Friday, April 01, 2005

Sony PSP saga

Dianne, the quintessential gamer, got one of the first million Sony PSP units released in the US. We got it the day they became available. It’s quite the system offering gaming as well as options to show videos, digital photos, and play digital audio. The screen is an amazing LCD, TFT screen with 480x272 resolution at millions of colors. You can see a picture and get the details here.

Unfortunately, Dianne’s PSP has some pixel defects. There are at least two (I think one is actually two adjacent pixels that makes it look like one) pixels that are always on. They are in the middle of the screen and stand out when looking at a dark background. It’s pretty annoying to have that happen right out of the box. In the few days the US units have been on the market, there has been a lot of web traffic describing Sony PSP units with pixel defects. For example, check here and here.

I understand manufacturing of LCD screens is difficult and there can be some screen defects. These were much more common in the early days of manufacturing computer monitors. That’s why ISO standards for LCD screens were established several years ago. The standard describes limits for dead or always bright pixels for various quality screens. This site has a description of the standard for computer monitors. If you calculate the defect rate for our PSP unit assuming only 2 bad pixels, it comes out to 15.3 bad pixels/million. Clearly that’s way higher than the error rate for a computer monitor – much harder to manufacture the larger screen. That seems completely out of line for a PSP sized screen.

So how to get it resolved? We purchased the unit at Blockbuster and as of 3/31 they are refusing to stand behind the product and are referring us to Sony. In fact, we were given some mis-information at our local Blockbuster – but that’s a long story. Suffice it to say I won’t be patronizing any Blockbuster stores in the future. If you do, I’d encourage you to read their return policy (especially for non video items) very carefully before purchase! Sony will take the units back as described here and here, but you have to pay for shipping. That wouldn’t be an issue if Blockbuster supported the products they sold. Although Sony’s warranty appears to limit liability, it’s really unfortunate they won’t cover the cost of resolving a problem with a brand new unit whose defect rate is much higher than even a class III LCD screen.

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