Thursday, June 03, 2010

Dell XPS (mine) laptop looses keyboard, requires hard reboot; is this a known problem?

I had a bizarre problem with my Dell XPS laptop today. Yesterday, I had installed the hooks to a new Cisco-Comcast cable modem, everything working (see yesterday’s post).

Today, I let it go to sleep a couple hours. During a thunderstorm, I pull out the power and let it run down on the battery to about 30%. There are no close lightning strikes, and after the storm I plug it back in to power. I go back to work on a Word document and find that the keyboard doesn’t respond.

Everything else works. The Internet connection is fine. The touchpad works (although it’s always goofy and overly sensitive). You can click on things and start programs, but you can’t type anything in. You can’t even use the delete or insert keys.

I check the keyboard on the control panel. Windows Vista says that the device is working properly.

I try a restart and it doesn’t fix it. A cold boot (taking the time to pull out the power cord for some seconds in between and putting it back in) does fix it.

Now, to be complete, I did run Webroot spysweeper scan before the cold boot, but all it found was spy cookies, no “real viruses.”

The XPS keyboard is a bit fragile. Untrimmed fingernails can dig under the keys and cause them to come loose. The “e” key is already loose.

I found a reference on the web to another Dell laptop (C610) that sometimes dropped the keyboard use and required a “hard shutdown” here.

Update: Best Buy says that this is a known intermittent problem with Windows Vista and some laptop manufacturers: the keyboard can get disconnected during hibernation and require a cold boot. Windows 7 may fix it.

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