Tuesday, November 10, 2009

11-10-09: Broken Ol' TV

Well, after nearly seven years in the family, the TV has, in all likelihood, finally bitten the dust.

The TV, a Sony KP-51WS500 Projection model, manufactured in December 2002, was purchased by my parents as a family Christmas present just about seven years ago. We bought it from the now defunct Circuit City for, I believe, close to $2000. It's worked very well, and for the last eight months or so, it has been in my apartment.

It's rather gargantuan at 51 inches. My living room isn't really that big. When we moved it in, my dad exclaimed "Christ! You're gonna go fucking blind!" So far, I'm still well sighted. Well, at least it hasn't gotten any worse.

The problem began yesterday morning. I was watching ESPN before leaving for work, and, without any warning, the TV turned off. I then noticed the Standby light on the front had started to blink. This wasn't the first time the TV has done this, which is why I'm 10% sure it might be fixable. I went online last night, after leaving the TV unplugged all day as a part of a "hard reset" strategy which failed to work. Apparently, the number of blinks per cycle emitted by the Standby light signifies a particular fault. Believe it or not, this is not too dissimilar to what I do professionally with helicopter flight controls systems (I'm actually in charge of our Warnings, Cautions, and Advisories). The code my TV was showing, four blinks per cycle, means:

"No vertical Deflection (V STOP), Screen goes to a single horizontal line then the video signal muted. Check IC1509, Q1505"

I then decided, since I'm an electrical engineer who should be able to fix this problem (and unfortunately simply showing my TV my fancy Bachelor of Science degree didn't work), that I would try to order parts and fix it myself.

That's where I ran into some issues.

First, finding a service manual for that model is a bit of a chore. I couldn't find any free ones online. So, in order to find out where the hell IC1509 and Q1505 were, I'd have to shell out cash.

Then I find out, after taking the back panel off, that, even if I did have the parts, diagnosing and fixing the problem would be quite a hassle because of how it's all laid out.

So then I went down the other avenue of seeing how much it would cost to have it repaired. I went on the Sony repair website, which is actually quite good, and found out the nearest "certified" repair facility is in Danbury, which is about 40 minutes away. I did the math quickly in my head, and realized, even if the guy fixes it in one visit, it would cost upwards of $200.

I then decided: screw it, the holidays are nye, I'll wait and buy a new HDTV as a Christmas present to myself. My currently broken TV is not HD, so it would definitely be an upgrade. I even have some HD channels already available through a mix-up when I got my DVR (they gave me an HD DVR, though I pay for a regular one). For the time being I am using my old 18 inch Magnavox tube TV from college, which works well and will easily last me until Christmas.

So far, with one day of online shopping under my belt, I'm considering getting a TV with the following specifications:

  • 1080p resolution (not wasting my money on 720p or 1080i)
  • LCD (unless I find a good deal on a Plasma screen)
  • 120 Hz update rate (I watch a lot of sports and have heard 240 Hz is still a bit pricey)
  • 40-45" screen size (the 51" TV was nice, but far too big for the space)
  • Either a Sony (top choice), LG, or Vizio (good deals at Wal-Mart)
  • Price range: around $1000 (ideally under)

I'm looking forward to this. I'll make follow-up posts on how things go.

FYI: I put the old one up on Craigslist.

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