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Alum PB G4 FinishReturn to News Page
How's your Alum PowerBook G4 Finish Holding Up?
Last Updated: 9/11/2006

(Copy of the post in the main news page for context)

" i was wondering if any other owners of the aluminum PB have issues of losing paint in the small area between the track pad and keyboard. My PB is 1.67ghz 15", I have had it since June 2005. I can send a pic if you would like.
-Aaron "

I use an older 17in AL Powerbook G4 daily (1.33GHz, bought light used) for the last 2 years but always use a mouse with it - so far the finish looks fine - not sure if it's painted or some sort of clear anodize, but other than some stains (perhaps the beginning of corrosion from sweat) at times and a few scratches - it still looks good so far. I've cleaned it a few times (using some non-oily residue cleaner/preservative made for autos)
The Ti Powerbooks however often had finish/paint problems - I had one where the paint on the outer trim ring cracked and flaked off and there were many posted pictures of Ti PB's with paint wearing through, etc. back then.
If any AL Powerbook users have had finish problems let me know. (See below for replies so far)

AL PB G4 Owner Replies on Finish: (later reports first)

(added 9/11/2006)
" In response to your thread about finish on so called aluminium Powerbooks, have to say that I am very disappointed with my unit. Purchased it 10 months ago from a cunning South African dealer who forgot to tell me that it was a returner and had already used up 8 months of warranty time.... so when the screen cracked I had to pay... My paint is just plain SOFT. It is pealing off on the bevel area near the keyboard and is pitted and spotty under my left wrist. So much for quality of build!

Wait, there is more. A lot more. Tell anyone with a 15" PB that is getting close to the end of warranty to go out and buy extended care NOW. I did not, mainly because I thought my computer was still covered. Now I'm facing a $1,200 repair for a factory fault that Apple is refusing to fess and fix.
Some call it random sleep. I call it Narcoleptic Aluminium Powerbook (N.A.P.) syndrome. (see http://web.mac.com/rickcameron/iWeb/Electric%20Lamb/N.A.P./N.A.P..html)...
Cheers, Rick"

It won't help if it's a hardware failure, but also try resetting the PMU (and I'd reset the NVRAM also, how to do both are in the FAQ here). Powerbook (and iBook G4) owners should also check if their batteries are affected by the PowerBook G4 and iBook G4 battery recall (program expired).

(added 6/6/2006)
" I'll let the photograph speak for itself...basically whenever I set the computer on my kitchen counter (atleast once a day) the friction between the plastic laminate and the bottom of the powerbook causes the finish to rub off. Obviously this is due to the free-sliding nature of the powerbook when all of the little feet have come off. D'oh!

pb finish wear

Same thing happens on my IKEA desks at work... I've paid closer attention lately to not slide it around too much on those surfaces.
This is a 1st generation 15" 1.25ghz Al powerbook (September 2003)
-David V.
Flame & Smoke Artist
Independent Film | Commercial Video | Music Video Production

(added 5/31/2006)
" AL powerbook finish
I got my 17" Powerbook G4 in June of 2003. After almost 3 years of abuse, the silver paint was coming off on either side of the trackpad, the mouse button, and several of the keys. About a month ago, I sent it in for repair from Apple Care (extended warranty) and asked if there was anything they could do about the sad state of my laptop. They replaced the whole keyboard, the trackpad, mouse button, power button, and the surrounding plastic. No more scratches, it looks brand new. They even replaced the missing rubber feet on the bottom. Apparently "normal" wear and tear on the plastic parts is covered under Apple Care.
-Erin H. "

Although exceptions might be made in some cases, I didn't think AppleCare (or the original warranty) normally covered 'wear and tear' items so I searched and found Apple's AppleCare Repair Agreement page (link later revised since this 2006 posting), which had a link to a PDF doc of "Terms and Conditions" and in that doc under "Exclusions - the Plan does not cover:", the last item says:

    "g. Repair, replacement, or maintenance of wear-and-tear items such as cases, key caps, knobs, handles, or mechanical parts."

Although I consider some things like the earlier powerbook's trim ring flaking to be a defect in my opinion, I wonder how common it is for AppleCare to replace 'worn' items like this.

(added 3/28/2006)
" I've had an 867 MHz 12" aluminum PowerBook G4 since March 2003 and the finish is pristine in most places. The finish has worn through in a few isolated areas on the bottom due to a missing rubber foot and the consequent direct contact of the aluminum with the surface on which I was working. I have since replaced the feet with some I found on eBay.
-Alan S."

(added 3/28/2006)
" The finish on my PB 17" 1.5 ghz has held up just fine. However the finish on the keyboard has not. There are several keys where the silver finish has worn off in spots.
-Vishal S."

(added 3/27/2006)
"I can say that I've had a 15" PB/AL 1.25 that's held up fantastically for over 2 years (since Nov 2003). I would note that I do clean and care for it well. The finish is almost like new inside and out.
But it is still my one and only machine for both work and play and it gets on average 4-6 hours of real use a day. My only issue is that the top of the case has loosened a little on the right side over the slot drive and squeaks under my right hand when typing. Pretty small complaint after this much time.
A couple of minor issues with games were present from the get-go and I've just let that pass as it's not a gaming machine really.
-Nathan "

(added 3/27/2006)
"I purchased my 1.5GHZ PowerBook G4 in August of 2004. The paint on the angled edge right beneath the keyboard has worn completely away in some places and is flaking in others.. I've been considering stripping the whole thing to make it look consistent.
As for the palmrests, they began flaking as well, until I put two strategically located (adult swim) stickers on my laptop. They hide the wear, mostly. On the whole I'm pretty disappointed with how quickly this problem started (~ first 3 months of use.)
-Zack "

(added 3/27/2006)
"1.33Ghz PB 12in
A few months back, I started seeing tiny black spots on the left and right of my track pad. They are so small, it just looks dirty, but cleaning it does nothing.
There is one 1mm spot that I'm sure is pitting. But I'm not sure with with the smaller area. I'm wondering if the finish is just rubbing off. It is right where my hands rest. -Adam "

(added 3/27/2006)
"I have a 1Ghz AL powerbook and it has some spotting on the palm rest areas next to the track pad. My sister also has the exact same machine with the same spots on it. It looks like lots of little black spots and lines and they line up perfectly with where my hands rest when im typing. Someone told me once that it is from the sweat off your hands reacting with the aluminum. If you keep it clean and wipe it down after each use it won't happen.
-Cody W. "

(added 3/27/2006)
"yep. I've had mine about a year and it has lost paint over the cd- rom drive. maybe from contact with my hand?

(added 3/27/2006)
"I've had my 15 inch PowerBook for about 14 months now, and it's been showing corrosion on the left half of the wristpad for about 8 months. It's very obviously visibile, and getting worse every week, even though I clean it regularly (almost obsessively). I wonder if this is covered by AppleCare?
Regards, Christoph "

It can't hurt to call (if it's still under applecare warranty) but I think they may call this a 'cosmetic' issue.

(added 3/27/2006)
"I've been using a 1.25GHz Al PB for about two and a half years with almost no problem. It looks just about brand new. It has one small scratch on the top. I've been very impressed with this.
My previous PBs all showed some wear, especially on the keyboard. Previously, the letters would wear away depending how often they were used. (My old PB G3 has most of the key letters worn off now after years of use. I keep meaning to get a replacement for it.-Mike) Instead of English they looked like Cyrillic keyboards. This keyboard looks new. No damage to the letters. No shiny spot on the space bar.
As for cleaning, once in a while I wipe it with a damp cloth or use a little isopropanol.
Regards, John K. "

(added 3/27/2006)
"My AL Powerbook is 16 months old, and I have peeling of the finish on the little 1/4 inch shelf directly below the keyboard in two places, and what seems to be pitting (tiny black holes) below the speaker holes on the left side. Not surprisingly, the wear lines up exactly with where my hands sit when I play WoW...
-Gary "

(added 3/24/2006)
"I've had an issue with the finish of my 15" AL powerbook, purchased in Sept. 2004. I frequently use this laptop as-is, without external keyboard or mouse. The lower section of the panel surrounding the keyboard, near each bottom corner has developed areas of black dots where the silver coating has deteriorated. This is in the area where my wrists rest on the top of the laptop when my fingers are on the keyboard.
It is clear from the deterioration that the coating has not scratched off, but rather has worn away and the underlying black surface is beginning to show through. It is particularly pronounced on the edges of the top panel surrounding the lower left and right corner of the panel. This otherwise detracts from a machine that looks brand new.
-Larry T. "

(added 3/24/2006)
"My 15" Aluminum has been through TWO palmrests -- the first was replaced while the machine was still in warranty, but now the second, less than a year old, is already pitted. I finally gave up and put a piece of plastic packing tape over the affected spot. And my brother's machine has the exact same problem.
Really looks lousy.
And this was after I went through a similar ordeal with the edge paint of my TiBook.

I dread to think what my white 12" iBook is going to look like in a few months.
-Jeff "

The Good news on the iBooks are some have had good luck cleaning them (with things like a "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser") - an August 2005 news page had an item on iBook Case Cleaning Tips/Products.

(added 3/24/2006)
"generally, the aluminum finish has been pretty rugged. the outside of the case of my powerbook still looks more or less like new after a long life of being transported and used daily.

i do, however, have a large visible worn spot in the finish about 2" in diameter where my right palm rests. it is dark grey in color and slighly rough in texture. it sort of looks like there might be a little bit of corrosion happening there, probably from salts or acids present on my skin. generally, though, even though this spot is visible, i find it much less objectionable than flaking paint.

previously, i had a titanium powerbook and i would say the aluminum is much more durable, in general. i had paint flaking issues on the titanium that were more widespread. fortunately for me, apple repaired my old titanium under applecare warranty and i got all new case parts in the process.
-david d "

(added 3/24/2006)
"Paint? I don't think the Al PowerBooks aren't painted (At least mine doesn't appear to be). Anyway, I have a first generation 1GHz 15"er and the finish is in mint condition after years of heavy use. Maybe the person in question has dirt embedded in the surface texture and could use a good cleaning. ...Got me thinking. Checked mine with a volt meter. Mine appears to be clear coated.
-Scott "

(added 3/24/2006)
"Hi Mike, Until a few months ago I had the same machine as you have. (17in AL PB G4/1.33GHz) I had a small hole in the finish on right corner. And some small black spots on left side from the pad.
I didn't really care since the machine was 2 years old. I think my new mac will have the same isssue after 3 years of daily use.
Cheers, r0ssi9 "

(added 3/24/2006)
"One of my coworkers has a 1.67ghz Powerbook and accidently rubbed off some of the paint between that wraps around the keyboard. He used some Kensington Surface Guardian cleaner wipes, and the paint came off. He claims he didn't use much force however. The computer was eventually sent to Applecare for random sleep problems (something would overheat, and the computer would go to sleep in mid-use), and came back with new trim around the keyboard. He uses his Powerbook with a wireless mouse exclusively too.

I have a 1.5ghz Powerbook, and have noted no finish problems whatsoever. I use iKlear to clean the computer and have no complaints. I almost always use the trackpad with my computer. Go figure....
-Marvin "

(added 3/24/2006)
"We have this issue with several of our AL powerbooks where I work, and I've seen it online in numerous other places... It is an actual "pitting" of the aluminum, it's not as simple as paint defects. I think there is an issue with reactance of the aluminum and certain body chemistries, (enough sweat/salt will pit unprotected alum eventually) but Apple sees this as a purely cosmetic defect and from what I've experienced (and read of others) they will refuse to do anything about it under warranty.
-Steven P. "

(added 3/24/2006)
"I snapped the attached images after reading your note on PowerBook finish. (he sent 5 images, I'll try to post one of the clearer ones later.-Mike) This machine was purchased August 2004, and has actually held up pretty well; however, there are some areas where the paint flaked off below keys I use all the time (left command, and under the arrow keys). There is also some (black) "spotting" where my palms rest.

The paint started flaking at about 9 months of ownership. I have used this machine for the better part of 8 hours a day, every single day. I'm surprised it's held up as well as it has.

On a side note, I've since replaced it with a MBP (2.0Ghz, 7200RPM 100GB HD) and have noticed no problems whatsoever with that machine. No whine. No screen flicker. Nada. I even got Windows installed on it yesterday (images of the install are at http://stuff.devjj.com/MBP/MBP.html). Thanks for the great site!!
-Joseph "

(added 3/24/2006)
"The finish is wearing off were my palms rest in the form of little black spots.
-Chris "

(added 3/24/2006)
"I have a 2 year old PB G4 Al. Heavy use every day.
Still looks new. Of course I wash my hands after eating before touching it and generally take good care of it.

One note, the PowerBook has a brushed aluminium finish, no paint. So if it is discolored, you have dirt on it and you need to clean with the proper cleaner. Nothing harsh. (it can't be just bare/untreated/unprotected brushed aluminum - if it was it would pit/turn a dull gray quickly (like alum wheels if not protected/polished) - it's at least anodized, although some swear theirs is painted like the Ti models were. I've had some white stains on my older AL 17in from skin contact (almost like a very light surface corrosion) and I don't think that would happen on a painted surface. However another AL Powerbook pitting image (matcatastrophe.com/media/images/pitting.jpg) looks like it has some sort of thicker coating than anodizing, although I guess it could be just very deep pitting but again in some spots it looks like flaking.)

I'm a consultant and take care of Macs all over the city. It is amazing how people treat their computers if they are not their personal Mac. The attitude of "It's a company computer, not mine" seems to give them permission to treat these horribly, typing and eating with greasy fingers. Food crumbs all over and in the keyboard, god knows what smeared on the screen, and the two worst offenses I think, opening and closing the laptop with one hand but at the full left or right side. Talk about stressing your screen. The other is users that will pick up a closed laptop and just hold it from the top, squeasing it enough so it does not slip from their grip. Once again lots of stress on the lid and screen.

I try to inform people how much a new LCD is if it gets cracked, that tends to make them be a little more careful.

One of the benefits of taking care of your laptops is they last.
I still have, looking like new and working:
- PowerBook G3 (Bronze)
- PowerBook 1400cs
- PowerBook 170
Later, Mike"

(added 3/24/2006)
"I got one of the original 12" Powerbooks (867Mhz) and I have used it everyday since I got it. The paint and finish are still perfect all the way around (except where my daughter dented the side above the firewire port). It's still beautiful. Still noisy as hell, but still beautiful.
-Cliff "

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