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HP mini 1000 Netbook Webcam Issue

on March 2, 2009 8:02 pm

hp-defect-fp

When I was working on my review of the HP mini 1000 netbook, I remember testing the webcam and thinking how dark and grainy the picture was. Rob and I talked about it and after some research, he found some forums where people found a solution. That solution involved doing a bit of surgery though. Rob fixed his, but I didn’t bother since I don’t use a webcam very often. I forgot all about the problem until last week when Judie Lipsett posted a video of a product manager from HP fixing her own HP Vivienne Tam edition netbook.

The fix involves opening the seam between the case and the screen bezel. A small square of tinted plastic film stuck over the webcam window is then removed from the bezel side of the case.

In the video that Judie posted on Gear Diary, the person from HP mentions that she is going to remove the piece of film because it doesn’t belong there.

Again, I sort of forgot about the issue because I don’t use this feature of the netbook. But then I heard that HP asked Judie to remove the video from her site… and then the person from HP left a comment on Judie’s post saying that film is supposed to be there and not to remove it. Hmmmm, so that got me thinking that I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So I decided to try the fix on my own Vivienne Tam netbook.

To start out, I want to show you 2 before pictures.

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Click the thumbnail to see the full size image

This image was taken in my basement office with all lights on. My office has a LOT of lights. I have a 3 bulb compact flourescent lamp in ceiling in the center of the room and then compact flourescent can lights along the edges of walls on two walls. As you can see this image is a bit dim and grainy, but not too bad because I have a LOT of light in that room.

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Click the thumbnail to see the full size image

Here’s a second picture, this time with only the side can lights turned on and no overhead lights. In case you’re wondering, my regular HP Mini 1000 (Black version) has the exact same issue).

Doing the fix was a little scary, so I can understand why HP doesn’t really want people doing this. There’s a good chance that you could scratch the screen, scratch the inside of the Black painted bezel, crack the bezel, etc…

hp-defect-1

Click the thumbnail to see the full size image

To slightly pop open the case (you don’t have to open it all the way… at least I didn’t), I took a guitar pick and wedged it in the seam and twisted it a bit to pop open the two plastic clips on other side of the webcam. Then, I was able to flex the bezel open far enough to get a pair tweezers in there to pull off the plastic film from other side of the webcam window.

hp-defect-2

Click the thumbnail to see the full size image

There’s the film that I removed. You can see that it’s tinted. Why HP ever decided to put that over the webcam lens is really puzzling…

Now for a picture after the I completed the fix.

hp-defect-4

Click the thumbnail to see the full size image

I took this picture in the same place as the other pix and this time it’s only with the side lights like the worse before picture. Wow, you can tell a big difference. And an even bigger difference is that the image isn’t as grainy. I’ll admit that it’s not the best webcam image that I’ve ever seen, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was with the wacko tinted film.

I’m not really sure how to end this post because I’m not sure what HP is going to do to fix this issue for HP Mini owners. Right now they are telling them to just find a brighter place to use their webcams. That’s a really lame solution in my opinion. So we’ll see what happens… If you’re a mini owner with this problem, let me know and if you’ve peformed surgery on yours, let me too know.

Comments

  1. 1
    Phil says:

    Now, take a photo outdoors in bright light.

    The film may have a use as a filter for bright sunlight.

  2. 2
    Howard says:

    They should have make it where you can slide the film back and forth, so you can use it under the bright sun, but no tint when you are indoor. Not a smart move by HP regardless..

  3. 3
    Spork says:

    “an product?” Are you stupid, or just trying to be trendy with your piss-poor grammar?

    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/540/01/


    Remember, using a or an depends on the sound that begins the next word. So…

    * a + singular noun beginning with a consonant: a boy; a car; a bike; a zoo; a dog
    * an + singular noun beginning with a vowel: an elephant; an egg; an apple; an idiot; an orphan
    * a + singular noun beginning with a consonant sound: a user (sounds like ‘yoo-zer,’ i.e. begins with a consonant ‘y’ sound, so ‘a’ is used); a university; a unicycle

    Remember that this rule also applies when you use acronyms:
    Introductory Composition at Purdue (ICaP) handles first-year writing at the University. Therefore, an ICaP memo generally discusses issues concerning English 106 instructors.

    If the noun is modified by an adjective, the choice between a and an depends on the initial sound of the adjective that immediately follows the article:

    * a broken egg
    * an unusual problem
    * a European country (sounds like ‘yer-o-pi-an,’ i.e. begins with consonant ‘y’ sound)

    Remember, too, that in English, the indefinite articles are used to indicate membership in a group:

    * I am a teacher. (I am a member of a large group known as teachers.)
    * Brian is an Irishman. (Brian is a member of the people known as Irish.)
    * Seiko is a practicing Buddhist. (Seiko is a member of the group of people known as Buddhists.)

  4. 4
    Julie says:

    @Spork Wow, are you an a$$ or just a know-it-all? Thanks for the grammar pointers, but I know how to use ‘a’ and ‘an’ in a sentence thank you very much. It was just a typing mistake that I didn’t catch during my proofreading. Thank you for pointing it out in such a friendly manner. I’ve fixed it.

  5. 5
    Claire says:

    I had no idea that’s what the problem was! I was appalled at how bad the webcam was…I wonder why HP put that filter in there. Even if it was for direct sunlight, I imagine people are more likely to use a webcam indoors, so that’s what the camera should be geared toward…

  6. 6
    Claire says:

    Also: I used my CVS Extra Care keychain thingy to pry the bezel open so I wouldn’t nick any of it. Be careful if you do this mod…you don’t want any dust trapped in there when you snap the bezel back into place. I used some compressed air before snapping the bezel back down, just to be sure.

  7. 7
    Chris says:

    @Spork

    You do realize that your rush to judgment, vitriol, and use of expletives thoroughly undermines any good you may think you are bringing to the world?

    And, because I know it will get you two ways, I must conclude by agreeing with Julie.

    You are a A$$.

    Julie,
    Did it look to you like it was supposed to be there, or a manufacturing temp, that was not removed?

  8. 8
    Julie says:

    @Chris: When I first read about the film, I thought it might just be a stick on clear layer of plastic that you tend to see on brand new phones and other electronics. That’s not what this is. It was really stuck down and is thicker than the typical protective sticker. I just don’t know why it’s there… you would think that quality control would test the webcam and notice that the picture was dark…

  9. 9
    Chris T. says:

    Wonder if the film protects the webcam from _damage_ from sunlight? And HP didn’t want people to know their webcams would get damaged from just being in direct sunlight?

  10. 10
    Rich says:

    Spork–

    Are you stupid or don’t you know how to punctuate a sentence properly? A comma does not belong between the words “stupid” and “or” in the sentence “Are you stupid, or just trying to be trendy…”

    Check the internet or email your 3rd grade English teacher for “an” explanation. Ask her to explain it to you slowly with small words.

  11. 11
    Mark says:

    Does HP offer an upgraded web-cam? One of the nasty secrets of a lot of electronics is that the ‘cheaper’ versions have a lot of the features of better versions, but they are crippled somehow. I wonder if the film is designed to cripple this version? (DANG I am getting cynical in my old age!)

  12. 12
    sigh says:

    HP support site has a maintenance and service guide which provides the instruction to open up the display assembly. But you will have to almost take apart the entire Mini 1000 (keyboard, HDD, top cover, speakers, hinges etc).

    No, I have not tried it yet.

  13. 13
    jonny says:

    Thank you – the comparison of camera shots before and after were very illuminating. I don’t think I’ve ever conferenced outdoors so I don’t think outdoor lighting bleaching the camera shot will be a problem for me, whereas appearing as if in a murky soup indoors has been.

    And, as to the poster with the stupid name of Spork, I’m sorry that you didn’t find satisfaction in an product you don’t own, you as*clown troll.

  14. 14
    Ed says:

    I wonder if that’s an IR filter. Sony had to retro them into their nightshot cameras to prevent pervs from taking see through shots on the beach.

  15. 15
    OoBa says:

    This just fixed the preposterously dark webcam on my HP Mini 1030NR
    Thanks!!!

  16. 16
    crystal says:

    First of all, sorry if i have grammar or even mispell for any of you who r english grammar freaks ( spark).. im writing this at 4 am.. im sleepy, yet very curious in how to fix the hp mini 1000 becuase i just purchased it last nite and i was very disappointed about the webcam. webcaming is a big thing to me and everything seems to be fine except for the dark and grainy picture! How do i remove that stupid film?? I already repackage the thing and ready to return it when they open. can you tell me step by step how to perform this surgery. oh n btw after u remove it, is it really better in terms of needing alot of lights? kuz my room is pretty dark and its annoying to put the light right next to me to webcam. thanks everyone n julie for posting up the solution

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Marissa says:

    I have the same problem as all you do, I am just too scared to pop open the case. I feel as if I can break it, are you positive nothing bad can happen?

    I found another way to lighten up the webcam with windows live messanger but if I could pull the tint off I will, as long as you can reassure me nothing bad will happen?

  19. 19
    corey says:

    no offense >.< but reading this and seeing how a girl was able to pop this open and remove the film without breaking it gave me the courage to do the same.

    i had a guitar pick laying right next to me cuz i was playing earlier, so i slid it carefully through the seams and popped the right plastic clip then the left (dont worry, it wont break as easily as you might think!)

    got a thin piece of metal (nail file) and carefully scraped a corner of the film off, then used tweezers to pull it out. worked like a charm. thanks a bunch :P

  20. 20
    Julie says:

    @corey I’m not just any old girl though. Give me a little cred. ;)

  21. 21
    backlineguy says:

    I had the same issue with the webcam, and used this method to remove the small piece of tint inside the bezel…it’s MUCH better now, and I can actually SEE an image now, without having to place a light inches from my face!….thanks so much…I would caution anyone considering this method – use extreme care when attempting to peel this small piece back…if you fragment even the tiniest piece, it could fall in front of your screen, and become a constant reminder…take your time, and work slowly…the piece you need to remove is in the bezel – not the camera lens itself…thanks again!

  22. 22
    AJ says:

    Thank you for the advice! This worked perfectly and my webcam is much improved.

  23. 23
    Bridgette says:

    That was so helpful! Before I bought this laptop I had done my research and knew I had to do this. This site gave me the courage to do it, and I just want to say thankyou for the actual photo of what the film looks like (so I knew what to pull out) and the picture of the case opening (so I wasnt afraid of opening it that far in case it broke),
    Thankyou again!

  24. 24
    beergut says:

    ha- I can’t even figure out how to use my web cam!

  25. 25
    Sophie says:

    I tried this thing before with no success. I couldn’t get the screen open far enough! maybe it was just my fright at opening the thing. If anyone could offer some instructions on how to actually open the case/bezel, that would be great. Thanks!

  26. 26
    Julie says:

    @Sophie It is scary to try to open it. You have to use something thin like a guitar pick to carefully snap the plastic tabs open.

  27. 27
    brad says:

    i have my boss’s computer to install softaware and it is a hp mini 1000 and i love this computer and i just did the that to my web cam and i works but you have to be careful i now have to take the screen and clean it on the inside wich sucks this should be done on a desk i did thisw in my kitchen haha hope my boss dosent see this

  28. 28
    Andy says:

    I’m from Indonesia where people don’t speak English, so please be kind to me :)
    Thanks Julie for sharing this information and I’m going fix my webcam now.

  29. 29
    webcam grrr says:

    hey guys,
    okay, well i have the hp mini netbook also,
    BUT i cannot figure out how to start the webcam up!
    at all!!
    soooo,
    can you help me please?
    its very irritating trying to find out how to start it up.
    thank you.

  30. 30
    lightbearer says:

    i can’t do video chat with my hp mini, too (not to mention it’s super dark, i havent done any film strip surgery over it). please tell me how to make it work. i heard that you can use a software called cheese, but it works in linux, not windows :(

  31. 31
    Prince says:

    Thanks Julie. This was one issue whichhas been troubling my mind eversince I bought HP mini. I asked somany people including the dealer who sold it to me. No one had the answer.Even lower brands like HCL were giving brighter pictures. I ‘m a family physician. Hence I used a forceps (!)to perform this surgery! Successfully removed that cataract from the webcam’s eye!! Thank you soooooooooooo much again

  32. 32
    petter says:

    When using the HP webcam software that comes installed on the machine, I find that the controls for the webcam are obscured by the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Putting the toolbar on autohide doesn’t help, because when I try to sneak the cursor down to activate the microphone, for example, the toolbar pops back up an obscures it. I’m probably as stupid as the folks Spork has to put up with, but if anyone else has had this problem please let me know!

  33. 33
    meirna says:

    Hi Julie,
    I just bought Hp Mini viviene tam yesterday, and my hubby and i did the “surgery” and succesfully plug out those square sticky things, but sadly my webcam still so dark and blur..i even installed the software suggested by some guy in hp.com..but still far away from the picture that you capture from your camera…can you please suggested any other way to fix this problem?

    thanks a bunch!

  34. 34
    Julie says:

    @meira Those are the only two fixes I know :(

  35. 35
    ^_^ says:

    olaaaa!
    tengo un problema cn mi netbook esek cundo me conecto al msn pongo la cam y em sale mas pekeña de lo normal..
    como puedo hacerla mas grande¿?
    Gracias ^_^

  36. 36
    Gloveda says:

    Poor spork! We are here not for grammar class! Stupid person is.. A MAN THAT DOESN’T KNOW WHICH PURPOSE OF THIS TREAD DEDICATED TO.. So you better learn!!!!!

  37. 37
    Carolee says:

    Thank you for the help Julie! It really wasn’t that hard at all, and I’m only 17 haha. I did it and it worked perfectly. Fixed it all up, except for a couple little black specks from what I was using, I guess. There is one right smack dab in the center of my screen, and its bothering me sooo much. I really want to get it out, any suggestions? Please and thanks! :)

  38. 38
    Melody says:

    Thank you so much! My webcam had been bothering me for a while and I finally did something about it, thanks to your great advice. :D

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