Home craft project: replacing broken laptop screen

A friend of mine is involved with Kids on Computers, a non-profit organization that sets up computer labs in schools in poor/remote regions of the world. This is how my old laptop computers make it down to Oaxaca. I have a simple Windows 7 Lenovo 13″ laptop whose broken screen did not seem worth replacing until I tried Windows 8. As an experiment, and with the ultimate goal of eventual donation to Avni Khatri and Kids on Computers, my friend John and I decided to see how hard it would be to replace the Lenovo’s screen.

It turns out that buying the screen is a little tough. Given the number of laptops that are dropped you’d think that Amazon.com would sell these or that they’d be at the local Best Buy, but in fact http://www.laptopscreen.com/ was the only source that we could find. A $65 investment, including shipping, resulted in the arrival of a new LCD screen in a box. The site has helpful videos showing consumers installing the screens. Using some inappropriately large household tools, John and I were able to get the new screen installed and working in about 10 minutes.

I wonder why this isn’t a more popular home craft project given that it actually takes less time than driving to a store to have someone else do it (and a quick Google search indicates that repair shops charge a lot more than $65 to do this work).

8 thoughts on “Home craft project: replacing broken laptop screen

  1. Thank you Philip! If anyone has questions about donating to or volunteering with Kids on Computers (KOC), please feel free to contact me – avni at kidsoncomputers dot org

  2. I did this too, and felt a kindred glow of satisfaction. I tried the same project on a friend’s Asus laptop and it was far more difficult. Lenovos seem to be particularly modular and easy to work on.

  3. The concept of home repair is slowly picking up steam; companies like iFixit are supporting the craft with on-line tutorials and selling parts & tools.

    Unfortunately, companies like Apple seem focused on thwarting even simple repairs. Consider the iPad or the new “thin” iMacs. They’re glued shut; screens must be melted off with a heat gun or carved open with a knife; even the simplest repairs and upgrades are semi-destructive now.

    The sad thing is it doesn’t have to be this way; iFixit gives the iPad a repairability score of two (low). The similarly thin Nexus 7 is easily snapped open and given a score of 7.

    Apple loves to talk about being “eco-friendly”, but making products easy to fix so they stay out of landfill in the first place doesn’t seem high on their list of priorities.

  4. The shop that I work at gets screens from ebay, and for most laptops you can replace them in about 20 minutes. After around 100 screen replacements, I’ve only seen 1 that had to be sent back. The only thing you have to watch out for is that there are two different types of screens: the older/cheaper screens have a small fluorescent bulb in them, and come with an extra 2-prong plug on the bottom, while the newer ones are LED, and only have a slot for the ribbon cable.

  5. Daniel: What does your shop typically charge (parts and labor) for a screen replacement? Where are you located? (or at least what country)

  6. Thanks for that link. I had no idea there was a single supplier with such a good selection and I did not know that prices had dropped to this level. I saw screens there that are 17″ 1920×1080 screens for less than a hundred bucks. Incredible.

  7. Typically screen cost + $55 labor. The other shops in the area are comparable, or slightly higher(up to $75 labor). Still, I rarely see a total under $100. I’m in West Virginia.

  8. I’ve done that project several times, mostly with Macbooks, and I think yours may have been unusually easy. It’s generally taken me far longer than 10 minutes. There are often a gazillion little screws of different sizes that are hard to keep track of, but that depends on the machine. It’s also sometimes hard to know whether the screen needs replaced or whether there’s something else wrong, and investing $60-$100 on a screen that may or may not solve the problem may not be appealing when the average used laptop isn’t worth much more than that.

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