Sony Bravia IR “spray” driving Bell TV Set top boxes berserk

sony_braviaAfter Bell TV upgraded the firmware on its 9242 HD PVR last week, Digital Home was bombarded with complaints from Bell customers who said their HD PVR was exhibiting strange behaviour such as randomly changing channels, the PVR recording shows on its own and much more.

After some investigation, Bell TV has reported to Digital Home, the source of the problem is new Sony Bravia televisions which typically have an Ambient light sensor built into them .

The sensor, which monitors light levels in a room and adjusts the televisions brightness levels automatically, is sending infra red (IR) spray around living rooms thereby mimicking random key presses on their Bell TV remotes.

Bell TV is advising Sony Bravia owners who are experiencing problems to turn off the Light Sensor option on their television. Bell says the problem is especially acute when the TV and satellite receiver are in a darkly lit room. Once the light sensor is turned off, the problem goes away.

This incident is simply the latest episode of LCD televisions wreaking havoc with satellite receivers and cable set top boxes. As flat panel television sales have increased in the last three years, Digital Home has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of readers complaining about new and unusual problems with their cable set top boxes or satellite television receiver.

Typical problems encountered by Digital Home readers include channels on the set top box randomly changing or the set top box remote only working at close range.

After much investigation by Digital Home and its readers, we have learned the problem often results from IR (infra-red) interference or IR spray from your flat panel television. The problem is much more common with LCD televisions because of IR leakage from the LCD backlights.

Simply speaking, the IR spray from IR linkage mimics the signals that are sent out by the remote control resulting in random channel changes or other bizarre behavior.

Unaware that this could be happening, many Digital Home readers have complained that their neighbour is changing the channels on their receiver or that their receiver is faulty! Imagine the sheepish grin on their face after they learn it’s their new expensive flat panel television!

We asked our Digital Forum HDTV guru, 57, what he recommends to stop the problem of IR spray and he gave us the following pieces of advice.

  • Place the cable set top box or satellite receiver further from the HDTV. The farther the set top box is from the television, the less likely you are to encounter problems.
  • Put the receiver in a shielded location so to prevent it from receiving stray IR signals.
  • Change the default picture mode – usually called Vivid or Dynamic – on your flat panel television to something dimmer. By changing to a dimmer mode, the intensity of stray IR signals is typically reduced.

Our guru also tells Digital Home that the problem stops on some makes and models once the TV has been on for a while, so simply waiting a minute or two can sometimes alleviate any problems.

To learn more about this problem and steps you can take to resolve it, check out Digital Home’s  “Is your LCD affecting your STB” discussion thread in the Digital Forum.

To read more about the problems affecting Bell TV 9242 HD PVR owners see Digital Home’s 9242: Firmware update V184 (Jan 19th, 2010) discussion thread.


6 Responses to “Sony Bravia IR “spray” driving Bell TV Set top boxes berserk”
  1. Michael says:

    My Bell PVR 9242 is exhibiting this problem…however I have a Samsung LN40A550…not a Sony.

    The fact that Bell wants people to disable features on their TV sets is terrible. This problem has only occurred since their latest firmware upgrade. This is Bell’s problem to fix and they better find a solution soon or I may have to look at Videotron.


  2. Dan says:

    I agree with Michael — Bell needs to fix this problem. I can accept disabling the light sensor as a temporary workaround, but considering the problem only appeared after the latest update, something has changed in the 9242 firmware.

    I wonder if they increased IR sensitivity? If that’s the case it would be a nice feature to add, but it should be a user adjustable setting.

  3. Jim says:

    Spoke with Bell yesterday, twice, and they say they are working on fix, and hope to have it done by Feb. 1.

  4. Jay says:

    I have a samsung LN46B610 and a Bell 9242; and have also experienced this issue. I was hoping it was related to firmware and put off worrying about it until today. After finding this article I disabled the Energy Saving feature; since doing so I have not had this issue.

    Good old Bell!

    Thanks for writing this article!

  5. Brenda says:

    Have two Sony Aquos TV’s connected to Bell. We phoned Sunday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday and they told us their software upgrade was causing the problem, they’d had lots of phone calls, and they were working on it. Phoned on Thursday and they told us our receiver was broken and we had to buy a new one. Huh! I’m not impressed at all with their customer service. Our main TV is changing channel by itself, turning on/off/on/off, the satellite is turning on//off/on/off, and when we press Guide, it pages up all by itself. They’ve talked us through changing some of the programming, including covering up the light sensors but NOTHING has helped. It’s extremely frustrating. The second TV has no programming at all – just snow!

  6. Karen says:

    I am getting sooo frustrated and tired of dealing with the issues with this receiver since the new firmware upgrade. The TV and receiver were getting along fine (I got the receiver when we purchased the LCD 14 months ago) and we never had ANY of the current issues prior to the upgrade in January. Every time I call to request the status of the fix for the upgrade I get a different response and wind up on the phone for at least 30 minutes while the tech attempts to find some magic resolution. I merely want to know the status and to ensure they are still aware there is a problem out here. One of the techs I spoke actually said it was my remote, and since it was out of warranty I would have to pay $70.00 plus shipping for a new one. Needless to say I declined his offer to send me a new one as I know it was something to do with the pvr itself. I also had a tech suggest I cover the sensor on the front of the pvr, some of the symptoms dissappeared, but we couldn’t change channels. Another tech suggested it might be a neighbour’s remote changing the channels. The only problem with that theory is that we live in a rural setting and the nearest neighbour is over a mile away.