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Death of a DVD Player

After 9 years of faithful service – or really 7 years of faithful service and 2 years of stuttering occasionally on some DVDs – my Toshiba decided last week that it really didn’t want to play nice anymore. Instead, it chose to open the tray an inch, make a horrifying mournful drone, and eventually give up on this whole ejecting deal and close the tray again. Only to then fail to spin up the DVD at all. Something was very wrong.

Trying again, but this time tugging on the tray at the same time to see if it had lost the power to push the tray past a certain point gave no joy. In fact, that mournful drone also meant that the tray was held fast – it wouldn’t open or close. Cutting the power with the tray half open revealed that the servo that opened the tray was also pretty good at keeping me from opening or closing the drive without power.

A little time with a little screwdriver and some unobvious cover removal later I took a peek inside. Unlike many surfaces in my house ‘touched’ by some drilling that was done outside my window, it seemed the interior of this box was still clean. Astoundingly so. It seems the only dust that had managed to get into the drive was lingering around the laser making it stutter, but other than that, it was all very neat and tidy. All the electrics was still properly connected. There wasn’t any obvious problem at all. That meant I’d have to power it up with the cover off to see what was really going wrong.

The Toshiba SD-1200Y is a DVD player that moves the laser head up to meet the DVD when the tray is closed. Usually. In this design, it seems the whole laser tracking assembly is supposed to tilt down as the tray slides out, so that the laser head gets out of the way of the back of the tray as it slides past. However, this isn’t what was happening anymore.

What was happening was the back of the tray was connecting with the back of the laser head, and catching on the cover of the laser, and both were stuck until the timer on getting the door open ran out and the tray slid back in again. And now that the tray had bashed the laser about a few times, the laser couldn’t get a read on any part of the disc jammed in the drive. On the up side, the laser was being encouraged to tilt more towards the middle of the disc, rather than out past it, or I could have had a nasty surprise when powering it up…

Luckily, a bit of coaxing (i.e. brute force) with a Mark 1 finger got the head out of the way in time for the tray to zip past without taking that finger with it in the process. So, good news: I freed the trapped DVD.

But all this leaves me with a problem: I have DVDs from 4 regions around the world, not including the region 0 discs that some publishers were nice enough to create. I have a PS3 which is a passable DVD player for Region 4 DVDs, but will never support region unlocking as long as it is still made by Sony. I have a PC with a sizeable amount of disk space, but my default DVD player software (Cyberlink PowerDVD in Vista 64) is already threatening to lock the drive down to one region in 4 more zone changes, even after telling the drive itself that it’s allowed to be region free. Repairing the drive will cost roughly the same as buying a (let’s face it) not quite as good replacement.

Should I just buy a new DVD player? Which one?

Is this my cue for converting my collection to a purely digital format? And if so, what should I use to do the ripping?

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Greetings, Mortal

Hello, and welcome. I’m glad you could make it. Bear with me while I try to figure out what I’m doing.

Expect some ramblings on music – what I’m listening to, what I’m working on and what I’m working on it with. Enjoy some dissertations on programming languages – mainstream, research, or my own toy dialects. Witness me fumble with my gadgets, be they phones, desktops or even tablets. Stay tuned for some exciting adventures…

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