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Laptop Fault

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  • Laptop Fault

    I have been given another old Dell Laptop by members of the local Freecycle Group which I intend to lend to club members who need it to type articles for the club magazine. This one is a Dell Inspiron PP12L but for some reason the previous owner has removed and no longer has the battery.

    I thought all laptops must have a battery to operate, even if the battery no longer holds any charge. But for awhile this laptop did work perfectly then all of a sudden the display not longer displays apart from a vary faint image. I doubt it is the fault of Windows XP installed as I can hear it being activated on start up, yet it does not even show any CMOS info on start up.

    Any suggestions or is it due for the dustbin?

  • #2
    Re: Laptop Fault

    plug a monitor into the VGA port on the side of the laptop. (most dells have these)
    if you get a display on the monitor, then the video card is fine and it's the display panel. if you don

    display panels "can' be replaced. it's just a question of whether it's worth doing or not.
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    • #3
      Re: Laptop Fault

      Thanks it does display on a monitor but only a blue DELL backdrop. Also in case the CMOS has changed I am baffled how to access it. The usual DEL key has no effect.

      I understand the manual on the Inspiron 6000 I dwonloaded is similar but no mention is made on how to see the CMOS.


      • #4
        Re: Laptop Fault

        the battery is not totally necessary for most laptops these days. used to with XP and 98, if you left the battery out when you did the install then windows would treat it like a desktop and the profiles got all goofy... but if you put in the battery, then all the sudden it would now have the profile and configs consistent with a laptop.

        on the monitor, the backlight has gone out on the display it sounds like. i have worked on these dell models before and they are easy (i suppose thats a relative term depending on your experience level) and not too expensive to repair yourself... there is probably a youtube video for it already if i had to guess.

        i saw a replacement on ebay (from a reputable vendor) for ~$60 (after taxes/shipping) that would solve your problem.

        and to test what tehcamel was saying, you may have to use the functions keys and the "display button" to enable the VGA port. sometimes it wont pop on automatically. also, it may help if the monitor is plugged in prior to the laptop being powered up. this will cause the display to initialize when the signal pops thru the line on POST.

        if you use a flashlight (think tiny LED type) at and angle, you can see if the monitor is working and that pretty much says its just the backlight... but like tehcamel said, make sure you can get the display up on a different monitor before you buy the replacement...

        and if it does, you always have the option of using a monitor and plugging in a keyboard and mouse and using it like that, never seeing the laptop. attach a hub and you have a kiosk style laptop. ive done that cause it keeps people from stealing things. i had one i did like that, set to never shut down, ran the cables thru holes in the desk and locked the drawer the laptop was in. i ran a hub to the desktop for people to use memory sticks and the printer was wireless.

        for what its worth... your mileage may vary.
        Last edited by James Haynes; 27th August 2014, 16:22.
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        • #5
          Re: Laptop Fault

          Originally posted by GordonSweet
          Also in case the CMOS has changed I am baffled how to access it. The usual DEL key has no effect.
          Try one of the following, F1, F2 or ESC key Gordon. I think on the Inspiron my daughter had 8 years ago it was F2.
          Last edited by biggles77; 28th August 2014, 02:29.
          Joined: 23rd December 2003
          Departed: 23rd December 2015


          • #6
            Re: Laptop Fault

            Thanks again guys by pressing FN and F8 the full Windows Desktop now displays at least on the Monitor. But I cannot catch presumably the CMOS as claimed in the manual below by pressing F12 :-

            Dell Diagnostics
            CAUTION: Before you begin any of the procedures in this section, follow the safety instructions in the
            Product Information Guide.
            When to Use the Dell Diagnostics
            If you experience a problem with your computer, perform the checks in this chapter, and run the
            Dell Diagnostics before you contact Dell for technical assistance.
            NOTICE: The Dell Diagnostics works only on Dell™ computers.
            Start the Dell Diagnostics from your hard drive. The Dell Diagnostics is located on a hidden diagnostic
            utility partition on your hard drive.
            NOTE: If your computer cannot display a screen image, see "FCC Notices (U.S. Only)" on page 101.
            1 Shut down the computer.
            2 Connect the computer to an electrical outlet.
            3 Turn on the computer. When the DELL™ logo appears, press <F12> immediately.
            If you wait too long and the operating system logo appears, continue to wait until you see the
            Microsoft® Windows® desktop. Then shut down your computer (see "Turning Off Your
            Computer" on page 75) and try again.
            4 When the boot device list appears, highlight Diagnostics and press <Enter>.
            The computer runs the Pre-boot System Assessment, a series of initial tests of your system board,
            keyboard, hard drive, and display.
            • During the assessment, answer any questions that appear.
            • If a failure is detected, the computer stops and beeps. To stop the assessment and restart the
            computer, press <n>; to continue to the next test, press <y>; to retest the component that
            failed, press <r>.
            • If failures are detected during the Pre-boot System Assessment, write down the error code(s)
            and contact Dell before continuing on to the Dell Diagnostics. See "FCC Notices (U.S.
            Only)" on page 101.
            If the Pre-boot System Assessment completes successfully, you receive the message Booting
            Dell Diagnostic Utility Partition. Press any key to continue.
            5 Press any key to start the Dell Diagnostics from the diagnostics utility partition on your hard drive.


            • #7
              Re: Laptop Fault

              Depends on the model, but many Dell laptops have onboard diags in the BIOS, that's the PSA (Pre System Boot Assessment) referred to in your post.

              To access these, hold down the Fn key as you power the laptop on I.e. press and hold Fn as you press the power button. You should see Diagnostic Boot Selected on the Dell splash screen if they are available.
              BSc, MCSA: Server 2008, MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS
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              • #8
                Re: Laptop Fault

                Thanks very much indeed. All Ok now but though I was able to do a number of Dell Video tests which worked OK on the external monitor, it does not show why the Laptop screen is still blank. However since all else seems to work OK such as Win XP the laptop may be useful for club meetings held where there is a nice biq TV we can use with a VGA cable.

                One final point if I may pester anyone, is that the 7 & key is missing and pressing the bits remaining does not print the 7 or &. Does anyone know why, such as the printed circuit below maybe damaged.

                I can get probably get over the problem at times with icons for a 7 and the & to run simple programs to Paste the 7 or & where needed.


                • #9
                  Re: Laptop Fault

                  It depends on the keyboard, but you are probably right, the PCB is damaged.

                  Simplest solution, since you are already going to use an external monitor, is a cheap USB keyboard with all the keys intact
                  Tom Jones
                  MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
                  PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
                  IT Trainer / Consultant
                  Ossian Ltd

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