Problems with flat screen TVs, regardless of the manufacturer, have been well documented. From the "capacitor plague" to lines in the screen, consumers have complained for years that their expensive TVs only last a year or two out of warranty.
In a recent report, Consumer Reports tested the latest model TVs and found them to be bigger, better, smarter and cheaper.
“If you’re thinking about upgrading your TV, or if you’re one of the holdouts planning to buy your first flat-panel TV, you’ll find plenty of great models in our latest ratings — many at prices that will put a smile on your face,” said Jim Willcox, senior editor for electronics.
Of course, that hasn't always been the case. Frustrated consumers have been sounding off at ConsumerAffairs for years about problems with their TVs. For a while, blown capacitors was a common problem.
The heat building up in the set's chassis caused cheaper capacitors to blow. Fortunately, that's a relatively easy fix. Unfortunately, problems in the display are not, as we heard from Francis, of Monroeville, Ala., in a ConsumerAffairs post:
"We purchased a 55-inch Samsung LCD TV Christmas 2010. The picture went out in 2011. It was still under warranty and was repaired. Picture began going out again in Dec. 2012 but would come back after being turned off a little while. By January the problem became really bad. We called Samsung and were referred to a service number. When the service people called us back, they told us the part would cost $800 and repair would be $242. Their advice was to purchase another TV. I paid $1,400 for this TV, and I expected to get more than two years of service from it or at least a repair within reason."
Consumers like Francis might be happy to hear that the latest model TV sets are of better quality. Dave Maltz, who owns Dave's TV Repair, in Grants Pass, Ore., says he doesn't see a high enough volume of TVs to make an accurate judgment about any improvements. But he says he has seen some TVs that have made it five-plus years before they had any problems.
"Just yesterday one of my customers told me his Philips Plasma TV is five years old and still operating fine," Maltz said. "This surprised me because I had often heard bad things about Philips TVs, and the gentleman who told me this is a real heavy TV watcher."
Maltz said plasma TVs are more efficient than they once were. Since they now build up less heat, it may aid their longevity.
"As for LCD TVs I'm not sure what to think," Maltz said. "I still see or get calls from people who have display issues from bonding problems, and most of the time this makes them not worth repairing, in my opinion. As you probably know this has been a real problem with LCD TVs, and angered many who purchased them."
Maltz passed along the YouTube video below from a fellow repairman who found a cheap way to address the the display problems so common in Sony LCD flat screens. While you will see that it works, Maltz cautions that he doesn't think it can be counted on as a lasting fix.
Most consumers should not attempt this repair themselves, but it might be worth pointing out to the person repairing your TV.
A review of ConsumerAffairs complaints about flat screen TVs found that, indeed, most of the complaints appear to be about sets manufactured between 2008 and 2010, so Consumer Reports' observation that newer sets are better might be true.
It's also helpful to keep in mind that Consumer Reports qualified its findings by saying lower-priced TVs might still have quality issues. When it comes to TV sets, the best "bargain" might be the more expensive one.