I started a thread similar to this in the plasma forums several months ago and I have received many PM's and emails thanking me for doing so. Since there seems to be a proliferation of posts regarding the flicker issues afflicting the S1 projector, I want this thread to be a factual one encompassing all of the problems and solutions. That said, I will begin.
IN MY CASE, I had a Jan 2002 produced S1 that had a flicker and 2 dead pixels. At that time I was told it had the latest software and I received a replacement bulb for the flicker, the pixels were not addressed a that time. The replacement bulb did not solve the flicker and the PJ developed a white line across the top of the PJ, an obvious defect and the unit was exchanged in early March.
PJ #2 arrived with no flicker and 4 dead pixels. After about 40 hours, the flicker appeared. Again, this software was the latest available at the time, the replacement was manufactured within 30 days of it's arrival. Received another bulb swap and still not fixed. Called dealer irate and he willingly got an RA from Marantz and replaced the unit, no questions asked. Thank heavens for US warrantee and a great dealer.
PJ#3 arrived with no dead pixels, that was a first, however right out of the box the flicker was bad, real bad, the worst of them all. This unit was manufactured and delivered in July and was sent to me right off the boat from Japan. I was told to wait for 100 hours to see if it would "burn in" and correct itself. It did not and I was authorized for another bulb swap. At this point in time you are either saying "wow, this is a great dealer and company for going thru all of this" or you are saying "Eric is unbelieveably patient to spend 10k and deal with so many problems from the get go without losing his sh!t!" Needless to say, this bulb swap did not solve the problem and I was done with it. Sorry to return it because it was the first and only one I had with no dead pixels but, no bulb swap or software corrected the problem, even after waiting again for another 100 hour burn in.
I told my dealer i wanted my money back and to take this PJ off of my hands, I had been more than flexible and patient and have not had a functioning, flawless, flicker free image EVER since the day I bought the PJ. He said "sorry, nothing I can do about it but, you can't return it" I said " it's been defective from day one and I don't want to have to sue you over this". On that note, he made his calls to Marantz and one way or another I got a replacement S2. I can't tell you if Marantz ate it or the dealer ate it but, if you know me, I sure as hell wasn't going to eat it.
PJ #4 (S2) Well, Marantz did it again, this time it's only 1 dead pixel but, low and behold, no flicker. 200 hours and going, still no flicker and I don't think it will ever flicker the way it did because Marantz did "something" to prevent it from happening on the S2. It's got the same bulb, the same chassis but, they fixed the problem.
So here are the facts as I know them, please add to them as you wish.
1. The bulb swap has solved some peoples flicker, for others it did not.
2. A software fix has solved some peoples flicker, for others it did not.
3. There have been no reports from S2 owners regarding flicker.
Here is the problem as i see it with regards to the S1. A bulb swap and/or software upgrade may indeed solve YOUR flicker problem, but it may not. Even more disturbing is the fact that while it may not flicker NOW with your current bulb, whos to say it will not flicker when you swap out that bulb after it's shot? The bulb is gonna burn out someday and you will have to change it, why do you think a new bulb won't bring back the old problem?
It appears to me that some type of anti flicker circuitry has been designed into the S2. Maybe it regulates voltage spikes or current fluctuations, I dont quite know. I do know that every bulb has variances in arc distances and as minute as they may be, certain ones cause flicker and others don't. It is my opinion that you can get lucky and get a "good" bulb or "unlucky" and get a bulb that causes flicker. Chances are more than likely at some time down the path you will see the flicker regardless of whether or not it is ehibiting the problem now.
My 2 cents.