Replacing a Memopad HD7 screen

It probably was just a matter of time, but one of my sons dropped his Asus Memopad HD 7 and cracked the digitizer assembly. What we usually call the screen actually sits behind the breakable piece of glass, and more often than not, it’s the glass digitizer that breaks. I left it that way for a while, but once the screen cracks, the cracks tend to spread, and eventually the tablet will get to a point where it’s unresponsive.

Replacement digitizers are available on Ebay. Note the exact model number of your tablet (my kids have ME173Xs, so here’s an ME173X screen) because they aren’t all interchangeable. The part costs around $20. It took me about three hours to replace because it was my first one. If I did this every day I could probably do it in 30 minutes, and I’m guessing if I have to do another–ideally I won’t–it will take an hour or so.

Remove the micro SD card. Double-check to make sure you removed the SD card, then check again. This is important, because you’ll destroy the SD card slot if you remove the back with the card in it, and as far as I know, repairing the SD card slot isn’t possible if you do.

Remove the back. Then disconnect the battery. See the links for more details on that.

Hold the tablet with the headphone jack facing up and the screen away from you. You will see two plastic holders underneath the green stickers with barcodes on them. Flip the holders down to release the ribbon cable for the screen/digitizer. Tug downward slightly on the cable to release it. Practice pushing the cable back in. The white line goes all the way up against the connector.

Next, place the tablet face up, with the cracked screen facing you, on a piece of antistatic foam, such as what comes with a computer motherboard.

Pour a bit of 91% isopropyl alcohol into a cap, then pull it into a child’s medicine syringe. Squeeze a bit of alcohol into the tiny gap between the glass and the plastic bezel. Let the alcohol soak in, then repeat.

Cut a piece of thin hard plastic from a retail package, like the ones light bulbs come in. I used one from a computer memory DIMM.

Run the plastic up against the tiny gap where the glass meets the bezel until you find a weak spot where you can push the plastic in. Squeeze more alcohol into the widening gap, and work the plastic along the whole side until you free that side of the screen. Work your way to the corners, then around the corners, until you’ve freed all four sides. If the glass is deeply cracked, be careful not to cut yourself on any of the pieces. On the sides, the adhesive extends about 1/8 of an inch beyond the edge of the bezel. On the top and bottom, it extends nearly 1/2 an inch.

Once I get a piece of plastic into a corner, I like to leave it in the corner, cut a new piece, then keep moving. It gets easier once you’ve made a couple of passes around the whole edge of the screen. Just keep repeating and squirting more alcohol into the gap until it doesn’t seem to help anymore.

The screen will come out rather easily when it’s ready. Once you free the first corner, you’ll see how the rest goes.

You can get special narrow tape designed for replacing screens, but pretty much any household two-sided tape will work fine to hold the screen in. The standard stuff is too wide for the sides, but the fit is close enough when I cut it in half. It’s fine as-is for the top and bottom. It doesn’t take much to hold these together, especially if you keep the tablet in a case, which I highly recommend. You’ll replace a lot fewer screens that way.

Most likely when you removed the glass, lots of gunk got on the LCD screen behind it. Clean that off with alcohol and compressed air. Also make sure the glass doesn’t have anything on it, because after you reassemble it, it will show.

Thread the new screen cable through the hole on the left, then carefully line up the screen, then press it down into place. I had the alignment off by a bit so the screen didn’t quite fit right in one corner, but that’s easy enough to correct at the end.

Flip the tablet back over and insert the ribbon cables in the plugs. It’s tricky, so take your time. Flip the two white clips down once the ribbons are all the way in the plugs.

Now, the moment of truth: Plug the battery back in and power the tablet back on, with the back still off. Make sure the tablet responds to movement correctly. If it doesn’t, one or both of the ribbon cables aren’t plugged in all the way. Tweak them until the tablet responds to movement. When you’re satisfied it works properly, power it back down and put it back together.

If the screen didn’t completely seat in the bezel properly, once the back is on, press firmly along the edge of the tablet. There’s enough give in the adhesive to let the screen slide into place, but not enough give that the screen is going to pop back out on its own.

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