Yes, Armegeddon was the Bruce Willis movie about the astroid headed for earth. It also featured Billy Bob Throton and Liv Tyler. Its featured song by Aerosmith, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," became a big hit.
Perhaps all of the 'whack' had leaked out of the unit, and the action of 'percussive repair' re-charged the 'whack' reservoir ? Remember in Armageddon when the Cosmonaut charges $1 for hitting the unit with the wrench, and $99 for knowing where to hit it ?
Interesting story about your flight, David12345. That's a bit disturbing. Your list of what can be corrected with a good whack is a good one. I hadn't considered the tin whisker problem. Those whiskers are very thin and, you're right, they could be dislodged with a whack.
Ironically, there are a number of ailments that truely can be temporarily repaired with "Percussion Repairs." The scariest one I ever witnessed was on a commuter flight from Philadelphia to Harrisburg on an old Beechcraft 99. As we taxied out to the runway, with the cockpit in full view of us passengers, we hit a bump and every idiot light lit and every gauge on the instrument panel pegged one direction or the other. The pilot never missed a beat, punched the instrument panel and everything jumped back where it was supposed to be. Clearly, a major open or short (most likely an open ground) that he temporarily repaired. I was so shocked and impressed I didn't even think to insist I get off for another flight.
As mentioned in previous posts:
a) a sticking car starter solenoid can be broken free, or if the starter is on a commutator arc dead spot the shock can move it to another spot or break the oxides enough to make contact and start.
b) motor bearing "sticktion" can be broken by a quick jar. In the case of the camcorder, it could adjust tape cassette alignments in the guide-track, or shift pinch rollers on their shaft.
c) Silver or tin whisker growth shorts can be broken by the shock.
d) Oxides on a "flakey" intermitant electrical contact, such as on a tin-lead plated connector contact, can be cracked allowing the current to tunnel through.
e) I have seen broken lightbulb filaments move and make contact . . . for awhile. I suspect that broken elements in the old technology vacuum tubes could rearrange in much the same manner to make connection again for awhile.
I'm sure there are other ways in which this crude "fix" could legitamately affect the device to get it working again temporarily. Clearly, if the root cause were designed-out, these temporary fixes would not be needed.
I appreciate your input gafisher - but my phone conversation with Sony was even more exasperating than the error message. I had the warranty papers in my name that showed store, date of purchase and serial number of the unit – yet they asked for a receipt, which I did not have since I had the warranty certificate. It took a week for them to research my warranty which puzzled me, until I found out why. Savvy consumer that I am, I had waited for this particular camcorder to go on sale. My warranty specified a replacement would be available if my unit became defective, which is why I purchased it. However, the fine print that I did not notice specified that the replacement value would be for the amount I paid for the unit, not the manufacturer's retail value like I had assumed. Of course they did not have a replacement unit available at the sale price so if you include the purchase of my warranty, by receiving my warranty refund (not the option I would have chosen) I got to pay $50.00 for a defective camcorder.
"... the product was purchased at a Best Buy or some such store with an extended warranty added at the cash register."
Understood, Nancy, but a warranty is a legal contract -- either the manufacturer or the aftermarket warranty company is on the hook (during the warranty period) for a working unit or a refund. Admittedly, most warranty service these days requires the customer to pack up the ailing device and ship it off to Guadalajara or some such place, but being noisily insistant at the Big Box Customer Service counter can often work wonders ... ;-)
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.