Problem with laptop screen

Hi all - I hope someone can help me. My neighbor (14 years old) got her first laptop in May (used) but now it has a problem and I am trying to help her out. The bottom two thirds of the screen looks like you are looking at it through smoked glass. You can vaguely see the outline of windows, but that is about it.
It is a Dell Latitude D400. I went to the Dell site to see if I could download a driver update, under "Video" they had two listed, both said importance - Optional. It seems to me the driver for the screen would be essential, not optional. Am I missing something?
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More about problem laptop screen
  1. its a hardware problem not a driver problem

    possible faults are the ribbon from the screen to the base--the graphics chip--the inverter or the actual lcd screen

    try connecting it to a monitor to narrow down the fault
  2. thanks but I don't have any other monitors - I am using a laptop as well.
  3. dont you know any one with a desktop pc--if it works ok on a monitor then you can rule out the graphics chip

    or you can connect to a tv if you have the right cable and connectors

    that is what it looks like if the inverter goes--but the whole screen would be like it--but there are some laptops with 2 inverters
  4. Considering it is a laptop that was originally released back in 2004, it could be on of the florescent backlight has failed.

    As sugguested above, connect the laptop to a monitor either at work, a friend's place, another neighbor, etc to determine the graphics core is working properly.

    I am guessing it is the backlight that is the problem. If one of the florescent bulb has died, then you might as well replace the other(s) at the same time to cut down one future labor costs if the laptop will be brought into a shop for repairs. Inexpensive laptops tends to have only two florescent bulbs, but it's possible the Dell Latitude D400 can have more than just two.
  5. quite honestly if you cant do the repair or know someone who can do it for free the labour cost in a shop is going to exceed the value of that laptop--if you can nail down the faulty part then it wont be too dear off ebay--inverter about £10--ribbon about £10--lcd about £40

    if you are reasonably practical replacing the inverter is simple 2 out of 10 difficulty--replacing the whole lcd --about 4 or 5 out of 10--replacing the ribbon about 4 out of 10--replacing a backlight is more difficult maybe 6 or 7 out of 10 and you can damage the lcd and end up with lines down it
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