Fixable or Forgettable?
July 22, 2012 6:19 PM   Subscribe

Can my LCD be saved cheaply or is it time to move on?

Try to make this quick, my roommate and I got a used 52" Samsung LCD about a month ago. It worked fine with a PS2 and PS3, we played a couple games and watched a few blu-rays and DVDs with no trouble. The other day my roommate hooked up his laptop via an HDMI cable and went to turn on the TV but the display had shifted to a low resolution (~8 or 16 bit) color mode. Think watching a movie on a 486, it looks like that. We tried resetting the picture and unhooking everything and unplugging it for a while, but the color is still terrible. Even with nothing connected, the menu of the TV is distorted, so we're pretty sure it's the TV itself and not an external device.

It will cost quite a bit to get an estimate, and more on top of that to fix it. Since we got it used we saved quite a bit, so repairs could easily exceed our initial investment. We assume it's a physical problem, and since we're technically savvy, can fix it ourselves if we knew what part was defective. Our questions:
Does anyone know which part it is? Or, what's a way for us to figure it out so we don't waste time/money on the wrong part?
Is it even worth fixing or should we just get another used one?

Note: I've looked online a lot and found a lot of "lines on screen", "blurry display" and "color blotches" problems, but nothing like this yet. Samsung just recommended sending it in for repairs, but we don't want to spend money unless necessary.
posted by princeoftheair to Technology (8 answers total)
I am pretty sure there is something called "restore to factory settings" option (or is that what you meant when you reset the picture?). Make sure nothing is connected to the TV when you do this.
posted by littlesq at 6:29 PM on July 22, 2012

How To Perform A Factory Reset On Samsung 2008 Through 2011 Model LCD TVs (LN**A ~ LN**D)

Important: When you perform a Factory Reset, all your settings revert to factory defaults. These settings include all picture and sound settings, all channel menu settings including memorized channels, all clock and timer settings, and any other settings you made through the menu. In addition, if you had your TV professionally calibrated, you may lose the calibration settings if the calibration was not done through the service menu.

To perform a Factory Reset, follow these steps:

1. With the TV powered on and using the TVs remote control press and hold EXIT on the TV remote for 12 seconds.

2. The Factory Reset screen appears displaying a warning message. Cancel is initially highlighted.

If you want to cancel the Factory Reset function, press ENTER now.

Otherwise, press the left arrow button to highlight OK, press ENTER, and then go to Step 3.

3. After the TV completes the Factory Reset, the TV powers itself off. When you power the TV on for the first time after the Factory Reset, the Plug & Play screen appears just as if you had turned the TV on for the first time.
posted by plokent at 6:45 PM on July 22, 2012

Tried the factory reset, came back with the same problem. Can't remember if there was anything connected when I did that, but can try again when I get home from work.
posted by princeoftheair at 6:53 PM on July 22, 2012

Try hooking up another laptop, or a digital camera that has an HDMI output. Use a different HDMI cable. It may shock it back to life.
posted by caclwmr4 at 9:15 PM on July 22, 2012

What happens if you change the resolution the laptop (or PS3) is outputting to the display?
posted by wierdo at 10:06 PM on July 22, 2012

The European & Australian (LE & LA) versions of those earlier (A & B series) Samsungs are notorious for having dodgy power supplies (hum/whistle, eventually followed by total shutdown or catastrophic failure) & video driver boards (usually results in tinted or low colour res bands on the screen). Both faults are known to start off intermittent before becoming permanent.

I'd hazard a guess and say the latter has failed. I've never priced one here in Aus, but I hear they're not particularly cheap. If you want to try fixing it yourself, you could try pricing a replacement / exchange board - sorry, don't know any US suppliers.

(So far I haven't heard of the same problem with the C or later series sets - which is a good thing, because I own a C650!)
posted by Pinback at 10:42 PM on July 22, 2012

Pinback, thanks for the info. Any tips on where I can look for the replacement part, even in AU? Just having an idea of what I am looking for and price would help.

I'll mess around with the settings on the laptop, but it seems strange that it would just hijack the display settings like that even after a Picture and Factory reset.
posted by princeoftheair at 12:52 AM on July 23, 2012

I emailed a serviceman friend last night; this is what they had to say (comments in [] are mine). Note that this is for the LAxx(A|B)xxx sets (e.g LA40B550 = Australian, 40", B series 550 model) - the LN series may be different, and there appear to be other LN models with a different numbering scheme that are probably different again:


"Sounds like a faulty TCON board [the video driver board I mentioned] or maybe the P-cable [the cable between the TCON board & panel]. The plugs & sockets on the P & mainboard cables can go HR / intermittent, so it's worth reseating those before replacing the board. One of the sockets soldered on the TCON board also has problems with fractured joints because the cabinet puts slight pressure on it, so they might try resoldering those first. If they replace the board, replace the cables as newer ones seem better made. Replacement boards from the usual suspects e.g. WES, St Lucia / Prime, etc are $120-$150, or more from Samsung. Repaired exchange boards are $50-$80. Both cables are about $20. [All prices in $AU].

You need to remove the stand before opening the cabinet. Some models have hard to get at screw with a small head at the top or bottom of the back cover. Needs a thin #1 Phillips. Remember to remove the screws around the VGA/D connector if fitted!. Remove the main shield. Free the main backplate (big metal panel) by undo the big screws with arrows pointing to them, then 2 more at the bottom of the metal panel. Once free, lift the main backplate & disconnect cables as needed. 4 more screws, & you should be able to remove the cover from the TCON board. The 2 coloured cables on the board have a locking bar or collar; lever it up carefully to remove the cables. The TCON board is now free.

Some other models have the TCON board as part of the display panel - they need the whole panel replaced.

I think there's only 2 different TCON boards for different sizes within each range i.e. <40" & >40". I'd have to check manuals to be sure."


Googling around, it looks like they're considerably cheaper in the US. For example, at this place they're around US$50-$70 (search using your model number, or "ASSY BOARD-TCON". No idea if they're any good; I've just seen them mentioned in a few places.
posted by Pinback at 4:15 PM on July 23, 2012

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