SHCC WYSIWYG Article from November 2002

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This article appeared in the November 2002 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Laptop Computer Display Screen

by Jerry Carson

Q: Dear Ask The Expert,

The display on my laptop is broken.  Why does it cost so much to replace it? What else can I do?

In the Dark


A: Dear In The Dark,

Each model of laptop uses an LCD panel designed just for that model.  This is so the laptop can maximize the area of the screen while minimizing the electrical, thermal, and weight requirements.  Unfortunately, this also means that very few extras are manufactured and available as replacement parts.  The typical cost of a replacement display is $300 to $500 and that doesn't include the labor of replacing the display.  Unlike desktop machines, laptops are not designed to be easily opened.  The labor required to replace a display correctly doesn't come cheap.  Once you add in labor, shipping, handling, taxes, etc, it can easily run $600, $700, or more.

So, how can you save a little money?

First, look into the manufacturer's warranty.  Many manufacturers will replace a broken display if the machine is still under warranty regardless of how the display was broken.  This also applies to extended warranties offered by Best Buy, etc.

Next, check your insurance policy.  Often home-owner's policies will cover this type of loss (of course you'll still have to pay your deductible).

Next, You can attempt to replace the display yourself.  Usually, the seller of the display can provide you with instructions for replacing it.  Make sure you get a new display and not a refurbished one.  Also, make sure it is the correct display for your model notebook.  All 14" displays are NOT created equal.  Lay out everything so you have plenty of room to work.  I recommend using a white sheet and working on the floor.  The sheet will allow even small parts to show up easily, and if you're working on the floor, parts won't roll off the table and try to hide under the couch (or down the vent).  Finally, It's a good idea to record each step as you take the notebook apart.  You will want to put it back together again.  A digital camera comes in real handy for this.  Make sure you take LOTS of pictures.  If you don't have a digital camera, take LOTS of notes.

As a last resort, the notebook can be attached to an external monitor and used like a desktop machine.  I know this isn't what you purchased it for, but it's better than using it as a doorstop.

I hope this helps,

The Expert

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