Originally Posted by Mindman
Just did manual update check on the TV - a new update is available for me, but the update is likely old as I haven't updated in maybe 6 months or so. Is the latest firmware version safe/essential?
Here's where I stand on firmware updates in general, not just for these TV's...
Read the release notes and understand what is being fixed / added / addressed. If there are security patches that you know affect you or if there are improvements to the operation of the set that affect you, then you need to apply these updates.
Unfortunately, many companies (Sony is absolutely included in this list) do a piss-poor job of handling firmware upgrades when it comes to changes that they make regarding various settings. New settings, settings moved to different areas, and settings that get new defaults all pose the potential of completely screwing up the operation of your device. It is with this in mind that you should approach every single firmware upgrade with the understanding that you should A) reset the TV to factory settings, B) perform the upgrade, C) reset the TV to factory settings again, and D) set your TV up all over again. If you do anything other than that procedure, you absolutely run the risk of something being put into a reduced or disabled operational state.
Yes, many folks on here update and do not follow this process and have not necessarily encountered an issue that traces back to the upgrade. However, read through the threads and find all of the folks that eventually encountered some odd behavior that was ultimately corrected after resetting the TV to factory defaults. Sony offers NO TROUBLESHOOTING when you have an issue as they always tell you to reset to factory defaults before they will do anything else. This is partly because there is simply no way for them actually troubleshoot an issue that has millions of variable combinations but mostly because there is no way to know if any particular setting is actually functioning properly without forcing it back to defaults first.
I was always one to upgrade the firmware on my home routers because I felt the need to keep things patched up. Well, no more. If an update doesn't address a specific issue I'm having, it doesn't get applied. Period. I spent HOURS trying to troubleshoot very odd behavior with the WiFi in my house and ended up finally resetting the router and starting again. What I saw in the process was two new settings appear in the 2.4GHz wireless setup that were not visible before the reset. I didn't change the firmware, I merely reset the configuration.