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PowerBook G4 Titanium screen resolution switching; flickering problems

PowerBook G4 Titanium screen resolution switching; flickering problems

Resolution switching We continue to receive reports regarding PowerBook screen resolution switching problems, and have gleaned a few more observations.

At first it seemed that you could easily test for this problem without actually attempting to switch resolutions by launching Apple System Profiler and noting the display type listed. If Profiler lists CRT, your machine will likely exhibit the problem. If it (correctly) lists LCD, your PowerBook should be devoid of the issue. However, we have received sporadic reports indicating that the problem does exist on some PowerBooks that list LCD as the display type.

Meanwhile, Robert Kisin has an unconfirmed report that Apple will soon deliver a fix:

"I have had a running communication with Apple over this one. My problem is with a 550 Ti-book which is used often for projector presentations. It 'goes Blue' whenever it is connected to a projector ? or whenever any device of program causes it to change resolution. There is a fix coming!

"My AppleCare tech rep (David) tells me Apple is aware of this screen resolution problem which affects 550, 667 TiBooks and some early iBooks."

"A software solution is being prepared for Mac OS X 10.3.3 which is due relatively soon (they haven?t given me a date ? they never do...)."

Flickering problems Yesterday we noted a thread in the Ars Technica forums discussing screen flickering on some of the same PowerBook G4 Titanium models that are affected by the resolution switching issue. Early diagnosis seems to show that this problem may be power related. Several users report a higher incidence of screen flickering (which usually last a second or so) when external, bus-powered devices such as FireWire drives are attached and active. Some users also note that the issue is accompanied by a "clicking" noise originating in the power supply.

One Ars Technica poster was nice enough to code an HTML document that seems to reproduce the flickering problem on a number of PowerBooks. We're not sure precisely what is triggering the flicker, but like the resolution switching problems, Titanium 550MHz and 667MHz models seem most susceptible.

If you are experiencing screen flicker issues and have AppleCare coverage, you may be able to obtain a repair. However, since we are not sure if even Apple is aware of this issue (less how to fix it), you may get your PowerBook back only to have the issue resurface. If this is a driver issue, look for a potential update from ATI - manufacturer of graphics cards found in Titanium 550 and 667 MHz issues. We're following up with ATI for their official stance on the problem.

Dead part of the screen? Discussion of the resolution and flickering issues has also prompted users to voice concerns about other display issues with PowerBook G4 Titanium models. Israel Unger reports an issue where some parts of teh screen do not respond to mouse clicks:

"There seem to be dead spots on my screen. What I mean is, is there are areas of the screen (mostly upper left on internal LCD, and lower left of external CRT) that don't register mouse clicks. The arrow moves just fine, and I can roll over any menu items to highlight them, but go click the mouse (internal or external) and nothing happens. Tap 'Return' and the command is executed. In the case of floating windows (closing or docking a window), I can click the top area of the window to move it, only outside the 'dead area.' Once I moved the window sufficiently beyond the effected area I can do anything I need to the window. I've also noticed that many times after a fresh reboot the problem seems to go away, only to return again sometime during the computer's uptime."

If you are experiencing a similar issue, or have input on the resolution/flickering problems, please drop us a line at

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