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Laptop Screen Failures?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Barry S., Jun 26, 2004.

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  1. Barry S.

    Barry S. Guest

    I have used/fixed my own computers for about 20 years. I'm
    contemplating buying an inexpensive laptop and I'm torn as to whether
    to buy an extended warranty or not as the warranty would represent a
    substantial amount over the purchase price. And I'd always rather fix
    the unit myself as I know it would be done correctly and expedited.

    It appears that the most expensive failure I could experience would be
    an LCD screen failure. ($500 part). The second worse case scenario
    is a $350 motherboard failure.. On an $800 laptop computer, it would
    be difficult to justify repairing the LCD or even a two yr old
    motherboard..

    How often does a complete LCD screen failure (more than a couple of
    dead pixels) occur if the unit is not dropped?

    Any other pitfalls I should be aware of?

    __________________
    Note: To reply, replace the word 'spam' embedded in return address with 'mail'.
    N38.6 W121.4
     
  2. Jerry G.

    Jerry G. Guest

    At one of the contracts where I work, I am looking after a section where
    there are a lot of portable machines. I can tell you a lot of stories. The
    company is now buying very long term service contracts for their portable
    machines. They learned the expensive way.

    I have seen the screens fail fairly often. This is probably because the
    machine is moved often, and people are not aware of how often they bang or
    knock the machine. Most of the failures are the connector contacts to the
    screen substrate contact assy under it. This is not a repairable condition.
    The screen must be changed to fix it.

    There are problems with the flexible ribbon cable that goes between the
    screen driver section of the mother board, and the screen panel. In most
    models this cable is changeable, and in some others it is not. If not, the
    screen must be changed.

    There are mother board failures from time to time, but this is actually more
    rare than the screen problems. The hard disks tend to be damaged more often
    as well. I suggest having a very good backup system for your portable. Since
    you will most likely be networking it to a desktop, you can make a full
    system image to a partition on the hard disk in your desktop. This is very
    strongly suggested, unless you have a lot of time to rebuild your laptop
    system, and can afford to loose data. You can also make an image to a CDR
    disk, but this is slow, and you will use many disks.

    The hard disk can sometimes fail from the machine being banged or roughly
    moved while it is working. I found these machines to get dropped fairly
    often. I sometimes see cracks or marks on the backs and sides of the case,
    where the machine has landed on a hard surface. I have not been able to
    determine if it is the screen or the hard disk that is the most sensitive
    for damage when the laptop is dropped or roughly handled. I have also seen
    internal damage to the LCD display from the machine being dropped.

    As for parts and service, if you buy a name brand machine there will be no
    problem for the service, even if the machine is a number of years old. The
    problem is that if you want to service it yourself, they will not sell you
    the parts. They will always tell you to send it in.

    I would suggest to have a very good warranty policy. I have seen a lot of
    sorry people when they said it was not worth it, and after the first year
    the repairs were very expensive. Always buy a machine where you will have
    local service and support. These machines are very expensive for the
    performance you will get.

    --

    Jerry G. GLG Technologies GLG
    ==========================


    I have used/fixed my own computers for about 20 years. I'm
    contemplating buying an inexpensive laptop and I'm torn as to whether
    to buy an extended warranty or not as the warranty would represent a
    substantial amount over the purchase price. And I'd always rather fix
    the unit myself as I know it would be done correctly and expedited.

    It appears that the most expensive failure I could experience would be
    an LCD screen failure. ($500 part). The second worse case scenario
    is a $350 motherboard failure.. On an $800 laptop computer, it would
    be difficult to justify repairing the LCD or even a two yr old
    motherboard..

    How often does a complete LCD screen failure (more than a couple of
    dead pixels) occur if the unit is not dropped?

    Any other pitfalls I should be aware of?

    __________________
    Note: To reply, replace the word 'spam' embedded in return address with
    'mail'.
    N38.6 W121.4
     
  3. Hi!
    Laptops do not really lend themselves to being fixed by the end user. That's
    the official answer that you'll probably hear a lot of.

    I tend to believe that if you can find the parts and you are very careful
    with the laptop, then you can repair it. With patience and care it can be
    done and I have done so with great success.

    In general extended warranties don't always make sense. This is a decision
    you will have to make for yourself. I had one where the seller of the
    warranty would not stand behind it while another repaired a laptop that took
    some $1,000.00 in parts to fix. Unless you have a good reason to expect
    trouble (open box/used machine or subjection to a harsh environment) I'd
    pass on the warranty extension.
    Yes, indeed it would. However, these are two parts that for the most part
    are not made to be repaired. Sometimes you can fix an LCD by working on the
    backlighting or the inverter that runs it. But that's about it for repairs
    to the display. Motherboards aren't a lot better with most parts being
    extremely customized and highly integrated. Generally these items are
    replaced on a board level.

    There are other things you can usually repair. Clock batteries, fans, and on
    occasion the drives inside may be repairable if they break. Periodic
    adjustments (of things like hinges that work their way loose) may also be
    something you can do yourself.

    Batteries are also quite expensive. Take care of the one you get.
    Such an occurence is very unusual. I am typing this on a 1995-model Compaq
    LTE 5000. The display has dimmed a small bit over time but it still works
    great and I know it has not been treated kindly at all times. In all my
    years of using notebook computers only one display has ever given up the
    ghost due to a faulty backlighting inverter.

    I have upgraded the processor several times on this computer using CPU
    modules from parts machines. Today it runs at 150MHz compared to the 75 it
    came with.

    The only severe problem I've had is fan failure. I don't think laptop fans
    were designed for a high duty cycle.
    Yes. Remember that laptops focus on power saving more than they do raw
    performance. So if you use an application that really cranks on the CPU it
    may not perform as well. Using the AC adapter can help with this. Also some
    machines do not have sufficient amounts of power to charge the battery, run
    a fully loaded CPU and keep other parts of the machine going. The battery
    will usually not be charged until there is sufficient power available once
    again.

    Also, do your best not to drop it. This will eventually kill the hard disk
    and quite possibly the display as well. Make backups!

    It may also pay to insure the machine for the cost of purchase and maybe
    even data recovery...because no matter how careful you are, something bad
    may happen someday.

    William
     
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