PB17 Wear & Tear: Escape Big Bertha's Bezel Bite, pt. I

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Date: Thursday, September 4th, 2003, 07:00
Category: Archive

“Gee, Jason,” I said to the PowerPage’s fearless editor-in-chief at Macworld CreativePro, “you know, I’ve got these funny dark marks on my PowerBook [17″].” Springing into action, Jason got a mad look in his eyes and said, “My friend, you’ve got Bezel Bite.” Opening my `Book, sure enough, there were the dark vertical lines on the wrist rest-area of my machine. Feeling a bit as though I’d just been identified with an STD, we talked to the team at RadTech, whose WildEepz are the only known cure for Bezel Bite.

You may remember WildEepz from coverage some two years ago here on the PowerPage: initially, they were created to solve a different problem on the Titaniums. John at RadTech explains below:
Yes, Jason DID seem a bit excited to see the stamp marks from the bezel on your machine, must be his gritty, journalistic fervor!! I can tell you that it’s an issue which affects all of them if the display is subject to any loading (packing in a bag, etc.)
Let me also explain the the various functions of the cushions, which were actually the first ‘fix’ I produced for our fleet of Titanium PB’s. (My medical software company has several Ti’s leased out to folks who use our oncology application)
I was never satisfied with the substantial amount of free play inherent in the latched displays on the Titanium series notebooks. The ineffective, and too few, OEM bumpers located on the top case did little to insulate the display and bezel from contacting the case when shut.
To make matters worse, the OEM bumpers were easily knocked off in use, AND would actually dissolve when exposed to perspiration and friction. Apple also refused to warranty any display bumper issue as they regarded these issues to be cosmetic, and therefore not subject to any coverage – including AppleCare. Cost to repair quoted to me at the time of our first screen bumper failure, $360.00. And, of course, weeks without the computers. This would have had a debilitating on effect on my medical solution startup, another remedy had to be found.
Another issue which plagued our Titanium users was that when carried, the displays would easily unlatch. This also occurred when packed in a bag, which caused the machine to wake from sleep and promptly drain the battery. I determined that these issues were the result of the aforementioned free play. So, I set out to remedy the situation, and Wildeepz were born.
There were a few challenges to overcome when sourcing a suitable material for cushion construction. Initially, off -the-shelf elastomer bumpers, known generically in the industry as bump-ons (a 3M brand name), were researched and tried with no success. The production line variability of the gap between display and case was too broad for the fairly rigid bump-ons to function effectively. A material with a high degree of compressibility and rebound was sought to accommodate our dilemma. Initially I chose a 0.95mm thick expanded butyl sheet, die cut into 6mm discs coated with an HST adhesive. A change was made to silicone a few months hence, and I very recently respec’d the composition to expanded urethane.
Along came the Aluminum series PowerBooks from Apple, which again suffered many of the same basic issues relating to excessive free play present in the clamshell latched configuration. A second shortcoming was also quickly noted as the very sharp-cornered, inner display bezel of the 17in. model began to slice through the anodized coating of the top case when the unit was latched and packed. (Hey, we may have coined some new geek-speak here: “Latch and Pack” – replacing the tired: “Lock and Load.” – sorry Dr. McCoy…)
The Aluminum PowerBooks required a material thickness approximately double that of the Titanium model. We laminate our existing stock to obtain this new spec.
And they all lived happily ever after…. And I must secretly confess, I nicknamed the effect “Bezel bite” during a phone exchange with the client who first reported it to me, he later appended “Big Betty’s” in a subsequent email, hence the monikers were merged – Big Betty’s bezel bite.

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