Old laptop, new trick: Laptop screen darkens--except for the cursor.
February 20, 2008 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Posted for a friend: Her laptop (Dell Inspiron 1500, I think) is having a lighting issue. After a couple minutes of being on, the entire screen will darken perceptibly, except for the mouse cursor. Everything is still easily legible, however. This is a new quirk for her laptop, and it's driving her bonkers. What is it?

Again: everything is still legible.

Also, as proof that it isn't just her imagination: in OneNote, there's a feature that is the bastard child of Word's highlighting feature and your average drawing capability in any other program. The cursor, in this mode, is (according to her) just a line that is supposed to be the same colour as the highlight. On her laptop, after the rest of the screen darkens, the cursor is many shades brighter than the actual highlighting colour.

If you know what's going on, please don't presume any computer knowledge on her part. Really list out the solution step-by-step, because I don't have direct access to the laptop and can't guide her through exploration (which is also why I can't fiddle around and try to find out the answer myself).

I have a feeling it's some kind of power-saving feature, but no proof as-of-yet. Any help?
posted by flibbertigibbet to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
It sounds like it might be some kind of power-saving mode. It's certainly pretty weird behavior.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2008

I had similar fun with my Dell Inspiron 9400 (still do, in fact) when I unplug. When plugged in, the screen is nice and bright - unplugged, it's always darker. Could that be it? (Could it really be that simple?) Not sure if that helps...
posted by twiki at 6:44 PM on February 20, 2008

I'm not a Dell owner, but I'll try help with some general instructions for altering the power savings mode.

If there is a battery icon on the lower right-hand corner, double click on it and you should be able to access the power options. You can personalize those settings by adjusting them to not dim the screen and so on. Tell your friend to be careful though if she often runs her laptop without AC power because altering those settings can cause the battery to drain more quickly.

If she cannot find the battery icon, she should go to her start button in the lower left-hand corner and open the "control panel." The "power options" (or something like that) icon should be located there as well.

Hope this helps.
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:44 PM on February 20, 2008

I have a Dell laptop (Inspiron 6000), and I used to have the same problem when it was on battery power. I finally RTFM and found out that, if I pressed the Fn key at the bottom left of the keyboard while pressing the Arrow Up key at the bottom right, it made the screen brighter. Might be worth a try.
posted by carrienation at 8:22 PM on February 20, 2008

One thing you could try doing is upgrading the bios, then going into the bios setup and hitting alt-f. That should set the hardware to all default settings and would narrow down the search for the issue.

Upgrading the video drivers couldn't hurt either.
posted by starscream at 9:28 PM on February 20, 2008

Response by poster: Unfortunately, none of these have worked.

I'm not sending her into BIOS if I can't help it.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:03 PM on February 21, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, and thanks for trying, everyone!
posted by flibbertigibbet at 11:01 AM on February 23, 2008

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