Apple sued over LCD screens

Summary:Looks like Apple is headed to court again - this claim alleges that Apple claims that the LCD screens used on the MacBook and MacBook Pro are much better than they really are.

Looks like Apple is headed to court again - this claim alleges that Apple claims that the LCD screens used on the MacBook and MacBook Pro are much better than they really are.

The lawsuit claims (copy here, PDF) that Apple advertised the new glossy screens as provided users with deeper blacks and whites that are more vibrant but that many customers didn't see this and instead experienced graininess and sparkling effects which are common when dithering techniques are used.

This issue here is the kind of LCD panels that Apple use.  A 6-bit panel can produce 262,144 colors (64 colors per RGB channel) while an 8-bit panel produces 24-bit color by outputting 256 colors per RGB channel, resulting in a total of 16,177,216 colors.  To compensate for this, 6-bit panels use special dithering techniques to simulate colors that it can't natively produce (usually by making adjacent subpixels flash between two colors to create the illusion).  For a lot of people, a 6-bit panel is as good as an 8-bit one and they can't tell the difference, but there are others that can see the difference and it annoys them.

Now the argument here is that Apple advertises their 6-bit panels as being able to output 16+ million colors when, in fact, that's not really accurate.  But the real rub here is that every 6-bit panel I've come across is rated at being able to output 16+ million colors.  Because of this it's almost impossible for the end user to tell whether they're buying a 6-bit panel or an 8-bit panel.  By claiming that their 6-bit panels are 16+ million color capable, all Apple is doing is passing on the specs being given to them.  So if you're going to sue Apple for this, then extend the suit to cover all other OEMs and manufacturers, because they all do the same.

Just in case you're interested, the easiest way to tell the difference between a 6-bit and an 8-bit panel is by checking out the viewing angle.  8-bit panels have a wider viewing angle than 6-bit panels (around 178° for 8-bit panels compared to anything between 130 and 170° for 6-bit panels).

Topics: Apple, Hardware


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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