Showing posts from April, 2019

upgrading a HP 2170p to an IPS screen, some assembly required!

original TN LCD
A couple years ago I purchased a "killer" netbook: the HP 2170p. This machine sold for about $1000 new, but these days it's much cheaper because of how old it is. Cheaper than anything remotely in the modern equivalent of the netbook class, anyway. Mine has a i5-3427U CPU which is very capable.

Though it's been a nice machine one aspect of it really disappoints: the LCD. It's a regular TN matrix with poor saturation, brightness, and atrocious viewing angles. I searched to see if HP ever made a variant with an IPS display, but they did not. Then I wondered if maybe there was an IPS display made for a different machine that would fit in the same chassy. Bingo! This Chinese forum post listed a compatible IPS LCD that could be squired cheaply. Thank you google translate!

The LP116WH6 SLA1 is used in the HP chromebook 11 (and perhaps elsewhere).  Since that model was once relatively cheap, and is quite old, replacement parts for it are super cheap. I purchased a grade A used LCD for about $20, shipping included! 

All that remained was removing the old display and inserting the new one. The official disassembly instruction includes a lot of extra steps, but gave me the confidence to unsnap the protective bezel, which was the only part that was at all tricky. Ignore the guide otherwise, it's just necessary to remove a few screws from the screen; the main body of the laptop is untouched.

IPS replacement, before replacing bezel 
The only catch is the IPS screen is not a perfect match for the 2170p: it's just a hair wider. This really only manifests in one issue: the mounting holes for the screws are also a hair too wide. I had to use a drill to make the holes closer to the LCD body. Otherwise it would not have been possible to screw the screen down and it could have fallen out at some point :-( 

I also had to remove some mounting tabs in the computer's lid - easy enough with some snipers & a vacuum up to clean up the magnesium scraps.

Preserving dark detail without washout
The result: fantastic viewing angles, so  much better than the original shown above. The screen is much more readable at lower illumination levels, too (better contrast, I guess).

After I reinstalled the bezel it covered up maybe 2/3 of a pixel on the right side of the screen. This means that a single pixel wide white line actually looks red in isolation. Easy to ignore! The other issue is that it's too saturated and there's a lot of black crush (the darkest 16 or so pixels are mapped to black). The Intel drivers offer enough controls to mitigate this, though if you completely fix the black crush it makes everything look washed out. Check the photo for the setting that are a good compromise, IMHO. I didn't check for black crush on the old LCD but I don't recall any. I wonder if it's an issue of one expecting so called "video" level LUT (16-255), and the other using computer levels (0-255).

A child's first computer shouldn't be "fun"

My 5 year old has a phone. I've judged many parents for letting their children, even much older than 5, play with phones. But hear me out, I'm not a hypocrite (I hope). We've all see those kids at the supermarket (or the zoo!) watching videos or tapping away at some simple game while the world passes them by. Even the supermarket can be a rich learning experience and even "fun" at times, but if a child would rather look at a phone than animals at the zoo you know something has gone wrong.

And yet I gave my 5 year old a phone. Well, let's consider what apps are installed: a simple drawing program, a calculator, a camera app, and chat (google hangouts, oops). All simple but not designed specifically for kids, so no cutsie pictures or other attempts to capture attention. And she plays with it, but it certainly doesn't suck her in like watching youtube or a game would. There's plenty more interesting things to do in the world (like the zoo!) than her phone, and we've never had to put usage limits on it. Ok, doesn't sound so bad, but what are the upsides? Well she does enjoy it, but also she has a camera, she can draw, and she can play with numbers, and knows how to call her grandma on her own phone. And the cost was just $10 for an android sold by tracfone that has no service plan, just wifi. You'd pay much more just for a junky kids "friendly" camera.

But now I've gone further. Another $10 purchase (thanks craigslist), for a 15 year old thinkpad running windows XP.  What's installed? No games, no internet. But windows explorer (aka the desktop) and microsoft word 2000. Word is awesome. It might be the best learning game ever. You can type anything you like. Select it, move the cursor with the arrow keys, or even delete everything you wrote. It even tells you if what you typed is a word or not. Later on she can learn about word art, tables, etc.

Later on I might show her ms paint. Or how about GW-basic? Actually, what I'd really like is something more modern than basic. Maybe "GW-python"? Regular python would be ok, but the graphics model seems to require a lot more programming knowledge than the old MS basic interpreters did. Anybody know of a good textmode interactive programming tool (with graphics and sound output commands) that wouldn't be overly complex for a kid to pick up? I don't want a visual programming environment or some plug-the-blocks-together "programming" environment.

summary: once you introduce youtube, actual games, etc. there's no going back. Start with the creative stuff that's intrinsically fun first and see how far they get!

PS. I am plotting her first game. Zork. Well, maybe I'm kidding there, but a simple vocabulary interactive fiction game might be an awesome way to encourage her to learn to read bigger words and write sentences, work on spelling, etc. I might have to settle for eliza or a modern variant, but I'm interested in suggestions here.

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