When is it a good idea to buy refurbished TV?


When people make a decision to buy a TV, in all likelihood, people tend to think only about getting them brand new. As far as I know, it’s not automatic for people to consider one of the better alternatives to getting brand new which is buying refurbished units. After all, you could practically get a brand new unit at almost any price point you can think of these days as competition between manufacturers big and small continually pushes the envelope on innovation and affordability. It’s not unusual to see prices go down drastically in a span of months when it comes new television displays.

Related: Inexpensive Sub-$1,000 4K (Ultra HD) TVs You Can Buy Today

Hence, this brings us to the question on whether it is still a good idea to get a refurbished TV unit if you can get a brand new one at roughly the same cost? Below is a list of what I think are good reasons why you could still go for refurbished units despite the temptation to go brand spankin’ new:

  1. Compared to brand new units, refurbished ones of the same make and model should be comparatively cheaper. This is somewhat of a more practical option if you’re looking to get a relatively new model that’s currently in production. So if you want that new LCD or LED TV model and want to save some bucks, you should go check out the “Used” or “Refurbished” sections and look at “factory refurbished” units. Factory reconditioned or refurbished units are preferred because you can expect that they have been re-calibrated to the correct manufacturer’s specifications.

  2. If a “refurb” unit is an “old” model or is no longer in production, then getting it only makes sense if the the price is right and the model is known to be a good one. Consider this if you’re looking at getting a bigger screened unit (say, in the 50-inch and above ranges) which could still be extremely pricey even at the reconditioned or refurbished category. Getting the really big screen size flat screen you want at a lower price should be nice option for anyone but you’ll need to make sure the unit is covered by some form of warranty.
  3. If you’re an advocate or recycling then one area in which you can certainly help is in helping reduce electronic waste. Why get a brand new unit if you can get pre-owned or used one? You can even get a malfunctioning unit, have it repaired to factory specs and voila! You have your refurbished TV! One less burden for the landfill!

While the above reasons may not be slam-dunk arguments for getting reconditioned or refurb flat screen television units, they can be worthwhile for a select group of people who do want to consider all (as in all) options in their TV acquisition plans. What do you think?


LCD vs. LED vs. OLED Flat Screen TVs


If you’re looking for a new flat screen TV for your home then I’m sure you’ve been bombarded by almost countless options available to buyers today. Even if you’re out to buy with very specific criteria (price, TV size, energy efficiency, etc.) in mind they do not really make it an easier decision for you. One of the things that you will need to figure out are the names. You’ll need to sort through the nomenclature that will create a bit of confusion. I mean, do you know the difference between LCD TVs, LED TVs and the newer OLED TVs? If the answer is no then please keep reading.

Old and new LCD TV backlighting

The liquid crystal display (LCD) is a type of display technology that usually requires some sort of illumination to create images. The pixels in an LCD display can produce the color required to produce images but they can not be seen if they do not get illuminated by a separate light source. The older generation of LCD TVs were lit by fluorescent lamps. These lamps were referred to as cold cathode fluorescent lights (CCFL) that are usually installed behind the LCD screen panel to provide the backlighting required to complete the picture being shown. That’s basically the key to understanding the difference between LCD TVs and those referred to as LED TVs. Some manufacturers have misleadingly promoted LED TVs as a new television technology that’s supposed to replace the older LCD TV but the former isn’t really a new technology as it only uses a different form of back lighting, namely light emitting diodes (LEDs), instead of the conventional CCFLs.

This of course was prompted by our ever continuing quest to shrink everything as LEDs, with their small sizes, have enabled TV engineers to reduce thickness and weight of LCD TVs which they named LED LCD TVs or LED TVs for short. The LEDs are usually placed behind the LCD panels in an array configuration or they could be lined up around the panel edges which brought about the “Edge Lighting” classification of LED flat screens. Edge lighting are usually thinner and lighter compared to full array types but the latter are usually preferred if you are after better picture quality. Having the LEDs in an array enable TVs to independently control light output of the LEDs in different areas of the screen. Referred to as the “local-dimming” ability, this gives these types of flat screens improved contrast which makes for better picture quality compared to other types like the edge-lit varieties.

Read: Cheap 4K (Ultra-HD) flat screens priced under $1,000!

One limitation of these types of TVs is that they need to be lit to do their work as televisions. This is in contrast to the erstwhile king of the living rooms, the cathod-ray tube (CRT) TVs of the yester-years, which do not require separate forms of lighting because they produce pictures by creating their own light. The plasma flat screen does the same thing which is the reason why it produces better imagery compared to the older generations of the LCD TV. Plasma screens produces the deepest blacks because it simply stops producing light to do so. Older LCDs create grays at best because they can’t just turn off the backlighting which results to poorer contrast relative to plasma.

OLED TVs: Truly a new flat screen TV technology

OLED, which stands for organic light emitting diode, has been around for a longer time than most people know as we have been using this technology in other fields other than TV dipslays. Cell phone makers, for instance, have been using them for many years in their phones before it was used for TV displays. Now, OLED TVs are considered a truly new type of TV technology because it no longer uses LCD. Instead they use LEDs at the pixel level which means it produces its own illumination which then more akin to CRTs and plasmas and very different from LCDs. OLEDs probably deserve the name LED TVs more than the current crop of “LED TVs” do because they really use, well, LEDs!

And because OLED flat screens do not require any form of back-illumination to produce pictures, they tend to be thinner and lighter than any of their thinnest and lightest LCD counterparts. They also produce more superb images with better contrast and color rendition which should make them great centerpieces in homes. Another new thing that you will see with OLEDs are that some are designed to have curved screens which they say improves the watching experience. The only problem at this point of its life cycle is that they are extremely expensive with current models priced north of $5,000 so they aren’t for everyone yet.

Related: Go future-ready with the Ultra-HD 4K TV

The LCD or LED or OLED TV question

If you’re looking to buy a new flat screen TV then the decision on which one to buy all boils down to your preferences and budget. Each buyer will balance these two factors differently but if money isn’t an issue, I guess there’s really no excuse not to go for the top-of-the-line OLED unit. Samsung and LG are fighting head-to-head in this arena so you should look at their current offerings. On the other hand, if money is a big issue the way it is for rest of us then striking a balance between preference and budget should be the way to go. The great news is that it shouldn’t be hard to find a good unit at any price level out there today. Innovation is helping give us better and better buying options which is always good if you understand what you are looking for. We’re hoping this article helps clear out some of the misconceptions so you could arrive at a better decision in your decision to buy a new flat screen TV.


Electrolysis-damaged Sony Bravia LED TV circuits can be fixed


This is a sort of a follow up to the previous video post we made on the water-damaged Sony Bravia LED TV based on an interesting comment from a reader who thought the TV could be repaired easier than what norcal715 thought, who suggested the unit may be headed to the landfill.

A commenter going by the handle Travis indicated that the unit could be saved from the landfill and be repaired but his method is nothing short of surgical (you literally need a scalpel) in nature so you’ll need some surgeon’s skill to be able to accomplish this.

Here’s what Travis suggests:

“To fix this isn’t as difficult as you think. Find an old pcb board that you don’t use anymore, old VCR’s dvd players etc. Find a thin piece of track that is close to the same size as the ones that are broken on your TV. Use a scalpel blade to first remove the solder mask from the track on the old PCB. Gently cut the track to the appropriate length and peel it off from the old PCB with the scalpel. This may take a few practice runs to get it right . Next, scrape the back of the track to remove all the glue . This is the hardest part, I cant tell you how many pieces of track that jump away on me never to be found. Now go to the TV and scrape away 2x the track thickness of the solder mask on each side of the broken track. Using flux, add a small amount of solder to 1 side of the track. use alcohol to clean any old flux and solder mask debris. Add a small amount of flux again and with a pair of tweezers solder one end of your track to the TV. Gently clean area again. You may have to reposition the track, now is the time to do it. Always add flux and clean. Once you have it lined up, use the tweezers to hold down your track and solder the other side and clean once again.”

Now, if you’re doing this professionally you’ll need to consider how much time you’ll need to accomplish this repair and charge for it so yes, you’ll need to be able to do a little cost-benefit analysis and advise the client accordingly. Based on your skill and experience, I think you might still actually make some money from this repair and make a customer happy (by keeping repair costs low considering materials you need should be cheap to find). If you’re doing this DIY on your spare time then I think it’s a pretty good learning experience to be able to do this regardless.

Here’s the video once again:


This water-damaged Sony Bravia LED TV is a hopeless repair?


Here’s a good tip: if you get your TV wet, rush it to a TV repair professional! Immediately unplug the unit and don’t ever turn it on until it’s certified fixed by a tech.

Unfortunately, this is a hard lesson learned by the owner of a Sony LED LCD TV owner who probably thought there was no harm done when he/she got his unit watered down. Obviously, he was wrong as the video by norcal715 of Youtube clearly shows. Unit is a 40-inch Sony Bravia, relatively new (manufactured in 2010) and looked like it. It’s an LED model which means it uses LED backlighting technology which makes it thinner and lighter and more power efficient.

Well, the expensive problem came about when the unit got wet but owner just kept using it. In truth, water seeped down to LCD panel circuits at the bottom of the unit and stayed there while the unit was used. And so they found out the hard way that electricity, water and circuitry don’t really mix as the continued flow of electricity through wet circuits produced a process called electrolysis. This corroded or ate up the copper in the circuits which basically destroyed the TV.

As norcal715 suggested, this unit is headed for the scrappers. You could probably replace the LCD screen panel but that would be a very expensive route. One option is to try and look for a “for parts” unit with a good LCD screen display and circuits being sold on eBay and the likes, and get a good tech to install it for you. I guess that’s one option worth looking into if buying a new one is currently not an option. Or you could buy brand new from a cheaper brand.

Read follow up post: Reader says this Sony Bravia can be fixed!

Watch video:


Repair Video: Faulty Power Supply on a Vizio SV420XVT1a LCD Flat Screen


Okay here’s a really good video to help folks fix the power supply on a 42-inch Vizio LCD flat screen television (Model SV420XVT1a). Basically the problem becomes evident when you turn on the unit. You will see the Vizio insignia LED power indicator go up but see no images and screen will just be a complete blackout. The video gives a nice Macgyver tip on how to determine whether it’s just the backlight and/or the LCD screen that are/is out using a small flashlight.

Video teaches how you can repair the TV’s power supply module (part #0500-0405-0270) by replacing the bad components. You can of course opt to just replace the entire power supply but why do that when you can replace just a few parts, save some money and get the TV working again.

This video (which can be played in good quality HD) is intermediate level so be sure you know you can handle the safety aspects of the fix before going into it. Some soldering deftness is also needed because the components that you’ll need to work on are pretty small. You’ll need a multimeter for this repair.

Video will show you how to replace 5 problem parts: 1 pc. Field Effect Transistor (FET), 1 pc. FET driver IC and 3 resistors. Other tools you need includes a dental pick (to help you pry those tiny blown out resistors loose), some acetone and a small brush that you can use to clean the circuit boards (see video on how it’s used).

Related: How to find burnt resistor values by Jestine Yong

Video follows:

Thanks to norcal715 of Youtube for this repair video.


Repair Video: Panasonic Plasma TV w/ LED Blinking Problem (Model TH-42PZ77U)


Is your Panasonic plasma unit not powering up? Here’s a repair suggestion from Gavin Curtis of Youtube where he shows a way to fix the Panasonic TH-42PZ77U or TH-42PZ700U with a problem signaled by 10 blinks of the LED power indicator. If you’re unit is doing that then here’s a possible solution.

Note though that this is only one possible fix and that there may be other causes or issues that need looking into but Mr. Curtis say this has worked okay from his experience. Video was created with the non-technical people in mind which makes it an ideal instructional for anyone performing a DIY repair or those trying to learn electronics troubleshooting or just want their plasma TV units working again without having to spend a fortune on professional servicing. It’s relatively a simple fix that requires no parts replacement so apart from disassembling the TV unit to get to the circuit board in question, no further surgical operation is needed. But you do need to have some soldering skills to perform a hack on the board to correct the fault caused by an open thermal fuse (caused by overheating) inside a transformer (part # BZ16GA) on the circuit board. The video will teach you a hack to fix the open thermal fuse without having to dig up the fuse itself to replace it.

Related article: Repairing Planar PDP42B and Hyundai 4240 Plasma TVs

Materials that you need for this repair:

  1. Thermal fuse (Radioshack item # 2701320)
  2. 2 pices of 9 to 10 inches 20-22 gauge wire
  3. High temperature RTV silicone (Permatex item number 81160)
  4. Automotive butt & end connectors (Important tip: use the butt connectors to connect the wires to the thermal fuse instead of soldering them together. Soldering could trip the thermal fuse.)

Watch the video below (if you’re having some difficulty understanding some of the technical language used, you may want to take this plasma TV repair beginners training by Kent Liew first):