Windows 7 on Sony Vaio - Brightness / Sleep problem

I have been running Windows 7 RTM on my Vaio (VGN-Z21WN) since it was released on MSDN, and everything has been working pretty smooth – except for an annoying problem with the display driver.
If I installed the NVIDIA driver (the Vista 32 bit driver from Vaio’s support site), the brightness controls would not work (neither the FN keys nor the slider in Windows power settings).
If I removed the NVIDIA driver (leaving a “standard VGA driver” with a yellow exclamation mark in the device manager), the brightness controls would work fine, but then the computer sleep function no longer worked, and the computer would always hibernate instead of sleeping (when closing lid or pressing power button) – which is a lot slower but shutting down and restarting, and bad for my SSD.

Today I finally found a solution, which I thought I’d share here in case anyone else out there runs into the same problem (I googled a LOT for this, and found nothing).

With the NVIDIA driver installed, in the Windows Device Manager, right-click and disable the NVIDIA adapter (do not uninstall it – just disable it). Leave the Mobile Intel… adapter enabled.

AND in the Windows Services list stop and disable the NVIDIA Display Driver Service – otherwise the display adapter (Device Manager) will be re-enabled every time the computer is restarted.

I expect this configuration might be a problem if I ever need to connect an external monitor/projector (haven’t tried that yet), but then it should be simple enough to temporarily enable the NVIDIA display adapter.

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