The BBC's Watchdog website recently investigated the PlayStation 3's "Yellow Light of Death" (article), a problem many console owners have experienced for years. In the past, Sony has expressed its dislike for the term, saying that the flashing yellow light doesn't focus on one particular error, but any one of "a range of issues that may inevitably affect any complex item of consumer electronics."
Apparently, the YLoD problem takes place 18 to 24 months after the original purchase, conveniently six or more months after the warranty expires. Sony has acknowledged the problem, reporting that around 12,500 of the 2.5 million consoles that have been sold in the UK have had this error since March 2007. But because the consoles are failing after the warranty expires, consumers are forced to send it off to Sony and pay around $200 for a refurbished replacement delivered directly to their door, or take the console to a repair shop and have it fixed.
However, Watchdog didn't buy the "range of issues" statement and sent off sixteen consoles owned by viewers who originally complained about the error. An independent console repairer disassembled the devices and heated the motherboard in a special oven, re-heating the solder to a point where the metal could repair bad connections between the components and the circuit board. After this trick, all sixteen consoles began working again; five were later reported to malfunction again.
Was this just coincidence that this solder "reflow" fix cured the overall YLoD problem despite Sony's claim? After reading Watchdog's article, Sony fired back with a response, saying that the YLoD doesn't stem from a manufacturing problem, and actually "dogged" the site for suggesting that the basic solder reflow process "can properly be done cheaply and quickly." Sony said it was unfair to criticize the company for service charges outside the warranty. To get a better understanding of the drama, check out article and Sony's full response.