Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

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Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:28 pm

Hello:

I'm helping a friend with an old Toshiba Satellite 305. When she came to me she had a bogus version of Windows XP on it in a foreign language. This was not her fault; it was installed by a relative overseas in a ... er, "causal" transaction, which is a typical way of doing business where she's from, if you get my drift.

That version of Windows, apparently a foreign version of XP or whatever the hell it was, was woefully incomplete. Not only could I not read anything without a co-pilot to translate for me, Networking stuff and other major parts of Control Panel were non functional or non existant. We couldn't even find the "run" box so I could type in commands!

So we retreived what few data files were on it and used the LEGAL Toshiba Windows Vista 32 bit recovery disks to take it back to factory state. In English. :lol:

Next, Windows Update had 130+ updates, which went on fine.

I'm about halfway through uninstalling bloatware and bogus 30-day trial nagware. I uninstalled Norton 360 and replaced it with Microsoft Security Essentials. I uninstalled other stuff that was bound to confuse her in 30 days with demands for money.

Internet Explorer 7 seems to be working fine for now so I am saving the update to IE9 for a little bit later.

But then a problem has begun:

The screen occasionally goes blank but you can see it's still energized. The laptop then does not respond to Ctl-Alt-Del nor will it respond to Alt-Tab. There is no blue-screen display. When it's in this state, the mouse and keyboard don't seem to work at all and there appears to be no hard drive activity. The only thing that brings it back to life is a hard stop via holding the power button. Reboot is fine.

The next time I see her, I'm going to investigate video drivers and then any other Toshiba hardware drivers that she might need. I'm thinking maybe one of those Windows Update patches is causing a problem with an old Toshiba driver.

I'll let you know if additional patches or uninstallation of bloatware helps, but in the meantime maybe somebody here has had a similar experience with a laptop (or any other Windows machine) where the screen goes black but stays energized.

Thanks in advance!

Additional Info and Reasoning:

1. English is not her first language. But she wants to stick with English based Windows.

2. Linux is not my first language. :roll: If it were, I'd set her up with that because she has no special needs; just internet, Skype, and office-type software. Ideal for Linux!

3. The laptop has some cosmetic marks on it but is in good shape otherwise. It has 2 GB RAM, the screen is immaculate, the keyboard and trackpad are clean and work flawlessly, and the hard drive is ginormous for a laptop (160 GB I think). There's no trouble with the wifi, and other than a little warm heat coming out the side, it seems that the laptop is fine. I'll blast it with some canned air the next time I see her, just in case there are some dust kitties in there.

4. The laptop does have a built-in webcam. I wonder if maybe an incompatibility here with drivers and such might be a potential problem area. It's on my list to update or disable the drivers to see if the problem stops.

5. She has decided that this Toshiba only needs to be reliable for a couple years until she can find work and make some money. I just bought her an extended battery and I'll get her an inexpensive case to protect the laptop and carry around a mouse (she doesn't like the trackpad) and the AC power supply. Beyond those things, the laptop is too old to sink more money into. I'd consider buying her an inexpensive Windows 7 license without all the bloatware, but given the age of the laptop and her needs, I think Vista will be good enough. Once I finish cleaning out the nagware, that is.
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:42 am

Try this:

Plug in an external monitor. Set windows to duplicate the display on both the laptop display and the monitor. Wait for the screen to blank. See if BOTH displays blank or just the laptop display. If the laptop display is the only casualty, look closely at it. Do you see a faint representation of what the monitor's displaying? If so, either the inverter(supplies power to the backlight) or the backlight itself has died. An inverter should run you under $40 on the internet. A replacement lcd would (and I'm guessing!) run around $200. Do NOT go directly to Toshiba for these parts! You WILL double the costs at a minimum.

Now for the worst case. If BOTH displays blank and the unit locks, it's probably a systemboard. An inverter/lcd replacement is something that most of us can do. A systemboard is a bit tougher, though if you want to try it, Toshiba is perhaps the easiest of the major vendors to break yourself in on.
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:21 am

Wow, thanks for that. I shall remember that one.

It did seem as though the blanking screen started happening after I applied updates. But who knows for sure.

I haven't been able to get back to it (plus she lives on the other side of town and she works too), so I'm going to ask her if she'll let me take the laptop for a week so that I can work on it at home in my home office. That way I'll have easier access to things like external monitors, tools, etcetera.

Will keep this thread running with additional info.
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:47 am

Occasional flickering may well be a driver issue rather than a HW issue. I would investigate upgrading video drivers first then look at her HW to see if it is an LCD or Mobo issue. XP, unlike Vista and 7, give drivers a lot more control of the whole system and one bad driver can crash the whole thing.
Laptop: HP Pavilion 17-e016dx. AMD A8-5550M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 8550G integrated video, 17.3" display, 1600*900 (HD+) resolution, SD card reader, Windows 8.1 (DL Classic Shell)
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:56 am

Two clarifications:

1. The system has been recovered to Windows Vista 32 bit. So it's Vista right now.
2. The screen doesn't flicker. When the problem happens, the screen goes black but remains energized; you can see it's quite obvious that the screen is "displaying black" and that it's not a matter of the screen being powered off.

So for the time being I will proceed on the basis that it's probably not a screen inverter or other hardware issue and that it's a misbehavior of Windows Vista or an incompatible driver.

I think also before I decide for sure it's really a hardware problem, I'll probably run a live Linux on it for a few hours and do some internet browsing and maybe general goofing off. If it happens, then it's not related to Vista. If it doesn't happen under Linux, then it's definitely OS or driver based.
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:16 pm

Update:

I have possession of the laptop and and have spent the last several evenings working with it. No problems, no screen locks, or anything. I am using my own admin account on it and have been applying updates and purging bloatware. I knew there would be a lot, but....I am still surprised at how labor intensive this work is.

In the future, I will consider the money-value of my time. A loose accounting to this point tells me that a new Windows 7 Home license would have been worth it simply on the basis that I would have avoided the hours needed to apply updates and purge the junk. Yeah, that much!

I also found a problem that's going to cost me some money. Power supply plug (on the computer side) is wiggly and the pin inside the computer is loose. It's definitely not something that can be expected to be okay long term even if used with extreme care. Eventually this part will fail outright. I don't want it to possibly present a fire hazard, so I will have to have it repaired. I'm going to try a local place first; see what they charge.

I'm up to a couple hundred now, with case, battery, power repair, shipping of replacement recovery disks, and so forth. And that's not counting my aforementioned time.

At this point I could have just spent a hundred or two more and gotten her a brand new netbook. I knew this would happen! :lol:

Oh well, I shall forge on. Maybe after all this work I can ask her to gift the computer back to me whenever she is done with it and decides to get a new one. Might work nicely as a Linux home security server or something in a few years... ;)
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:47 pm

I have an msi laptop that has the same exact symptoms. I hooked it up to a 2nd monitor and both screens go completely black. Unfortunately this laptop has a dreaded nvidia gpu that was affected by the solder bump issue and the giant class action lawsuit to go along with it. Well this laptop gpu didn't fail until a month ago or so, long after the class action lawsuit had passed. Not only that but the class action only covered Dell, Apple and one other brand.... Not msi. So I basically had to tell the customer that it won't be worth it to fix for a new laptop motherboard. And I wouldn't want to put the same mobo with nvidia gpu in there anyway. First time I couldn't actually fix someone's pc...sad day.

So check what gpu is in that toshiba...
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:40 pm

Hi there.

Graphics reports as "Mobile Intel 965 chipset".

It's also the corner that Toshiba seems to have cut when manufacturing these because it's the one item that really makes this laptop less-than-the-best. Holds the so-called "Windows Experience" score to 3.2 while EVERYTHING ELSE scores in the mid 4's to low 5's.

That was interesting to learn. I have changed the visual effects settings in Windows Vista and it seems to be a little bit snappier now. When I return it to my friend, we'll log on with her account and I'll make the same modifications to her visual settings too.

But for now no blank screens here at my house, so that's promising; and a relief because I wasn't looking forward to spending a week or two trying to figure out screwy Windows screen issues. :roll: Lucky me, the whole thing seems to be working fine, even the dodgy AC socket (for now).
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:39 am

BIF wrote:Update:


I also found a problem that's going to cost me some money. Power supply plug (on the computer side) is wiggly and the pin inside the computer is loose. It's definitely not something that can be expected to be okay long term even if used with extreme care. Eventually this part will fail outright. I don't want it to possibly present a fire hazard, so I will have to have it repaired. I'm going to try a local place first; see what they charge.


That is a common problem with Toshibas. Repairing it involves one or both of two parts. The plug that you speak of is a little cube of plastic with grooves designed to slide over mounting rails molded into the plastic of the bottom cover. If the plug chips, that would cause your issue. If the guide rails have broken, that would also cause it. Brand new parts from Toshiba would cost you approx. $130-150 for parts IF both parts are needed. Fixing with epoxy is also an option. I'm Toshiba certified for laptop warranty work. I'd be happy to help, PM me if you want.
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:05 pm

Thank you. Looks to me like the whole plug moves around inside the laptop. Got a place locally; will give them a shot at checking it out.

Plus, I discovered two other problems.

One of the screen hinges is cracked. Screen still works but the cracked plastic actually protrudes from the back of the laptop. Also the left trackpad button is sticky and seems permanently smashed down.

Going to have these techs tell me what they can do and how much it will cost. I still see the AC problem as the worst problem, but that cracked hinge tells me that this laptop must have been dropped at one time, and probably took a hard hit. I'm amazed at how brutal some people are with their equipment and belongings. This is no fault of my friend who currently owns it; it all came from the prior owners, I think.

I am also amazed at how well the laptop works in spite of these damaged components. Wow.

I think I'm going to make my friend a deal. No charge as long as she does not discard the laptop when she's done with it. Let me have it so that I can repurpose it as a web server or database server.

It's got a fricken' dual core CPU! Not going to let that go to waste. :roll: :)
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Re: Toshiba Satellite Laptop Screen Goes Black

Postposted on Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:27 am

BIF wrote:Thank you. Looks to me like the whole plug moves around inside the laptop. Got a place locally; will give them a shot at checking it out.

Plus, I discovered two other problems.

One of the screen hinges is cracked. Screen still works but the cracked plastic actually protrudes from the back of the laptop. Also the left trackpad button is sticky and seems permanently smashed down.

I think I'm going to make my friend a deal. No charge as long as she does not discard the laptop when she's done with it. Let me have it so that I can repurpose it as a web server or database server.

It's got a fricken' dual core CPU! Not going to let that go to waste. :roll: :)



I hear that. =-) My favorite trick with laptops like that is to take the lcd completely off, reroute the wifi antennas inside the case, and attach an external monitor. Got two of those creations around right now.
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