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Burn-In: Is My OLED TV at Risk & How Can I Prevent It?

by Ann Ferguson

Shopping for a new TV means you have many choices, but there's no denying the appeal of OLED TVs and their excellent picture quality. They have perfect black levels, the best color, and ultra-thin panels to bring you a display you can be proud of! But are you hesitating to make the change because of burn-in?

Burn-in is the afterimage phenomenon that occurs when you leave a static image on your screen for too long, a major headache people have been dealing with for decades. You might've heard that OLEDs are prone to burn-in, but that only applied to the early OLEDs made a decade ago — many things have changed since then and for the better!

And we'll show you how!

What causes burn-in on OLED TVs?

Image with zoomed-in colored pixels

Burn-in occurs after a static image is left too long on a screen, but what really causes it? The leading cause is the uneven degradation of the pixels when one area of the screen starts degrading more than the rest of the screen. This usually results in a "watermark" of sorts on the edge of the screen, like a logo or menu options.

Once burn-in occurs, the degradation of the pixels is permanent and can't be fixed.

What is image retention?

Image retention is a type of burn-in that leaves a ghostly afterimage on the screen, but it's usually temporary. The ghostly afterimage will typically go away on its own once you turn off the display or switch to another image or video.

Do you need to worry about it for OLED TVs?

Woman watching action film on OLED tv

In the past, OLED TVs have been prone to burn-in, but luckily newer ones have built-in preventative measures to counteract any burn-in. In fact, because newer OLEDs use a grid of white LEDs that age at the same rate regardless of where the colored filters are, you rarely have to worry about burn-in on an OLED screen.

Usually, the only instance in which a brand-new OLED would get burn-in is if it was on all day on the same screen, like the TVs used in airports that are always on the same channel — that's several tons of TV usage! But burn-in isn't a serious concern for OLED users when used in normal conditions. The exception is if you plan to use the OLED TV as a monitor!

Which features help prevent burn-in?

Since burn-in is a possibility for OLEDs (a very minor possibility), manufacturers have created their own preventative measures! They typically use similar approaches, like subtly moving the image, dimming static elements, and keeping the pixels at the same quality. Some of these features will include any of the following:

  • Pixel orbiting/shifting continuously circles the image around a pixel or two, so none are exposed to precisely the same image content.
  • Pixel refresh occurs after around four hours of cumulative use (after the display is turned off) and compensates for pixel deterioration.
  • Local screen dimming will dim specific static elements like onscreen logos.
  • Image shifting is incredibly subtle and almost imperceptible to the human eye, prevents image retention
  • Heat sink technology enables extra screen brightness without the worry of burn-in

During a pixel refresh maintenance cycle, you might see one or more vertical or horizontal lines that appear when the rest of the screen panel is off, but don't worry! These lines are a normal part of the cycle, which means it's working!

Are there other precautions you can take?

Woman changing the channel

Outside of manufacturer features, there are other measures you take to help protect your latest investment! The best countermeasure is to avoid displaying bright static elements. But if you just bought a new OLED, remember to avoid prolonged exposure to bright, colorful static image elements for the first 100 hours of use until it's completely broken in.

Other measures you can take are leaving your TV in standby mode (instead of unplugging it) and varying your watching habits. As long as you aren't watching the same content over and over for days or weeks on end and regularly use the pixel refresh feature, burn-in won't be a concern for you.

Can burn-in be fixed?

Woman trying to fix her TV

Let's say for a moment that you accidentally left the TV on with a logo in the corner, and now it won't come off — don't panic; it's most likely image retention, which means it's usually fixable. You can try the following:

  • Adjust the settings and turn down the brightness and contrast as you watch varied content. This will help image retention go away on its own.
  • Turn on the pixel shift setting (if it's not on automatically) and start a pixel refresher cycle (it's sometimes called "panel refresh").
  • Play a fast-moving, colorful video with lots of color changes for a few minutes to half an hour helps remove it.
  • Replace it as a last resort — double-check the manufacturer's warranty if it has one and see if it covers burn-in.

But if your TV has a permanent burn-in, it can't be fixed or reversed as the pixels will continue to degrade the more it's used. However, the likelihood of you needing to deal with permanent burn-in is very unlikely!

Picture Perfect!

Overall, while burn-in used to be a common issue for OLEDs back in the day, newer ones are made with preventative measures and better materials to mitigate the risks! So, don't keep hesitating — get a new OLED TV at Toton’s TV! The perfect picture will be well worth the investment!

And if you have any questions, call our team or stop by — we know a thing or two about superb TV picture quality!