Maximum PC Staff Jun 13, 2007


At A Glance


More cost effective than buying parts from OEMs.


Directions show you how to take it apart but not how to put it back together.

If you shattered your laptop’s screen, would you repair it or buy a new computer? That’s the terrible dilemma most of us face in this disposable PC world when a screen takes a bad blow to the head.

But ScreenTek is hoping that rather than junk the notebook, you take a swing at repairing it—yourself. Offering replacement screens for thousands of notebook models, the company is relying on reasonable prices to sway people to fix those computers instead of sending them to the landfill.

We replaced the screen on an old Compaq Presario V2000 that ScreenTek supplied. This old single-core Centrino featured a glossy 14-inch 1280x768 panel, which was destroyed after taking a blow to its upper-right-hand corner.

Initially, we were skeptical about the usefulness of purchasing and installing a replacement screen, considering the price of a budget notebook, but in certain circumstances, buying the part from ScreenTek is worthwhile—and certainly friendlier to the planet.

Following the instructions provided by ScreenTek, replacing the screen took just a few minutes. We popped the rubber feet off the bezel, removed four screws, and pried the bezel off with our fingers. The company said it developed this screen-removal method on its own; most service manuals recommend replacing the entire lid by removing it at the hinge.

That’s far more expensive and far more time consuming, as it requires removing more parts.

Once we had the bezel off, we were able to unscrew the panel from the metal frame, unplug the ribbon and inverter cable, and yank off the broken panel. ScreenTek recommends checking the back of the panel for the part number at this point and then contacting the company for the correct replacement screen.

We thought we installed the new panel correctly on our first try, but the ribbon cable popped loose. We cracked the screen open, put the cable back in, and had the machine booted and the new screen working perfectly.

So is it possible to replace the panel yourself? Most definitely. ScreenTek will do the work for you for free—provided you pay for shipping—but replacing it yourself is quite easy. While consumers have been able to buy used parts on eBay for some time, ScreenTek says it stocks only new parts that are the same as those sold to OEMs and will work with customers to make sure they buy the correct components.

But does it make fiscal sense? That depends. The company says it’s really a solution only for high-end notebooks. And we would agree with that assertion.

The Presario V2000 we repaired sells on eBay for $550, and the replacement screen costs about $300. With its power and capability, it’s debatable whether it’s worth it to keep the Presario or spend an extra few hundred bucks and buy a new notebook with an updated OS. Certainly if you’re concerned about creating landfill, buying a replacement screen is a good choice, but a $600 notebook today is faster than a $1,000 notebook from three years ago.

Purchasing a replacement screen makes more sense when you start talking about a $2,500 notebook with a 17-inch screen. In that case, a high-res 1920x1200 panel from ScreenTek sets you back about $500. You sure as hell aren’t going to get an equivalent notebook for $500.

ScreenTek’s prices are a great deal when compared to the OEM’s. Apple charges about $1,000 to replace the 13.3-inch screen on an Apple MacBook. If you do it yourself using a panel from ScreenTek, the cost drops to a palatable $375.


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