How can I fix my laptop screen?

Romano from New Jersey

Episode 1238

When Romano turns on his laptop, he can't see anything. The screen is black. Leo says that if Romano can still barely see an image, that means that the backlight has burned out. Older laptops used a florescent backlight and they can die over time. The down side is that by the time it burns out, the laptop is usually so old that it's not worth spending the money to fix. But Romano's laptop is only three years old. If it's not the backlight, it could be the inverter. One place to look for fixing stuff is

How can I turn on a laptop that has a broken power button?

Episode 1234

Bob from Florida
MacBook Pro

The power button on Bob's MacBook Pro has broken and he has to "arc" a pair of contacts to start it back up. Leo says that is a problem because he'll end up shorting it out. It would be better to just leave it on all the time and let it go to sleep. But with a laptop that's as old as Bob's maybe it's time to pull out that hard drive and get a new computer.

How can I improve the Wi-Fi signal on my laptop?

Episode 1234

VJ from Tuscon, AZ
Dell XPS Laptop

VJ's Dell XPS laptop has a design flaw which prevents it from getting a good Wi-Fi signal in most areas. What is his best bet for improving his signal reception? Leo says that since the case of that XPS laptop is metal, it turns his own laptop into a mini Farraday cage. The easiest way to get around this would be to get a USB Wi-Fi dongle that plugs into the USB port. The advantage is that he will get far better signal reception than any internal antenna. And they're only about $20.

Is my laptop worth fixing?

Episode 1233

Sandra from Los Angeles, CA
Apple MacBook Pro

Sandra has a MacBook Pro and some liquid spilled on it. Is it beyond repair? Leo says the first thing to do is remove power. But even then, once that liquid gets in there, the keyboard is ruined and the liquid has likely seeped into it and shorted it out. The computer itself is likely dead. But that doesn't mean she's lost her data. If she has to replace the computer, she can pull out the hard drive and get the data off it.

Is my laptop dead?

Mike from Riverside, CA

Episode 1231

Mike has an HP Pavilion G Series laptop and the screen has gone black. Is the screen dead? Leo says that it could be. In laptops, it's often a frayed ribbon connector that has obstructed the video signal. Mike should try hooking it up to an external monitor to see if he can see it. If he can, then he'll know the computer is OK but the screen has either died or the ribbon cable has broken. But if he can't see anything with the external monitor, then it's probably the video card that has died or the motherboard has failed.

Should I buy the Microsoft Surface book?

Episode 1228

Cherise from Lancaster, CA
Microsoft Surface Book

Cherise is about to buy her first laptop and wants to know if she should buy the new Microsoft Surface Book laptop. Leo says while it looks great, it's still too early to tell, and it may not be the best option for Cherise since she's a Mac user. But Cherise says she's an Android user as well. Leo says that Android phones aren't really that great on either OS because they're designed to be wireless. Leo says that Android should wirelessly sync with either.