I have this set also.. When you set up for an HD signal (1080i) it is broadcast in 16:9 which is a widescreen format. The Sony set is a 4:3 format (more of a square shape) which means the black bars at the top and bottom appear so that you get the widescreen 16:9 format to appear.
This is one of the main negatives I have about this set, however, I can't really complain as I have had it for 6 years and it works great.
I never knew about the other format until I got an HD receiver from my satellite dish provider last year. Hope that helps explain it for you..
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Have just posted this - twice, elsewhere - I'm afraid the sets are getting old:
"I think you are either suffering from a failed power supply or the supply is cycling because of a 'downstream' problem that could be in the high voltage circuit. In each case, the blink count probably would tell you approximately where the problem is located but only a Sony tech will have access to the codes. After all, we are only mortals. "
There are some components that have become thermo sensitive from age and use. After the defective parts come up to their operating temperature they go out of specs.
Most of the time this type of problem comes from the power supply. Sometimes it is from another board that is causing the shut down.
The fix is to start by replacing the power supply for a start. If there are still any faults, the tech will try the boards to zero in on the defective one. Once he locates the defective board, if it is not worth to service, he will leave the new board in the set.
This type of repair can be in the average range between $200 to the $500 range depending on the exact fault. This is providing that the fault is not inside of the screen itself.
Have you tried disabling SVM (scan velocity modulation)? Often touted as a "feature" of TVs, it's a way of artificially making a picture appear sharp. Totally unnecessary. When SVM (sometimes called VM) is on, it can lead to some color bleeding around edges.
This is a defect in the vertical scan amplifier. It is not an adjustment. Most of the time there are a number of capacitors in the vertical deflection amplifier that can cause this type of fault. Sometimes the output drive IC can cause this fault, but more rarely.
An experienced service tech can locate the defective parts and replace them. The average time involved is about 1 to 1.5 hours.