Faulty screen on Lenovo S10-3 10″ laptop

My trusty and very portable S10-3 – one of the best laptops ever made in my opinion – died a couple of months ago. Well its screen went black. Or it went all-white, to be precise. And I mean black OR white; every pixel was either full-on or full off.

The rest of the machine appeared to be fine – it could be heard booting and it appeared on the network – you just couldn’t use the screen.

Today I fixed it. There was a loose connection where the LCD panel cable joins the motherboard. Unfortunately, it’s been lying in a pile waiting to go to Lenovo’s service centre in Germany all this time because I couldn’t figure out how to check for loose connections. Like most laptops, dissassembly isn’t obvious. Fortunately, like most Lenovo (nee IBM) laptops, it’s actually built with servicing in mind. So here’s the trick:

Remove the battery and undo all obvious screws on the back cover. There four captive screws on the cover plate, behind which lurk the winchester, DIMM and cellular modem (if fitted). Don’t be fooled; they don’t come out! You can remove the winchester if you wish, but watch out – it has two of its own retaining screws and two more screws that are part of the cover you’ve just removed. You could go mad looking for them if you miss this point.

There are then six black M2 screws to remove to the case, and three very small screws under where the battery fits. Remove them all, and it will look like nothing’s changed.

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Next you have to lever the keyboard off. It’s actually very easy if you lever in the right place, which is along the top edge. It ‘snaps in’ at the corners; gentle levering with a small flat screwdriver and finger nails pops it off easily.

To disconnect the ribbon cable connector, pull the black bit of the PCB socket clip forward and up. (Good luck getting the cable back in, from underneath, and closing the clip again with adult sized-hands!) You can then put the keyboard aside, and undo three further black M2 screws, which are found at either edge and the centre of the silver plate thing you’re looking at. Then you need to prise the top of the case off – the sliver bit comes with it. Again, this is much easier than it sounds if you lever with a small screwdriver and get your fingernails underneath.

The planar (motherboard if you’re younger than a certain age), is now laid before you. The LCD cable is obvious at the top left; they’ve even labelled it. Although it looks like it’s taped down, it just pulls in and out; reseating it did the trick for me.

If you need to dismantle the screen/lid assembly (or if you’re curious, like me), you can detach the power cables that come in on the right hinge and undo a couple of screws at each side to remove it completely. To open it you need to remove the screws hidden under the self-adhesive rubber pads in the corners. Then you need to flex the screen frame quite dramatically, working around the edge, until it un-snaps (if you see what I mean). Let’s just say it’s easier to replace the lid as one unit if you’re breaking for spares.

Anyway, my little friend is back and I’m happy. It’s just a shame the manufactures are pandering to the craze for fondleslabs and had dropped the 10″ form factor for truly portable “proper” computers, able to run software other than games, Facebook and surfing the web. Now that ASUS has dropped the Eee book you’re looking at something like the ThinkPad E145, which I was about to buy in spite of its extra bulk, weight and cost.

Unfortunately, the S10-3 and closely related models in the field  are currently not replaceable until fashion swings back.

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