Fixing an unresponsive screen on a Samsung Series 7 Slate with Windows 8

I currently travel with a Windows 8 slate, the slate being the retail Samsung Series 7 model (similar but not the same as the one given to Build attendees in 2011).

It is a decent machine with good performance, but has one considerable annoyance. From time to time, when waking the device from sleep or even turning on from cold, the screen stops responding to touch. The crude fix is to reset it by turning it off, then holding down the power button so it reboots. Open documents may be lost of course.

I do not have a cure for this behaviour, though I would love to know. However I have discovered the cause, which is that one or both Intel USB host controllers fails to start. You can see the problem in Device Manager:

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How do you even get to this screen? Well, on my machine, if the top Intel host controller has a problem, then pen input fails but touch works. If the second Intel host controller fails, touch input fails but pen input works. If both fail (which also happens) you are sunk unless you can remote desktop in from another machine on the network.

Once you are in – via pen, touch, or remote desktop – right-click the offending controller and choose Disable. Then right-click again and choose Enable. This will fix the problem until next time.

A likely fix would be an updated driver for the host controller. The current driver dates from 2006.

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However I cannot easily find anything more up to date.

Update: I have succeeded in updating the driver to one from February 2013 but it does not fix the problem. My conclusion is that the error in the USB Enhanced Host Controller is the symptom and not the cause of the issue. It is a resume or power-on problem; such as something happening too quickly or in the wrong order. Again, suggestions welcome!

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5 thoughts on “Fixing an unresponsive screen on a Samsung Series 7 Slate with Windows 8

  1. eric samson

    Tim,
    I have exactly the same problem on the exact same device and it is really a pain. I also made the same analysis, leading to the USB host controllers. I’ve spent time with Samsung support, but they just don’t know anything, the only thing they can propose is to re-install Windows 8 or even to install Windows 7.
    Hopefully, they will release a new driver one day.
    Eric.

    1. Tim Post author

      Hi Eric

      What driver do you have for the USB host controllers? I’ve just installed the Intel chipset drivers, and despite warning that a later version was installed, I now have a 2010 Intel driver in place of the 2006 Microsoft driver. Whether it will fix the issue remains to be seen!

      Tim

  2. eric samson

    Tim,
    I have the 2006 version installed.
    Please let me know if the new version fixes the problem.
    Which driver update did you install exactly?
    Best regards, Eric.

  3. Khan

    Hi there,

    While the issue can’t be fixed, I automated the workaround you describe so that the Intel devices get reenabled before you log on. It fixes the non working digital pen / external peripherals as well.

    The script is really simple, it’s called ReviveIntel and it can be found on http://wokhan.online.fr.
    It consists on a scheduled task (triggered when the computer wakes up), a little batch file and the devcon.exe utility from Microsoft (which I am probably not allowed to include in this package, but I don’t want people to have to download a full SDK only for ONE file, so sorry MS, if you disagree, ask Intel or Samsung to release a bug fix…).

    Of course, it’s only for the Samsung Slate 7 with Windows 8 / 8.1.

    Enjoy ;-)

    Khan

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