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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fixed? PS3 Won't Read or Play DVDs, Games, or Blu-Ray Discs

The day has come unfortuantely; where it appears the original Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) that I bought 3 years ago at launch needs to have some work done on it. I am not sure exactly how it happened, but it appears that a combination of the Blu-Ray laser and/or mechanism failed.

This apparently was fairly common with some of the early versions of the Sony PS3, especially my CECHA-01 model; basically the very first hardware / firmware release of the Playstation 3. Some of the articles and discussion (this one for example) suggest that this was due to either poor quality Blu-Ray lasers being installed, or some overclocking by Sony early on to get the hardware fast enough to keep up with the demands.

In any case, I see several people with yearly failures of their PS3 Blu-Ray laser and replacements and varying symptoms from not reading just Blu-Ray discs to reading nothing: no games, no standard DVDs, no Blu-Ray.

My PS3 appears to have the symptom that none of them work. The Blu-Ray DVDs, Games, and standard DVDs load and spin up fine. However, there does not appear to be any tracking or reading happening. The end result is that nothing shows up in the main screen of the PS3 Operating System and load screen when turning the PS3 on.

Initially, I was unwilling to accept that my Playstation 3 was dead. I tried a number of old tricks and techniques to see if it was a cleaning or other basic issue. Here are the things I tried:

1. Good old can of air and basic cleaning of the PS3. No luck.

2. I tried the Playstation "cleaning" secret where the PS3 power switch in the off position, you turn power switch back on while holding down Eject button for 6-10 seconds. This mode allows you to clean out the dust inside the PS3. However, this technique only works for Models CECHG and higher. Bummer.

3. I tried resetting my PS3; both a soft reset as well as restoring the default factory settings. If you end up doing this process, please make sure you backup your PS3 system and settings first!

So, after numerous testing and investigation of alternatives...I have oddly opted to send it back to Sony for $150 to have it repaired. This was rather unusual for me to opt for this choice, but after a full investigation -- I decided it was the best option for me.


After some research, I found that you can get a laser lens and replacement deck from or eBay for about $50-$90, depending on the vendor and the amount of risk you want to take -- for example, a refurbished Blu-Ray lens / deck might be had for $50. Still, given the surprisingly high failure rate on the lasers -- did not seem worthwhile to me. At least you get a 90-day warranty from SCEA (Sony) on any repaired Playstation 3's. It seemed there was a lot of risk to take for $60 of savings; given a high likelihood that I could end up not only with a still broken PS3, but a $90 investment that I would still need to spend an additional $150 to complete the fix. Easy choice in my book where the risk of failure outweighed the cost savings.

However, if these Blu-Ray laser lens replacement approach $30 -- it would definitely be a different story!

Still if you are up for the do-it-yourself, you can get your replacement laser lens / deck from just by clicking here.

Here's a picture of what it looks like:

Photo of a Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) Blu-Ray Laser Lens Deck Replacement for fixing your PS3

In addition, I found two great videos that will walk you through how you can accomplish the repair and replacement of the PS3 laser lens and deck on YouTube.

Part I: The tear-down guide for your Playstation 3:

Part II: The removal and replacement of the Blu-Ray laser and laser deck:

If you choose to attempt to repair the laser lens deck or the Blu-Ray laser itself, I am sure you'll be successful given the two videos above.

In the end, this type of problem is a little disappointing for my PS3 --, I had the same thing happen with my early edition Playstation 2 (PS2) where the CD-ROM failed and I needed to spend way too much money to have it fixed and replaced. At this point, I am willing to bite the bullet for $150 to have the Blu-Ray drive and laser fixed with Sony...but if the prices on the Blu-Ray DVD players keep coming down at the rate they have been to under $100. If it happens again, one of my two PS3's will be slated for parts and retirement.

Crazy how this always seems to happen with the game consoles, but I have yet to have a DVD Player itself ever fail on me. It sort of makes me wonder why.