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Ask Max: Will my iBook suffer a performance hit if I only use an external monitor?

Asked on 04/17/2007:

I am using an iBook G3 600. It has display problem. I have to set the lid in a precarious position otherwise it goes away. It doesn't black out but it is like having the display set to lowest level. That is I can still see the icons but really dark. It is really a pain in the neck to maintain the lid in a workable position.

While at home I connected to my old HP monitor and it works well and is much more comfortable to work that way.

I am sure the problem is with the connectors inside. It will easily cost me $200 plus to get it fixed by a Pro. I thought I will buy a LCD monitor that is available around $150-200 and use this iBook as a desktop. Will this arrangement cause any problem to the performance of this iBook? Can you suggest any type of monitor?


You are correct in your assumption that it is an internal connection causing the display to dim. What you describe is a faulty backlight connection or cable. Inside every LCD are florescent tubes that shine light through the changing pixels of the LCD. Most times there are only two wires that connect those lights to the main housing. Those wires run through the hinge and can be pulled loose from years of opening and closing the laptop’s lid. It may not be a difficult fix to check the connection of those cables, but if the cables need to be replaced then it can get expensive.

Using an external monitor is a fine low-cost solution with no ill effects. You will basically be turning your iBook into a Mac Mini. The one limitation with using a LCD on an iBook is that it will not display a higher resolution than what you were able to get on the built-in display. So you do not need to spend your money on a display with a higher resolution than 1024 X 768. I have always liked Planar displays and the 17" PL 1700 would be a good option for you.

The only other thing you will need is a good keyboard and mouse. That way you can type directly in front of the display.

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