Benefits of laptop touch screens vs. traditional laptop displays

While touch screen display laptops are more expensive than their non-interactive counterparts, they are still becoming increasingly popular in today’s market. What makes these machines so much more popular lately? It’s actually a combination of a number of things that add up to a more convenient, intuitive, and easier to use machine.

For one thing, touch screen displays are a lot easier to navigate than even using a traditional mouse. With a touch screen, you simply have to touch what you want to select or interact with, and it’s done. This also allows users to do more delicate tasks than they could with a mouse, as the touch of a finger is easier to coordinate than moving an external mouse to influence the graphical cursor. Eliminating the accommodation for a mouse also frees up hardware space on your laptop, allowing for the keyboard to expand to a fuller size, making it easier to type than on a regular machine.

In fact, the exclusion of a mouse and therefore mouse accessories (such as room for a mouse pad, or a touch pad, or extra USB, serial ports and other parts), actually has the potential to lower the production costs of these machines, which in turn makes them more affordable for consumers. Indeed, as more and more touch screen laptops make their way onto the market, prices are continually dropping and becoming even more accessible for users.

Touch screen laptops also add the convenience of features that traditional laptops cannot. For example, students can use a stylus with their touch screen computers and physically write down their notes on their computers, which can be run through text-recognition software and converted to type, or manipulated by a note taking program that can allow them to manipulate and organize their notes in ways traditional pen and paper nor traditional laptops could. It’s also worth noting that many touch screen laptops also include the functionality of having the LCD screen swivel around to essentially make the machine a convertible Tablet PC, which is an added bonus and makes the machine even more portable and easier to work with.

Selecting the Correct Laptop Memory Upgrade

Perhaps the most difficult part of performing a laptop memory upgrade is finding the proper type of memory for your specific laptop. Since this can be a complicated subject and often requires some research up front, let us look at a few of the most important aspects of laptop memory modules so you can better understand the key points of selecting your laptop memory.

Form Factor

Laptop memory comes in different form factors. The most common are SO-DIMM (small outline DIMM), others like SIMM (single inline memory module), DIMM (double inline memory module) were used in first generation laptops, but have not been used in years. SO-DIMMs are most often used in laptops as they are smaller than standard DIMM modules used in desktop computers. SO-DIMMs are usually 2.6 inches long and 1.25 inches in height. The smallest module available is the Micro-DIMM; these are very small modules only measuring about an inch wide and are used in high end ultra portable laptops.

Memory Type

In addition to the different form factors, memory is categorized into standards. The most common are DDR, DDR2, and DDR3. All DDR Memory operates in a similar manner as it transfers data on the rise and fall of each clock cycle; effectively doubling the transfer speed of older SDRAM technologies. Each increment represents an improvement in transfer speeds and latency. In some cases these standards are backwards-compatible, but not always. DDR is the first generation of Double Data Rate memory, and is the slowest of the DDR Standards; it is usually packaged in a 200 pin SO-DIMM form factor and runs at speeds of 266 MHz – 400 MHz. DDR2 memory is the second generation of DDR memory, it increases speeds to between 400 MHz and 800 MHz and are packaged in a 200 pin SO-DIMM form factor. The latest and greatest in laptop memory is DDR3; it is available in speeds of 800 MHz – 1600 MHz and comes in a 204 pin SO-DIMM package. DDR3 memory further reduces the operating voltage of DDR2 to a lower 1.5 Volts, offering a slight improvement in battery life.

Transfer Speeds

The speed rating for memory refers to the “clock speed” which is the rate at which the memory can send and receive data. As mentioned previously, DDR modules have clock speeds from 266 MHz to 400 MHz, DDR2 ranges between 400 MHz and 800 MHz, and DDR3 runs between 800 MHz and 1600 MHz. While a higher clock speed is usually better, one important rule to remember is that if you are adding memory alongside existing memory, no matter how fast the transfer speed is on the new memory, it will only run as fast as the old memory since all the RAM in the system has to operate at the same speed.

Pin Configuration

The number of pins and their configuration vary between types. It is important to match the memory type specifically to your laptop. The pin configuration is typically a product of the type of memory being utilized. DDR and DDR2 memory both use a 200 pin configuration for the modules, where DDR2 has a slightly different keying on the module, this helps avoid users trying to install memory into the wrong type of memory slot. Still care must be taken because the difference is very minor and to the naked eye may look the same. DDR3 use a 204 pin module which is the same physical size as DDR and DDR2, but has the key notch further towards the middle of the module.

Latency

Latency is the delay in time from when a memory controller tells the RAM module to access an explicit memory column. This delay is measured in clock cycles for most types of modules. The lower the number the better, but as with memory speed, all modules installed will run at the same latency no matter what their specific rating, so buying ultra low latency RAM and installing it with higher latency RAM will not take full advantage of the low latency RAM.

Voltages

Different standards also run on different voltages. First generation DDR memory runs at 2.5 Volts however DDR2 memory operates at a lower voltage of 1.8 Volts and thus improves on laptop battery life in most instances. The latest DDR3 memory runs at 1.5 Volts offering improved battery life over DDR and DDR2 memory. In general if you get the right memory type, be it DDR, DDR2 or DDR3, it will be the right voltage as the voltage is part of the standard for the module. As the memory types evolved, they began to use lower and lower voltages to operate the RAM memory which has helped curb the energy appetite of laptop computers.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when selecting the correct memory for your laptop. If you are adding memory to your machine, you will need to know the specifications of the memory that is already installed in your machine, in order to get the correct memory. If you are replacing the memory, you only need to be concerned about what memory is compatible with the machine. Luckily, Spare Parts Warehouse has a wide selection of memory and easy to use tools to help you find the right memory upgrade for your laptop.

How to Install an Internal Laptop Wireless LAN Card

Most laptops with built-in Wi-Fi utilize a mini-PCI slot to support this type of card, making it fairly easy to install. In some cases, you can install an external wireless card into a PCMCIA or ExpressCard slot, but this requires an extra component sticking out of the laptop and is not ideal for most users. If you have a laptop with a failing Wi-Fi card it may be time to purchase a new network card. Although these are general steps for installing an internal laptop wireless LAN card, they should apply to most notebooks.

  1. Remove the battery and disconnect AC Adapter

Before doing any repair work on a laptop, be sure to shut down the computer, unplug it from the wall, and remove the battery. This will help prevent static discharge while working on the machine.

  1. Find the access panel and remove

Most laptops with a wireless card slot have an access panel that provides easy access. In most cases it will be a square panel on the bottom of the laptop. Remove screws and remove the panel. In some laptops the Wireless LAN card is located underneath the keyboard. There will be two metal clips on either side of the card edges holding the card down in place, release these and the card will pop up and can be removed.

  1. Remove old Card / Insert the new card

Remove the old card from the Mini-PCI slot on the mainboard and compare it to the replacement, be sure they look very similar in shape and that the connections are the same. Line up the pins and insert it at a slight angle, press it into the slot and then slowly lower it until it locks into place.

  1. Connect the antenna(s)

If your laptop has one or more antenna cables inside the access panel, you can connect these to the wireless card for better reception. Most cards have an antenna connector labeled “Main” and another labeled “Aux”. Again, the connections should match your original card or you may have compatibility issues later.

  1. Reassemble

Replace the access panel and screws and replace the keyboard if it was removed and secure all screws removed during disassembly. Replace the battery and reconnect the power cable.

  1. Configure Wi-Fi Settings

If you replaced the defective card with the exact model that was originally in the machine, there will likely be no configuration needed. If it was a different model, you may need to reconfigure your Wi-Fi settings in Windows to allow you to connect to your wireless network.

Test to ensure the card is working properly and that you are able to connect to a wireless network. If you are sending and receiving correctly then you are finished with the installation, otherwise you may have to revisit the settings in Windows to confirm they are correct for your wireless network. If the card is not recognized by Windows, that may point towards the card not being installed correctly or a defective card. Retrace the installation steps to confirm the card is seated properly and all antenna wires are connected firmly.

Common Causes of Motherboard Failure

A laptop motherboard is the life line of a laptop. It controls virtually every component and handles the input and output of data to and from each part. When a motherboard begins to fail it can be a serious problem that can be expensive to fix and severely affect the usability of the machine. Here, we will look at some common causes of laptop motherboard failure.

The number one culprit for almost any failing component in a laptop is heat. Excessive heat is usually caused by poor ventilation, which could be blocked vents on the laptop or even a fan which is failing to cool the laptop correctly. Excessive heat can cause the motherboard to warp, which can make components on the board fail. It can also loosen solder points on the board, causing components to lose contact or short, causing mainboard failure. In nearly all of these cases, a replacement of the mainboard is the required fix.

Another common cause of laptop motherboard failure is an electrical problem such as a short or a static discharge. Computer components are very sensitive to over-voltage or under-voltage problems. They are also very sensitive to static electricity. Either of these issues can cause an electrical problem with the motherboard that may lead to failure.

In many cases, a mainboard failure is actually the result of some type of physical damage. For example, the laptop DC-in jack being damaged from stress being put on the connection, this is sometimes repairable by simply replacing the jack, but can also damage a board beyond repair. Other components or connections on the motherboard can be damaged from improper disassembly/reassembly during repairs. Some integrated components are not supplied as spare parts from the manufacturer and may leave motherboard replacement as the only option.

When a laptop mainboard failure occurs, it is a very labor-intensive task to replace or repair it. One should also weigh the cost of replacement/repair against the cost of a new laptop, as replacing a motherboard is often one of the most costly repairs you can make.

Laptop Parts and Symptoms

One of the most common issues with laptop batteries is overheating. Not that the batteries are designed poorly or improperly but due to, in most cases, user wear and tear. While the laptop is using the AC adapter for power the battery acts as a backup in case of a loss of power or accidental unplugging. During this AC power use the battery becomes hotter than it would if being used independently. To lessen the chances of this overheating, which leads to a shorter life expectancy of the battery, keep the AC power adapter plugged in only if you need to charge the battery while using the device.

If the battery is consistently hot to the touch, remove it and allow it to cool down making sure it is close to room temperature before reinserting it. Should the battery continue to overheat or get too hot it will probably need to be replaced. Always replace a defective battery as soon as possible as it could cause irreparable damage to the laptop in question. In addition to overheating, failure to charge or hold a charge is another very common issue with laptop batteries.

First check to see if the AC adapter is securely plugged into the device; the tightness of the connection will vary from laptop to laptop but it should be held in place well. To check for a good connection look for the battery charging LED if one is present on your laptop.

If it is not on wiggle the cord to see if the connection makes and breaks contact. If you notice a flickering LED light then the solution is a new adapter which is far better than needed to purchase a new battery or a new DC power jack which can be repaired by a common user with a little instruction and help.

Common Issues That Can Lead to a Dead Laptop

When it comes to laptop repair, few things are worse than a dead laptop. Once a laptop does not turn on or respond in any way, it is difficult to even diagnose any kind of problem. Here, we will explore some common issues that can lead to a dead laptop if not addressed ahead of time, in the hopes that you can avoid a costly repair or replacement in the future.

The most common cause of a “dead” laptop is the laptop systemboard or motherboard. Because the systemboard controls input and output of data to and from each component, and also controls the power to each component, a problem with the systemboard often means a laptop will not respond when turned on. Many problems are caused by overheating, which can often be avoided by periodically cleaning dust from all fans and vents, and keeping good ventilation to the laptop at all times.

Many dead laptops are caused by a bad battery or a faulty AC adapter. If the laptop is not receiving power, or is receiving the wrong voltage, for example, it may not even turn on or respond. Check the AC adapter periodically for damage to cables or the transformer, and test your battery with battery monitoring software to avoid these problems in the future.

Less frequently, a dead laptop can be cause by a failing laptop CPU. This can also be caused by overheating, as the CPU creates a high amount of heat inside the laptop. Most often, however, a CPU problem manifests as a laptop that crashes or gives errors, rather than one that is dead. If you suspect that you may have a CPU issue, its best to take the machine into a repair center for diagnosis, as they will have the tools and parts to address the problem you are having with minimal investment on your part.

Defective laptop memory is not often directly a cause of a dead laptop, but memory that fails or is inserted incorrectly can sometimes result in damage to the systemboard, which can cause the laptop to cease functioning properly. Always be sure you are inserting memory correctly by lining up the notch and pins, and ensure that the memory is compatible with your specific model.

By keeping these common problems in mind and keeping an eye out for them, you can often avoid a major problem before it begins, saving yourself the time and money of a costly repair. Spending just a few minutes on prevention can help your laptop to have a much longer and more stable life.

Laptop Fan Failure

The laptop fan is an integral part of any laptop. Laptops create an enormous amount of heat and excessive heat can cause components to fail. Combine that with the fact that laptops are getting smaller and more compact, and there is even less room for air to circulate. All of these factors make the laptop fan or fans an even more important component. Since the laptop fan is such an important part of a laptop, it is wise to know the signs of a failing laptop fan.

  1. Overheating

Almost every laptop will heat up somewhat under heavy use. In most cases, you will hear the fan begin to spin faster and make more noise when this occurs. If your laptop begins to get excessively hot and the fan does not appear to be spinning faster, it may be failing.

  1. Strange noises

If you hear strange whining or grinding noises, the source could be a failing laptop fan. In some case, the bearings of a fan wear out or lose their lubrication, and the result is a noisy or grinding fan. You should replace it immediately.

  1. Laptop locking up

If your laptop freezes or locks up, especially when performing a processor-intensive task, it could mean a laptop fan failure. Excessive heat is one of the primary causes for computer freezes. If this problem persists, try replacing the laptop fan.

  1. Fan keeps running

In some cases, the laptop fan may continue to run and run at full speed, even when the laptop is not hot enough to warrant it. This can also be a sign of a failing fan, as it is not responding to the laptop’s signal to lower the fan speed.

Replacing a laptop fan can be a simple job or a very complex one depending on your laptop model. Some fans are easy to access, while some require a lengthy disassembly process. You can check around in search engines for replacement instructions specific to your model to take some of the mystery out of replacing your laptop fan.

How to replace your HP laptop’s memory

Upgrading your HP laptop’s memory is one of the best ways to get better performance, and it is also one of the easiest upgrades to make. The procedure may be different for each model, but the same basic instructions apply.

  1. It is not a bad idea to back up important data in case something goes wrong. Shut down the HP laptop and remove the battery. Also, unplug the laptop from the wall to ensure no power is going to the machine.
  2. With the screen closed, flip the laptop over and find the RAM access door. In most cases, it will be marked with a picture of a RAM stick. If you cannot find the access door, check the user manual for your HP laptop.
  3. Unscrew the access door and remove it from the laptop.
  4. The memory has clips holding it in. In some models these clips need to be opened to the sides. In other models you must press on the memory and it will swing out toward you to be removed. Remove the memory by gently but firmly pulling it toward you.
  5. Replace the new memory in the same slot as the old memory. Make sure the notch at the bottom of the memory stick matches the notch in the slot and gently but firmly slide it into the slot.
  6. Replace the securing clips if necessary for your model of laptop. Swing the memory back into place if necessary for your model.
  7. Replace the access door and any screws.
  8. Replace the battery, power up the HP laptop, and verify that the correct capacity of memory is being recognized.

Replacing memory is a very simple process that can be safely performed by most users, but it is always a good idea to consult your user manual for the location of the access door and specific information on how to replace the memory for your model of laptop. It is also a good idea to consult a computer parts retailer that can ensure you get the correct memory for your computer, and can also advise you on the maximum amount your laptop will support.

Toshiba Laptop Memory Replacement

When looking at upgrade options for a Toshiba laptop, you will find that upgrading the laptop memory is likely to have the greatest impact on the overall performance. Programs store their data in RAM when they are running. If multiple programs are open at once and the laptop runs out of free memory, it must begin using the hard drive to store and retrieve the extra data. Since hard drives are much slower than RAM, this results in slower performance. Upgrading memory allows users to run more programs with fewer slowdowns and speed up operating system load time.

Replacing your Toshiba laptop memory is one of the simplest upgrades to make. The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Disconnect the AC adapter and remove the battery to ensure no power is going to the laptop. This reduces any risk of electric shock when disassembling the machine. The battery is most often removed by sliding the battery slider and removing the battery.
  2. Locate the memory access panel on the bottom of the machine. It is usually marked with an icon that resembles a memory stick. In some cases it may be located behind the battery. If you have trouble locating this panel, consult your manual or a service manual for the exact location.
  3. Remove any screws securing the memory access panel in place and remove it.
  4. Gently release the two fingers holding the memory stick on each side and it should swing upwards. Carefully pull it out of the slot. Repeat for the second stick if there is one.
  5. Place the new memory stick in the lower slot and snap it down into place. Repeat for the upper memory stick if there is one.
  6. Replace the memory access panel and screws.
  7. Replace the battery and reconnect the AC adapter. Boot up the computer and test that the full amount of memory is recognized by the computer.

At this point, if the memory is recognized and the laptop is working properly, you are finished. If you are having trouble you may want to check that you selected the proper memory module for your machine, or the possibility that the memory is not seated completely in the slot.

Issues with third-party batteries and Sony laptops

Sony laptops are arguably some of the best Windows laptops available, but there are a few issues that many users won’t appreciate. One of these issues is a type of protection that Sony includes to prevent users from using third-party batteries with their Sony laptop.

Sony would prefer that users use only Sony laptop batteries, partly because it means they must be purchased directly from the manufacturer, but also to ensure quality. Users who have found a trusted third-party manufacturer for their laptop batteries, however, are likely to be frustrated by this limitation. Fortunately, there is a workaround to let you use third-party batteries with your Sony laptop, as the battery check is a software program rather than something included in the Sony system board. Follow these steps to disable the software check.

  1. Power down the laptop, remove the battery, connect the AC adapter, and power the laptop back up.
  2. Click the Start button and type “msconfig.exe”. You may need to enter your password to continue.
  3. Click the “Startup” tab and look for a listing for “ISBMgr.exe”. Uncheck the box.
  4. Click “OK” to save the changes, and choose to restart the laptop. There may be a popup once you restart; alerting you that certain programs have been disabled. Simply dismiss this dialog box.

Now you can install your third-party battery, and you should find that it works without problems. Visit our Sony laptop parts page to view other parts and upgrades that are compatible with your laptop.