Sony Laptop Screen Repair - Illustrated how to replace a VAIO laptop backlight and inverter

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Copyright 2010 by Morris Rosenthal

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The printable eBook version of The Laptop Repair Workbook is now available for download anywhere in the world.
finding laptop screen screw Before you start working on any notebook or laptop, remove the battery. It's for the safety the computer, last thing you want is for it to power on when you're working on it. There are four basic things that can go wrong with laptop video, the video controller, the screen, the backlight or the inverter. We're going to look at replacing the last three in this Sony VAIO notebook. You can always test the laptop video controller by attaching an external monitor.
Make a serious effort to troubleshoot your video problem before you rush into replacing expensive parts. This VAIO laptop uses nine screws to attach the plastic bezel, a record for the laptops I've recently worked on. There are three screws on each side, covered by square stickers, as shown above, and one on the front of each hinge, as shown to the right. My general experience with Sony is that they make an extremely high quality laptop, but it can be challenge figuring out how to take them apart. hinge screw on laptop lcd
opeing laptop lcd The ninth screw holding the plastic bezel on the Sony VAIO laptop is in the middle of the lid on the back, on the fixed part of the hinge. I was so sure that the first eight screws would be enough that I nearly broke the plastic trying to pry it loose before I spotted the sticking point. When you're working on your own laptop, a little broken plastic is no big deal, but if you're doing a laptop repair for a customer, even a gouge in the plastic can be cause for aggravation.
With all nine screws removed, the bezel pops of the Sony screen, exposing the Sharp LCD which is jammed in there without a quarter inch to spare. Failure of the LCD itself is fairly rare, unless you can see a crack in the glass, or a whole row or column of pixels out. Single pixel failures don't bother most people unless there are thousands of them (out of the roughly million addressable) or unless they are clumped together. sony screen bezel removed
sharp LCD screen removal The Sharp manufactured LCD was held in place by some of the same screws that kept the plastic bezel on the VAIO lid. So, once the bezel is off, all you need to do is pick up on the edge of the LCD, and it comes right out of the Sony laptop. The only connection between the LCD and the body of the Sony is the video ribbon cable, which is taped and mated. Once the tape is removed, it pulls out with almost no force at all (below).
laptop LCD cable connector notebook video cable inside screen
unplugging laptop inverter for replacement The inverter is probably the most common failure on most laptop models, and I have to give Sony credit for their engineering of this one. The inverter has the standard two connections, power in and high frequency, high(er) voltage output for the CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp). The power comes from the body of the VAIO through the hinge, and the inverter output goes directly to the backlight mounted at the top of the LCD screen.
The inverter itself is held to the back of the lid (behind the mounted screen position) by a sticky surface, probably two sided tape, given Sony's love for taping things in this model. The whole inverter unit can't weigh much more than an ounce and is easy to replace at this point. The main symptom of inverter failure is that the screen works, but is extremely dim. Unfortunately, this is the same symptom as backlight failure, since the sole job of the inverter is to power the backlight.. removing laptop inverter
VAIO laptop backlight Replacing the backlight itself is a bit of a pain on the VAIO because of all the metallic tape Sony uses. After the fact, I was left wondering whether I could have replaced the inverter without removing the huge tape piece that holds the top metallic foil against the back of the LCD. It's just possible the repair could have been done by slipping the backlight under the tape, along the top edge of the LCD.
The backlight is secured at one end by a single screw to the LCD frame. This doesn't mean you'll always be able to get it out by removing the one screw, on this laptop I took out a few extra because I could hardly tell where one bracket ended and the next began. So, instead of trying to slide the backlight out on the huge piece of tape and the top foil bracket, I was able to lift it right off the top of the LCD. Overall, I'd give the Sony laptop the highest marks for ease of repair, but pays to go very slowly the first time you replace a VIO backlight. backlight removal
CCFL laptop backlight with connector
The printable eBook version of The Laptop Repair Workbook is now available for download anywhere in the world.