Alex Scoble

Sony SXRD HDTV: "Yellow stain" woes

By Alex Scoble
March 07, 2007 9:33 PM EST
I've previously written about the Sony SXRD HDTV sets and my experiences with them here and here.

Unfortunately, while I still like the sets and think that the technology is the best out there dollar for dollar for large screen TVs (50" and up), I have recently run into a problem with my set.

My set developed what is being called elsewhere as the "yellow stain" issue. Basically, something goes wrong with the display engine (probably in the SXRD chips themselves) that makes the TV start to put a yellow tinge to the display, most notably in the upper right hand corner of the screen. The longer the TV is on, particularly when displaying static images, the worse it gets. The problem goes away after the set is turned off for a few hours, but then comes back again after the SXRD HDTV has been on for a little while.

If you display a static image for 30 minutes or so, such as the main menu of the Xbox 360, the problem will show up when you switch to watch something else. Again, the problem mainly manifests itself on the upper right hand of the screen, but you will start to see the "yellow stains" elsewhere as well.

Another good example? Play a game such as Need For Speed: Carbon on your SXRD set for 30 minutes or more and when you switch to watch something else, you will continue to see a yellow stain in the shape of the Heads Up Display (HUD) used for the cars in the game.

Now, not all SXRD sets have this issue, but apparently enough do that there is a class action lawsuit against Sony over the issue.

Anyhow, today I had a repair person out to replace the display engine for my 50" XBR SXRD unit, a process which took around 3 hours or so. I was lucky that it happened while the unit was under warranty.

Then again, since the repair does not extend my warranty, even for the replacement part, I may be out of luck if the issue happens again in 9 months time.

What's odd to me is that none of the large screen manufacturers that I know of are offering anything other than a 1 year warranty standard on their sets. Sony is no different in this regard. Yeah, sure you can buy an extended warranty, but when you are already spending several thousand dollars on a TV, it's eggregious to have to spend even more for what should be a standard item for a solid state TV.

Doesn't it strike anyone as odd that old CRT sets typically had a 3 year (or longer) warranty, but these new sets that should have lower failure rates (except for perhaps the bulbs in rear-projection units) than older sets have just 1 year?

Any way you toss it, based on the comments of the repair person who fixed my set, Sony does indeed have a PR problem on their hands (poor Sony, this is what PR problem number n+1 for them in the last year or so) in regards to the relatively high failure rate of what should be one of their biggest hit products.

But as I said at the opening of this article, I still see no other technology that compares to SXRD (when it's working at least). DLP is half baked as long as they are only using one display element and JVC's LCoS variety isn't nearly as sharp as SXRD, oh and all the other large screen offerings are quite a bit more expensive than the SXRD units as well.

I just hope that Sony does good for all the customers out there that are having the "yellow stain" issue with their SXRD sets. In particular, they should fix for free even those sets that have the problem beyond their warranty period.

I'm also wondering if anyone with a newer generation SXRD unit has run into this issue or whether Sony was able to resolve whatever the problem was with their manufacturing process.