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How to make external displays work correctly on toshiba tecra r840-s8420 laptop?

Posted on 2011-10-05
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I just bought a tecra r840-s8420 laptop and a toshiba hi-speed port replicator II. This replaced my old hp laptop with its own docking station. The docking station connects to a vga splitter that connects 2 large tv displays and a 19" monitor. This setup worked with no problem on the hp laptop/docking station.
With the tecra I constantly get a connect/disconnect sound from windows, and the screen flash on and off as they external video devices connect and disconnect constantly. It is as if the vga cable is being disconnected from the dock and then plugged back in repeatedly.
I tried without the docking station and after a while the same thing happens when plugged into the laptop directly. For whatever reason, the more USB devices I connect to the docking station, the faster it gives me this problem.
I replaced the computer with an identical model, and had the same problem. I then replaced the docking station with an identical model and had the same problem.
I tried many driver updates from the toshiba site, but none seemed to work. Right, now I have removed the docking station and only have the external vga, usb keyboard and mouse connected to the laptop. It is holding stable, but the last time I did this it took a few hours before it started acting up. If I try to connect my USB  printer it starts flashing the screens on and off almost immediately.
I thought it was possible a power issue when connecting too many usb devices, so I bought a usb hub with its own power supply. No help.
The video inside the tecra is integrated intel. I checked the intel site, and tried all the drivers they had available that seemed like it might work with this laptop, as well as the ones on the toshiba site. Everything in device manager looks good.

Any ideas?
thanks
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Question by:dwils15
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by:Mike
ID: 36919652
Do you have SP1 or just regular Windows 7?
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by:Mike
ID: 36919656
and are all updates in place?
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by:dwils15
ID: 36919812
Yes all widows updates are in place. Sp1
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by:JRaster
ID: 36920347
Set to a lower screen resolution?
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by:dwils15
ID: 36920983
The laptop is set at 1360x768(recommended). The external monitors are set at Teiresias recommended resolutions, but go through the VGA splitter.
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Assisted Solution

by:Jim-R
Jim-R earned 1000 total points
ID: 36921322
From anything I've experienced before, you were right on track about the USB power issue.  I think you still have a USB power issue in spite of the powered hub.  The flashing / connect-disconnect sounds is the device struggling to get enough power.  Too much current draw and it gets kicked off and reconnects again.

Your laptop has one USB 3 port and 2 USB 2.  Are you using all 3?  How do you have things distributed?

Cable length often plays an important role on more power demanding USB devices.  The shorter the cable the better, and the heavier the wire is in the cable the better (often never mentioned).

It would be interesting to monitor the USB voltage as your malfunction occurs at the end of the cable that these devices are connected to.

What about the power profiles?  Laptops have power saving profiles to extend battery usage.  A low power profile kicking in may have something to do with this.

You mention 3 monitors and one VGA splitter.  This is a POWERED VGA splitter, correct?  Does it have 3 outputs?  

Having worked in the Audio Visual industry (as a service technician) at a company who's specialty was LCD projectors commonly used with laptops for portable sales presentations, I have seen many laptops unable to even provide enough signal strength to run one projector if the signal cable wasn't a short one.

Cable length with video signals were an issue also.  When we did custom boardroom installations, the cable from video inputs on a boardroom table may have to travel over a hundred feet by the time the projector on the boardroom ceiling got the signal from someone's laptop on the table.  The VGA cable was about 3/8 of an inch in diameter and cost around five bucks a foot.  If you didn't use it, you'd have all sorts of problems from distortion to ghosting, but I digress.
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Assisted Solution

by:Callandor
Callandor earned 1000 total points
ID: 36923939
Test each display device separately from the external VGA port of the laptop.  You need to simplify where to look for the problem, because it sounds too complex to isolate the way it is now.  Once you have working situations, add other components in to see what happens.
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by:dwils15
ID: 36924404
I have connected each device alone through the splitter. The 19" monitor never gives problems, but the tvs both act up. I think they will work if the USB printer isn't plugged in though.
The splitter does have it's own power supply. The cables are bigger, thicker VGA cables.
The problem really seems like it is a power issue from the laptop, even though the splitter has it's own power and the USB hub that the printer is on has it's own power.
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by:Jim-R
ID: 36927159
OK, powered splitter confirmed.

2 or 3 output?

Splitter make and model (for research on specs)

Large TV make and model

What do you mean you "think" the TV's work if the USB printer isn't plugged in?  Are you not sure?  Are you doing this with second hand information?

Can you set the same situation up with a desktop computer?  If it works with a desktop computer, the issue will be from the laptop.  It's possible that something else besides the laptop is not exactly as it was (could have changed) since this particular setup last worked properly.  As Callandor implies, you have to have a situation working before you can add things to the mix.  Troubleshooting is a process of elimination.  If you don't have "known good' to work with, you're beat before you start.
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by:Callandor
ID: 36928134
Make sure your USB ports are configured not to save power in device manager - they may be powering off for some reason.
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by:dwils15
ID: 36928188
Splitter: unknown.
There is no name on the splitter. It just says:
Video splitter 4-port.
on the back it says:
model number: video splitter
signal type: VGA, SVGA, XGA, Multisync
Power 9V
Bandwitdh (-3db): 250MHz\350MHz


Large TV: Panasonic TH-65PF10

Small TV: Dell  W5001CHD TV

I say I think because when I tested it without the printer connected, I didnt have an issue. What makes it challenging to determine is that I can connect all of this one way and it works fine for an hour, and then starts acting up. Then other times it will start acting up after only 5 minutes. I connected everything last night, and checked it every for over 3 hours. It looked fine. I came in this morning and it was flashing again. It could be that it would start doing this again without the printer, but  I just hadnt left it connected long enough. I will try it again tonight and see whats happening in the morning.

As for the desktop computer, I dont have one to use in there. I had an hp laptop with an hp dock that connected to this same splitter, monitor and tvs and never had this problem.

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by:dwils15
ID: 36928276
Even with the printer disconnected, but the 3 external monitors connected through the splitter, the screens still disconnect.

USB port are configured to not turn off.
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by:Callandor
ID: 36928306
Do you know what the power ratings are of all your connected USB peripherals?  Each USB port on the laptop is rated for 500mA, but if a device is drawing a lot of current, even a powered USB hub may not be enough.  It would be good to know if the USB port connection is correlated to your display problem.
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by:dwils15
ID: 36928315
I just looked at that. The only USB devices I have plugged in are the keyboard and mouse. Both show 100mA. There are a few other devices that show as connected that are under 100, and one showing 500mA. I dont know what they are though. I think its something built in. Like the fingerprint scanner etc. As I was looking through the device manager and clicking on the devices showing up under the USB hub I came across thing that made me think it was something internal or at least built onto the laptop. I dont know why else it would should devices connected when there clearly is nothing except a mouse and keyboard connected.
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by:Jim-R
ID: 36929155
There are a few other devices that show as connected that are under 100, and one showing 500mA. I dont know what they are though.

No way is the fingerprint reader drawing the 500ma.  500ma is half of one amp.  Because the fingerprint reader is available all of the time (optionally when the laptop is off).  It would kill the battery.  The most current a USB device is allowed is 500ma.  If some USB device is on the edge, the computer may be shutting ALL USB connected devices down for protection and taking the video out with it if it goes 1ma over.

From the Toshiba web site:

The Tecra R840's leading connectivity features provide incredible versatility. USB 3.0 and eSATA provide rapid data transfer, while display port and express card interfaces offer connections to a range of external devices. Toshiba Sleep-and-Charge keeps phones and email devices charged, even if the laptop is switched off, and an integrated fingerprint reader keeps your laptop secure.

No specifics available from Toshiba, however a Lenovo laptop spec obtained here states

From the datasheet (Power Consumption Imaging: 60mA
Selective Suspend: 1.3mA¿)
with 1.3mA@5V that makes approximately 0.01Wh or 0.24Wh/d which means that the standard 9 cell battery (101.5Wh) could supply the reader for 1.15 years, if the battery self-discharge wouldn't stop it ealier, that is

Imaging is when the fingerprint scanner is actually scanning a finger.

If something else is drawing 500ma within the laptop, it isn't going to matter what an external hub with a power supply is doing.  It surely isn't going to supply any spare power back to the laptop.  If you find the 500ma culprit, you may just find the answer to your problem.

The command line (from an Admin Dos box):

Powercfg -energy

creates a report that may help with identifying the devices.
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by:dwils15
ID: 36931420
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by:dwils15
ID: 36931442
energy-report.html

 Nothing really stood out at me, but Im not really sure what Im looking for.
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by:dwils15
ID: 36931492
energy-report.html
I am posting different scenarios. Just in case you can find a difference between them. I dont notice anything really though.
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by:dwils15
ID: 36933276
Under device manager there are 3 "Generic USB HUB" listings. The third one is from the dock. When I take the laptop off the dock there are only two.
The third one is the one showing a 500mA device connected, but there is nothing connected to it at all. Just the laptop and power cord. No speakers, no monitors, no internet, no USB, nothing.

When I try to set it up with the screens/splitter, mouse keyboard, internet (without the docking station) all connected to the laptop I dont have any problems, until I plug the usb printer in (with or without powerd usb hub).

The same setup on the docking station (still no printer) and the screens flash after a while.
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by:Jim-R
ID: 36933433
The only thing that gets near 500ma in any device showing up amongst the USB devices is the wireless Ethernet adapter.  This is on an ASUS desktop MB

 USB Power.
I couldn't find anything in the USB items in those reports that would draw 500 mills.

Maybe you can find it in device manager like the info above.
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dwils15 earned 0 total points
ID: 37064129
I ended up replacing the laptop with an asus and buying a 3rd party docking station that connects is USB. Works great. I think my original assessment of the toshiba not supplying enough power is the best answer, though not a solution to the problem.

Thanks for the help.
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by:dwils15
ID: 37089797
Thanks again
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