DVD Player Repair
March 26, 2004 10:35 AM   Subscribe

My 1999 Toshiba tray-loading single-disc non-progressive scan DVD player has stopped playing DVDs. What can I do to try to fix it? [simorede]

I put a disc in and it says "Loading," with intermittent spinning sounds from the player itself, but it never "connects," and finally displays a "There may be a problem with this disc" message on the TV screen. I've tried a handful of discs, and none work -- and this is from a player that's never been problematic before, and worked just fine the day before it stopped working. I know consumer electronics are not built for long life anymore, and it would cost me less than $80 (which is less than half of its first cost) to replace it with a superior model, so I'm not inclined to go and pay $20 or $30 for a cleaning or tune-up. But is there anything I can do besides sticking a compressed air hose in there as far as I can in an attempt to dust off the laser? Are their alignment issues that discourage disassembly?
posted by blueshammer to Technology (10 answers total)
Response by poster: And, actually, on that note: What's everybody's favorite budget and/or region-free player? The highest-quality signal my 32" accepts is S-video.

And, actually, on that note: If a TV has an area of magnet-induced discoloration, what does it take to clear it up? Can you "degauss" it? Can you DIY?
posted by blueshammer at 10:39 AM on March 26, 2004

Make sure there are no power cords or speakers near the t.v. screen - that may be all you need to do to eliminate the problem.
posted by Lynsey at 11:13 AM on March 26, 2004

To degauss a TV, duck-tape a nice strong magnet to the end of one of those drill bit with a flat end. Start the drill going and wave it around the discolored area, moving farther and farther from the TV until the magnet is no longer having a visible effect on the TV. Repeat until the discoloration is entirely gone.

You can almost certainly get a better DVD player than the one you have for less than it'd cost (in terms of time or money) to fix it. You might try blowing the dust off the lens, though. If you decide to replace it, I recommend one of the Panasonic 5-disc changers, model DVD-F85. Around $150 and you get a 5-disc changer with all the goodies you could ever really want.
posted by kindall at 11:20 AM on March 26, 2004

You can open it and wipe the lens with some isopropyl rubbing alcohol on a q-tip. You shouldn't worry much about alignment at this stage, as all you can do is break an already broken player.

There are several approaches to DIY degaussing. There are three options I know of:
1. Get a hand-held degaussing coil. Usually not cheap.
2. Get a bulk tape eraser, turn it on far away from the tv, bring it close (but not too close), then pull it back. You used to be able to get these at radio shack, and they weren't cheap. Hard to find these days.
3. Use a high-wattage electric soldering gun (not an iron) and do the pull in-pull back thing.
(these last three basically just involve magnetic fields generated by AC current)
3. Get a strong magnet, start far away from the tv and bring it close in while rotating it, then pull it back while rotating.
4. Get a computer monitor with a built-in degaussing coil, set it so it's facing the TV, then turn it on, triggering the degaussing circuit.

When my TV started doing this, my only option was #4. It mostly worked, but I had to degauss several times. Because of the way degaussing coils in monitors are designed, you'll have to wait several minutes for the thermistor to cool down before you can degauss again.

On preview, kindall's idea is a great one. Never thought of that.
posted by zsazsa at 11:24 AM on March 26, 2004

Hey, mine too! Well, mine was a 2002 progressive-scan Toshiba player, but the symptoms sound similar. The estimate to repair it was $100, so I bought a Philips DVD727 - I got mine from J&R for $75 or so. So far I like it much better; and, it can be made region-free with a simple remote-control hack (which I haven't tried yet).
posted by nicwolff at 11:30 AM on March 26, 2004

I had a Toshiba SD-1200 DVD Player that suddenly stopped working a few months ago. It was doing the same thing that yours was. I just figured one of my roommates did something to it. After berating them, and since we had a second dvd player, I just decided to take the Toshiba apart and see what I could find.

Everything looked fine to my finely trained technical eyes (there were no gaping holes, scorch marks, living things or soda inside). I plugged it in and got facinated watching the tray mechanism open and close. Everything seemed to be operating normally. I started pressing things to make sure that nothing was loose, and it seemed like something was (this was three months ago and I was on my 4th beer by this time so I can't tell you exactly what). I then put a dvd in and it started playing.

So, if you want to take a gamble and don't mind the possibility that your dvd player will continue to be broken, open it up and start pressing things... It worked for me, and it's been fine ever since.
please don't sue me if you get electro-mecuted or something
posted by FreezBoy at 11:33 AM on March 26, 2004

My recommended region-free dvd player is a Malata DVP-500P. However, there's a catch: only the ones manufactured in September of 2003 are worth getting. The one's after that occasionally offer up a brief (microsecond) pause between chapters. The pre-sep ones aren't region-free. The units have a sticker right on the back of them which say "manufactured in month/year" so it's pretty easy to tell if you can get at the unit or the person selling it can get at the unit.

You should be able to get one on eBay. I already had one but picked up a second on eBay this week for about $50 Canadian (about us$35). It plays MP3, DVD-MP3, CD, DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RW, CDR and CDRW, VCD, DVD+R and +RW, and SVCD. It's region-free, progressive scan, and converts pal<>ntsc. (It may play other things, but those are all that I've tested or read reviews of.)

It will also play All Region discs which I found out yesterday, thanks fo AskMe, are different from Region 0 discs. (My rather expensive, but admittedly old, Sony DVP-S550D won't play all region discs.)

If you're interested in one, let me know and I'll dig up the id of the eBayer I bought from and email it to you.
posted by dobbs at 11:42 AM on March 26, 2004

Although this probably won't with your player/problem, you may want to see if you can reset the unit. Search the web for the reset process for your specific player. I once started having troubles with an old JVC player (it refused to play certain discs) and I figured it was just showing its old age. Then one day I did a reset to it and now it works fine again.
posted by gluechunk at 12:41 PM on March 26, 2004

kindall, that is brilliant. Last time I had this problem (I pushed a large old Advent speaker close to the TV while I was working back there for a long time), it took me two days rotating a bookshelf speaker in widening and widening gyres before the spot went away. You can do that to sort of work the spot off the screen. Slowly.
posted by yerfatma at 1:03 PM on March 26, 2004

I didn't invent the magnet-on-a-drill technique, read it somewhere... probably on Usenet.
posted by kindall at 2:05 PM on March 27, 2004

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