Updated: Is the backlight supposed to be blue? | iLounge News


Updated: Is the backlight supposed to be blue?

A new photo has been submitted by the same reader that started us on the blue backlight journey. This new photo shows a direct comparison of a new 30GB and a 15GB iPod. Click “Read more” for photo.

“Here is a comparison picture of my 30GB that I got about four days after its release, and a 15GB that was just shipped a few days ago. Both have the backlight on. It is very obvious that the backlight is white and dim on the left “older” 30GB iPod, and bright and blue on the right newer one [15GB]. Also the screen is MUCH clearer on the newer new iPod (although not in the picture, I took it with my Palm Zire71!).”


In our ongoing saga of “Is it white or is it blue?”, iLounger, Matthew S. emailed us the following:

“There are three photos of a 20GB iPod, using varying white balances.  ‘blue1’ is done using the ‘flash’ white balance preset (tungsten 4000K? I didn’t look it up), though without actually using the flash, ‘blue2’ using the ‘automatic’ white balance, and ‘calibrated’ done using calibrated white balance (uses a 50% grey card to set white balance appropriate to the conditions).  They were all shot with a Nikon D100 camera. (Click ‘Read more’ for the full report.)”




“The difference is pretty striking, and you’ll note that even in the manually calibrated version, there is a slight blue tint to the backlight - this is entirely expected as blue is the dominant colour in “white” LEDs.  The precise temperature of the LED varies widely between manufacturers (just try out a couple of different white-led flashlights to see).

The screen also appears quite blue to the naked eye when viewed from even a relatively slight angle.

The moral of the story: there are too many factors involved to make a realistic comparison.  Viewing angle, LED manufacturer, the camera’s white balance, ambient lighting conditions, and simply people’s varying perception of color.  Some iPods probably are blue, but the variations displayed are much more likely to be due to one or two of those reasons than they are to Apple creating a new hardware revision.”

An anonymous iLounger sent us an interesting bit of news about the latest new iPods and LCD backlight. Click here for a photo comparison.

“Yesterday at work (I work at the Apple Store) I had to put out another of the new iPods for demo on the floor (a 15GB). And to my surprise, it was different than every other iPod already out, and different than every one I have seen, including my own 30GB.

The screen was MUCH clearer. It appears to be the promised “new high resolution” screen. I turned the contrast way down and it was still quite visible and clear. And the kicker is that the backlight is BLUE (as promised and as is on the box) and not white. I held the “new” 15GB next to the “old” 15GB and it is quite obvious there is a new, better screen. It is SO much better than the iPods released a few weeks ago. I don’t know if all iPods being shipped have this new screen and backlight but I sure hope so. It is a much better screen.”

Our new 15GB has a white backlight as specified on Apple’s iPod Spec page, but the box and this iPod webpage indicates an iPod has a blue backlight. Is it just Apple’s way of enhancing the advertising photos for advertising’s sake? Or, are the new iPods supposed to have a blue backlight? Does your iPod have a blue backlight? Send us a photo.

Submitted by a reader. Not the same Apple Store iPod as mentioned above. (15GB iPod)

iLounge photo. (15GB iPod)

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Got mine in the mal yesterday (15GB from the factory in Taiwan); it’s clearly a white backlight.

Posted by tyldis in Norway on May 22, 2003 at 10:48 AM (CDT)


OmiGod! My penis has turned blue! It used to be white.

Damn you all to hell, God!

Posted by TheMadCow in Burbank, CA on May 22, 2003 at 3:26 PM (CDT)


mine is clearly white too,.. also from taiwan factory (esembled 6 days ago) it’s amazing.. :D

Posted by HS-L in utrecht/Holland on May 22, 2003 at 3:37 PM (CDT)


than wats up with the blue? is this a defect, fake story, rare batch or wat?

Posted by tdf22 in sdfsdf on May 22, 2003 at 5:02 PM (CDT)


It’s a flock of freaking chicken littles. Who CARES if there’s slight variations? In the immortal words of William Shatner, “Get a life, people!”.

Posted by TheMadCow in Burbank, CA on May 22, 2003 at 6:09 PM (CDT)


It is always amusing when people read threads in a specialized discussion forum, read all 34 posts, and replies that THE OTHERS should get a life! At least The Others were doing something that they were interested in. To post on a topic that they are not interested in, well, get a life.

“Don’t worry honey, it’s perfect really, it’s just slightly blue but nothing to worry about I’m sure…”

Posted by Balooba on May 22, 2003 at 7:46 PM (CDT)


I have a 30GB and it has a white backlight.  I am just wondering where this higher resolution screen talk is coming from.

Posted by Mattman on May 23, 2003 at 3:25 AM (CDT)


For everybody’s information, fluorescent lighting contains no red coloring, so of course things look more blue under them.  Professional photographers should know this, and usually correct for it by using the right filters when taking the shot.  Maybe a newer crop of photographers used to using digital stuff didn’t know it, or just forgot to make the color correction in Photoshop before posting the ads.

Posted by Rahrens in Rockville, MD on May 23, 2003 at 7:15 AM (CDT)


yes im sure they “forgot”

Posted by shory on May 23, 2003 at 9:04 AM (CDT)


This blue backlight has NOTHING to do with the type of lighting. That is obvious from the shot of two iPods sitting right next to each other. One with a while light, the other with a blue. Also, I was standing right in front of the two. In person. Photoshop doesn’t work in real life. I saw the difference. It is plain as day. It is the truth- not a myth. Now, as far as those of us who are upset that they did not get a blue one and those of you telling us to “get a life” or that we are nitpicking: remember that Apple is the one making so much of the design of it’s products. So when we get one, we expect it to be that image. Hell, Apple advertisements don’t even say what the product does. A big white billboard with a picture of a product. So how it looks is of great consequence.

Posted by vadd in Bay Area on May 23, 2003 at 10:45 AM (CDT)


My brothers fiancee attended the Oprah’s Spring Giveaway show, they didn’t know it was going to be a “give away” show.  She got a coupon for all the products they gave away, only certain people in the audience were able to take home the items that day.  It appears that everyone walks away with every gift that day, she wasn’t one of the lucky ones as she was off to the wings.  As soon as she receives the iPod, I will try to report back to you.  I think the estimated delivery date is June 7th, since I too am excited to see if it changed or not.  But from my personal experience with the old iPod, it too had a blueish tint under proper conditions and a whiter tint other different situations… thus I am sure this is the case for the new iPods… who knows.

Posted by varekai2 in Chicago, IL on May 23, 2003 at 3:24 PM (CDT)


I can vouch that there was a change in the LEDs used in the 3rd Gen. iPods.  I bought one fo the 30GB units the 3rd day they were out and did not see much of a difference between the 30GB and my older 20GB 2nd Gen. unit—the 30 was a hair brighter a had a twinge of blue to it.

However, the 30GB was experiencing the dreaded reset, channel-swapping, and battery issues that have been reported to death in the various online forums.  I took it back to my local Apple store this PM after AppleCare told me to get rid of it for a new one.  They gave me a new 30GB unit w/o much objection at all.  In fact, they were downright nice about it (I guess the returns were mounting up, b/c there was a stack of 15 and 30 GB units that were headed out in a UPS shipment).

On a whim, I asked about the backlight color debate that I had seen in this forum and the rep said that the screen was BLUE.  I responded that my old 30GB looked about the same as the 20GB and we did a 4 iPod side-by-side test.  My old 30GB was slightly blue-tinted under the fluorescent lights at the store, but the replacement (new) 30GB was VERY blue, as were the other 2 demo models (10 and 15GB) that were one the floor.

Both of the demo models were put out in the last week or so, according to the sales rep.

Also, on a closing note, the new 30GB’s LCD has much better contrast and readability than the one from the 1st Batch of 3rd Gen iPods.  The unit came out of the box with nearly pure black text and the contrast setting was a bit below 50%.  I currently have it set around 30-40% on the slider and the readout is still better than my previous 20 and 30GB iPods.

Posted by cmascatello on May 23, 2003 at 5:19 PM (CDT)


yes i also saw this difference on the old ones, where in different lighting it appears different colors, and i also found out that on some of the old mac ones the backlight seems to fade on and off whille on the pc ones it goes straight on

Posted by ari on May 23, 2003 at 5:49 PM (CDT)


Kind of funny the rep said that the backlight ws blue when it clearly says it is white on the apple site.

Posted by RB on May 23, 2003 at 9:18 PM (CDT)


I have the 2nd generation 20GB iPod and a new 15GB iPod that shipped about a week after release. As varekai2 points out, the LCD on the older iPod has much better contrast and is generally crisper than the one on the new iPod. The display is more gray than green and the text appears more gray than black on the new iPod. The backlight is almost pure white on the new iPod where the 20GB one has a slight bluish tinge in identical lighting conditions. So Apple is definitely using different LCDs and LEDs here. From the comments by a couple of people here, it appears the LCD on the newest iPods is more similar to the older iPods (higher contrast, blacker blacks). If that’s the case, I’m swapping mine out.

Posted by lsherman on May 24, 2003 at 11:52 AM (CDT)


Okay, we can settle this this way: Wait till night when it’s completely dark, and then turn on the backlight. Then turnon some floresent light and see what color it is. I fseveral people do this then we’ll see what the is goin on. Personally, I think this is crazy, and I think that whichever color I get, I’ll be happy because I like both.

BTW: I think that apple should clarify this, and in the next rev add a function to pick the color. Like this: http://www.audiovox.com/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/ExecMacro/product_mainpage.d2w/input?prrfnbr=1743904

It lets u pick a color.

Posted by csyria on May 24, 2003 at 9:55 PM (CDT)


i agree that is such a cool feature

Posted by ari on May 24, 2003 at 10:01 PM (CDT)


I got a replacemenet 30GB ipod.  The LCD screen is definitely clearer and easier to read.  It’s not sandy/grainy like my old 30GB.  The blacks are a lot blacker, though the background is slightly redish/greenish rather than the sandy grayish.  The LED color is bright and blue/purple like the ocean.  The screen is a lot easier to read with the backlight on, but the backlight isn’t spread all over evenly (just like the old ipod models), unlike the old 30GB.

Posted by P on May 25, 2003 at 6:09 PM (CDT)


Oh yeah, I forgot it say it looks exactly like the ipod on the right in that picture under Apple Store and incandescent lighting.

Posted by P on May 25, 2003 at 6:10 PM (CDT)


Ok guys, I have a question for ya. How in the world are you getting Apple to replace your iPods? I have had to reset my iPod about 4 times in the past week, but Apple doesn’t want to repair it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and I want to get me a different 15GB one. How can I get Apple to do something??

Posted by Darkbandit in Charleston, SC on May 25, 2003 at 6:36 PM (CDT)

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