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I saw on the Apple website that the MacBook pro has a maximum operating altitude.

Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet

Does this mean that I should not use it on a plane? Or is this just a slick way for Apple to say, "It's not our fault if you use it on a plane and it breaks."

EDIT: Thanks for everyone's responses. Although I understand now, it seems silly to for technical specs to specify an altitude if they are really specifying a pressure. Like, I understand water-resistant watches use depth, but it is clear that "water = bad" and consumers need an easily observable measure, whereas this line on the Apple website is completely misleading, and really, you have to be on a mountain, which isn't exactly a common scenario.

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Well Airplane cabins are pressurized, so its not really 30k feet inside an airplane.

Pressurization is essential over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) to protect crew and passengers from the risk of hypoxia and a number of other physiological problems in the thin air above that altitude and increases passenger comfort generally.

I would say the reason would be due to the hard drive specs. My Samsung says operate under 3000 meters, which is just under 10k feet, most apple products have this limit as well.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=416653

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was still writing my answer when Josip, added his :( –  fady Apr 29 '10 at 20:10
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The limit on operating altitude is two fold. The biggest is the needed pressure to assure the hard drive head has enough air to provide the cushion above the platter. There is less pressure and less cushion above 10,000 feet.

The second is cooling. The CPU radiates heat and less air means the cooling is less effective. I think that a Macbook Pro with SSD is probably has a higher altitude rating than a MBP with a standard HD, but don't count on Apple to tell you that.

As others have said, airplanes are pressurized to a cabin pressure altitude well below cruising altitude. Passengers require O2 above 12,500 feet and the cabin is usually well below the pressure of 10,000 feet.

The military uses SSD in military applications in unpressurized environments up to 60,000 plus. As stated, standard MBP would probably have cooling issues above at a certain altitude above 10,000.

Here is a site with some background on military hard disk use.

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Altitude in this "operating" sense is related to pressure. Pressure on plane is kept quite similar to normal ground conditions so there will not be any problems with your MacBook. :)

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