Is it easy to change a laptop screen? You bet!
So the time has come for you to attempt a replacement of your laptop lcd screen inside your machine, but you're not entirely sure of yourself. You've heard plenty of blog posters trumpeting their views on how easy this was for them, you've probably seen a whole plethora of replacement screen specialists out there offering ever cheaper replacement panels; but can you really do it yourself?
To answer this question you'll first need to understand a few things about the whole replacement process. The important stuff inside your laptop unit is mostly crammed under the keyboard, ever miniaturized and downsized and squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces in the base part of the machine. The top part, or the lid assembly as it's referred to, does contain some other items such as the webcam and the antennae for the wireless function of the machine, however most of the inside of the lid is empty space once the laptop screen is removed. There's nothing complicated going on inside the lid.
I remember many years ago when I first decided to attempt a replacement of a screen on a DELL Inspiron laptop, thinking that as i took out the last screw around the front bezel, and removed the plastic surround that a thousand springs would launch themselves into the air space around me and i'd never piece back together the delicate insides of my laptop lid. Well that was a fantasy, and in fact once i'd changed one screen the whole process was really just very logical and simple and proved to be the same on literally every other laptop I was ever then confronted with.
Essentially, unlike an old fashioned television, which has many components in the back end of it, some often dangerous, a laptop screen is all contained in one plastic and glass unit. The screen lifts out of the lid assembly as one whole piece and has a power and signal cable that comes from the base of the laptop, through the laptop hinges and into the lid to simply plug into the back of the laptop screen.
Although you may have heard terms LCD and LED and TruBrite, X-Brite / X-Black, Briteview and PixelBrite, the screens are all essentially manufactured in the same way. There are no delicate parts to deal with, and no handling of technical equipment like soldering irons or other electronic devices. Believe it or not, for the entire job you'll only need a simple screwdriver!
Replacing your laptop screen
The first thing to understand is the lid assembly. In 99% of cases you won't need to do anything complicated here, there are usually screws around the bezel (the plastic frame around the LCD screen glass) that can be simply removed. Often there are rubber washers stuck over the screw holes to make it look nice and clean, these are removable by just using a sharp knife, sliding the blade under them and lifting them away. Once you've removed the screws you're left with a screen that has a plastic frame around it that can simply be removed. That's great I hear you say, but it won't come away! The bezel is like a Kinder Egg toy or one of those cheap Chinese Christmas cracker toys that "snap" together. If you put your fingernails on the LCD screen glass and under the plastic bezel and gently lift you'll feel a popping sensation as the bezel comes away from the back lid. If you work your way around the inside of the bezel lifting gently, you'll find that you can, in no time at all pull the bezel away from the back lid all the way around. Now the whole bezel just comes away in your hand and you're left with a Frankenstein type laptop lid in which you should be able to see the entire workings of the screen and some other wires such as the WiFi antennae and webcam system. Put the bezel in a safe place, it's delicate!
Do not be concerned about the webcam assembly, WiFi cabling and antennae or other things inside the lid as these are all separate from the actual LCD screen itself and usually mounted to the back lid. When you remove the laptop screen you will find that these parts stay stuck to the back lid part of the laptop, and therefore do not need any special care or attention.
The screen itself is usually screwed into a frame which is attached to the hinges of the laptop lid and then the frame is screwed into the back lid. The first thing you'll need to do here, is simply unscrew the screen frame from the back lid. It should be pretty obvious when inspecting the frame where it's screwed into the back lid of the laptop screen assembly, usually in the four corners. The most important thing to remember here is not to worry, there's nothing delicate inside here that you will easily break, no springs to launch themselves into oblivion never to be seen again, like my nightmares prior to actually performing this simple task. You'll use the same screwdriver that you've been using the whole time, it's just a simple Philips head small gauge screwdriver, we've included some links below to purchase these in advance, however most households already have the tools required. Dig out that old DIY draw you haven't visited for a decade :) By now you should be unscrewing the last of the screws that hold the screen frame and screen into the back lid of the laptop, as the last is removed the back lid should fall backwards and you'll be enlightened. The screen should be sitting upright in it's normal position with one or two cables from the base of the laptop plugged into the back of it. The rest of the lid and webcam and other associated wires will be lying flat on the table behind the laptop. Cool.
Remove the cables plugged into the back of the screen by simply pulling them out of their sockets, often you'll find there is just one cable that pulls off the back of the screen. Don't force anything if you feel it's stuck but you can use reasonable tension to simply pull it off or downwards. A little inspection is what's needed. Don't worry too much here, as if you do use too much force you're more likely to damage the connector on the screen than the cable itself, and your screen is already being replaced anyway. If you do by chance damage the cable, it's not the end of the world. Replacement cables can be found easily for most major brands of laptops online, we've included that information below as well for you. The other end of the cable just fits underneath the keyboard, which is easily removed by unscrewing the screws int he base of the laptop that are directly under the keyboard.
Next unscrew the laptop LCD screen from the frame, there are usually 6 screws holding it into the frame, 3 on each side. We're going to use the same screwdriver that we used for all the other screws. How cool is that, they've made it easy for us! Once these 6 screws are removed, the LCD screen will simply fall into your hands like a piece of glass or a mirror. All associated electronic components are fixed permanently to the back of the screen and sealed in a protective plastic, so the whole thing is like handling a mirror. Usually about 1/2 cm thick, you'll simply take it to your local electronic components disposal depot (usually part of your local council). It's best not to put this in your standard rubbish bin as there are sometimes items inside the screen that need to be disposed of properly, like you're energy saving light-bulbs. Now you can pour yourself a large drink and give yourself a pat on the back, you're a screen replacement expert. Don't pour the large drink whilst standing near the dis assembled laptop! All you need now is the parts and tools.
What do I need to complete the job?
You'll probably already have all the tools you need for this job in your home buried deep inside that old DIY draw, however if you don't, or you feel like splashing out on some shiny new tools for this special job, then you'll need a Philips head screwdriver and a sharp knife. A full range of screwdrivers can be found here http://www.maplin.co.uk/home-and-diy/hand-tools/screwdrivers Something like this is what you are looking for, for most purposes the laptop screws will be small gauge Philips head style and you'll just need this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Draper-40803-General-Purpose-Cross-Point-Screwdriver/dp/B000PJCERS/ref=dp_cp_ob_diy_title_1 Some kind of sharp knife to remove the plastic washers over the screw holes is also required, something like this will be fine http://www.tools4trade.com/d-10358001-silverline-456928-scalpel-25-blades-25-blades.aspx I don't need to tell you how sharp that is and to handle it with care, do I?
Instruction Video Tutorial
Okay, we've given you all the help you need in this article but actions speak louder than words. It's always best to see something practical demonstrated visually that it is to try and read about it and visualize it. There are many videos on YouTube you can watch, just put [make of your laptop] and screen replacement into the YouTube search. We've picked one of the best generic screen replacement videos for you to watch. This video covers the basic principle for almost every type of laptop and is narrated excellently in a way that is easy to understand. The authors give some great tips during the 6 minute presentation as well.
A replacement screen
With so many offerings online of screen replacement parts, it's hard to decide where to go. Choose a company that is professional and offers a lot of technical information to help you choose the correct screen. Some companies offer photographs of the products you can inspect before purchasing. Don't go for the cheapest, and don't go for sellers that have high prices, the screens are all essentially the same, what you're looking for is someone reliable, that will send the right product with a fast despatch and good customer service and support if you need technical advise pre and post purchase.
Let's start with the popular brands first, the most popular selling being the Acer's. You can find, in order of popularity:
1. Acer Aspire Screens, screens for replacement purposes in the Aspire range and Aspire One range. Acers big entry into the tiny market.
2. Acer Extensa Screens, lesser of a seller the specialized Extensa range replacement LCDs can be found at the link in this sentence. The Extensa range has always been popular with users who want a solid work laptop with extended features.
3. Acer Travelmate Screens, for those that travel, guess that was kind of obvious from the name huh? Replacement travel mate screens. Unfortunately, if you travel with equipment, it's going to get broken at some point, but nevertheless these panels are easy to find if you know where to look.
4. Love them or hate them, they are considered the cream of the crop and you can find Apple screens at the link in this text. Some of Apple's screens are licensed for sale only through their Apple Stores and Authorized dealers, but you can still find many of the Macbook Pro, Powerbook, iMac and even the Air panels for sale at hugely reduced prices.
5. The next most popular models are the Dell machines and in order of popularity you can find replacement LCDs for Dell Inspiron Screens, the high powered and super charged Dell XPS screens and Dell Studio Screens, the ever popular budget range of Dell Vostro Screens and of course the reliable trusted businessman's favourite Dell Latitude Screens.
6. ASUS of course have been becoming more and more popular in recent years with their EEEPC range and the new Transformer units that look like Macbook airs with removal screens that turn into tablet devices. Cool. You can find Asus Screens easily as well.
7. Although we've already covered Acer, who have acquired e-Machines recently, there were many years when popular machines were simply sold under the e-Machine brand. You can get your hands on eMachines Screens easily.
8. Fujitsu (and later Fujitsu Siemens, through merger) have always been popular in two ends of the market, in the budget end they've released stunning technology at unbelievable prices with the Amilo range, and they've also made pioneering innovation with their range of Lifebook machines that have always been a step ahead of the rest. Take a moment to browse the range of available replacement Fujitsu Screens.
9. Serious business, IBM later bought out by Lenovo have been making rock solid machines for many years. I remember myself the first Thinkpad machines, were extremely tough. You paid for the premium build but to businesses it was worth it and this quality hasn't changed with Lenovo's takeover of the laptop production unit. The new Ideapad machines are as good as the old Thinkpads. Still, no matter how tough they make 'em, we all know how to break 'em, but luckily you can easily find IBM Lenovo Screens when you need them. Interestingly IBM developed the first laptop computer with a built in track pad, if you're interested you can get sidetracked into the history of the laptop computer.
10. If you've ever been to any Currys, PC World or Dixons store you'll have seen the vast array of Packard Bell machines such as the Easynote series. They are the Dixon's group's own brand of laptops and they're made in China, like most laptops. PC World will most likely want a premium for the screen and fitting and you can save yourself a packet by getting the replacement Packard Bell Screens yourself.
11. Medion. How could we not mention Medion? Like Packard Bell, Medion are a rebrander of chinese models and they're essentially the same thing as the Packard Bells. Aimed at the budget market the Medion Akoya range has been hugely successful as an excellent low cost budget laptop. As with Packard Bell Medion Screens are easy to find as well.
12. Finally, the cream of the Windows crop so to speak. Sony. Sony have a long history of pioneering and there's some debate online as to whether the Macbook Air was actually a rip off of a Sony machine that was released many years before, but unpopular due to it's rather harsh 3000£ price tag. Anyway, we digress, Sony make nice machines, nobody can argue with that, since their older Sony PCG range, through the VGN series and into the Sony VPC range now, their machines have always been on a par with the Apple machines. Kind of a Windows version of an Apple computer. The good news is, you can find Sony Screens for almost all of their current and previous range still on sale.
How do I dispose of my old laptop screen?
You can throw it in the trash, but you'll be a punished later as nature reaps it's karma upon you. We're just kidding, but if you want to be kind to the environment, seek out the correct way of disposing of the old screen. Usually the same way you would dispose of your energy saving light-bulbs that contain small traces of mercury. Although there are many private businesses that offer equipment recycling services, and you'll find them on Google, the best place for a proper disposal is your local council. Try a Google Search for [your city name] + equipment disposal local council, like this http://www.google.co.uk/#hl=en&biw=1175&bih=594&sclient=psy-ab&q=equipment+disposal+local+council&oq=equipment+disposal+local+council&aq=f&aqi=q-w1&aql=&gs_sm=3&gs_upl=7785l12625l1l12752l32l20l0l1l1l2l559l5021l2-18.104.22.168l16l0&gs_l=hp.3..33i21.7785l12625l1l12753l32l20l0l1l1l2l559l5021l2-9j2j2j2l16l0&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=866bdf31d601e3a0