Laptop screen gone dark - is it dying?

  br1anstorm 20:47 31 Oct 2008

I have an old Compaq 1690 laptop, running Windows 98 - not in regular use but still has some important stuff stored on it.

The screen has occasionally flickered and gone dim in the past. I found that shutting the lid, then reopening it, usually brought back the fully-bright screen again.

Now however the screen has again gone very dim, and I can't seem to get it back to visible brightness. I'm pretty sure it's not a graphics card/driver problem, mainly because, with the daylight at a certain angle, I can just about make out the shadowy outline of what is showing on the screen. But I can't see the pointer or anything else sufficiently to 'navigate' or even to shut down.

I assume the problem is hardware - either the screen itself is failing, or the cable/connections via the hinge are dodgy, or somehow the screen dimmer/shutoff which I presume would normally kick in only when the lid is shut is dimming the screen to near-black.

I may have to dump this laptop. But before I do I want at least to transfer what is on it on to another machine. To do that - or anything - I need to see what is, or should be, on the screen. I don't have a separate monitor; I only have ny other laptop (a newer Dell running Win XP). Can I connect this to the old one and use it somehow as an external monitor, or use it to 'manage' the old laptop and access directly the folders on its hard drive? If so, what connections should I make with what cable, and what do I need to do on the new good laptop to set things up (bearing in mind that at the moment I can't see to do anything on the old one's screen).

  Technotiger 20:55 31 Oct 2008

You could remove the hard drive and put it in a USB Caddy, you would then be able to access it on your other computer.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 21:25 31 Oct 2008

1. check the little button operated when lid is closed is not stuck down.

2. possibly the backlight or invert has failed in the screen, an easy enough repair.

  woodchip 22:28 31 Oct 2008

It sounds like faulty connection to screen, But it could be the Backlight Inverter. Thats on its way out.

Can you connect the Laptop with VGA cable to External Monitor?

  br1anstorm 00:49 01 Nov 2008

Thanks for replies so far.

Technotiger - Cadddy is an idea I hadn't thought of. I haven't got one. And I'd need guidance on how to remove the hard drive from my laptop. Doesn't look likely to be an easy task.

Fruit Bat - there's no little button (like Dell). i think there's a switch or contact inside one of the slots where the lid hooks down. How can I tell if/whether the backlight or inverter are faulty - and if so how the ... do I fix them? It's a pretty old model of laptop - would spares be available?

Woodchip - same question. And I don't have an external monitor. Part of my original post was - can I use my other laptop as a monitor, and if so, how? Do I need to mess around with settings on my good laptop in order to use its screen as a monitor for the other - faulty - laptop?

  mooly 08:32 01 Nov 2008

The invertor is favourite. It provides the required voltage for the cold cathode display tube ( backlight ). It's usually a small PCB in the lid itself. Look on ebay for picture of what they are like.

  mooly 08:33 01 Nov 2008

Like these,
click here

  Technotiger 08:52 01 Nov 2008

click here

then click on Presario 1600 and 1800 for full instructions to remove hard drive.

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