Tuesday, June 12, 2007


To Start at the beggining:

Almost a year ago, when the Dell XPS m1210 was released, I was very excited. I purchased the machine during a sale and eagerly awaited my new machine :-). Boy was I dissapointed. As soon as I turned on the machine, I notices how washed out the screen looked. I tried some adjustments in the software, but to no avail.

To make this even worse: as an owner of the Dell Inspiron 710m, with its beautiful glossy screen that is like looking through glass :-) , I was doubly dissapointed by the m1210's "TrueLife" screen. On my 710m, I have amazing viewing angles - I've had 10 people watch a movie on that tiny screen. With the m1210, after 5 minutes my eyes start hurting, since a small change in position ruins the viewing angle from the ONE position it looks OK - and only OK - in. After lots of research on the internet, I found many who are likewise dissapointed, and I ended up returning the machine.

Some people decided to go ahead and swap the screens between the two machines. Now, a year later, I have purchased the m1210 again and will attempt to do a swap. This blog will document my attempt and hopefully will help many others in the same position.

Here is a picture from Notebookforums that clearly illustrates the problem:

To encompass all issues that this screen swap will entail, the first thing to do is to document current battery life, so we can later compare it to battery life after the screen swap.

To properly do this, I will only compare to systems Identical to mine:

XPS M1210 Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T7200 (2.00GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 667 MHz FSB)

AV Communication Package Integrated Webcam and Mobile Broadband Antenna

Memory 2GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz (2 Dimms) (crucial brand ram installed by me - swapped out the 2 x 512 hynix chips)

Video Card 256MB NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 7400 TurboCache™

Hard Drive 200GB SATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)

Operating System (Office software not included) Self installed WinXP Pro

Network Card Integrated 10/100 Network Card and Modem

Adobe Software Adobe® Acrobat® Reader 7.0

Combo or DVD+RW Drive 8x CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) with double-layer DVD+R write capability

Sound Options Integrated Audio

Wireless Networking Cards Intel PRO/Wireless 3945a/g

Office Software (not included in Windows XP) Microsoft Works 8. DOES NOT INCLUDE MS WORD

Anti-Virus/Security Suite (Pre-installed) No Security software pre-installed

Primary Battery 53 WHr 6-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery + 9 cell battery

Hardware Warranty 3Yr In-Home Service, Parts + Labor - Next Day

CompleteCare Accidental Damage Service Add Accidental Damage and LoJack Theft Protection to 3Yr Warr.

Dial-Up Internet Access 6 Months EarthLink Internet Access Included

Bluetooth Options Dell Wireless 355 Bluetooth Internal (2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate)

Please note the following:

Hard disk size, and rotational speed, in addition to ram amount and operating system in use could all affect battery life. I may do somethign as simple as using a knoppix live cd thus hard disk will not affect the outcome (I'll just remove the hard disk first) and I can remove the bluetooth....


I have decided to do the test as follows:

Turn off all wireless, mute the sound, turn off numlock light, and media button lights, disconnect all usb devices, network cables and anything else that may take power, and then play a dvd using vlc media player with my 53 whr battery until the machine shuts off. Screen brightness will be at the max. I have thought about using a live cd or loading damn small linux into memory and then doing it that way, but then I wont have the nvidia driver's additional power saving modes.

Here is the OS config:

Win XP Pro installed by me, as many programs turned off as possible (anotherwords I will not end tasks, but I will exit my firewall, anti-virus.... only vlc will be on)

I am assuming there will not be a huge difference in battery life.... if there is, I will try to find a better way to do the test - suggestions welcome.

Battery life coming soon.

Please give me your battery life info so comparisons can be made.

Unfortunately I had to sell my 710m, so I had to quickly do the swap, so I was unable to do the test on my m1210 before I swapped. Hopefully it won't make a difference.


I have done the swap of the screens, and it looks just absolutely amazing. I didn't have to break anything, and I have had no issues in the past week or 2 since the swap, so it can be assumed safe, if you use the same exact parts as I do.

I swapped out the AUO 01/02 from my 710m and placed it into my m1210 after I removed the samsung screen inside it. I know that another guy had swapped out the Toshiba screen, and I'm pretty sure there was a third guy who swapped out the AUO from his m1210, so most likely all screens in the m1210 have the same inverter, and as long as what you are putting in is the same screen as the one I put in, everything should be safe.


Preliminary pieces of info:

As mentioned before, I do not think it makes a difference which screen your m1210 currently has, as the inverter seems to be the same regardless. What is important is which screen you are putting INTO the m1210. I used the screen from my inspiron 710m, made by AUO, and on the back it says AUO B121EW01/02. I will try to post a picture soon so you can compare.

Another thing, I couldn't put the screen I pulled out of the m1210 into the 710m. The reason was because the cable from the screen to the inverter was about 2 inches too short. You may have a different screen, or you may find an extension cable that will allow you to get it to work, but I have no experience with the pulled screen working on the 710m, so you will be on your own for that part. I recommend you do what I did... buy a new screen for your 710m on ebay, and sell off the m1210 screen on ebay.

Lastly, make sure you have the right tools for the job. The wrong screwdriver can make this much harder if not impossible to do.

A lot of the instructions for taking apart the machines are found on dells site, I recommend reading through them first so you have a feel for how to take them apart:

710m here : http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins710m/en/sm/index.htm

m1210 here: http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/xpsM1210/en/SM/index.htm

Here are the instructions (please be patient and take your time, these are expensive machines, and if you are not careful, something will most likely never be the same...):

Part 1: removal of good screen from 710m:

1) First you need to take off the hinge cover. I recommend you use a plastic non scratching wedge to help with this (I used a flosser - company that makes em is called plackers)

Instructions are here http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins710m/en/sm/display.htm#wp1084976


2) Next, there are these little rubbery gray things on the corners of the display and on the top edge of the screen there are 2 in the center for a total of six. pop em out with your plastic wedge and stick them somewhere safe. You should see screws behind them. There is one more thing we need to remove to uncover the last screw. On the left of the lights for the hard disk...and to the right of the left speaker is a squarish sticker. It doesn't look like a sticker, but it is. Its actually quite solid, so you do not need to be worried about never being able to put it back, but be careful when removing it. Use something to pry it up from one edge, and you will find another screw behind it.

3) Remove all the screws (seven total) and now the display bezel needs to be removed. This is the tricky part. The bezel is attached with clips in addition to the screws. Those clips are easily broken if you do not follow instructions. The clips are on the outside edge of the screen, and to unhook them you need to pull the bezel towards the inner part of the screen. Carefully, (you may want to make sure your nails aren't sharp) start with one edge of the bezel, with you fingers on the inner side, and push down on the outer edge while pulling the outer edge toward the center of the screen. Be patient, and you'll get a feel for how this is supposed to work pretty soon. The bezel will unsnap from the back of the screen, and you will be able to slowly do this all the way around till the bezel can be pulled away.

4) Now you need to disconnect the inverter cable and display cable from the motherboard (instructions here http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins710m/en/sm/display.htm#wp1109799).

5) Next, there are four screws in each corner of the display. Remove them, and then remove the screw on the right side of the inverter. For those who don't know (I didnt at first) the inverter is the green thing between the two speakers, where all the lights are. At this point the display should be coming loose as for the inverter.

5) Carefully start removing the display, and you will notice that there are snags preventing it from being removed. First - make sure the left cable going to the motherboard is removed from the cable routing and is free to be removed with the display. Next, the display is plugged into the inverter, which in turn is plugged into the right cable going to the motherboard. You can unplug the inverter from the cable taped to the back of the laptop. The cable is plugged into the inverter on the other side of where the lights are. This will allow you to remove the inverter with the rest of the screen.

6) At this point you should be able to remove the inverter and lcd together out of the laptop.

7) Now we need to disconnect the inverter from LCD. There is a 2 wire cable going into the inverter (white and pink wires), carefully remove that from the inverter. This will later plug into the inverter on the m1210.

8) Now there are 2 metal brackets, one on each side of the lcd, that need to be removed - 4 screws. these screws will be used later to put the brackets from the other machine onto this lcd (keep the screws w/ the lcd, just swap brackets). Remember to keep track of which bracket is on which side.

9) Lastly, remove the cable from the backside of the lcd. Unstick the tape and then gently pull down on the cable to remove.

At this point, we have the lcd ready to be placed into the m1210.

10) now, the m1210 needs to be prepped for the new lcd. First, the hinge cover must be removed, instructions here: http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/xpsM1210/en/SM/hingecvr.htm#wp1127833

11) Then the display bezel, instructions here: http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/xpsM1210/en/SM/display.htm#wp1006390

The two grey things on the middle top do not need to be removed if I remember correctly. Again, be careful and follow the instructions in step 2 above.
The instructions on dells site mostly have all the instructions for the rest of the removal.

12) Now, disconnect the cable from the motherboard and remove it from the pathway routing it to the motherboard. On the left hand top side of the screen, disconnect the camera if you have one.

13) Unscrew the four screws in the corner holding the display by its brackets to the laptop, and tilt the top part of the screen until you can remove the speaker cable at the bottom (see dell instructions) and then you can remove the screen w/ its inverter.

14) Now, remove the cable attached to screen and inverter ( see dell instructions), and then remove brackets (remember to keep track of left/right). These brackets can be placed directly onto the replacement lcd from the 710m, using the screws originally attached to the replacement 710m lcd.

15) Now, the inverter needs to be detached. First, detach the cable with the white and pink wire from the inverter. Now, the inverter is attached to the lcd by two brackets which are screwed to the bottom of the lcd. They are very hard to remove, but this must be done very carefully. I did the following. I tilted the screen 45 degrees with the top leaning against something unmovable, and used that pressure to help remove the screws. Be VERY CAREFUL!!

16) once you have removed the inverter, you may start putting the 710m screen into the m1210.

17) I assume you have already connected the brackets from the m1210. Now connect the cable that was removed from the m1210 to the 710m screen. it should fit fine. Make sure everything is smooth, use the tape to make sure everything is done well. Now connect the inverter from the m1210 to the cable. Someone else who did this swap broke those metal brackets on the inverter instead of unscrewing them. The way we are doing it will allow the brackets to hold the inverter better in the machine. On the 710m lcd there is nowhere to screw in the inverter to the lcd, so it will have to kinda sit there, but it seems to fit fine and not go anywhere once the bezel is on.

18) Now connect that cable with the pink and white wire on the bottom of the screen to the inverter. Next, place the bottom of the lcd into the m1210 first, connect the speaker wire on the bottom, and then put in the top part of the lcd. Once everything is sitting well, attach the webcam cable on the left hand side (if you have one), and you can now screw the brackets to the m1210 base. by now everything should be sitting where its supposed to, nothing extra sticking out where it shouldn't, and you should be able to attach the lcd cable to the motherboard. Attach the cable, and hope you did everything right.

19) Now, we'll test - I recommend not using the battery yet, but connect the power cable and if something seems not right or you smell burning (It may happen, though it never happened to me), you can quickly pull it out.

20) Turn on the machine (middle silver button on the top of the motherboard), and lets hope everythign works.

21) If everything seems to work, replace the bezel, the screws and the hinge cover and you're done!

22) the 710m you will have to decide what to do on you own, as I just purchased another screen for it and sold off the m1210 screen.

Enjoy :-)

Please do not copy this and place it on another site. I have spent A LOT of time working on this, and a decent amount of money. Its possible that adsense will recover some of that cost, and I would appreciate it if you respected my effort. Thanks.

Any suggestions, please leave a comment :-)

I wanted to put up pictures of the process step by step, but I had to sell off my 710m already. In order to help everyone else I will do the following:

I will do the swap for the first person in Los Angeles that wishes to have me do the swap while they take pictures. This way, everyone else can benefit. Just leave a comment here for me if you are interested. The whole process should take no more than 2 hours.

For those interested, a few preliminaries:

I will take absolutely no responsibility for anything that may happen during the swap. Trusting me is completely your own risk. I have done this on my machines, and I can show you the results, but I'm sure you understand that there are risks involved. If you wish to do it yourself while I give you directions, thats fine as well.

Next, check your screen on the 710m (using powerstrip, or bus relations) that it says AUO 2114. That way it is the same screen as mine and we can guarantee it will work.

Another thing - I will not be putting an lcd back into your 710m. If you have a different lcd in your m1210 than I had, it may fit, but I will not take that risk, so you will have to plug it in yourself. I can help you by giving you directions if if you wish.

Lastly, you will need to take pictures of the step by step process so I can post it for the rest of the world... - You can use my camera, or if you have a better one, we can use yours. You will need to work with me on this and try to be efficient so we can do this quickly.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In reply to Kenneth's comment about his issue with the screen... based on what you're telling me that you can still see the screen very faintly, I would say your problem is with the inverter. The inverter is what powers the backlight, and when it goes out, the screen can still be seen very faintly. Also, the fact that you can run the computer fine with an external screen points to an issue w/ the screen/inverter not w/ the computer in general. I would recommend you don't put it in an oven at 350...

Best of luck!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Update on m1210

I'd like to update one and all about the sad state of this laptop. Unfortunately this laptop was affected by the Nvidia chip issue and started to get really hot. One day, It just died & wouldn't turn back on. I tried. to revive it with no luck - the second I would plug in my power adapter into it the light on the power adapter would turn off - I guess there must be some kind of short. Also I think its possible it messed up my hard drive too.  If anyone has any idea what I can do (without spending more than $50, because at that point its better to just buy a new laptop), I'd love to hear it in the comments.