Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating the trauma of a broken LCD, but if you own a Fire HD 8.9″ or similar tablet, it’s at least a near-death experience for the device. When my editor’s Fire HD LCD quit on her, I thought, “Great! Here’s my opportunity to replace it and come up with some great new content for my tech website.” So I ordered up a replacement LCD through eBay and started looking for existing repair info on the 8.9″ Fire screen. I was surprised not to find any detailed HD 8.9″ LCD replacement procedures on YouTube, but that just meant that mine would be even more popular.
Separating the top from the bottom of the Fire HD is mainly a question of prying and popping, something I would end up doing at least four times on this particular unit, and the bulk of the old LCD came out, though it separated from the outer polarizer in the process. Here’s where we hit a snag. The outermost layer of the LCD was fused to the digitizer, and the application of heat didn’t do much to loosen it up. Just for grins, I put in the new LCD, snapped the unit back together, and it worked, except the screen looked like it was under about a foot of not-very-clean water. Obviously, leaving the extra filter in place wasn’t going to cut it. So I got out the heat gun and began scraping.
That worked out well, didn’t it? You might ask why I bothered to keep scraping away after it began to crack and peel, but I was hoping to save the digitizer.
That worked out well, didn’t it? The glass isn’t entirely starred up, however. Much of the white you’re seeing is the glue or film that was sandwiched between the two pieces of glass, much like the plastic film in windshields that keeps them from shattering in accidents. So I was left with a choice. I could reassemble the Fire with a new LCD and a new digitizer, but without the glue, or buy the whole top half either new (from China) or used. On a large screen area, I was afraid that if I put together a new LCD and digitizer without the special glue or film in between, it would end up getting condensation inside, rendering the screen blotchy. I didn’t want to wait another month for a new LCD/digitzer/bezel unit to ship from China (around $75 with free shipping) so I paid eighty-something for a supposed Grade-A pull from a failed Fire.
Snapped it all together (that’s my neighbor’s fingers making the cable connection, I have too much of a tremor to do fine work these days) and wallah! No power or volume buttons! That’s right, the highly rated eBay vendor (Gagetfix) who sold me the screen, shipped the top half of the Fire without the buttons or the audio jack assembly, even though they were plainly shown in the picture of the product. I should have known not to trust anybody under 99%, he was 98 point something on tens of thousands of sales. I hadn’t thrown out the old plastic bezel yet, so I scavenged those parts and transferred them over. The three small screws are no problem for anybody with a 00 Philips (electronic or jewelers) but the metal retainer was also glued down, and took very careful prying to release without destroying it.
On the plus side, I have to admit that other than the LCD dying in the first place, that Fire HD was remarkably resilient to stand up to my breaking it apart at least four times, storing it somewhat haphazardly for weeks at a time between repair efforts, and accidentally turning it on halfway through the repair process more than once. This last bit is particularly difficult to avoid, and if you don’t get the screen going, there’s no way to actually turn it off again, you can only put it to sleep. On a scale from replacing and iPod battery to replacing the carburetor on my 1986 Omni (I just got a bargain on a factory rebuilt Holley, though that rebuilt took place in 1991), I’d put the Fire repair in the middle of the spectrum.
Fortunately, I should be able to pay for it with Select royalties for January, which came in at $1.38 per borrow for January.