Friday, October 14, 2011

The Sony Timer strikes again?

This morning, I awoke to read with a bit of concern, an article in the Straits Times.

Straits Times, 14 Oct 2011.      Click for larger view.
Later, reading more news online, I came across the same Bloomberg news release which said SONY had started a recall of 1.6m sets of 40" Bravia TV( Link here. ).  Other news agencies confirmed the SONY  recall.

I own a SONY 40" Bravia LCD TV which was why I was concerned.

Globally, SONY had announced the RECALL, but according to the ST report, Sony Singapore "insisted this was not a product recall but a 'service inspection' " Is Sony Singapore being truthful here?

SONY has been having a run of extremely bad luck with product quality of late, especially batteries. Remember the recall of millions of Dell computers due to exploding SONY batteries?
Just last month, 2 million mobiles phones were recalled due to overheating batteries.
How many of you can remember when SONY admitted a 'software bug' caused their E-Series TV to automatically shutdown after 1200 hours of use?

All these brings back again the urban legend and rumors about the so called SONY TIMER.
Have you heard of the Sony Timer ? 

Many people, especially tech geeks, believe that Sony products contain a hidden 'timer' that when activated causes the product to start failing. Some believe this can be remotely activated and is done before a new replacement product is announced or when the warranty expires! Though never proven, speculations run from a hidden hardware chip to cleverly programmed software contained in the products.

It is not difficult to imagine some built-in software controlling your TV and making it 'shutdown' after 3 years. What do you do? Go buy a new TV!
Did your VAIO, walkman or TV breakdown after their warranty period ended?

You may not know this, but in Japan, a lot of Japanese actually believe this despite not having any evidence to the contrary. Sony products are not as well received in Japan as abroad for this reason.

Can a product actually have a programmed shelf life?
Yes, products can be designed with a predictable obsolescence period !

I used to work in aviation a long time ago. One thing I learned from my time as an aircraft mechanic was that all aircraft parts have a 'safe life'. Parts are designed for a certain tolerance in usage and beyond that it must be changed due to the risk of failure. What the layman might term simply as 'wear and tear'.

So, technically, products can and are engineered for a certain shelf life.
Is that how the Sony Timer works?

I have taken to feeling my TV each time before I turn it off for the day.
I hope it won't explode. Gee, the warranty had just run out!

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