Backstage: Good and bad news for Sony PSP owners

The good news is that our friends at PSPWorld are already putting up cool reviews and news of all things Playstation Portable, including some really helpful articles on PSP usage and a contest to win a free PSP. Their editors weathered the midnight launch of the PSP last evening, and have been adding all sorts of interesting tidbits today on the new portable games console.

Bad news? Well, take a look at the currently 23-page “Dead/Stuck Pixel Thread” on Sony’s official PlayStation web site, where people are posting messages such as this one:

“Well, kind of funny they changed my thread name to no longer include the word “Offiicial”…

Well, my PSP officially has 12 dead pixels, no joke.

**bleep** you Sony.  Now my EB is saying that they won’t take back my PSP without an extended service plan since Sony says it’s not covered under warranty… and the reason I bought it at EB is so I could easily exchange it.  What bull**bleep**.”

“Well I just got my PSP this morning and the first thing I noticed when I turned it on was 14 dead pixels. Some where white the others were black. After just browsing through the system the white dead pixels came back to life and now I just have 6 dead black pixels. One which is right in the middle. Really annoying.”

“I probably would hold on to mine.  But it is definately going back.  At first I noticed just 1 dead pixel.  It was kind of funny, I noticed it when playing a game that had fairly faint colors.  It was obvious when the screen got dark though, however, then I noticed a funky ‘s’ shaped thing in the bottom corner. … Everyone is shelling out $$ for these devices and you expect quality.  As far as only limiting returns to certain numbers of dead pixels, thats a bit out of the question.  One dead pixel in the center of the screen is much more noticeable than one in the extreme corner.  It won’t surprise me if later shipments have less problems as I’m sure Sony was rushing this shipment.”

As we mentioned, quality control on these PSPs – unfortunately, like too many Sony products these days – is really unimpressive. Repeating what they pulled in Japan, Sony told US retailers only a day or two before launch that they would not let warranty claims be brought for dead pixels, so all of the people with prepaid, locked-in pre-orders basically were screwed if their machines had problems like the poor guys above. Some stores are charging $25-30 for the privilege of returning a system with pixel problems. Great.

And these folks haven’t even waited a month to see whether more pixels turn up dead, as happened with our Japanese unit. (We started with a totally perfect screen, which over time has developed around 7 dead pixels.) As the screens in the Japanese and US units appear to be the same, this’ll surely be happening to people in the US, too.

Will Apple be able to avoid this on the inevitable video-ish iPod of the Future? Probably. Apple’s LCD displays are generally excellent. That’s why I bought an Apple 20” Cinema Display last month – because of the quality. It’s just a shame that one-time TV world-beater Sony can’t compete on quite the same level any more.

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