Troubleshooting/Acer Aspire keyboard problem
How resetting the battery on an Acer laptop solved a keyboard problem
I have an Acer Aspire R11 and a neighbour has a similar laptop without the R11 sticker but the same model number on the back: R3-131T-P73T. So we're talking about an Acer Aspire which is either an R3 or an R11 laptop. Mine works fine but theirs has a keyboard problem.
The right hand side of the keyboard is also a number pad - if you use the Function key - but it's not working properly. Pressing some keys produces numbers; others produce letters. The top row of numbers acts like Caps Lock is On, all the time.
These laptops use Windows 10 and the login is either a PIN or a password. It is almost impossible to type the PIN, even though it is only 4 digits. After logging in the computer works fine and any web browsing done with the mouse pad is ok. Just the keyboard is faulty.
We tried these steps first.
- Power OFF (not sleep)
- If you close these laptops or press the power button they go to sleep. Any problem before sleep mode is there when it wakes up. We tried powering OFF so it shut down completely, leaving it for a while and then starting it. Unfortunately there was no change.
- Try to replicate the problem
- As I said, I have a similar computer, but I couldn't replicate the issue through any setting changes.
- Function plus Numlock
- On some laptops if you have an external keyboard attached, a USB keyboard for example, and remove it, the laptop keyboard doesn't operate as you'd expect. Holding the Function Key and the Numlock key together restores the normal state. Sadly, no change on this troublesome computer.
- Ask for help
- The laptop owner contacted Microsoft and their support staff talked her through a number of possible options, none of which worked. Clearly, it wasn't an operating system / configuration issue.
So the next step was to contact the supplier and discuss repair or replacement as the laptop was still under an extended warranty. While waiting for a response we decided to try one more idea, which worked, as described below.-
The number pad area of the keyboard was not working correctly, and numbers could not be selected from the second row of keys either.
What Worked: a Battery Reset
Resetting the battery is suggested on many websites for a range of problems and cannot guarantee a solution to any of them but it's worth a try and does no harm.
After trying a battery reset on this Acer Aspire laptop the keyboard problem was gone.
How to reset the battery
Instructions from Acer in an article How can I disconnect the internal battery from my Acer notebook? are:-
- Unplug AC power adapter
- Locate the battery reset pinhole on the bottom of the computer
- Insert a small paperclip in the battery reset pinhole. Hold the reset button for 4 seconds
- Let the computer sit for 5 minutes with no power
- Connect the AC adapter and power on the system
On the back of the laptop is a tiny hole and a small battery disconnect symbol. It's not hidden but unless you look for it you probably wouldn't notice it.
Why This Worked
Computer memory holds its state - a voltage representing 1 or a lower voltage representing 0 - while power is connected.
Turning a computer OFF should remove the power supplied to memory and these voltages will quickly decay until a zero state remains. But on the Acer laptop (and perhaps others) if the external power adapter is removed, and the computer is turned OFF, the internal battery is still connected and supplies sufficient power to enable memory to hold its data. If that data is somehow causing the appearance of a fault such as the keyboard error described here, the problem will persist for as long as the battery remains connected.
But the computer battery is internal and can only be removed by dismantling the computer, and for most people that is not an option. However, Acer has provided the battery reset button, which is accessed through the small hole in the back of the computer.
Depressing the hidden battery reset button disconnects the internal battery and removes power from the computer memory. Holding the reset button in for 4 seconds gives sufficient time for the voltage in the memory to decay to zero, so the memory holds no data. Don't worry, the data stored on the hard disc is unaffected.
The battery does not reconnect when you stop depressing the reset button. The battery only reconnects when power is supplied through the external power adapter.
When the computer restarts it loads the operating system, drivers and settings and, hopefully, operates as it should.
A battery reset on this Acer laptop is similar to removing the battery from a mobile phone, or using the hidden reset button on phones which are sealed. The effect is the same and in many cases solves those random glitches which defy explanation. It does no harm and may solve other annoying issues where neither the hardware itself nor the operating system and configuration is the cause.
- How can I disconnect the internal battery from my Acer notebook?