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Frustrated Sony OLED owners suffer persisting dimming issues

07 Sep 2018 | Rasmus Larsen |

Owners of Sony OLED TVs are getting increasingly frustrated with the company who has failed to address a severe dimming issue that was introduced with a firmware update more than half a year ago. The issue persists even after the latest update meant to resolve the problem.

Update 10.9.2018: There are now conflicting reports. A group of Italian owners report that the latest firmware appears to have fixed the dimming issues on their sets. Meanwhile, more reports are trickling in - after the publication of this article - from owners who continue to see dimming issues with the latest firmware. Some suggest that Sony has made changes to the dimming algorithm (i.e. it takes longer for it to engage).

Sony OLED dimming issue persists

Full-screen dimming occurs temporarily while users are watching video and playing games. The dimming algorithm inadvertently reacts to on-screen graphics such as a gameplay HUD or score results during a football match.

- “This significant issue completely ruined my enjoyment of the World Cup and now with the new football season and PRO14 rugby started last Friday, the problem persists,” said John Fraser, owner of the Sony A1 OLED. “It is absolutely shocking and certainly not what I subscribed too. My faith in Sony has been rocked by this and at present I would not recommend Sony to anyone.”

Sony OLED TVs were not shipped in this condition – and it has nothing to do with the OLED panel’s ABL. The faulty dimming function was introduced in stealth by Sony with firmware v6.2858 that began rolling out more than half a year ago, first in the US and later in Europe. More reports of problems started trickling in as users installed the update. FlatpanelsHD first covered the issue in July where Sony publicly acknowledged the problem and promised to fix it. The previous article also links to a recorded video that illustrates the dimming issue.

Owners of Sony’s high-end OLED TVs are getting increasingly agitated. Especially after Sony earlier this week released new firmware v.6.5629 that included the following note for the Sony A1 model: “Improves picture brightness in a specific set of circumstances”.

Unfortunately, the update has not resolved the problem, as evidenced by reports on the Sony Community forum, FlatpanelsHD’s commentary section, and other user forums. FlatpanelsHD has been contacted by several owners confirming the same. One owner explains that dimming is now slightly less severe but that it happens under the same set of circumstances as before, meaning mainly gaming and sports, or other types of content with static elements in the picture.

Another Sony OLED TV owner said that the TV has gone from “perfect” to a major disappointment, and that the update has not fixed the issue.

- “Update didn't fix the dimming issue ... They literally nerfed their TVs behind an anticipated Dolby Vision update, and they did it without alerting the consumer as to what was going to happen,” said Jenna. “It was perfect before, no problems at all, and the best TV by far that I've ever owned. Now I can't watch sports or game on it without feeling massively disappointed.”

Sony insists that only A1 is affected

The company insists that only the A1 (A1E) model is affected but owners of A8F (AF8) are reporting similar issues. Even after our previous article where more A8F/A8F owners chimed in, Sony has maintained that this model is not affected. FlatpanelsHD is currently trying to obtain access to an AF8 sample for testing.

We pressed for answers regarding the dimming issue during IFA, contacted Sony again earlier this week, and again today to make it clear to the company that owners should be provided with a very clear timeline for a full and uncompromising fix rolling out very soon. Otherwise we will be forced to take additional steps.

The issue has now persisted for more than a half year and owners of some of Sony’s most premium sets are left in a limbo, with only vague promises to cling on to. It is hard to understand for everyone involved how Sony can let such a severe issue persist for so long, especially considering that these are flagship TVs. This should be absolute top priority for Sony but clearly it is not.

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