It's not all it's cracked up to be

Friday, 22 October 2021, 10:30 am. Cold, rainy, wet. From inside Joyce–Collingwood station I spotted the R4, just as it was closing its back doors. My first mistake was hope: The front door was not yet closed. My second mistake was hubris: I will make it to the bus if I run. And so I ran, but my normally-grippy sneakers slipped on the sidewalk slick with rainwater, and I ended up landing hard on my ass right in front of the bus driver.

It was a miracle I ended up mostly physically unscathed. I instinctively shot out my arms underneath me and I could have broken a wrist or two. I could’ve landed on my tailbone wrong and broken that too. But it seemed the only damage was a light bruise on my sacrum (had to look up the word for that) and to my ego. Not even a scratch on my palms! Then I sat down, took out my laptop, opened it, and discovered the large crack from the bottom left corner, reaching longingly to conquer the entirety of the screen.

The left half of my laptop screen with a diagonal crack from the lower left corner,
              where the area of the screen above the crack is entirely black,
              while the rest of my desktop is visible,
              including the tail of a BLÅHAJ on a clothes drying rack.

Yes, my desktop background is BLÅHAJ soft toy shark, 100 cm.

Step 0: Wallow in despair

This step is really important. If you don’t wallow in the despair now, when you’re powerless on the bus, the despair will overtake you when you actually want to take action. Allow it to pass over and through you.1 Now we are ready to fix the screen.

Step 1: Ask a friend

I remembered a friend in my research lab had also replaced their ThinkPad screen, who got their replacement from Laptop Screen. Searching for my model, I found the appropriate replacement; unfortunately I couldn’t upgrade from FHD to QHD, because the former uses a 30-pin connected while the latter 40-pin, but I could upgrade to an IPS screen with “professional colour”, if that even makes a noticeable difference.

Compatibility: Lenovo THINKPAD T480S SERIES
            Part Type: LCD Screen
            Size: 14.0″ WideScreen
            Resolution: FHD (1920x1080)
            Surface Type: Matte
            Video Connector: 30 pin video connector
            Mountings: Top and Bottom Brackets
            Optical Technology: IPS
            Condition: New Grade A+
            Warranty: Lifetime
            Note: Make sure new screen has same size, resolution, connector type as your old one!
            You can upgrade your screen: Upgrade Options
            $126.99 (striked out)

They had the full 126.99$ price when I ordered it 😡

Upgrade Options: +$6.35  Matte IPS, 1080p, Wide viewing angles and professional color range
            Extended description of upgrade features (it does not mean that the upgrade(s) option(s) shown above include all of these features):
            IPS (In-plane switching) - Better viewing angles because of a different way of constructing the pixels. Colors will no longer shift if you look at your display from the side or from above.
            IPS Professional Color - A wider range of physical colors reproducible by the LCD. A must-have for professional photography, print and publishing, available to you at a fraction of the cost.
            120Hz - A maximum refresh rate of the display (most commonly 60Hz) dictates how many pictures your display can show per second. With a 120 Hertz upgrade, your new display can deliver double the frames each second for smoother motion and a much more immersive visual experience.
            120Hz IPS - All of the advantages of a 120Hertz upgrade combined with wide viewing angles and improved color range.

What do you think an unprofessional colour range is like?

Even though I could’ve transited to their warehouse in under an hour and a half, there wasn’t a pickup option, so I had to pay 9.86$ for shipping and 2.53$ for insurance. Then with GST and PST, the total came to 163.22$. High price for a slipping accident.

Step 3: This is the boring part

I ordered it on Friday and they managed to get it shipped the same day, but since Canada Post doesn’t deliver on weekends, I had to wait out the weekend. I spent this time setting up my brother’s monitor temporarily and making the crack worse because I couldn’t resist.

Step 4: It’s here!

Now it’s time for the fun part: replacing the screen. Before I started, I watched through this tutorial, which was pretty close to how my model (the ThinkPad T480s) works. I first peeled off the soft plastic bezel that was attached on with long, black adhesive strips. I didn’t have a spudger, so I did accidentally scratch one part of the outside of the bezel with my flathead. Some of the adhesive strips were left stuck to the screen, so I had to peel them off and stick them back on the bezel.

The back side of the rectangular plastic bezel.

This bezel came out as straight as I did.

Next part is easy: Remove the four screws holding the screen in place and unplug the 30-pin connector. There’s this thin metal latch that folds down to secure the plug; it has to be flipped up first. I didn’t notice it at first, because I wasn’t expecting it from what I saw in the tutorial, and I was nearly about to rip the cable in half.

A 30-pin connector plugged in, with a thin metal latch lifted up.

If you zoom in and count you can see there really are 30 pins.

Now I can plug in the new screen, flip the latch down, turn on my computer briefly to test the screen, screw the new screen in firmly, peel off the protective plastic, and finally put the bezel back. This was probably the most difficult step and took me three tries to get it aligned correctly. And it’s done! The screen looks brand new (because it is), and you can barely tell where I scratched the bezel.

Laptop boot screen.

It's alive!! It's alive!!

Step 5: Shop for a laptop sleeve

Preferrably one with very padded sides to prevent similar drop damage. I don’t want to have to spend another 163.22$ for my mistakes.

1 Excuse the reference, Dune (2021) with Paul played by renowned twink Timothée Chalamet just came out a few days ago.