How to fix a broken HP LCD backlight?
October 30, 2008 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Woke up this morning, opened my HP laptop, and found out that the LCD screen was showing a very faint and dim image. I suspect the backlight is broken. It's out of warranty. What should I do?

I'm in New York City, and I'd like to somehow get this done quickly and cheaply. I can probably replace the bulb myself, if necessary, although I have very little experience with soldering and that kind of thing. How can I check if this is indeed the problem? Where can I get parts (brick and mortar store)? How much is it likely to cost if I do it myself? What about if I get it serviced (at HP, presumably, although I'd like other suggestions as well)?

It's an HP DV2000T, bought in January 2007.
posted by nasreddin to Technology (9 answers total)
Don't take only my word for it, but I had this happen to a laptop a little over three years ago, and after searching and calling some people, I found it was cheaper for me in the long-run to get a desktop (especially considering I'd be getting a whole new computer); mine had at least lasted for two years, though. What several of the technicians told me was that it was difficult to get to, to repair.

Keep in mind, though, that this was a while ago, so times have probably/definitely changed since. Call some local techs, and they'll tell you. :)
posted by metalheart at 7:31 AM on October 30, 2008

Nasreddin, it sounds like it is the backlight/inverter. While it's possible for you to do it yourself, it is a bit of a delicate job. Check out the tutorials here, here and here. (these aren't for HP laptops, but the information is close to the same).

If you want to buy inverters: here.

If you want to buy bulbs: here.

You don't have to buy the parts from those locations, just find out the part number and you can search around for the best deal. These sites do give you an idea about price though.. If you're comfortable, I would do it yourself because the service costs to get it repaired will probably be much more the cost of the parts alone (and they'll charge you for both).

Does that help?
posted by namewithhe1d at 7:42 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Generally these things ending up costing a fortune. You might be able to find a "for parts" replacement laptop on ebay for cheap that has a working screen but other problems (fried motherboard etc) and then take both laptops to a local good computer repairment and have him make a frankenstein machine. You might be able to do it yourself too (but personally I'm too much of a klutz to try something like this).
posted by schwa at 7:51 AM on October 30, 2008

The exact same thing happened to my HP laptop. It is pretty expensive to fix, as others have said, so, since my wife and I used it exclusively at home anyway, I bought a decent LCD monitor, and simply use the laptop as a CPU--effectively, as a desktop. That won't work for you if you need the portability, but at least it means you don't have to junk it entirely.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:06 AM on October 30, 2008

I had the same thing happen to my powerbook g4 a few years ago. Apple quoted around $1300 for the repair, so I found the part number I needed by googling and ordered a new backlight for about $70. The repair was a real pain - there was no soldering required, but I did have to dismantle the entire laptop to get the lcd off, and then take apart the lcd to replace the backlight. The laptop is still working great ...this is definitely do-able.
posted by wearyaswater at 8:56 AM on October 30, 2008

Thank you all for the answers! Is there any chance there would be a brick and mortar store in NYC that would sell inverters? I'll give that a shot, and then buy a new computer if it doesn't work.
posted by nasreddin at 9:02 AM on October 30, 2008

As long as it's out of warranty anyway, try opening up the case. Look for the cable that connects the screen to the motherboard. On my Dell, it was a thick, silver cable, about 3-4 inches long. Try bending and unbending that cable (gently, gently!) and doublecheck both ends are seated tightly. Then put it all back together.

This worked for me when I had the same issue, and doing it every few days bought me a few months until it (backlight) went out completely. Annoying, but I couldn't afford to replace the laptop just then.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:17 AM on October 30, 2008

If you end up deciding the laptop is a loss, there is kind of an interesting project you can do with it. You can make a TV/computer projector out of LCD monitors, or laptops (laptops can sometimes be tricky but people do it). You don't need the backlight, in fact you have to remove the back of the screen and the backlight for it to work anyway (light is provided by a strong metal halide bulb behind the LCD screen)

Check out the forums and stuff at

(I'm currently making a projector using a nice 15.4" LCD panel)
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:33 AM on October 30, 2008

I had my screen replaced on my HP laptop a year ago (15" 4x3). It cost around $500 at an HP authorised service center (Denver).
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:19 PM on October 30, 2008

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