Camcorder Needs a Good Smack

August 09, 2012

I purchased a Sony Handycam a few years back, along with a two-year extended warranty. The camcorder worked great the first year, but it developed an issue with the cassette holder. When I tried to record or play a cassette, I began to get Sony's version of the "blue screen of death," accompanied by text instructions to "reinsert cassette."

It initially occurred fairly randomly, and I was able to reinsert the cassette and continue, but after a month, even that was no longer possible. I called Sony to report the problem and to see how best to proceed, since it was still under warranty. After explaining the issue to the technical support representative, I asked him if this was a common problem. His response was that it was very strange, and he had not heard of this happening before.

Yet if you enter into any search engine the words "Sony Handycam rei," you will see "Sony Handycam reinsert cassette error" come up as an option. Selecting it will result in multiple Internet entries on this particular error. The favorite solution is as follows:

Trust me on this one... with tape still in unit and battery removed, smack both sides of unit firmly three to four times with the heel of your hand. It works nine out of 10 times on all Sony cameras.

Further research revealed various possible reasons for the error -- one site says a pinch roller worked its way off its post because of a cheap locking nut. Another site says a cable needs to be reseated. Yet another says the cassette holder is out of alignment. There are even YouTube videos of people explaining the correct procedure for smacking your camera. The problem seems to be endemic across model numbers, although the tech rep at Sony was unaware that there was an issue.

I tried the usual troubleshooting techniques, although I must admit I am out of my element with camcorders. I tried cleaning the unit, examining parts that were exposed enough for a visual inspection, powering down the unit and resetting it, trying a different cassette, and yes, I admit it, smacking it (according to the experts on YouTube, who at least knew there was a problem). Since it was inoperable anyway, smacking it made me feel better. Smacking actually worked a couple of times before it finally refused to work at all. Ultimately, I could not get rid of the error, and the camcorder was now completely useless. It was a shame, too. Besides the issue of basic functionality, every other feature on it worked well.

This entry was submitted by Nancy Golden and edited by Rob Spiegel.

Tell us your experiences with Monkey-designed products. Send stories to Rob Spiegel for Made by Monkeys.

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