bar shows up with an 'X', which indicates there is no battery available.
- If I remove the battery and replace it, the icon in the menu bar will briefly tell me the battery has about 90% power, but after a couple of minutes it turns back into an 'X'.
- If I unplug the power adapter, the machine works, but the battery icon in the menu bar still indicates that there is no battery.
- If I try to boot the machine without the power cable attached, I hear the startup chime, but then the screen just stays black. It will only boot if I do the Command-Option-P-R thing.
- I left it plugged in overnight, but the MagSafe connector LED never turned green.
- All the LEDs on the battery light up when I press the little button, signifying that the battery thinks it has power.
- While running on battery power, I often lose my wireless network connection.
Resetting the PMU didn't help.
Apple recommends that you periodically recalibrate a laptop's battery by running it all the way down and then charge it back up. So I tried that. After it ran down and turned off, I plugged the power adapter back in and restarted. The menu bar icon showed the battery was charging. A few hours later, the LED on the MagSafe connector turned green. So everything looked good for a few minutes. But after a few minutes of running plugged in, I got the "X" and the amber LED again.
So I made an appointment at the local Apple Store Genius Bar. The Genius reset the NVRAM, and the laptop seemed to work. We rebooted it, unplugged, several times, and there were no problems. The battery icon never turned into an "X". The Genius and I watched it for a while, then I decided I'd take it home, and return if the problem recurred.
I took the MacBook home, and the problems recurred.
I did figure one thing out: the MacBook started having problems after I changed the brightness of the display. At maximum brightness, everything worked fine. Once I changed the brightness, the problems returned. This sorta makes sense—the brightness is one of the things that gets reset when one resets the NVRAM.
I wasn't willing to live with a MacBook permanently at maximum brightness. As a last resort, I decided to reinstall OS X. After reinstalling the OS, there were no problems for a few hours, but then they returned.
I read several threads in the Power and Batteries on a MacBook discussion forum hosted by Apple. Problems such as mine seem to be fairly common, but nobody knows how to fix them.
At this point, I could take it back to the Genius Bar for another repair attempt, but the easier approach is to just return this unit to Apple for a refund, and pick up a new one at the local Apple Store.
I'm sure some would argue that a better solution would be to stop buying Apple products. I considered that, but I do really like the MacBook.
Just exchange it.
You don't know if it's a software bug or an intermittent hardware glitch.
What you do know is it happened again after the Genius 'fixed' it.
If there's no penalty in exchanging it for another unit, let some other guy deal with the unit.
I purchased my black Macbook back in July. Initially had no trouble, but after about two months was getting the spontaneous shut down problem. Took it to the Apple store (Fashion Square Sherman Oaks, Ca.) and they repaired in store in about 4 hours. The computer has had no trouble until last week when now I am getting the exact same battery problem you are having. This is really maddening. I am an Apple user way back to my college days and have always been a Mac person, but never have I had these kind of problems. I'm not interested in switching, but am really surprised these kinds of troubles that I never had with my LC2, Powerbook 150, imac green, ti powerbook - this really sucks. Anyway, thank you for the tips, I'm going to try the NVRAM and PMU reset then off to the Apple store.
For more details, see http://support.apple.com/.
Same problem here, perhaps worse. I bought an original MacBook around August 06. I experienced the sudden shutdown first and sent it back to Apple (I live in Central America). When it came back (both ways at my expense, since Apple had no authorized representatives in my country), the superdrive failed. At that time, there was a new authorized technician here, so it was exchanged at no cost. Then the battery failed, the exchange failed too, then the magsafe failed and, as if not enough, the lcd began to flicker. At that point, Apple finally decided to give me a new computer (it was a month ago). And, yes, the battery is now showing a black X. I already received a new battery which shows the same issue.
I've used Macs for the past 17 years. Never had a problem with 6 different computers.
How is it possible that now, when the company is making a huge financial success, it's forgetting that quality and service are the keys to maintain their customers?
At this point, I still believe this is a great machine, an incredible achievement in its software, and am not planning on going to "the other side". But I expect top quality and performance for my hard earned $1,500 (black MacBook).
By the way, if I completely drain the battery, the Magsafe does charge and recognize the battery up to its minimal functioning capacity, then ceasing to recognize it.
try calling apple.
Once I explained my issue with my MacBook battery, my Genius tried one of his batteries. "I just want to make sure it's your battery and not your motherboard." My machine worked fine, so he said "No problem, I'll have you out of here in 10 minutes." He got me a brand new battery, tested it, and put my old one in a box on the rear counter with four others. He pulled the serial number from the "About this Mac" area, didn't need my receipt for purchase date or anything. I had even printed this page: http://www.apple.com/support/macbook_macbookpro/batteryupdate/ to use as ammunition, but didn't need it. He did approve highly of my dashboard widget "iStat pro", available here: http://islayer.com/.
So the battery issue is a very common problem, and one that Apple has tried to deal with as painlessly as possible for the consumer. My Genius did ask if the battery showed an "X" in the icon bar, and I said no. Just wouldn't run on battery. On the way out of the store, one of the 3 MacBooks, in fact the one closest to the door, had an "X" on the battery icon. When I unplugged the power, it shut down immediately! The moral of the story is to contact Apple immediately with problems and give them a chance to fix them. Hope this helps others.
I have been a mac consumer for about 6 months, and am totally fed up.
This happened to me a few months ago with a Mac Pro.That computer was replaced twice.
I am tired of dealing with the "Genius" at the Mac Bar, and am fed up with the attitude that they will make an "exception" and replace it this time."
I wish I could charge Apple my hourly rate for the time I've spent on this obvious lack of quality control, or research.
Buyer beware. This is just plain wrong!
Check out the blog too, there are links to threads where some people were getting Apple to replace the battery even out of warranty. But I think that depends on how many cycles the battery has been through.