Jan 14 2010

The Key to the MacBook Pro

Published by Byron at 9:00 pm under Up & Running TechBlog

Today I got to work on a MacBook Pro, Apple’s top-flight laptop. Working on a Mac is a rare experience for me because they very seldom have problems. Of my 450+ clients, between 70 and 90 have Macs but I rarely get to work on more than one or two per year.

This laptop had a broken ‘return’ key; a victim of physical abuse involving a cat who wanted to compute and an anxious owner who didn’t want her to. It is surprising how complex a laptop key is; it usually has a small but complicated scissors-action undercarriage that holds the key up and parallel to the keyboard, so they can be tricky (and in some cases very difficult or even impossible) to install. And MacBook keys are special in that they are backlit in dim light; that’s right, in a dim or dark room, the keys actually light up so that you can more easily see what you’re doing.

Upon examination, I found that the undercarriage of the key in question (the ‘return’ key) had been slightly damaged and would need replacement. Knowing that I was driving to a nearby town where there was a Mac store and thinking that I might just pick up a key while I was there (if I was lucky), I called the local Mac dealer and asked to talk to the technician. I know her and trust her and it’s almost invariably better to go to the source; the sales people may know a good deal but the tech knows just how the process works and what its attendant hazards may be. (Having said that, I should point out, from personal experience, that every minute a tech is on the phone is one less minute they have to work on a client’s computer, so be warned and understand if they don’t want to spend much time on the phone.)

Unfortunately, I got a likely lad who ran interference and told me that I ‘would have to bring it in’ as there were several models of MacBookPro and the key’s availability and the feasibility of replacing it could only be determined by a visual inspection of the particular laptop in question. This may have been well-meant and sincere, but the idea was ridiculous. I have repaired hundreds of laptops, by almost every major manufacturer (including Apple) and I can tell you that, for a given laptop model, keys are either replaceable or not replaceable and the keys are available or not.

Abandoning the idea of trying to push my way through to the technician, I did a quick bit of research and found this excellent site which has service parts for most Apple laptops. At this site, keys for the MacBookPro 15″ (the model I was working with) cost $8.95 each. I ordered the ‘return’ key immediately and will add a postscript to this article to let you know how it turned out.

No responses yet

Comments are closed.