Fixing portable computers when the screen isn’t working

This topic is Linux-related (and 32-bit related) because many of the broken computers we meet at our association’s walk-in repair service are candidates for Linux. It’s also a matter of consumer protection. The owners can’t usually afford to buy another computer. Since a new screen is not worth the money given the risk of it not fixing the problem, I advise people to connect the TV set or an inexpensive monitor. The three cases presently on my bench may be typical:

  1. No hope: HP g7-2332sf. Dropped on that corner, broken wires in screen cable. The computer starts but can not be induced to display on external VGA and HDMI monitors. Nothing I found on the HP site or elsewhere on the web offers any hope. The family photos were rescued by connecting the HD to a Linux machine with a usb adapter.

  2. Runs existing OS: Lenovo Z50-70. Damage may be due to the same reason. After fixing the weird charger socket and the power switch, and plugging in a VGA monitor, it ran Windows OK. But there is no way of running the BIOS on the external screen (via Lenovo’s system or through Windows). So I can’t install Linux, change any settings or reinstall Windows from a usb device.

  3. Worked first time: Samsung Notebook NP350E7C. Glass screen broken. This W8(point 0) machine starts on external monitors and boots into the BIOS in the normal way. What is left of the internal display is still working. The owner opted to install W10, which I did by booting into a Windows Creator usb key (M$ isn’t all bad!).

The Samsung case may indicate to a naive person that the other two are merely the result of thoughtless design. All models have critical parts too close to the hinges. I think the situation should be referred to consumer protection and sustainable development authorities; I’d be grateful if someone could tell me who best to contact.

Finally, I note from discussions that not everyone really needs a portable (or a second portable), which tends to be carried around the house when open… Perhaps there should be drive to promote all-in-1 and tower machines when appropriate.

1 Like