Replacing and Upgrading a Notebook LCD Screen (pics)

by Reads (294,645)

A broken screen on your laptop means that a perfectly good machine might be rendered unusable.  But rather than buying an entirely new laptop, it is possible to replace the broken screen and indeed vendors exist that dedicate themselves entirely to the service of providing laptop screen replacements.  One such company is ScreenTek, who aside from just offering replacements for broken screens, also offer upgrading your matte screen to the popular glossy enhanced screen finish — even for notebooks that don’t offer this as a configuration direct from the manufacturer.

Replacing a Broken LCD

The average cost of a laptop is somewhere around $1,100 these days.  Some are much more than that and some are less of course.  So if you drop your laptop and break the screen, an unfortunate accident that I’m sure you know of someone it’s happened to, the assumption is often that it’s time to buy a new laptop.  But this doesn’t have to be the case.  LCD displays are one of the more delicate components of a laptop computer and in the past most expensive, but prices have been dropping and now the average replacement cost for an LCD is in the $300 to $450 range — that’s a whole lot cheaper than $1,100 it costs to buy a completely new laptop.

But where can you buy these replacement LCD panels and get them installed?  One such place that we tried out is ScreenTek LtdScreenTek is based in Houston, TX and carry a large inventory of LCD panel replacements for every major notebook manufacturer out there.  If you don’t see a particular manufacturer listed on their website then you can call, email or use their online chat feature to ask a representative if they can help you find a screen replacement for a particular laptop.

Once you’ve found your screen replacement on the ScreenTek site you have the option of either:

  1. Shipping your laptop to ScreenTek and paying them to install the new LCD replacement.
  2. Asking ScreenTek to ship you the LCD replacement panel and then referring you to a repair shop physically close to you that can do the replacement work.
  3. Asking ScreenTek to ship you the LCD replacement panel and provide instructions on how to do the replacement yourself.

You’ll have to contact ScreenTek and get a quote on the total cost for each option.  Some instructions for removing an LCD panel are actually on the ScreenTek website so you can get a feel for how complicated the process might be and if you feel you might be able to do the replacement yourself or ask the pros to do it.  In my communication with ScreenTek they emphasized that doing the work of replacing an LCD yourself is not terribly hard and you can certainly save yourself money and time by taking this route.

Another thing worth mentioning about taking the route of replacing a broken LCD versus just throwing out a laptop, laptops are terrible for the environment in terms of disposal so if you’re a bit “green” minded you might like the fact you’ll save on pollution if you fix rather than throw away your machine.

Upgrading Your Regular Matte Screen to Glossy

In the past couple of years we’ve seen the rise of the popular glossy type notebook screen.  Each manufacturer has its own name for these types of screens, Sony is XBrite, HP is BrightView, Fujitsu is CrystalView / SuperFine, Toshiba is TruBrite … and so on.  Sometimes you’ll find that a manufacturer does not offer the glossy screen upgrade for your particular notebook and sometimes you’ll configure your notebook with a regular screen (matte) and then later on wish you had ordered glossy.  Good news, if you really want a glossy screen but find two of the mentioned cases are true for you, you’re not stuck, ScreenTek offers an upgrade service for any laptop from matte screen to glossy. 

To test ScreenTek’s overall service we asked them to upgrade our Dell Inspiron B130 matte screen notebook to a glossy screen (ScreenTek calls a glossy screen PixelBright). 

Shown here is the Dell B130 with its standard matte anti-glare screen — the only option via Dell is WXGA matte, no TrueLife glossy option

On the Dell website for the B130 there is no option to upgrade the screen to a glossy finish, or what Dell calls “TrueLife”.  This is a shame as many people actually go for this option when configuring a laptop.  The glossy screen is especially popular for consumer notebooks due to the better contrast, brighter and bolder colors and generally better viewing angles such screens provide.  The downside of a glossy screen is that the reflection of objects and lights in a room can be distracting for some — especially in a room where you have direct bright light from behind.  However, in a situation with even lighting or a dark room the glossy screen really stands out as being superior to a typical matte screen (anti-glare).

We sent our matte screen Dell B130 to ScreenTek, they returned it promptly within a week in the same box we shipped the notebook in, and returned it with a plastic screen protector on the newly installed glossy screen, a foam keyboard protection piece and the old screen they replaced bubble-wrapped (view larger image)

As you can see, after the screen upgrade the Dell Inspiron B130 has the reflective quality we associate to a glossy screen (view larger image)

The Dell B130 Playing the movie Shrek II after glossy screen treatment from ScreenTek (view larger image)

There are three different pricing scenarios ScreenTek provides for purchasing a high-gloss notebook screen.  Following are those options:

  1. You have a laptop which does not have a high-gloss screen.  Your screen works fine so you are not purchasing a replacement screen, but only sending in the laptop so that the screen can be upgraded via application of a polar filter that provides the glossy effect. This option is $100.

  2. You have a laptop which does not have a high-gloss screen and the screen is broken. If you go to the ScreenTek website and find a replacement screen, it would be the price of this identical screen + $50 for the upgrade.

  3. You have a laptop which does have a high-gloss screen and the screen is broken. If you go to the website and find the replacement screen, it would just be the price of this identical screen because the identical screen your replacing already has a high-gloss finish and as such is already factored into the price of this replacement part.

For further information on the glossy upgrade screen service from ScreenTek you can visit their website here: http://www.screentekinc.com/pixelbright-lcds.shtml.  You should contact ScreenTek for any further questions you have regarding pricing and service options.

In our experience with using ScreenTek to upgrade the B130 screen we found their communication and professionalism fantastic.  The representative I worked with was very good at communicating, it turned out the replacement screen I needed was not in stock immediately because the B130 is so new, but the turnaround was still fast — a week, and everything was communicated clearly.  The B130 was returned well packaged and the results of having a glossy screen are great.  The B130 screen is noticeably brighter and the colors more brilliant than before.  The B130 screen does not have that great a backlight or contrast, so the glossy option actually really helped to make the screen more appealing.

Pricing and Availability

Please visit ScreenTek for further information on pricing and availability of your specific needs of either a broken screen replacement or for upgrading your screen to a glossy type screen:

Main ScreenTek site: http://www.screentekinc.com

Glossy screen upgrade: http://www.screentekinc.com/pixelbright-lcds.shtml

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