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I have a Windows 7 laptop, which I run connected to an external screen. For some reason, within the past three weeks, whenever the screen becomes especially dark for a few seconds it fades completely to black.

Here's an example of happens:

  1. I minimize all windows. The screen shows my desktop, which is currently blank (black). All of the desktop icons are visible, as is the start button and the toolbar at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Immediately (within 1 second) the screen starts fading to black, turning pitch black within 3 seconds.
  3. Moving the mouse does nothing to restore the screen.
  4. If I do something like hit the Windows key on my keyboard or alt-tab to bring up another window, it immediately fades back in.

Some other oddness: this has to do with the brightness of the screen. Setting a bright background stops it from happening, while navigating my web browser to an all-black page causes it to happen. If I get just the right level of darkness, it will fade out about halfway and then flicker until I change the screen.

Another interesting thing: if I have both the laptop and the desktop screen mirrored, and navigate to an all-black page, only the desktop screen fades.

What's going on?

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It sort of sounds like your laptop's backlight inverter might be getting ready to die, which isn't as bad as it sounds; for most laptops, it's a fairly cheap part and a fairly easy replacement. What make and model is the laptop? – Aaron Miller May 10 '13 at 15:13
Are you talking about the laptop's screen or the external one? – gronostaj May 10 '13 at 15:15
This is the external screen. It's a ThinkPad T520i. – Chris B. May 10 '13 at 15:26
Sounds like it might be related to the external monitor itself. What brand and model is it? Have any drivers been updated recently? – CharlieRB May 10 '13 at 17:21
It's a Nixeus. NX-VUE27. – Chris B. May 10 '13 at 20:33

Could be a graphical driver conflict.
Intel® HD Graphics Driver - Download Center
But check Power-supply, cables and all that stuff as well for good measure.

Funnily enough, a workmate had the same problem last week in her office. Her screen was fading while she was using a (selfcoded) application that uses some google-earth functions. If this application was minimized (to the background) everything was working well, but it randomly started fading evertime the the application has been in the foreground/active.
So i can imagine your problem.
To be honest, i don't know what exactly solved that problem, but we verified if all cables were plugged correctly and installed another driver version as well and this have been working since.

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