I’m Calling It “The New MacBook Pro Hinge Flop Effect”

By  |  Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 11:53 am

One of the nice things about Technologizer is that reviewing products can be a process that never quite ends. I give my initial take on a product like Apple’s new MacBook Pro, and do so quickly. Folks read those first impressions and chime in with questions and comments. I check out things I might not have thought to cover.

I didn’t mention the hinge on the MacBook Pro one way or another, but commenter Sensorrhea raised an interesting question:

What about the hinges? Can the screen be opened any wider than the previous MacBook Pro? The limited range has been a big problem for me in the past.

I compared the hinges on the old MacBook Pro and the new one, and found that the new one did indeed open much wider. (I’m out and about as I write this, so I can’t give you a precise number, but it looks like you can tilt the screen back about 135 degrees from the keyboard if you want.

And once I started thinking about the hinge, I noticed another change: It’s looser. (At least on my new MacBook Pro–it’s possible it’s a build-quality issue rather than a design decision.) When I raised the old Pro’s screen to a particular position, it tended to stay there even I picked up the notebook. But if I pick up the new Pro and aren’t careful, gravity kicks in and the screen starts to shift position. It is, in other words, a floppier hinge than the one on the previous MacBook Pro.

I do a lot of running around with my laptops, using them in my lap, then walking about without shutting them down or closing the case–if you’re a little less likely to move your notebook around without shutting it, you might not notice this.

And I haven’t noticed the hinge shift position when the Pro is sitting in one place. Actually, I just tested what happens, and the display gracefully comes to a full stop before it would have whacked the keyboard, and stays there. Which makes me wonder if the floppiness is an intentional change in the hinge’s behavior.

I’m not reporting this because it’s a huge design flaw: When the screen shifts, it does so gracefully, and I doubt that it’ll ever slam shut so unexpectedly that damage is done to either the computer itself or my fingers. But it’s yet more evidence that the new MacBook Pro really is a very new MacBook Pro. And I’m wondering if anyone else will notice this–and if they do, whether Apple will tweak the hinge’s behavior…


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12 Comments For This Post

  1. Dan Says:

    It might just be random variation. My Powerbook G4 (last model they made) had a nice stiff hinge, while my MacBook Pro (last year’s model) is much looser.

  2. bud Says:

    I’m wondering if part of the issue is that the screen portion is now probablyl HEAVIER. Another weird thing that could happen is that the stronger lighter keyboard half could flip up as the monitor seesaws back.

    As I type this now, on my lap, old school powerbook, neither side is level with force of gravity, instead its a grid shape.

    Please post if you notice any other ergonomic weirdness.

  3. deister Says:

    The old Titanium Powerbook’s screen picked up grease from the keyboard easily. Most of us who had a TiBook had a soft thin cloth we would place on the keyboard to help. The aluminum PowerBooks and MacBooks did not have this issue. Do you notice it with the new glass screen at all?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    This is definitely not a variation in build quality. I noticed this as soon as I got mine home. Today, I went back to the Apple store and all of the MacBook Pros do the same thing. The MacBook, however, does not. I’m seriously tempted to take my MBP back and get a MacBook.

  5. tim Says:

    I’m having the same issue with my monitor ‘flopping’ down. It’s a bit annoying, but like you said it’s not a deal breaker.

    The other issue I’ve noticed is a ‘clicking’ near the power adaptor when I tilt the MBP to the right. weirdness.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    That’s it… I’ve just returned it. I decided I can’t deal with the lid flopping. I feel liberated! I think I’m going to go for a top-of-the-range Air.

  7. Macman Says:

    Apple would argue that, this is not a laptop its a “Notebook” so that if you intend to use its laptop on your lap it they won’t help you in that matter. But mine has the same problem its probally the first thing I noticed, but doesn’t matter all more reason to use the table!

  8. Denny Crane Says:

    I waited for 30 minutes while the Apple Store unpacked their first shipment of the new Macbook Pro and walked out a happy camper. I quickly became very unhappy over the loose hinge. Whenever I shifted so did the display! On a plane, whenever there was a slight bounce the display would flop backward. I lasted 6 days with this defect before doing my research at the Apple store and finding all the new Macbook Pro hinges were loose. The new Macbook works properly and has tension in the hinge that stopped the offensive movement. I traded my Macbook Pro for the new Macbook and am very happy with the Macbook.

  9. Vendeta Says:

    I just got a 2.8 Ghz Macbook pro, and I’m some how disappointed.

    Comfort is one of the most important things for me when I’m working…
    With the new laptop I cannot lay down on my sofa or in bed and work without worrying about the gravity.

    The new LED screen is a lot heavier than the previous laptop… and it closes all the time, making it impossible to use if you are in bed.

    TO BAD APPLE C’mom…

  10. Vendeta Says:

    Well… the problem is confirmed… I went to an Apple store and all the computer on display had exactly the same problem!… Bye bye to my favorite position!

  11. SlowFlight Says:

    Ugh. This hinge problem is annoying. My old MBP stays perfectly in tact, even when moving. This plus the battery-switch PITA (and NO charge indicator on the batteries) is a deal killer.

  12. bill smith Says:

    Apple is going to hell in a handbasket. Tbhey keep making horrible decisions… no matte screen on the new notebooks, copyright protection, and now the hinge issue. I’m experiencing it first had nad I’m wondering WHAT IDIOT thought a floppy-ass hinge would be good? Morons. I’ve ordered my last apple product until they get their crap together.

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