Apple, displays, and power outages

Yikes. I was foolish enough to buy a ThunderBolt monitor in 2011 when I was in India. That was a nightmare. I don’t think it had been tested in India which doesn’t have a stable electrical grid and has regular “load shedding” which I think are called “brown outs” elsewhere. I had to get a USPS battery system because power would go down several times a day for a minimum of an hour. Every time that happened it would freak out the monitor and damaged the internals of the MBP because with Thunderbolt data runs both ways. I had to replace the motherboard and hard drive. I was constantly bringing it in to Apple. It worked intermittently, when it did it was beautiful, but eventually I resigned myself that I had a $1200 brick on my hands. :unamused:

I’m happy with my BenQ monitor, but you have to be careful you don’t have too much happening or it causes a kernel panic in the MBP for heat reasons. I am looking forward to getting the new MBPs with M1/M2 chip which runs a lot cooler and should translate into an much better experience with the external monitor.

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At least it was a notchless brick. :wink: Unfortunately I didn’t have so much luck with my BENQ some years ago. It was a bargain at first, but after about a year the screen began to destroy itself starting from the edges (yes, all four of them).

Your India tale sounds like a nightmare to me. I am so used to working (and writing) in a warm, dry, safe apartment with high-speed broadband (and particularly grateful to have these things out in the country), although the power admittedly did go out for three days during a blizzard last winter. I spent decades hating my living quarters (as a writer) because they were too cold and/or undependable in some way for me to write comfortably every day, so I think all along I was working towards getting just the right kind of writing environment.

Thank you for the technical detail on the BenQ and your recommending the newer MBPs. Despite the notch issue, I am still considering them. I usually don’t run more than one or two apps at a time, but my main Scrivener file is growing (the novel will likely turn into a series), and I often have problems with the Photos app handling my 40,000 pictures (and this is just going to get worse, since I just bought a 40-megapix camera).

I’ve had my BenQ for 18 months and no problems. It was high-end model. I’m happy with it.

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My previous Dell external monitor didn’t give me any problems in India so I thought the ThunderBolt would be the same. Wrong. I was not alone, many people complained. Probably the reason Apple got out of the monitor business until now.

In the larger cities in India you will get fast broad band. And the speed is constantly increasing. I was happy. And the cost of using cell phones (calls, sms etc) is ridiculously cheap. 1000 rupees (US$14) on my prepaid plan would easily last me 3-4 months unless I called overseas. Most people don’t have land lines.

You don’t have to worry about living conditions in India, many gated communities if you want that. Lot of international workers at MNCs. I had granite floors in all the rooms including the bathrooms. And different color granite. All granite kitchen.

And medical is high quality and for a fraction of what you would pay in the West. I had a root canal done for $150. Shoulder surgery for only $1400 with a top surgeon in a good hospital with a private room. In US for similar it would start at $5000 upwards to $40k.

Lot of medical tourism from other countries to India. The nicer hospitals are like 5 star hotels that do brain surgery. :upside_down_face:

On the whole the cost of living is much cheaper than in the West. I had a 3 bedroom flat near the center of city, walking distance from a mall, (3) hospitals and shopping for less than $500/month.

Unlike the USA and Canada where malls are usually at the edge of the city in India they are in the city. But at same if you want you can go to the traditional markets and haggle on the price.

As for “warm” well India has plenty of that considering that its climate could be described as “hot, hotter, and hottest.” But to locals it is different. Winter in Bangalore would be sunny days with highs of 30°C and lows of 14°C at night. That would be like the endless summer of Southern California. But locals in Bangalore are wearing earmuffs and heavy winter coats.

India is not for everyone, but I loved it.

It’s certainly no ‘marketing joke’.

My 14" M1 Pro runs faster and cooler, much longer battery than my top of the line i9 did, and the notch is ABOVE the normal screen resolution so has zero impact on day-to-day work. It tidily moves the menus out of the way. Seems most of the wailing about the notch is from people in the Winverse who have never used the current MBP’s.

What it does do is allow enough room for the better web cam (far better option than the aim up your nostril ‘marketing joke’ effort Dell and Huawei came up with to get slim bezels) plus true-tone sensor.

There is nothing but rumour on any intention by Apple to sell an external monitor (they may well) but an external monitor is unnecessary day to day unless you are in a role that would require the same regardless of what laptop brand you used.

As for conspiracy theories of ‘coincidence’ I get you probably don’t like Macs/Apple - don’t use them, but as a USER of the current model I call it BS.

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Brownouts are a great way to kill any electrical device, eg refrigerators, TV, Monitor and PC’s and yes, cables that carry signals or provide power to a device. Yes, the TB display included the magsafe charger, so any unprotected surge hitting the display could travel through to the connected laptop.

Until a few years ago I lived 7km from a small city in Queensland Australia. We suffered regular brownouts to the point every piece of equipment was protected by a UPS or surge arrestor.

There is nothing any manufacturer can do when electricity supplies regularly surge above or below the specified range. Even a regular MOV surge protector will die after a certain number of cycles. Edit - should point out, when a MOV dies the typical failure mode is not open circuit, but to allow the surge through.

That is not restricted to Apple and the your problem was NOT the Thunderbolt display. The Thunderbolt display was and still is a solid product. There are many still in use. and sort after second hand here in Aus. It was tested and guaranteed to work within the government published specifications and any additional requirements specific to each country it was sold in. Here in Australia it had to meet the more stringent requirements that kept some brands/models from the market.

Your experience is solidly down to the electricity supply and not the Apple product. That includes damage to the laptop as explained above.

I have extensive experience with brownouts and electrical surge and what you describe is a classic result of unstable power supply. 20+ years ago I was Divisional General Manager for a multinational Facility Electrical Protection company. We provided surge and lightning protection to flagship construction projects, radar, refineries, and others worldwide. The standard lower-cost surge protection uses MOVs which degrade with each ‘hit’. Your regular UPS will typically have this in addition to the battery backup. After a certain number of ‘hits’ the surge component of the UPS would have ceased to function allowing spikes through to the monitor and computer. We did make expensive ‘active’ protection systems for radar installations and other essential equipment, but that is well beyond anything the average consumer could want or afford.


Then explain the existence of this thread.

As long as the menu bar (or any content for that matter) isn’t BELOW the unnormal screen, it has an impact: Less space for menu / status items and/or splitting the menu bar in half (mine usually extends way beyond the middle of the screen for most applications at standard resolution).

If users / developers need to find ways (literally) “around” a feature… I mean, we prefer Macs, because we don’t want to want to deal with such sh*t, right? It just works. Or, it should.

Well, that was a bit of a sarcastic comment, I’ve to admit. If “get an external monitor” is a solution to fix a new “feature”… :person_shrugging:

I use Macs exlusively for many years (27" iMac & 13" MBA at the moment). I LOVE Macs / macOS. That’s why I react passionate.

If Apple “improves” the Air (as rumors suggest) in the same way, that means there won’t literally be any new mobile Macs available without an awkward screen for – how would Tim put it – many years to come. That’s the downside, you can’t just go and buy a different MacBook from somewhere else.

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The current rumours about the impending re-design of the Air make me very happy that I got an M1 a year ago. I suspect that the notch will soon be considered on par with other ‘improvements’ like the touch bar and the butterfly keyboard. I was lucky to miss both of those as I had my previous 13" pro for five years. With luck the notch will be history by the time of my next upgrade!

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Thank you for your extensive comments.

I should say that I also had a robust surge protector. Plus the surge protector built into the USPS. And when not hooked up to the monitor I didn’t even notice power outage on the MBP because of the built in battery.

For the Indian market most appliances come with surge protectors. Some, like fridges, are made so that they will even function on the battery power of a USPS.

I had previously used a Dell external monitor with no issues despite “load shedding”. So I thought I would have no issues with Thunderbolt display, so I bought one.

That was not the case, and I was not alone, it got so bad that Apple stopped selling them in India and then eventually discontinued them world wide. Apple support told me there were issues. The Apple store told me there were issues (that is why they stopped selling them – too many complaints). And when I tried to find help on Apple support forums many had similar issues. In other words mine was not an isolated case, but a common one in India.

Other external display manufactures didn’t have this issue in India.

From what I recall the issue was that unlike other monitors like my previous Dell and my current BenQ in which data only flows one way from computer to display. With the ThunderBolt data flowed both ways and this was at the heart of the problem.

Australia and India are not the same.

At least the new Macs wont have the “touch bar” a feature I never used since I always used an external keyboard and the MBP on a stand.

But give Apple credit for at least recognizing they made a mistake and removed that bar and returned the the various types of ports.


Here’s a fair and balanced review of the dreaded notch:

The Notch!


It was a ‘common issue’ because of the abysmal power, nothing to do with the display.

I don’t know who told you the crap about them withdrawing the display due to complaints. That is categorically false. I was a manager in Apple support at the time and we had no more issues with the display than could be expected from any other Apple or competing product. As I said, they continue to be in strong demand. While not privy to the actual decision, I am aware of reasons why that decision may have been made, and they have no relation to product quality.

My point remains, the surge protection sold with product is India would cease to provide surge protection over a relatively short time.

I never said Australia was India, but during my time in facility electrical protection I became very familiar with issues worldwide, including India. We did business in India. Our business was based on attempting to ameliorate the issues caused by poor quality power and lightning. Let’s just say certain countries were a dog’s breakfast when it came to power stability. Imagine trying to protect a radar network or dara centre when the country can’t come close to meeting it’s published specs. Isolating the equipment from the grid was the first step.

You cannot criticize a product because a country fails to provide a stable electricity supply even close to the standards they provide for manufacturers to meet.

During my time at Apple, I faced this ‘many in forums’ and ‘Google’ crap, and the reality is when you have 10-20 people (even 100) in a forum complaining, the usual suspects start screaming about ‘Apple failure’. 100 people out of 20 million (for a slow selling Apple product) is nothing. It is far less than the statistical expected failure rate of any electrical product regardless of manufacturer.

I recall the Samsung self combusting phone saga. It was a common joke in Apple support that if it had been a iPhone, the sky would have been falling, the usual suspects would have been ‘Apple is doomed’, there would have been calls for Tim’s execution……

Because it was another manufacturer, apart from the airlines, the general reaction was - meh.

We had a great time laughing about it.

I, along with many found the touchbar very useful and some bemoan it’s passing, but for the majority it was a nothing. Apple put no effort into promoting it and too few developers got on board.

Reasonably balanced.

As he said, once you start using it, the notch is pretty much a non-issue.

Stop bitching about the notch, people. It doesn’t impact the usability of the mbp, and the underlying device is just spectacular in performance.

More importantly, Scrivener works just fine with it.

Stop telling other users to shut up.

It was a sweeping statement… Chill

I like it, though I wish it were a little easier to control the settings.

It was the Apple resellers in India. They told me. I was in India from 2005 - 2020. The Apple store was within walking distance. I was a regular customer. But it seems that you knew what was going in India better than I did even though you were never in India.

They should not have sold it in a market whose infrastructure didn’t support their product. That was my complaint. That they didn’t test it in India before selling it.

  1. In terms of India’s power issues, I didn’t need to be living in India, prior to Apple I was doing business there and had a close understanding. I was supplying product aimed at addressing India’s power issues. The contracts we won were based on specific scenarios and backed by extensive research.

  2. In terms of Apple’s product, I worked for Apple in managerial roles in AppleCare and we supported the product worldwide. I had access to data you do not, and, I KNOW your comments on the Thunderbolt display to be incorrect. There was nothing in statistics that led me to a position of saying the display should not be used in India, more than any other Apple product. I don’t know or care what some un or incorrectly informed person at an individual store said, other than if becoming aware of that during my time, education would have been arranged.

  3. A manufacturer should be able, within reason, to be able to rely on the government and regulatory authorities of various countries to maintain the standards they claim to have set.

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