Compaq Armada m700 screen killed by driver(long)

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I decided to try updating my graphics drivers this evening as a game I
installed for my little 'un said so.(!)

I downloaded the ATI driver from the Compaq/HP website - ATI rage for the
Armada M700.

As soon as I installed the driver - dated 2001 - the screen began

I also updated the sound driver, then rebooted the system - although it did
not want to be rebooted as the new graphics driver install seemed to crash
at the "restart now" stage. (oh oh)

On restarting, the screen was flickering just like a CRT does when at a very
low refresh rate.  I tried altering the driver settings (increased refresh
rate to 75 as I think that is the highest the laptop would go) but to no
effect - in fact when I checked, the refresh rate was locked at 60 in
another section of the drivers anyway.

I didn't like how this was going, so I tried to uninstall the ATI
utilities - thinking they could be causing a problem.

At this point, the laptop screen went blank - literally as soon as I had
selected the ATI utils and clicked "uninstall".

On reboot the screen flashed up with the Compaq logo then went black.  It
flashed up again when windows XP Pro started, then went black.  I could see
that everything had loaded normally - except no LCD backlight.

Some tinkering later and hooking the laptop up to an external CRT (worked
fine) I eventually tried starting in Safe Mode (no change) then safe mode
command prompt.

After safe mode command prompt and changing back to the original (I think)
ATI driver, the screen came back to life - from Boot up onwards. It was
still flickering, however, so I decided that a reformat was in order.

For whatever reason, the XP Pro CD decided it wasn't playing ball (don't
know why - I used it just 4 weeks ago to install to the laptop!) so I
installed 98SE with a reformat of C: to start with - thinking this would
reset whatever had gone wrong.

No dice.  Same symptoms as at first - if I select between the LCD and CRT
the backlight comes on for about a second then goes off. Same at boot up and
mode changes.

I know the screen is working because;

a) it failed the second I tried to uninstall the "new" ATI drivers

b) when I finally managed to half get rid of them, it started working again.

It seems to me that they have somehow managed to switch the backlight off in
hardware and I cannot for the life of me think how to get this working
again.  A Google doesn't turn any other similar problems up - but I am
probably using the wrong search terms....

This is looking increasingly like it's going to cost me a new laptop unless
I can sort it - does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should try



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