Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My laptop frequently plays video as if in very low-color mode. Though the sound remains clear, it looks terrible, showing only a few shades of red, blue, or yellow. (It's even worse than 8-bit color.) The problem doesn't happen consistently, so I'm looking for troubleshooting advice or known solutions.

I use a Dell Latitude D620 laptop with Windows XP, on-board nVidia video chipset, Quicktime, and multiple monitors (laptop screen + VGA-connected LCD). Color problems happen in each application I tried, iTunes, a browser, and the Quicktime standalone player. It doesn't happen right after reboot, so could be from a sleep-wake cycle, or at least being on for an extended period.

Google results suggest reinstalling nVidia drivers, which I've done several times with no change. I have found 2 workarounds.

  1. Reboot, sacrificing significant time and disrupting work
  2. In nVidia control panel, change color to 16-bit, and then back to 32-bit

This happens with all video playback, so it's definitely not one corrupt file. I use workaround #2 consistently, but would love a longer-term solution.

share|improve this question
up vote 0 down vote accepted

What applications have you been using immediately prior to experiencing the problem with the video?

It could be that one of your other applications is leaving the display in an "unset" (for want of a better word) state, which is why changing to 16 bit and back to 32 bit colour fixes the problem.

share|improve this answer
Interesting about the unset state, thanks. I'll note recent apps next time it happens. Could it extend to Flash video inside a browser? Or does the browser itself manage video settings? – Matthew Glidden Feb 18 '10 at 21:41
@Matthew - I don't see why it couldn't extend to Flash in a browser. I don't think the browser manages the video settings. To display Flash it looks like the browser just creates a blank window and hands that over to Flash (or at least that's my guess). – ChrisF Feb 18 '10 at 21:44
Switching to 16-bit for daily use seems to have "fixed" the problem, likely for reasons you described. Things look fine in 16-bit, so I'll go with that for now. – Matthew Glidden Apr 22 '10 at 3:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .