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Second screen fails.....and a fix
on January 6, 2013
I rarely write reviews, but in this case I felt I must.
As most people, we bought these to use for our children in the back. This was about 2 years ago. Overall, I really liked them. 9" screen, decent volume, reads most DVDs with no problems (although there was one MickyMouse Clubhouse DVD that it refused to play). My biggest gripe with these out of the box was the dual power cord rather than a master-slave configuration where turning the main unit off also turned off the second screen. But that's wasn't a big deal.
But over two years, I've gone through several of these sets, and every single one had the same problem. The second screen would stop working. It would turn grey/white with lines through it. Best to describe it as a grayscale plaid.
First set worked for months, at which point the second screen went out. Seemed to be hit or miss whether it would work. Returned and the next unit had the second screen problem right out of the box. Returned again and third set worked fine for about 9 mos. That's when it started acting up again. I found that by pushing on the upper right and lower left of the screen, it would work. So that was the drill, turn on, and if messed up, give it the old Fonzy tap on the corners to get it working. But it got progressively worse.
Finally when I had enough, I opened the unit up (six screws) and some plastic catches. Not bad. Then I immediately found the problem. The screen is connected to the PCB by a flat ribbon. This is a very common connection method used on many electronics. The ribbon gets inserted into a connector and a plastic latch is pushed down to hold it in. This plastic latch had come loose and wasn't allowing a reliable connection anymore. So I reseated the latch and everythin worked fine.
For a few months that is. Started acting up again and it was the same problem. I identified the connector and it's cheap junk. For only a few cents more, Phillips could have used a more rugged design for vibration environments. But that's cost cutting chineese manufacture for you.
After the second time of reseating this plastic clip, I added some RTV to keep it down. That only lasted a few months before it went out again. Next time opening it up, the entire plastic clip broke off the connector, RTV and all. There must be some internal stress on this that causes the problem. I ordered a new ruggedized connector from Digikey, brought the PCB into work and had one of my techs replace the connector. Now it works fine, but again, not everyone works in the electronics industry like I do and have those resources. Still, for something to break like this, I'm not sure the replaced connector will last either.
For most people, I'd stay away until Phillips redesigns this product to be better.