Screen randomly goes blank

The screen on my netbook (http://www.experts-exchange.com/M_5233204.html) goes blank randomly.  It's so random that I little in the way of symptoms to offer.

- The computer will not be idle, I was actively working on something.
- The power light is on (the only LED on my unit) and I can hear the HD
- The screen is ON but black.  Using the laptop function key to switch display (to external monitor like for a projector presentation) will cause the screen to flicker for a brief flash - I can make out faint gray horizontal lines - and then return to same black screen with the monitor on.
- The computer is unresponsive to the graphic card's hot keys (Ctrl + Alt + F1/F3 would toggle between Monitor and Notebook screens) - I've tried this both when it was and wasn't attached to an external monitor.
- I'M NOT SURE but I don't think this ever happened when it was on AC power but it may have (my frustration clouds my memory)

Any ideas?
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mrtuxAsked:
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Kruger_monkeyCommented:
Sounds like a hardware fault.  When it goes black what happens if you plug in an external display and then switch to it?

Also have you tried updating, the bios and display drivers to the latest?

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mrtuxAuthor Commented:
If I plug in an external display and then:

(i) Fn+F1 for external display - nothing happens; or
(ii) Ctrl+Alt+F1 (video card hotkey) for external display - nothing happens.

The BIOS and display drivers are the latest releases from Dell.

I was hopping it wasn't a hardware fault because there's not much I can do for that.  Isn't it weird that the screen is still on but black?  Actually something does happen when I hit Fn+F1, the screen flickers somewhat (faint horizontal lines) as I toggle back and forth so the unit is responsive.
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mrtuxAuthor Commented:
The monitor is on, it's responsive to Fn+F1 commands but there's no video feed to display.  Why isn't anything being sent to the monitor?  I am only wish that this is a software issue? :-)
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Kruger_monkeyCommented:
Difficlut to say for sure.  Are there any inidicators when it goes off?  Length of time, particular application/function.  Anything at all?

Have you tried the latest drivers for your graphics card from the manufactuer and not dell.  I.E.  if you have an ATI chipset the relevant latest drivers direct from ati?

It certainly sounds like a hardware fault of some kind but it can still be software I suppose.  IT could be a heat issue possibly or a problem with the ribbon cables that connect the display.  Having said that though, do you have to restart the computer to get it to come back on?  Is it possibly that windows as a whole is crashing and then black screening?

Have you reviewed the event logs around the times that this happens?  
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mrtuxAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your input!

Difficlut to say for sure.  Are there any inidicators when it goes off?  Length of time, particular application/function.  Anything at all?
Unfortunately I can offer little in the way of symptoms.  I recall surfing the net with firefox once or twice (on battery).  I recall word processing once or twice.  I can remember it happening at least once on the bed (poorly ventilated) and once on a desk (well ventilated).
Have you tried the latest drivers for your graphics card from the manufactuer and not dell.  I.E.  if you have an ATI chipset the relevant latest drivers direct from ati?

The Intel Driver Update utility reports the driver as current (Image attached).It certainly sounds like a hardware fault of some kind but it can still be software I suppose.  IT could be a heat issue possibly or a problem with the ribbon cables that connect the display.  Having said that though, do you have to restart the computer to get it to come back on?  Is it possibly that windows as a whole is crashing and then black screening?
I do have to restart the computer by holding down the power button.
Have you reviewed the event logs around the times that this happens?

How do I review event logs, where are these?

drivers.JPG
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Kruger_monkeyCommented:
Click on start then run and type  eventvwr.  (or you can right click My Computer and select Manage)

Review the application logs and the system logs, especially around the times that it crashes.

If you are having to reset power it's also possible that this is entirely software related.  IE  Windows is crashing and falling over and it's not the screen that's at fault as there is nothing to display after the crash.

Let's see what the event logs have to show if anything.  When did the problem start?  How long ago?  What, if anything, was changed around the time the problem started?
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mrtuxAuthor Commented:
Thanks Kruger.  That's very helpful.  I will take detailed notes from now on with eventvwr.
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mrtuxAuthor Commented:
It happened again this morning a few minutes after I switched from external monitor to netbook display only:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/XP/Q_25554898.html?fromWizard=true
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