Is this TV worth fixing? What's the problem?
September 2, 2013 11:38 AM   Subscribe

I got a Samsung CRT HDTV on freecycle, and it has a problem that was undisclosed in the posting (see video link in extended explanation). Is it worth fixing, or should I switch back to my other TV and move on with my life?

I saw a freecycle posting yesterday for a Samsung CRT Widescreen HDTV (Model#: Samsung TX-S3082WH), which is a step up from my current TV, and I decided to upgrade--what the hell, it's free! So I picked it up, cleaned it off, and set it up today (coax input for my cable, HDMI for my Roku).

Usually people don't post broken things to freecycle, and if they do, they disclose that they're broken, and there is no problem. Things were working fine at first, and then there started to be periodic interruptions in the picture (see video) at first not lasting for very long, and infrequent, but the longer the TV was on the more frequent they became, and the longer they lasted, until it became constant. Even turning the set off and letting it rest, the problem persisted after turning it back on. And the problem occurred regardless of which input was being used. [Please note that the vertical white strip on the right is a window reflection, not part of the video problem.]

Is this a simple cheap fix at a TV repair place (possibly even something I could do myself), or is the TV dying and I should accept that someone handed me a lemon?
posted by SixteenTons to Technology (6 answers total)
You probably can't fix it yourself. It will probably cost at least $75 to get someone else to even look at it, let alone repair it. You can buy a new off-brand 26 inch LED TV for $150.

When the picture goes out, the sound is not interrupted, right?

A TV from 2006 is almost certainly has a fluorescent backlight, implemented with high voltage power supply(ies)/inverter(s) and thin fluorescent lights. Toward end-of-life, the high voltage often fails, and the backlight goes out. You can verify this with close examination of the screen with a strong flashlight during its dark phases: if just the backlight has failed, you will be able to make out some of the screen contents with the flashlight. Direct sunlight on the screen might be able to take the place of the strong flashlight.

These failures are often heat related. If you turn the TV off, and let it cool (which takes a longish time) that should "fix" things until it warms up again.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:15 PM on September 2, 2013

I would be very cautious opening the back of a CRT set. Those guys have big caps to start the tubes and you could endanger your life poking about.
posted by mzurer at 12:30 PM on September 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: the Real Dan, this is a CRT set, not one with a CCFL backlight. This is a problem with some of the circuitry driving the tube, likely a dying flyback.

That said SixteenTons, choose option 2 and ditch it. This is not something you can fix yourself. The inside of tube tvs is dangerous and not really "user serviceable". That, and late in the life of the tech CRT tvs(like yours, with HDMI) were built like shit. And the other side of the coin is what was mentioned about there being a minimum of $75 to get someone to look at it. And the repair will probably be another 50-75. And then who knows what else was strained by this failing part and might blow out soon since it's all made like crap.

I bought my old 42in plasma for $100. Yea, it was an older one but it worked fine and i ended up selling it to a friend later for the same who's still using it. I also had a pretty damn nice 26 or 27in LCD tv i paid the same amount for. Both on craigslist.

If you're really going to get a TV with issues and pay someone to fix it at least get a nicer one than that for free. And honestly, i'd rather spend that repair money on getting a used LCD or Plasma on craigslist(and of the two, LCDs are honestly a lot more reliable according to the internet at large and the fact that they're electronically a lot simpler... but plasmas are usually cheaper, and i've yet to have one die on me).

So yea, chalk it up to "life happens" and go get a better tv for cheap.
posted by emptythought at 12:55 PM on September 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

My discussion of the backlight is entirely wrong, as this is not an LCD TV. Oops.
This doesn't change my answer: it's probably not worth the cost to repair it.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:55 PM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone... Looks like the old TV is coming back for now. Emptythought, I will look into used flat screen of some kind on Craigslist--good idea.
posted by SixteenTons at 1:37 PM on September 2, 2013

I fix TVs and have for decades. (In the early days of my engineering career, I did a lot of things that were TV/video related and it has followed me for 40 years. The latest was remotely operated vehicles with video, and even a few CRT based displays.)

That one has focus problems and bloom issues. These are high voltage supply symptoms.

High voltage in these sets is always generated by using the 15 KHz (approx) horizontal oscillator signal, stepped up by a flyback transformer and rectified by a high voltage diode. A number of methods are used to set the level of the high voltage. It looks like yours is going over voltage and whatever protection circuits are in there are kicking in. It happens slowly enough for you to see it.

High voltage is strange stuff. Its in the 30-50 kiloVolt range. Internal dust and humidity can allow leakage of the energy to places where it shouldn't be, causing whacko symptoms.

Everyone here is right. It's probably not amateur territory. Even taking stuff like this apart can be hazardous and you really need a tour guide for the first several years.

That said, in decades of repairing electronics, I have found 90% of problems connector related, most of the rest power supply related. Maybe 1% are component failures.

My approach would be to open it up, blow out any visible dust with compressed air and a vacuum cleaner/brush, and look for obvious visual signs of damage. Unless i were married to this specific set and in possession of nothing better to do, I'd move on. All free TVs are a good price. Any TV that costs anything is a bad expenditure, IMO. I don't own one (for watching.) I do keep one for troubleshooting antique hardware.
posted by FauxScot at 5:25 PM on September 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

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