Tim’s Museum of Obsolete Tech 7.1

Laserdisc Player Update

With the demise of my Laserdisc player, I set out to purchase another one. These things were sold from 1978 to 2009, so there are still a lot of them out there, and some not that old. Many were built for commercial service, and home units often had comfortable lives in the homes of movie collectors, so most are in good condition. Belt failures are common, but easily fixed.

I found a mid-range machine, about fifteen years old, on eBay, at a good price. The seller claimed it was tested and working. When it arrived, I turned it on and was greeted with an error code. The drawer for the disk was stuck.

Assuming a belt problem, or something shifting during shipping, I removed the cover — and a handle of broken plastic pieces and tiny gears fell out. The drawer mechanism was broken.

It may be repairable, but the laser pickup is connected to the drawer mechanism. The pickup rises to meet the disk when the disk is inserted, and lowers out of the way when the disk ejects. If any of the damage affects its gears, it will not read the disk.

The good news is that the seller promptly refunded the purchase price and shipping cost. So I am back where I was over a month ago, except now I have two broken Laserdisc players instead of one. Perhaps I will turn them into a sculpture.

Meanwhile, I am shopping again, and this time asking specific question of the sellers. Why the quest for another player? Despite streaming services and DVDs, there are some film versions that you can only get on Laserdisc — like a version of Star Wars where Han shoots first. (There’s even a website dedicated to the various Laserdisc versions of Star Wars, and why they are better). Hope to introduce you to a working Laserdisc player soon.

By trc

Freelance writer, freelance editor, web consultant, and film studies scholar.

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