HG101's Guide to the Playstation 3 Yellow Light of Death

What's a YLOD?

It stands for the Yellow Light of Death. It's the equivalent to the Xbox 360's RROD (Red Ring of Death), in that it basically means your machine is busted. It has to do with the soldering on the motherboard overheating, which suggests it's some kind of recurring design flaw. In fact, the same exact problem as the 360's. (Read this Eurogamer article for more details.) It is not restricted to any kind of PS3s, although Slims are too new to determine whether they're afflicted.

What happens if I get a YLOD?

Sony will repair it for $150 + tax if it's out of warranty. There is only a year warranty on the system, and since these things tend to crop up after they've expired, that means you need to pony up the cash. When you send it to Sony, you get a whole new console back. What's more, some people are reporting that their replacement consoles - which only have 90 day warranties, are YYLODing AGAIN after that has expired, requiring ANOTHER $150. This isn't necessarily likely, but it's more than possible.

You can also try to fix it by taking it apart and reheating the solder with a heat gun, or send it in to a third party to be repaired, but the general opinion is that this is a only a temporary fix, and you're only adding on a few months of lifespan at best. (A local video game shop quoted me $120 to fix mine, but given the sketchiness of how effective this is, I'm balking at it. However, there are plenty of cheaper ones online.)

How long has this been happening?

First reports seemed to have popped in 2008, although it could be earlier.

How has Sony responded?

By sticking their fingers in their ears, more or less. Their official statistic is that the failure rate is 0.5%, but that's also the same line that Microsoft tried to feed everybody when they first found out about their issues.

Why isn't this plastered all over the news, like the RROD was?

Because it's not as widespread as the 360's issues. That beind said, a quick search on Google will result a significant number of people with the problem (or even check out this thread on Sony's own forums) - not nearly the 30%+ failure rate that Microsoft ran into, but more than enough to notice it's a persistant problem. But with Uncharted 2 being heralded as The Game of the Year, and with more PS3s being put through the rigors this holiday, you'd damn bet this will be cropping up a lot more often. It can only get worse from here.

The only article I'd even SEEN about this before it happened was this BBC Watchdog post, which was apparently somewhat botched since they got a Microsoft columnist to testify about it. Indeed, this and any of the articles link have met with similar hand-waving reactions from consumers, of all people.

What should I do about it?

Well, get pissed off! If it hasn't happened to you (or don't own a PS3), then you probably won't care and think this is all over-reactionary...until it DOES happen to you, anyway. So until then, spread the word. Get paranoid. That $400 system (give or take a few hundred) may be on its dying legs and could croak at any moment! Also, make sure to make up for saves routinely...except for the ones you can't, like Demon's Souls, effectively ruining any progress you may have made. Remember that when you send your system to Sony, they take your hard drive too!

But $150 is a completely reasonable price to continue playing on this awesome system! (paraphrased comment from Youtube)

No, you bloody nose-picking, weasel-licking nimrod. As a paying consumer you have certain rights, which assumes that a company will NOT screw you out of money within a reasonable time span. This shoddy workmanship AND anti-consumer attitude is one of the worst things about this generation.

So please be aware of this, and spread the word.

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