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Apple hit with class-action suit over MacBook, MacBook Pro displays

Apple Inc. has been hit with another class-action lawsuit. This time the formal complaint comes courtesy of a pair of MacBook and MacBook Pro owners who charge the company with falsely advertising the quality and capabilities of the displays used in the Intel notebooks.

In the May 3rd filing with the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego, private citizens Fred Greaves and Dave Gatley are seeking multiple forms of relief and reimbursement, in addition to an injunction that would prevent Apple from continuing to market its existing notebook displays alongside claims that they support "millions of colors" and offer views "simply unavailable on other portables."

Specifically, they charge that the Cupertino-based company's MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook displays are only capable of displaying the "illusion of millions of colors through the use of a software technique referred to as 'dithering,' which causes nearby pixels on the display to use slightly varying shades of colors that trick the human eye into perceiving the desired color even though it is not truly that color."

Citations in the suit imply that the Apple notebooks may employ sub-par displays only capable of 6 bits per channel (18-bit color), rather than 8 bits per channel, making them capable of displaying only 262,144 colors without dithering, as opposed to millions. That would explain why within weeks of purchase, a flood of customers reported that their MacBook and MacBook Pro displays appeared "grainy" or "sparkly," according to the complaint.

The 22-page suit includes about 6 pages of sample complaints waged by disgruntled customers on Apple's discussion forms and other outlets, including the AppleInsider and MacNN forums. It notes that a large number of customers have contacted Apple for relief, to no avail.

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

The matter is of particular concern to MacBook and MacBook Pro users who rely on the accuracy of the displays for graphic use, such as photography, according to the complaint. It asserts that the displays, even at their highest resolutions, are unreliable for editing purposes.

In addition to false advertising and misrepresentation, Apple is also charged with violating the Unfair Competition Law and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act with its failure to address and rectify the situation.

Due to the large number of customer complaints, including complaints on the company's own website, it's apparent that Apple is well aware of the problems, the suit claims. It adds, however, that the Mac maker has taken it upon itself to heavily redact many of the posted complaints, and has even gone to the lengths of "taking down" entire threads devoted to the subject.

Representatives for the Law Offices of Peter M. Polischuk, attorneys representing the plaintiffs, had not returned inquires for comment as of press time.

For those interest, a copy of the complaint is being made available by AppleInsider as a PDF download.