2007-06-07 Choco Blog
This page was last modified 2007-06-07 21:06:57 by Puchu.Net user Choco. (Show history)

TV Limited

My service request had me talking to several fine folks at TV Unlimited (in Sunnyvale, CA), and Mike the technician. I don't know if you can imagine this, but the most bizarre information came from Mike.

It all started out with some defects I observed on my TV. Now, I had access to a HDMI signal generator to easily identify these issues:

  • Pincushion distortion, which was fairly minor, but had gotten worse after service, more later.
  • Smudges on the screen, which is easy to see if the colors behind the spots are uniform, because you can see distinct discoloration.

The distortion I had expected, but the smudges just drive me nuts. Especially for a Samsung HLT5687S, priced at several thousand dollors no matter where you buy. You'd expect some quality control and almost perfect picture.

Submitting a repair ticket was easy, and a technician called me up to find out what the problem is. He immediately concluded that the screens needs to be replaced, they'll come and pick up the TV. Although it bothered me a little that he arrived at the conclusion so quickly, this was still within my expectations, so I agreed. Then I asked him how long it may take.

"Seven days."
"Really? I'd be without a TV for seven days?"
"Yes. Need to wait for the parts to come in, once we bring in the TV."
"Can you not order the parts first, then pick up the TV?"
"Maybe not seven days, but if you don't want, I cancel your repair order."
"No, I want the TV fixed, I am just trying to understand how long it may take..."
"I fix TV for many years! We fix 600 TV's a month! Every customer thinks they are VIP, but they are not! We treat everybody the same. It's $95 to go to your house, we can't do it 3 times. Do you want me to fix TV or not?"
"I want the TV fixed."
"Then I try to fix it in three days. Somebody will call you to arrange for pick-up."

If it takes him up to 3 days to remove a few screws and replace the lenticular and fresnel screens, then I can't imagine what happens if he doesn't already have years of experience fixing TV's. And gasp! 600 broken Samsung TV's in a month? 600 others who share the same unfortunate fate of having to talk to this dude?

After the TV returned, the pincushion distortion is much more pronounced. Probably because the screens are different, the DMD module needs to be calibrated. Or maybe the TV went through some really rough rides, and the parts are not aligned. Or the geometry of the chasis changed, you'd be surprised how flexible the TV is. Samsung's policy stats that repair happens only if there is more than 1/4 inches of bow for something that's supposed to be straight.

My measurements show that the distortions are right at the limit of specification. I decided to call TV Unlimited to see if there is an easy way to calibrate. After a few redirects, I was told to speak to Mike. As it turned out, Mike was the technician that I talked to a week ago.

So I described to Mike that straight lines are a little curved.

"What you see is normal. I only took out four screws and replaced the screens, nothing else was done."
"I understand, but the distortion was a little worse than before. How can I adjust it back?"
"You can adjust it in the Picture menu."
"Picture menu only moves the image, does not change the distortion."
"Then there is nothing I can do."
"Really? Don't you have a service menu for calibration?"
"Then what do I do about this distortion?"
"This model cannot adjust. Only the more expensive ones can. This is not a computer monitor or LCD panel."
"Anything else you can do?"
"Nothing I can do. This is not like a computer monitor."

Every TV has a service menu. The digital ones especially. It's not a good idea to mess with the parameters, since you don't have the service manual. But the fact that distortions beyond 1/4 inches can be re-calibrated tells me that Mike is just being unprofessional. Having talked to him twice, it's not hard to see that all he wants to do is get rid of customers as quickly as he can, and in the process he manages to degrade Samsung HLT5687S as a product.


When there are no distinct straight edges (i.e. not viewing 4:3 or letter-boxed contents, and no straight lines in the screen), then the distortion is more tolerable; but you can still see it. Samsung's HLT5687S really is not a bad TV, unlike what Mike claims. It's really too bad, because everyone else associated with this repair, from the easy report process, to the other fine folks at TV Unlimited were great.

In conclusion? Avoid Mike. Just return the TV if there is anything wrong with it. Or don't buy a Samsung if you are in the Bay area. If fewer people buy, Mike won't have to fix 600 TV's a month. Then he should have time to reflect on how to become a better person. We should all help him.


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