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Customer Review

108 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great except for a dead area on spacebar that can be replicated, December 1, 2011
This review is from: Apple MacBook Pro MD311LL/A 17-Inch Laptop (Personal Computers)
First, Apple's service is terrific! The computer is incredibly fast, and there seems to be a big difference between the new 7200 RPM hard drive models versus the slower hard drive model that they had before the refresh came out. I won't go into lengthy detail on this laptop, as the other reviews on the 15 inch would be quite similar. Just remember there is no SD card slot, and instead you have to purchase an inexpensive ExpressCard adapter, which allows you to have quite a bit of flexibility on what you want to plug in there.

Now here's the thing: I've returned this laptop two times over a dead area on the lower right of the space bar key. Great support, and Apple had no problem exchanging the first laptop and refunding the amount on the second laptop. Note that the problem I experienced with the space bar key occurred on the two laptops I had, and I was also able to replicate the issue on the models in the Apple Store and in the Best Buy Store. This is only unique to the 17 inch model, and the space bar works perfectly fine on the 13 or 15 inch models. This is strange to me since they're supposed to all have the same keyboard.

If you're a typist that pecks, then this won't bother you. But if you are a fast typer, and one who doesn't pound down on the keys, this probably will affect you.

Here's the problem: The first morning I started typing an e-mail, and got something like this, " HelloAnn, how areyou doing?" When I pressed the space bar key, the computer didn't actually recognize my 'press.' Granted, I type lightly, but I've never had a problem with a key press not being recognized. Try this test out yourself at an Apple Store or Best Buy Store with their 17 inch models.

Lightly press the lower right edge of the space bar (very lightly, but enough so that the space bar actually goes down). Do this 20 or 30 times in a row in a text editor so you can see the cursor move as you press the space bar. Sometimes the space bar will move and sometimes it won't, like righthere where there are fewspaces. The last sentence was just an example, but that's what happens when you press the space bar but the computer acts as if you didn't press it. It drives me nuts that the space bar does not always work. Now do the same test on the 13 and 15 inch models and notice that the space bar works every time, even with the lightest press (on the lower right hand portion of the space bar key, where touch typists usually press the space bar key).

So I ended up returning the 17 inch models (after 2 times, thinking the keyboard was just defective). After the second one was still defective, and the models at the stores had the same problem, I'll have to get the 15 inch model or wait until Apple fixes the lower right hand portion of the space bar key on the 17 inch models.

I'm picky, and for many buyers they won't even notice the space bar not being recognized because they type really hard or they type in the middle of the space bar. But for touch typists, usually the space bar is pressed on the left or right sides, and a press should be a press, even if it is light. I'm probably just going to get the 15 inch model, as it doesn't have the space bar issue.

Edit December 22nd: For further information, see the Apple discussion board from multiple folks at the official Apple site where people are having similar issues with the space bar key (including the Airs and other lines). Apparently Apple is forgetting to put the rubber pads on the underneath of the space bar -- there's a picture on the first page of the forum of what it looks like. If you're experiencing the same issue, I would call Apple support so hopefully they can start shipping with keyboards where the space bar actually works 100% of the time.

Since Amazon doesn't allow outside links, just go to google and type in the following search words "dead spot on space bar macbook pro" and it's the first link at the top that comes up.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 26, 2012 8:06:06 AM PST
pbblimp says:
I wouldn't say you are being picky. I, too, am a touch typist, and I have a 17" ASUS laptop that I'm looking to replace -- ironically because of this very problem. I came across your review randomly, searching for a replacement laptop. The last thing I expected to read is an Apple product having a similar quality issue, so thank you for mentioning it as well as the steps Apple is taking to make it right. I would have had a meltdown if I bought a new 17" replacement notebook from Apple for much more money than the ASUS, thinking that quality was a given, only to see the same issue I'm trying to escape! :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2012 9:47:23 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 26, 2012 9:56:07 AM PST
Mark Zander says:
When all you want is a keyboard to work, right?! Very frustrating. I don't remember this problem being on the February 2011 version (just the October 2011 version), but maybe it's on the Feb 2011 too. Hopefully it'll be fixed in the next version or model they release. My advice is to buy one, and if the problem exists, return it within 14 days back to the Apple store or 30 days to Amazon. ASUS and Apple get with the program for us touch typists :)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2012 6:32:02 PM PST
pbblimp says:
After reading through an Apple forum where they showed an MBA with its spacebar removed, I pulled mine off my ASUS like I have many times before. What I hadn't realized is that there are three sensors under the bar, just like the MBA. This time I looked on the underside of the plastic spacebar very closely and noticed that on the left side (which doesn't have a problem) there is a tiny plastic pin that pushes into the leftmost sensor. On the far right of the bar, it's completely flat and has nothing to push the sensor! I can't believe I didn't notice it before, but it is a pretty tiny detail. It doesn't look like the folks on the Apple forum are aware of this detail, though they were the ones who made me realize there's more than just the middle sensor with the rubber nipple on it to make the spacebar function along its full length.

At least on my ASUS, it seems to me that there's nothing missing as far as rubber pads/nipples, instead the fault seems to be solely on the underside of the key itself. I wonder if the tiny plastic raised nub/pin broke off in manufacture, and I also wonder if the MBAs have the exact same problem, rather than what appears on the surface to be missing rubber pads.

Posted on Jun 13, 2012 9:12:26 PM PDT
Mishi Derfer says:
Thanks for your educational and informative review.

I was initially planning to buy the MacBook Pro 17", but now they are coming out with a better(?) one the Retina display but no more 17" MacBookPro. My question is: Which computer is more powerful, the new 15" loaded MacBook pro or the about to expire 17" MacBook pro which can still be purchased at some major retail stores? In other words: Which computer will be more powerful and capable, the newest most powerful 15" macBook pro with retina OR the most recent powerful 17" MacBook Pro that is still available at some retailers?

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