Replacing the LCD Panel in a Samsung 303C Chromebook…

In what quite possibly might be the most boring video ever produced, I recorded myself changing the LCD panel out of my Chromebook. It’s 17 minutes of riveting youtube goodness. Skip down to the bottom if you want to watch.

But here’s the story if you’d rather just read a paragraph. My wife bought me this little Samsung 303C Chromebook a while ago, and unlike the netbook that I had years before, I actually found this gadget to be pretty useful. For those who may not know about Chromebooks, they run ChromeOS, an operating system designed by Google to mostly run web applications. You can read more about it, but essentially it’s an OS designed to run a browser and web applications. I use it mostly to do web browsing, email, writing (using Google Docs), Netflix, and running ssh to access other machines on my network. For that, it’s great: it has long battery life, is lightweight, and is cheap (list price is $200 or so). I have taken it when traveling instead of a tablet when I may need to get some writing done, and when bringing a full laptop would be more cumbersome.

Sadly, a few days ago I realized that I had somehow managed to crack the LCD screen on it. I tend to be pretty casual with the thing, so I probably kicked it around while it was on the floor or something. I was kind of bummed. But a little quick googling revealed that I could get a replacement screen from Amazon for about $39 with free shipping courtesy of Amazon Prime. I ordered it on Tuesday night, and got it Thursday.

The replacement is very, very simple: I suspect having done it once I could probably do it in less than five minutes. The procedure is basically to turn off the unit, pop off the bezel (just use your fingers), and remove four screws that hold the screen in place. Then, you have to disconnect the ribbon connector, which I found to be a little unobvious, and results in a boring middle part of this video, where I am trying to understand exactly how to release the catch. I was overly cautious, and wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, so I stopped and rewatched another video, which didn’t help a lot. In the end, I realized what I was staring at: there is a C shaped hasp which goes around the outside of the connector on the board, and had a plastic tab which was hidden under a layer of tape above. Once I figured that out, I used a small screwdriver to lift the edge, and disconnected the ribbon cable. After that, it was entirely easy: just reverse the process, attach the cable, secure the four screws again, pop the bezel on, and voila! Screen works again.

At the very end of the video, you can hear me muttering a little bit about the “black line”. When I reinstalled it, it looks a little like the active area of the screen is a little offset: I see a black gap at the top, and the active lines of the screen at the very bottom are very close (or even hidden a little) by the bezel. I was wondering if perhaps I should have secured the panel with the alternate set of screw holes. Rewatching the video, it appears that I used the same set that the original did, but I might still disassemble it to adjust this and see if it makes the result better.

In any case, it was a quick and easy fix, and I’m glad my trusty little Chromebook is back and running.

Regarding production: I filmed it all with my GoPro Hero 3 (white). I apologize a bit for the audio, I’m picking up a bit of noise, and didn’t have time to fix it. I assembled the two clips using an FFMPEG script that I have used before, with one addition: I realized that I typed my login password on camera, thought that might be a bad idea, so I figured out how to blur out the image at that time. Fun! I might make a new article about that later, when I develop some more interesting examples.

Hope this helps someone in the future!