BBC Examines Yellow Light of Death in UK

The Xbox 360 has the Red Ring of Death — a system failure warning. The PS3 also has a system failure warning, the Yellow Light of Death. Maybe you've seen it, maybe you haven't. It all depends on your luck.

As the BBC's consumer site Watchdog points out, PS3 has broken down without warning, giving owners the dreaded YLOD. (Not nearly as catchy as RROD!) But out of 2.5 million PS3s sold in the UK, only 12,500 have been effected by Sony's own admission. You do the math.

"The phrase 'yellow light of death' has been adopted by certain members of the online community to describe the situation in which PS3 systems have shut down following the illumination of the yellow light on the PS3's front panel," Sony explained. "The yellow light indicator is simply a non-specific fault indicator that can be triggered in a range of different circumstances."

The sudden failures are believed to be most common in the 60GB launch models.

While Sony'd replace consoles free of charge if this happened under warranty in the first 12 months of purchase, the company would not do that for consoles after that — and whaddaya know, BBC Watchdog states that the problem is plaguing consoles after 18-24 months of use. To fix the machine, UK PlayStation 3 owners need to pay £145 — a figure which was reduced to £128 in August 2009. Sony provides owners with door-to-door delivery of a good-as-new console. (Extended warranties, folks!)

This isn't profitable for Sony, reports Watchdog. In fact, the company is actually making a loss on this service.

"We entirely refute the suggestion that PS3 consoles have an inherent defect or other design issue," Sony stated. "Of all PS3's sold in the UK to date, fewer than one half of one percent of units have been reported as failing in circumstances where the yellow indicator is illuminated."

Show of hands: Who's had system failure issues with their PS3?

Watchdog: Sony PlayStation 3 and the "yellow light of death" [BBC]