laptop screen blacking out

B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Sep 5, 2001
Kodak, Tn. USA
I use my laptop every day. I turn it on first thing in the morning, and it stays on all day - I turn it off just before going to bed. I use it for all of my studies and writing, and most e-mailing. (And a little grumbling, too...)

Saturday night I turned it off as usual. Sunday morning, I was going to finish up my lessons, and when I turned it on, the screen immediately went black. Scared the hound out of me. All I could think of was all the writings I hadn't backed up yet.

When I'd move it, it'd come back on, then off again - over and over. Finally it stayed on and I set to burning cds.

And then, to beat it all, I couldn't get the cd burner to work - but that was probably due to panic, as it worked fine after church.

Then, it stayed on all day with no problem. I turned it off last night as usual. This morning - same thing! However, I noticed that if I just barely move the lid/screen it comes back on.

Off, then move it, and on again - over and over. But, it is still working (I can type pretty well in the dark!) And, I noticed, if you look at it in just a certain way, you can still see the pictue - just like there's a dark film over it.

And now, after it has been on about 15 minutes, it is staying on (so far...)

Any ideas? Loose wires or lug nuts maybe?
Sounds lak ya got a little bit a' hound in that thar laptop darlin'!! :eek:

Possibly the power saving settings have gone alittle hinky? Sounds almost like it is going to sleep like the battery is low or is in a power saving mode. Try looking at those settings or do a system restore to a date when it was working fine.
I did have the screen crap out on a laptop a while back, but it just went out and stayed out. No warning.

I ended up plugging in an external monitor and used it that way for at least a year before I moved on. (The portablity suffered a bit.)
How old is that laptop, Betty? Sounds like you've got a loose connection between the graphics module and the screen or the cabling has become frayed and is shorting out. If you have a monitor handy, try driving the monitor with the video output from the back of the laptop. That will tell you a bit about the nature of the problem. The long and the short of it may be (if your laptop is couple of years old) that you need to invest in new hardware.
My guess is that the power connector ribbon, which goes through the hinge of the cover, is shot. There is a flat flexible ribbon cable that brings electricity to the backlight, which lets you see the screen. These can wear after opening and closing the laptop many times.

It could also be an expired backlight, but if moving the screen hinge causes it to flicker on and off - i think it's probably the ribbon cable. The piece is probably worth about a dollar, but the labor to have a tech replace it would likely outweigh the value of the laptop. :(

Ron's suggestion is a good one, should it decide to stop working entirely. The built in video port on the laptop will bypass the internal screen and will work fine, with a regular monitor.

I wish I had a better/less expensive diagnosis. You may want to take it in for a second opinion, too

oops. We replied at the same time, with the same advice.

Well there ya go, a Doctah's second (first?) opinion!
I don't normally care for extended warranties and I think that some retailers make more money on the warranties than they do on the merchandise.

But I wonder if an extended warranty on a laptop might be a good idea. They are exceedingly expensive to repair and everything is integrated. If the modem dies, for example, you can't easily remove the cover and pop in a new one. (At least I can't.)
Laptops and big screen flat screen tv's are the only 2 things I buy extended warrantees for, personally.

Its the only way to be sure that the units wont fail until after the extended warrantee expires. (because the week after it expires, you can be sure it will) ha

Originally posted by Mike Labbe @ GTP:
Its the only way to be sure that the units wont fail until after the extended warrantee expires. (because the week after it expires, you can be sure it will) ha
Some credit cards will double the warranty on any product purchased with it, adding up to one year. I'm not sure if it would add on to an extended warranty though, since usually those are through a third party, not the manufacturer itself.
That's one reason I hate laptops. If something goes bad, if it's not impossible to fix outright, it'd be very expensive.

If it is really the screen that went bad here, a CRT or another LCD will get around this.

If it is the video card, it will cost a couple of hundred and a decent amount of work to replace.
The Toshiba Tecra I traded last year had a similar screen problem -- the only problem I've ever had with a laptop. It would intermittently fail and was growing worse, which was a PITA when working on something important. But if I rebooted, it would be OK for a short time. That problem turned out to be a transformer that drives the display, which would have cost about $75 to fix. But I reeeeally wanted to trade it for an IBM model T41.

I wouldn't live without my laptop computers, but none of them have an extended warranty. The IBM is my favorite, the Dell Inspiron 8000 is a workhorse at home, and the HP Pavilion runs the Lieberman Gallery program at the shop.

IMHO, the useful life of a computer is about five years, and growing longer as technology stabilizes. So, if a computer lasts longer than that, I'm happy to trash it or trade it for a new one.

I've heard wonderful things about Dell, the company and its products, and I've been pleased with my Dell laptop. So, today I bought a Dell model 2400MP data projector, to take on the road for PowerPoint slide presentations. These are notoriously fragile devices, and I've always been concerned about the $400 bulb failing unexpectedly. In this case the 3-year-extended, no-matter-what-happens warranty turned out to be an excellent value, so I bought it.
OKay blank screen problem I have one also!~ But not a laptop.
I have to confess up front. I have a samsung syncmaster 512n that I use for my Wizard. It sits right in front of the the cutting board on the same table the cutting board is in a vertical position. I was cutting a 40x60 mat and as I pulled the mat from the cutter I drug it over the monitor and it fell 30" to the carpeted floor.

Screen went blank!~ I picked it up and hit a key no response just black screen. i then turned the monitor off then back on!` Short lived hooray!` It came back on but in about3 seconds it went black again!` I turned it off then on again repeatedly it does the same thing 3sec. then black.
I turned off computer and again comes on for about 3 sec. then black. it is 3 years old is it worth a trip to the techies?
Did the cord get tugged when it fell?

Does it look like its going into hibernaiton/power saver mode? (often the power light will go from green to yellow)

If so, its possible that the pin that signals this from the pc to the monitor is damaged.

Just a long shot guess.

I wouldn't spend much money or effort fixing it beause new ones are so cheap and use far less power/space/heat. LCD is the way to go.

Just a quick note on my problem - it has something to do with the "lid" opening and closing. I found that when I turn it off, if I leave it open, it doesn't happen when I turn it back on.

Oh well - it's a nuisance, but much better than buying a new one...
Betty, I would bet a frosty beverage of your choice that it is a wiring problem. A wire is probably broken and its ends separate intermittently. There is at least one ribbon cable between the computer and the screen/top, and that is the place to look first, IMHO.
Unfortunately, that proprietary wire is inside the hinge and is not a user replaceable item. It requires taking about 30 screws out.

Shoot, I can just leave it open unless I need to take it somewhere.

Hopefully there won't be any "hospital needs" anytime soon! I do, however have an out of town show this weekend - we'll see how it does then.

Thanks to all.