I bought my laptop a couple of years ago, and it worked fine until recently. Now my eyes quickly get strained when I work on the laptop. I noticed that when I move its lid or even touch it, the display glimmers a bit, i.e., its colors slightly but quickly pulsate, somewhat changing their shades. The same happens, albeit to even a lesser extent, when the laptop is physically disturbed in any way (e.g., moved, touched, slightly shaken because of typing, etc.), even when I just type on it. The effect is too small to distract me, but apparently is what makes my eyes strained. At least I do not get any eye fatigue when I work on other computers, and I did not get any eye fatigue when I worked on that laptop before its display started to glimmer.

When the laptop is absolutely still (i.e., standing on a table and not touched), its display does not glimmer. When the laptop is still, and I move my head to change the angle of view, I see no such fluctuations of color shades.

The model is Acer TravelMate P249, and the system is Windows 7 Pro.

Is there anything I can do to try to fix this at home, or should I just bring the laptop to a repair service? What is the most probable cause of the problem?

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  • Try setting the brightness to maximum to see if it makes a difference. Some models lower brightness by rapidly flickering the screen. Also check that the lid isn’t wobbling excessively – James P Dec 3 at 18:41
  • @JamesP : The brightness is set to maximum, and the lid is not wobbling excessively. Even a slightest touch causes noticeable glimmering. – Mitsuko Dec 3 at 18:44
  • I would suggest taking it to a laptop repair specialist and get them to have a look. It could be something like a bad display cable or a fault with the LCD panel itself – James P Dec 4 at 9:13

What you describe could be due to flicker from a loose connector to the backlight, to a failing cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL backlight) or LED/CCFL controller, or it could be due to a display refresh rate issue (i.e. set a few Hz from AC mains frequency while using it under artificial light, or too slow).

To quickly check if it's refresh frequency, turn off room lighting and/or use the laptop by a window. If the flicker disappears, change the display refresh rate. You could try changing the refresh rate, anyway, since it might be below your flicker fusion threshold.

If the issue is due to a loose connector or a PCB trace that is damaged, open the cases, both keyboard and display, (The video is for the TravelMate P253, so try to find info for your model P249). Gently push the wires or flexible PC connectors into place. If a PCB or flexible connector trace is failing, that can sometimes be fixed with defroster repair paint.

If a fluorescent lamp behind the LCD display is flickering as it ages, or if the lamp controller has issues, here are some options:

BTW, I find using an external monitor, keyboard and mouse makes a laptop far more convenient to use, but that requires unplugging the monitor if you travel with the laptop.

N.B. Replacing the lamp is for a patient, experienced user of electronic repair tools. There are high voltages, though at low currents. so use caution.

  • I just did the test (turning off room lightning), and nothing changed, so it's not about frequencies. And why would the lamp or controller react to moving or touching the lid? There is nothing wrong with the display unless I touch or move the lid or physically disturb the laptop by typing on it. – Mitsuko Dec 4 at 5:47
  • Based on the age of the laptop and the specs I've seen it likely has an LED backlight. – James P Dec 4 at 9:11
  • @Mitsuko, Moving the lid could be shaking a loose connector (easy fix) or the vibration could be be moving the screen at a time when the backlight is blinking off. The answer above will be modified. – DrMoishe Pippik Dec 4 at 17:40

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