Section 2.5: Common Laptop Issues

Although laptop computers and desktop computers perform in the same way, troubleshooting hardware issues in laptops are different as compared to the desktop computers. This is because of the obvious reason that they use somewhat different kind of hardware and are portable, as shown in Figure 57.

Figure 57

The main advantage of laptop computers is that they are portable. They can be taken to airplanes, trains, and many other places where desktop computers cannot be taken. Besides, they use batteries, which make them run several for hours without getting affected by power outage or by short power interruptions. In addition, even low-end laptops include features such as integrated Wi-Fi, Express Card slot, and memory card reader.

In spite of having all these advantages, the laptop computers are significantly costlier as compared to the desktop computers at the same or even lower performance level. Their upgradability is also limited because except for few components all other internal components including the CPU, motherboard, and graphics, do not follow industry-wide standard form factor. Because of the integrated screen, keyboard, and mouse, the laptops cannot be easily repaired as compared to desktop computers. Some of the other common laptop issues are:

  • Power conditions: The laptops run on AC power. They however use batteries that make them run for long hours without any power. The power supply in laptops charges the battery and run the laptop simultaneously. The laptop continues to run on AC power, even after the battery is fully charged. The laptops generally have indicator lights to indicate that the AC power is being received. The absence of light indicates a problem and you should try another power outlet or the power cord to correct the problem.
  • Video: The laptops usually have the video controller integrated into their motherboard. The most common problem with laptop video is incorrect configuration settings or incorrect drivers. The settings can be changed through the operating system and most current correct video drivers should be loaded. If the problem still persists then you can use an external monitor to find out the problem. The external monitors can be connected directly to the laptop or through the docking station, which is a laptop accessory. A docking station contains multiple ports, expansion slots, and bays for fixed or removable drives.
  • Keyboard: The laptops have an integrated keyboard, which is ten times costlier then the desktop keyboard. The problems with keyboards usually range from collecting dust to their springs wearing out. If something goes wrong, you can replace the keyboard or choose to use an external keyboard.
  • Stylus: The stylus is a laptop accessory, quite similar to a modern ballpoint pen, used with the touchpad to input handwritten notes. It also allows you to achieve better and finer control with image editing programs. The problem with stylus is most often damage or excessive wear. In such a case, replacing the stylus is the only choice.
  • Wireless card issues: The laptops use wireless cards to communicate with other computers or connect to the Internet. The wireless cards are very comfortable but they are susceptible to external interferences. The antennas may result in low signal problems. The reduction of the number of items blocking the signal may reduce low signal problems. Most laptops these days use Wi-Fi for connectivity. The only problem with Wi-Fi is that the user can accidently turn off the Wi-Fi switch and then cannot connect with the network. This should be the first item to check if a user reports connectivity problems with their laptops.