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Checkpoint: KDL-52V5100 “Red Flashing” Edition

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— Updated February 16, 2010

I acquired the Sony KDL-52V5100 for $400 last year as an offer for resolve my issue with the KDS-50A2000. It is most definitely an improvement, but it does have one flaw known as “red flashing”.

What is the “red flashing” problem?

It’s called “red flashing” by many owners of the AVSForum’s V5100 thread who are experiencing this issue. What happens is the color intensity/balance of an image will sometimes automatically adjust as seen in the video below:

The YouTube description is apt:

While difficult to capture with a video camera, in this clip the background noticeably shifts colors when the interview subject brings his hands into the frame. In person the color shift is visible across the entire picture.

Sony denies the problem exists.

Called local authorized repair shop and they were told that this problem was already addressed in the most recent firmware update which I already have. That’s bullshit. The most recent firmware available on the support site addressed the auto-dimming issue, not this new color fluctuation issue.

As for what they could do? They offered to pick up the unit for in-house testing, but that’s it; they could not do anything else for me. As we all know, this is not a simple part replacement fix. Many AVSForum members already tried part replacements without success. I told them I wanted to contact Sony Canada themselves. They said that was fine and to repeat what they told me.

Contacting Sony Canada produced no results. They were shocked to discover that the local authorized repair shop couldn’t do anything. They reconfirmed that I installed the latest firmware and that was all. They told me that they had to contact the local authorized repair shop to sync up info and will get back to me in a “few days”. I voiced my displeasure and said that I would be waiting.

Now I wait. If there’s no acknowledgement of this problem, I’m going to demand a replacement. I don’t want to risk another defective replacement.

Clip from the “Colbert Report” on November 16, 2009, with guest Paul Goldberger.

When did I notice it, what did I do?

I actually noticed this problem shortly after receiving the HDTV, but the problem was infrequent and thus I deemed it to be trivial. Then I began noticing it at least once per night. While it’s easily forgiven considering the low price tag I acquired the HDTV for, on January 12, 2010 I had enough. I was watching The Tonight Show and the shifting of color intensity was extremely noticeable. Needless to say, I decided to call Sony customer support the next day.

On January 13, 2010, I called Sony customer support as soon as they were available and explained the problem.

  • When it occurs, the “red flashing” was very apparent with flesh tones
  • It didn’t matter which option I toggled or adjusted; it still happens across all inputs
  • Although it does happen, it doesn’t happen all the time and with differing intensity
  • It doesn’t happen with fast action scenes

Sony decided to assign and send a local authorized tech to look at the HDTV. I was told I would be receiving a call within 24 hours and I did. I contacted the tech and scheduled the visit for Monday, January 18 between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM.

Reproducing The Problem

As pleased as I was with their quick response, I now need to find material to showcase and highlight the problem. The problem is most prominent in shows like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and The Tonight Show. Unfortunately, I don’t have a PVR and thus I cannot record shows with this problem. Downloaded material doesn’t cause the “red flashing” either — perhaps due to the fact that it is a compressed video.

Surprisingly, certain shows and scenes can exhibit the color adjustment when I pull up the info bar via the HD receiver. I can even force the adjustment in specific scenes from the downloaded episode of The Tonight Show when I bring up the PS3’s video overlays. However, this is hardly ideal demonstration video.

If you’re looking for a standout example of the “red flashing” problem: go get the Inglourious Basterds Blu-ray (excellent film by the way). You can use the entirety of chapter 11 as evidence as it happens numerous times throughout the chapter.

What’s the status?

Monday, January 18, 2010 Update:

Sony authorized technician assessed the problem. I used Inglourious Basterds’ Chapter 11 as my demonstration. It was the first time he had seen this problem, but he noticed it pretty easily after I pointed it out. He asked if I’ve updated the firmware, which I did, and he asked for the settings to be reset which I’ve already tried before. Ultimately, it came down to two possible scenarios:

  1. Replace the mainboard
  2. Report back to Sony with the findings

I told him about this being a known problem on the AVSForum and that other users were reporting that mainboard replacements did nothing to fix the problem. I also told him that it may be a firmware problem, I urged the tech to report his findings back to Sony, so I could speak to them directly. I even pointed him towards the YouTube video for further reference of the problem (he actually called me back for the exact video).

He then took a few pictures of the invoice/order forms for my KDL-52V5100 and was on his way. Before he left, I was told that I should be expecting a call by January 27, 2010. If not, I should give Sony a call.

A nice efficient visit, but now it’s time to resume the waiting game.

As a side anecdote, the tech actually noticed that I was using the TV stand from a “Grand WEGA” as my current  stand. I told him that the KDL-52V5100 is actually the replacement to my KDS-50A2000 which he then predicted it was replaced due to the faulty optical block.

Thursday, January 28, 2010 Update:

January 27, 2010 came, went and there was no phone call or status update. It’s time to make a phone call.

I gave Sony customer support a call earlier this morning, but was immediately told to contact the local authorized service center for the update. So I gave the local service center a call, but was told that they could not provide me an update. Why? Because the tech who assessed the problem on January 28, 2010 was not available and thus they could not tell me what’s what.

Very disappointing.

On the bright side? According to a post on the AVSForum, Sony has a beta firmware fix for this issue. One user already got it, but will I get it? If so, how long will it take? I don’t know. Do I even want this fix or should I get an upgrade instead? I don’t know that either. All I want to know is what my options are so I can make an informed decision.

Friday, January 29, 2010 Update:

A repeat of Thursday’s call to the local service center. I will demand an update next Monday.

Monday, February 1, 2010 Update:

A repeat of Friday”s call to the local service center. This time, I was told that the tech responsible for my case is in contact with Sony and has yet to provide him with anything substantial. They also said they will do a follow up e-mail, but not to expect anything until Thursday.

Ridiculous.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 Update:

Called the local authorized repair shop and was informed of the following. Apparently, they were told that this problem was already addressed in the most recent firmware update which I already have. That’s bullshit. The most recent firmware available on the support site addressed the auto-dimming issue, not this new color fluctuation issue.

As for what they could do to fix this problem? They offered to pick up the unit for in-house testing, but that’s it; they could not do anything else for me. As we all know, this is not a simple part replacement fix. Many AVSForum members already tried part replacements without success. I told them I wanted to contact Sony Canada themselves. They said that was fine and to repeat what they told me.

Contacting Sony Canada produced no results. They were shocked to discover that the local authorized repair shop couldn’t do anything. They reconfirmed that I installed the latest firmware and that was all. They told me that they had to contact the local authorized repair shop to sync up info and will get back to me in a “few days”. I voiced my displeasure and said that I would be waiting.

Now I wait. There was another confirmation of the “beta” December 2009 firmware fix. I’m going to bring this up to them on Monday. If there’s no acknowledgement of this problem or firmware, I’m going to demand an upgrade replacement.

Saturday, February 5, 2010 Update:

More confirmation of a firmware fix surfaces on the AVSForum. This page details the whole process of how siege06nd got in contact with an engineer from Sony in San Diego.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 Update:

I decided not to call Sony support as I submitted info to siege06nd of the AVSForum who will forward it to the Sony engineer from San Diego. I’ve even got confirmation that a fellow Canadian received a working update via this person. Amazing results thus far. Someone uploaded the files for the KDL-46V5100, but you will have to use at your own risk.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 Update:

The ordeal is over. I used the files posted on this box.net/sonyupdate account (attached to this post for convenience) and applied it on my KDL-52V5100 and no more “red flashing”. I didn’t get an e-mail response, so I really have no one to thank except for the AVS Forum members who submitted the files for us to use.

Thanks for nothing, Sony Canada.

  KDL-52V5100 Red Flashing Fix Firmware (5.4 MiB, 835 hits)

23 Responses

  1. Mitch
    | Reply

    Excellent write-up of the issue! As a fellow owner of this TV, let me say thanks for blogging about this. Many owners are eagerly hoping Sony does the right thing and issue a fix for this as it’s clearly a defect.

    Thanks!

  2. TC
    | Reply

    I see it happening in the video. It’s absurd that they would deny its existence

  3. Ian
    | Reply

    I found your blog from AVS forum, I’m in the same boat as you. My 50A2000 has the green blob and I am getting a 52V5100 as a replacement. It hasn’t arrived yet but its good to hear what avenues you are able to take to resolve issues, since I’m getting the TV the same way you did, if I have issues I’ll know what I can do.

    I’ll keep checking back for your updates, thanks.

    • Ian
      | Reply

      My TV was delivered on Jan 26th, they ended up giving me a 52VL150, I’m glad they did, I have no red flashing issues, and the quality and colors are amazing.

  4. Charlie
    | Reply

    I also have this tv and the red flashing as well as sound drop outs. I was told by the service guy that Sony referred me to that it’s caused by the hdmi cables!?!?! He said that a lot of tv’s have this issue and that if I switched back to component cables the issues would likely go away. He said Sony told him that. Thats’s crazy. I’ll be watching your blog for updates, I’m afraid I’m about to enter into a battle with Sony…

  5. Rob
    | Reply

    Thanks for taking this on. I have the 46 inch v5100 and notice the red flashing often. Its been a known problem for a long time and still nothing from sony. This is going to be my last sony set.

  6. Evan Wiener
    | Reply

    I have the Sony Bravia KDL-52V5100 and noticed the same problem, but thought it was my cable box. It’s been months since I received the TV as a gift and can’t return it to the retailer.

    Sony’s customer service is TERRIBLE. I called four times just to get a number for a service tech that would agree to schedule an appointment. The last Sony rep finally just scheduled one for me with someone. An appointment is scheduled for Feb 15, but it sounds like it will be a waste of time.

    I will be sure to point them to this blog. Is there any recourse for the consumer regarding this known issue and epic failure by Sony service?

  7. Sheldon
    | Reply

    This would be one of those circumstances that people unfamiliar with the law of large numbers would call a coincidence.

  8. ReverEND
    | Reply

    I bought the 52V5100 in early Dec to replace a Sharp 52-inch I have got on Black Friday to replace an aging 51ws510 (RPTV). I wasn’t happy with the Sharp and decided a return was in order. To say the least I love the 51V5100 compared to the Sharp.

    But after awhile. I started noticing the Red flash. I just installed the beta firmware and am eager to give it a whirl! Thank you for posting and keeping it updated!!

  9. Sony hater from the Burg
    | Reply

    I too have the same exact problem. Bought the TV in September 2009 and downloaded firmware update without any success. Which file for the 52V5100? I see ER411E228, which is the same file name on Sony website. Is this a different file with the M046 after the file name?

    • Sony hater from the Burg
      | Reply

      P.S. Tried to update my 52V5100 with the ER411E228_M046 from the box.net Feb 16th link above, and it locked up my TV at “Red Standby”/”Yellow Pic off” stage of the update, just froze the TV up, with the Bravia screen displaying. Bad News. So after at least 5-6 minutes, I took the USB memory stick out, and needed to unplug the TV to get it to turn off. Luckily, the TV accepted the previous update from Sony website, and is working again. Watch out. Too bad, hopefully Sony posts an update officially at some point. From what I saw of the files, 52V_M046.img (a new file) and ex2r.txt dated 12/14/09 are different files. All other files are same as those on Sony website update.

      • Sony hater from the Burg
        | Reply

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    • No_Style
      | Reply

      Yeah. The file version is the same, with some older files included within to eliminate the Red Flashing. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t work for since I simply followed the instructions posted on Sony’s site and used the files on the Boxnet site instead.

      I’m wondering when Sony will update their official website with these files as well.

  10. Sony hater from the Burg / SteelerFan86
    | Reply

    Update to my March 13th post, after re-installing 8/2009 update, was able to install M046 12/2009 update trying another USB flash drive. Have watched an evening’s worth of TV without any red flashing for first time in 6 months of owning this TV. Don’t know why Sony will not officially post this update on their website and officially acknowledge this issue. All I can say is thanks to this website, JJGaucho and his box.net/sonyupdate and others on AVS Forum KDL-xxV5100 thread who have supplied the updates and information. If I had not happened upon your “Red Flashing” Addition website this past weekend (prominently first in Google search of “52V5100 red flashing), I would have been spending more time on the phone with Sony and waiting for more authorized repair visits, without any results. I typically do not post, but after 6 months with this problem cursing the day I purchased this TV, I wanted to offer recognition to those responsible for the solution.

    • No_Style
      | Reply

      Awesome! I’m glad to hear you were able to install the update. It must have been a fluke of some kind.

  11. ReverEND
    | Reply

    Hey, just gotta thank you for posting this file. I love my TV again!. I purchased this a couple months ago at fry’s and instantly loved how clear and sharp everything was, I didn’t even notice the red flash until a couple months later, at that point, I was starting to regret my purchase. But with this firmware update I had a complete turn around and am glad I bought it..AND found your post. thank you very much!

    Right now, the v5100 is on sale again at Fry’s for $929. The deal was posted on Slickdeals.net
    I linked this page (not just the file link.) in a post about the set in hopes that anyone that is wanting to buy this TV gets on the right track immediately!

  12. shagstlm
    | Reply

    I also have the “red flashing” “non-issue”. I have a KDL-40S5100. Just for fun I wanted to see what was different with the most recent firmware that Sony provides versus the file that I downloaded before I tried the update.

    So, if I have this right, there is one file that is different (ex2r.txt, something like a sequence of tasks for the updater on the tv to run) that has 2 lines added to it:

    9:0x00D00000:0x002F0000:erase
    9:0x00c00000:0x00100000:40S_M046.img

    And the presence of the 40S_M046.img file, which is not there in the Sony update. I just wanted to make sure that this is similar to what everyone else has/had work, for the various different models.

    Where did these files come from anyhow?

    Thanks again and I am eager to give it a shot!

    • No_Style
      | Reply

      The firmware was provided by Sony engineers. A few folks from AVSForum managed to get in touch with them and they sent out these fixes. They were not provided via the website since this update was also reseting configuration settings to factory defaults.

      • shagstlm
        | Reply

        Nice. That’s what I thought. Thanks for all your effort (after reading that 150 page thread)!!!

  13. Mike
    | Reply

    Thank for posting this!

    I have the 52″ KDL-52V5100, purchased in December 2009.

    I noticed the flashing in the same exact examples, flesh tones with people on the screen from my cable box or even blu-ray. At first I thought it was the cable box, then I when I noticed it on my PS3 playing a DVD or blu-ray, I knew it was TV. But what was it?

    At first I was thinking I had a setting wrong, maybe some color matching subsystem in the TV was flaking out or something. I played with all the color settings and it was still there.

    I was about to place a service call when I googled and found this exact page. I downloaded the update and tried it.

    Just a FYI, make sure the Thumb Drive is FAT32 formatted and extract the files to the root. Just to be safe, remove any other files from the root. I’m sure folders are OK.

    I turned on my set and got the confirmation message and it proceeded. It did some stuff for about 2 mins or less. Then the TV power recycled but it didn’t say it was done. Hmm, that seemed kinda fast. It went through again (almost looking like it was starting over), I figured it was another stage of the update and this second process took longer. Finally, it did say it was complete and I had to pull the USB drive out to continue. The total time was about 8 mins.

    My factory settings were reset and I configured everything again and the problem is GONE!

    I noticed there’s an update on Sony’s site dated August 2010, but it doesn’t mention it fixes this issue as a past issue. Has anyone tried that one? it’s 41.2 or something.

    So thanks again for the update and my TV is now working as I expected it to work day one. Shame on Sony for disputing this very real issue.

    Mike

    • No_Style
      | Reply

      The AVSForum members who tried the new August 2010 firmware say that it doesn’t fix the Red Flashing problem. Don’t waste your time with that.

      Glad the problem was fixed tho! 🙂

  14. Nick
    | Reply

    This was a lifesaver!

    I just bought a new KDL-40S510 for $480 on eBay. First thing I did was install the newest firmware that Sony had provided on their website.

    Shortly after getting it all set up I noticed reds and flesh tones would flicker and change shades. It was really annoying and the firmware update spoke nothing of this.

    After finding this site and downloading the “unofficial” firmware update my problem is gone!

    I’m just glad I didn’t have to live through months of red flickering (not to mention countless painless hours with tech support) like others did.

    Very grateful to this site and the folks at AV Science.

  15. Chris Conroy
    | Reply

    I just wanted to thank you for posting this article/fix. I literally scoured the internet for months looking for a solution to this red flash problem without any luck. Sony was absolutely no help and I was on the verge of buying a new tv. You saved me from having to do that! Thank you so much. I couldn’t be more grateful, I can enjoy my TV again!

    -Chris

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