Chloe Holyoak's laptop has a cracked screen. She wants to know how to fix it.
You've got a number of options. Few of them are good.
If your laptop is young enough to still be under warranty, and if the crack wasn't caused by something the warranty doesn't cover (they usually exclude accidental damage), you can get it fixed for free through either the manufacturer or the retailer. But free doesn't mean quick or convenient. You may have to wait to receive a mailing box, pack up the laptop, mail it, then go two weeks without without a computer.
If the warranty has run out or won't cover the repair, you can still get it fixed by the manufacturer. But this can be almost as expensive as replacing the laptop. Besides, unless the manufacturer has licensed a nearby repair shop, you'll still have to wait for the box, mail the laptop, and wait.
Luckily, you might not have to go through the manufacturer at all. The retail site ScreenTek may be able to sell you a screen for a much more reasonable price--often in the neighborhood of $100 to $200.
But once you get the screen, how do you install it? Before you consider replacing it yourself, I strongly suggest you read Five Insane Upgrades That You Should Never Do (and How to Do Them!)
Or you can use a local repair shop that can fix a laptop with a much faster turn-around and lower rates than the manufacturer. I asked a friend of mine, who repairs PCs out of his home, how much such a job would cost. In addition to the price of the screen (which he usually buys from ScreenTek), he charges $55 an hour. " If I can get the whole display assembly, I charge for one hour's labor… If I don't get the whole assembly, it's typically two hours."
Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter.