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My son's 6 year old Toshiba Satellite A205 S5871 laptop only shows gray now on boot up. He took it to school for a project and he said he didn't drop it or anything but it stopped working there. Now when you turn it on, the screen is entirely gray.

I plugged it into an external monitor and that works fine. Ubuntu boots up normally. I took the bezel off the front and disconnected/reconnected the video cable but that didn't help.

I want to fix this if I can but am afraid that if I buy a new LCD panel it will turn out to be something else is wrong. I've read online reports of bad inverters and video cards causing this problem too, for instance.

I have pressed the function key (fn + F5 on this thing) for presentation mode. That didn't help.

Are there any tests I can run that will help me know which part needs to replaced? Anything I can do to narrow down the source of the problem. Thanks.

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It sounds like something within the laptop has failed. What it is exactly can't be determined by the information you have given us. – Ramhound Apr 1 '13 at 12:57
Is there anything else I can tell you that would help? I am hoping to not have to replace this laptop but understand it is old and they don't build them to last forever. Thanks. – Peter Apr 1 '13 at 13:05
If it displays on an external monitor, the chances are good the video card is OK. Look at the manufacturer's web site to see if there are any hardware diagnostics you can download. Other than that, without specific brand/model information, no one here is going to be able to give you a specific answer. – CharlieRB Apr 1 '13 at 13:35

Sounds like a backlight malfunction. Newer laptops come with LED backlight that normally does not burn out. Older laptops had CCFL bulbs with limited service life.

If the backlight is at fault you should be still able to see some very dark low-contrast picture by shining a flashlight at an angle on the screen.

CCFL replacement is cheaper than LCD replacement.

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