I was using Windows 7 and the screen went dark. Nothing serious because it was set to shut off the display after x number of minutes anyway. I touch the touchpad and zip...
I went on Google and much to my surprise there have been some backlight issues with Windows 7.
Anyway in my case the backlight will not work in Windows 7, BIOS, or Linux (Ubuntu). At boot the backlight will work for a second or two, but only a quarter of the screen will be lit and then the backlight will shut off.
From what I have written above I am guessing the backlight is gone or does someone else have a suggestion?
A friend said to buy a new LCD panel (cannot buy only the backlight apparently) and I have a Toshiba A200. I did find a place that sells them (I'm in Canada) but it is C$414 (US$401). Needless to say for that price I might as well just spend a bit more and buy a new laptop.
As an interesting side note I bought the laptop in September of 2007. The HDD power on time for the HDD is 1.1 years. If I assume that the monitor was off 25% of the time that means 7,227 hours of use. Counting the power on hours of 9,636 for the HDD that means that the LCD wasn't used more than that.
I had the brightness at max (I am starting to realize that might have been a bad idea). For my next laptop or monitor (if I can get a reasonably priced replacement) should I have the brightness as low as is readable or it doesn't make a difference?
If you used multiple OSs with the same problems, then, yes, your backlight is really dead.
Unfortunately, as you found, it's a pretty expensive replacement. Your call on whether or not a new machine is worth it.
As far as brightness goes, you don't have to set it as low as humanly possible, but setting it lower than the highest brightness is a good idea. You should do that with all of your LCDs - including your TV, if you have one (and LCD one, that is). Reducing the backlight brightness can increase the life of the bulb.