I thought Apple LED Cinema Displays were supposed to last forever.  Or, at least much longer than a measly 2.5 years.  Yes, I’m ticked.  My $1,000.00USD, 2.5-year-old, 24″ Apple Cinema display — previously lovingly reviewed here — went resistors up yesterday afternoon.  It’s dead, Jim.  Is this Cinema Display problem brewing to be the next Apple Time Capsule fiasco all over again?

After doing some checking around, I decided to call AppleCare support to see what they had to say.  I always purchase AppleCare for all of my equipment.  Unfortunately, a tech named Terry told me my Cinema Display wasn’t covered under my unibody MacBook AppleCare policy — even though I was told it was when I bought the machine.

Terry — who kept annoyingly referring to my Cinema Display as a “computer” — told me I could pay her $49.00USD and she would help me over the phone.  I found that curious and odd.  She was talking to me, but purposefully not “helping me” because I didn’t want to pay $49 for a support phone call that I knew would fail?  She said I could go online to the Apple.com support site for free and look for troubleshooting tips there, or I could go to an Apple Store with this 50 pound display in tow and stand in line to see if a Genius there could help me for free.

I already knew all that — and more! — because before I called to talk to Terry I tried to figure out what went wrong with my Cinema Display.  The Apple Support knowledge base was laughable it was so unhelpful and obvious.  The Apple Store was not an option because it would cost me a lot of money for a cab to get the display there and, from reading the Apple Support community, the random Genius was going to tell me it would cost me $400 to get it fixed because it was out of warranty.  I can buy a new and bigger 27″ Thunderbolt display for around $900.00USD.

Does Apple purposefully build functional obsolescence into their products?

I decided to post this message in the Apple Community support forum to see if I might get a helpful hollaback:

Hi there —

I have a 13″ MacBook and a 24″ LED Cinema Display that I purchased at the same time in 2009.

Here’s the review I wrote: http://scientificaesthetic.com/2009/03/16/the-delicious-apple-led-cinema-display -24-review/

Today, my Cinema Display dimmed by about half three hours ago. Right now, it just died as the screen is blank. The display is still powering my Macbook and charging.

I called Apple. I thought my Cinema display was covered under my MacBook AppleCare. They don’t me not so and would not help without a $49 fee. I declined to pay the fee.

Any idea what happened? Is there a way to fix this or is the Cinema display just dead? I’ve tried plugging and unplugging and turning off for 15 minutes. I have no idea what else to try. Any suggestions on how to move forward for a possible fix?

Here’s the lonesome image of that call for help that currently has 16 views and zero replies:

I understand why my cry for help has no replies.  Nobody has an answer because, I believe, this is clearly a manufacturing defect if you look at the whole of the Apple community forum messages concerning the 24″ Cinema Display!  Yes, I too, now remember the faint smell of something burning, over the last couple of days before the display died.  I thought that smell was my tube guitar amp burning off some dust, but it was not — clearly the Apple Cinema Display was frying out from the inside!

Yikes!  Where is the famous Apple quality control?  Or are thousand-dollar LED displays purposefully manufactured to die after 2.5 years?

So, here I sit, peering back at you from a tiny, 13″ unibody Macbook display.  I miss the big swath of 24″ of life that my Cinema Display brought me.  Now the question becomes — do I live in 13″, or do I gamble on the future that a new 27″ will survive longer than 2.5 years?


  1. Here’s what’s curious — you should be covered. It says it right on their web site —

    If you purchase an Apple Display with your Mac, the AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac covers both the computer and the display.

    You did — so it should be — and that’s three years of coverage. I would hope that if you trekked it all the way to the store and showed them proof of coverage that they would have to replace it for you, no questions asked.

    1. I did and it should and I agree with you, Gordon! Why aren’t you running Apple? SMILE!

      Hey, I tried all that with the support person and was told, “Sorry, not covered” — even though I was told the Cinema Display was covered with my Macbook AppleCare purchase. How can you beat them when they keep telling you “no” and asking for $49 to move forward?

      So… I’ll do as I’ve done with Slide.com and other past consumer inequities — I’ll take the fight to Apple here in the public square.

      You know http://WhiteAppleOfDeath.com is still alive, right?

  2. Not an encouraging read – I am hoping to invest in a 13 inch mac book Air and the new Thunderbolt screen ………………………

    1. Yes, my dead LED Cinema Display has disappointed me to no end. I will buy the new Thunderbolt display and MacBook Air, though. The new AppleCare rules definitely bind them together — so there will be no doubt if one blows up, the warranty service will be enforceable. I have no idea why my 24″ Apple Cinema Display wasn’t covered, though, and Apple are not being forthcoming against my ongoing inquiries.

  3. In the UK there is a saying about some apples being rotten to the core – I suspect that IT should be covered but as there is no apparent paperwork to say so they are playing hardball/dumb and hoping you will go away!

    1. I think you’re right! They are playing with me. It is making me crazy because they basically want me to still pay them $49 just so they can tell me to go jump off a cliff. I know they won’t fix it if I pay them $49, but they won’t tell me that unless I actually pony up the dough.

  4. Makes you wonder how many more people have been caught in that trap – and who have consequently coughted up $49 only to be told it is not repairable .

    1. Exactly! It reeks a bit like a scam. Pay us $49 dollars so we can tell you we can’t help you, and oh, by the way — go to an Apple store where they’ll tell you we’ll fix it for $400. Then, if you choose to have it repaired, you’re skin-in for $650.USD where I live for payment and transportation to get there and back. A whole new, bigger, better, display only costs $999!

  5. UPDATE:

    The display is now fixed. It was repaired under a pre-existing AppleCare warranty. The logic board and power supply were replaced and dust behind the screen was removed. Whites now look more eggshell than white, though, but I’ll live with the imbalance.

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