Section 3.7. Troubleshooting Your Monitor

3.7. Troubleshooting Your Monitor

When figuring out what's wrong with a monitor, the biggest problem boils down to fingering the troublemaker: your monitor or video card (Section 3.8). Since the video card feeds your monitor everything it displays, it's the prime suspect in most problems. Still, try the following troubleshooting steps on the rare chance your monitor's on the fritz. If none of these fix your problem, then the fault lies with the video card; head for its Troubleshooting section (Section 3.8.3) instead.

Figure 3-9. Disconnect the TV cable where it enters your cable box or TV, and then connect it to the single end of this RF splitter, a handy gadget sold at most electronics stores for a few dollars. The splitter breaks the signal into two identical signals. Plug a second cable into one of the two new ports and connect it back to your TV or cable box. Then connect another cable between the splitter's remaining port and your PC's tuner.

Cleaning the Monitor

Monitors look their dirtiest when turned off. Then you can really see the dust, sneeze marks, and swatted gnats . To clean an LCD monitor, reach for the standard "lint-free cloth," meaning anything sold for cleaning camera lenses or eye- glasses . (Most optometrists give them away during your checkup, if you remember to ask.) Lacking that, stick with a 100-cotton cloth. A little warm water on the cloth removes just about everything. Don't wipe the screen with anything made of paper, including a tissue , as the fibers leave scratches that build up over time.

The front of a CRT monitor contains glass, not plastic, so it's much less picky about its cleaning cloth. As with an LCD display, start cleaning with a little warm water. Spray a little glass cleaner on the cloth, if necessary, to get rid of the real stubborn stuff.

3.7.1. No Picture on the Monitor

When your monitor presents you with an empty black screen, look at its power switch. Most monitors light up their On buttonor an adjacent lightto let you know that they're plugged in, saving you from crawling beneath the desk. If you don't spot a light, check the power cord at the wall, as well as where it plugs into the back of your monitor. Once everything's plugged in, check for the following problems:

  • Check the cable for bent pins . If the monitor's plugged in with a lit power button, unplug the cable from your PC's port and the monitor. Then carefully inspect the cable's connectors. If any pins look bent, like the one in Figure 3-10, carefully straighten it with needle-nose pliers, and then plug it back in. You may get lucky. If you're not lucky and are left holding a broken pin, replace the video cable to solve the problem.

    Figure 3-10. Sometimes a bent pin in a monitor's cable connector keeps it from working properly. If you spot a bent pin, like this one on the plug's bottom right, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to straighten it back in line with the rest of its neighbors.
  • Look for a menu . When a monitor doesn't receive any signal from the PC, it splashes a message or menu on the screen. If you spot that message or menu, the monitor's working fine. The culprit then lies with your video card (Section 3.8.2), the video cable, or some of the video card's settings (Section 3.8.1). No menu? Keep suspecting the monitor.

  • Plug in a spare video cable . You're lucky if this fix works; you may simply need to replace a bad cable. Pick one up for less than $20 at most stores selling computers or office supplies .

  • Plug in a spare monitor . Plugging in a spare monitor, either borrowed from another computer or a neighbor, provides a foolproof diagnosis. If the spare monitor works but your monitor doesn't, it's time to start shopping for a replacement monitor. Adjust a CRT monitor

CRT monitors require much more adjusting than LCD monitors to keep their pictures looking pretty. Every time you change the monitor's resolution (Section 3.8.1), for instance, the sides of the screen creep away from the monitor's margins.

CRT monitors rely on knobs for calibration, unlike the push-button controls of LCD monitors. The knobs usually hide inside a flip-down panel along the monitor's front bottom edge. Before reaching for the knobs , though, be sure your monitor's been turned on for at least 30 minutes so it's warmed up.

Little icons next to the knobs explain their purposes. The icons usually show a picture of the monitor and arrows showing how turning the knob affects the screen, either by condensing , widening, or shifting it to the left or right.

Several free programs simplify adjusting a CRT monitor. Nokia's freebie Nokia Test ( places different patterns on the screen, each designed for a specific function. One pattern fills the entire screen with squares; turn your CRT monitor's vertical and horizontal controls until the squares stop falling off the screen's corners or edges. You can use the shades of grays on another pattern to adjust your brightness and contrast settings for optimum visibility without eyestrain.

Johannes Wallroth's Test Screens program ( walks you through similar adjustments. Among other things, you can check its displays of tiny text so that you can judge your monitor's focus, or even perform amateur eye exams. Adjust an LCD monitor

Almost all LCD monitors come with built-in software for changing their settings, which you usually control by poking at four buttons along the monitor's front. Pushing the buttons in the correct sequence adjusts the brightness and contrast, and neatly aligns the picture with the monitor's edges. The terse and unfriendly menu quickly traps unsuspecting visitors with dead-end menus . (If you're stuck and can't figure out how to just get rid of the adjustment menu, ignore the monitor. Most automatically remove their menu 30 seconds after you stop pushing buttons.)

To adjust the monitor's settings when the display shakes, blurs, or doesn't fit on the screen, try the adjustments listed in the order below.

Tip: To control the menu system on most LCD monitors, press the Menu button to summon the monitor's adjust menu and see its options. The Plus and Minus buttons move up or down the menu's list of options, highlighting each one in turn. Press the Menu button again to select a highlighted option. And press the Exit button (or choose Exit from a menu) to leave the menus.
  • Auto button . Before spelunking through your monitor's cavernous adjustment menus, look for its handy guide: the Auto button. Built into most modern monitors, the Auto button reads the incoming signal and automatically adjusts your monitor's screen. By all means, press the Auto button if the image doesn't fit the screen correctly, or if the color looks awful .

  • Adjustment menu . If the Auto adjustment button fails, start spelunking. Push the monitor's Menu buttonit often bears a little picture of the monitorto see a list of options; press the adjacent Plus or Minus buttons to move between options.

    After highlighting an option you want to adjustBrightness, for instancepress the Menu button again to enter the Brightness menu. Press the Plus or Minus buttons to increase or decrease the Brightness to your personal comfort level. Press the Menu button again to exit the Brightness settings and move onto another category.

Tip: Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, a digital photo editor bundled with some digital cameras , places an Adobe Gamma icon in your Control Panel. Running Adobe's Gamma utility walks you through adjusting your monitor's brightness, contrast, and color settings with ease.
  • Foreign language menus . Manufacturers sell your monitor on many continents, so most monitors let you switch the menu's languages. If your monitor's menu traps you in a foreign land, keep pressing the Plus or Minus buttons until you see the word "English" on a menu. Push Menu to enter the Language settings, and then push the Plus button until you highlight "English." Finally, push the Exit menu to revert to English.

  • Factory Reset . If the monitor looks worse than when you started tinkering with its settings, look for the menu's Factory Reset option and choose it by pushing Menu. Your monitor instantly looks the way it did when it left the factory, giving you a clean slate for starting overor leaving well enough alone, should the screen suddenly look fantastic.

PCs: The Missing Manual
ISBN: 0596100930
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 206
Authors: Andy Rathbone

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