Buying a computer system/Laptop Screen Dark


My HP laptop slipped off the end of my bed onto carpet - and lost its picture.  One guy looked at it and said the ribbon cable was pinched and he could fix it.  At the time I thought it was still under warranty and said I'd return it to HP to fix.  Turns out I was wrong about the warranty.   Another guy said the problem isn't the cable but needs a new screen.  

There are no obvious signs of trauma to the screen itself.  The problem is that it won't light up at all making me think something isn't connected that ought to be.  Do you have any troubleshooting ideas or questions I could ask?  It seems I have spent so much money on this computer I am reluctant to keep putting more into it.

My typical disclaimer for things like this: without the ability to work on the machine hands-on, I can't provide a perfectly accurate diagnosis. This doesn't mean I won't try to give you more information from which to make an informed decision, but if a qualified technician who has diagnosed the machine gives a more specific piece of information, I'd be inclined to defer to their judgment as they have more hands-on information (that said, I would put emphasis on the "qualified" part of that - there's unfortunately a huge range of qualifications/abilities among "people who work on PCs for pay" out there in the world, with some bordering on incompetent, to others being consummate professionals, and unfortunately I can't help steer you towards the later due to the variability of the industry).

Anyways: if the screen itself does not appear cracked or damaged, it is not likely broken, however an edge connector or similar may be damaged (and due to the proprietary and generally not-designed-to-be-repaired nature of laptops, single connectors can in many cases necessitate replacement of entire sections of the machine (e.g. the whole LCD screen assembly, simply because the connector isn't meant to be replaced by itself)). If you have a picture on the screen but it is extremely dim/dark it is more likely the backlight is damaged, but again this may still require the entire assembly to be replaced. Any inter-connection cables between the screen and system board may also be at fault, but again may not be directly replaceable due to the proprietary nature of most laptops.

This leads to my next question, which is a bit higher level: how old is the machine, and how much are these shops requesting for repair services? Generally laptops are not designed to be repaired or fixed (this doesn't mean it is fully impossible, but it is not as practical as working on a desktop workstation), but instead designed to be replaced - this is the "cost" of mobility (and ever-lowering retail prices). If the machine is 3+ years old, unless one of these shops is offering the fix for $20-30 and guaranteeing their work (e.g. they are claiming X is the problem, will do something to fix X, and guarantee that will fix the issue, as opposed to any "yikes" phone calls where they start doing work, call you back and ask for even more work to be done, at extra expense), I would say its probably time to look for a new machine - spending $200-300 (or more) on repairs on a many years old system is not worth the money. Unfortunately many shops won't be so forthcoming with that, and will offer repairs that many times end up costing (significantly, in some cases) more than the entire machine is worth (in some cases more than it was worth brand new). This isn't at all meant to be "doom and gloom" - just a bit of a reality check; old laptops are often not worth the cost to repair, and you should strongly weigh the cost of a replacement system against the proposed cost of repairs, and strongly evaluate what the repair shop's guarantee (or lack thereof) will leave you with.

If you have further questions or need clarification, feel free to ask.


Buying a computer system

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.


I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

15+ years of experience

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