TV Burn-In: What It Is, and How to Protect Against It

Burn-in. If you’ve experienced it before, the mere mention of the words could send chills down your spine. If you haven’t experienced it, maybe you’re curious what the term means? Or what kind of likelihood there is that one or more of your devices could experience it?
Whatever your questions about burn-in, Upsie is here to help. Consider this post your ultimate guide to TV burn-in, plus how to protect against it.

What Is TV Burn-In?

Let’s start by defining our terms. Burn-in is a term used throughout the electronics and display industries to refer to any scenario where a ghost-like image gets permanently stuck in the background of the display.
Think about the ticker on your favorite news or sports channel, for example: it’s always a certain color or shape, right? If one corner of your TV is stuck displaying solid red for an extended period of time, you might start to see red there even when it shouldn’t be there.
If this kind of color or ghosted image happens in a permanent way, then you’re dealing with burn-in.

Are All Displays Susceptible to Burn-In?

More or less, yes. Any modern display built on LCD or LED technology could theoretically succumb to burn-in. But not every display type is created equal in this regard.
CNet notes that liquid crystal displays (LCD), LED and QLED displays are all far less susceptible to burn-in. It’s not impossible, but it’s more rare.
There is one display type that’s more susceptible to burn-in: OLED displays. Yes, you read that right. The best, most attractive display type – the one powering the latest flagship smartphones and high-end 4K TVs – is the most susceptible to permanent damage through burn-in. Some manufacturers build in “screensavers” of moving logos to try to prevent OLED burn-in when the image is paused for long periods. Unfortunately it doesn’t always help against persistent graphic elements like channel logos or other information like scores during extended games.

Why Are OLED Displays Popular if They’re Vulnerable to Burn-In?

So why are OLED displays so popular, even if they’re vulnerable to permanent damage like this? There are two big reasons. First, OLED displays just plain look amazing. OLED is the best-looking display technology on the market today. Consumers are hungry for the best aesthetic experience (not to mention viewing experience), and OLED is it.
Second, while the risk of burn-in is higher with OLED than with other modern display types, it’s a lower risk than breaking portable devices, such as smartphones.

How Do I Know if My TV Has Burn-In?

At first glance, you might think that your TV has burn-in if you ever see any ghostly colors or retained images after changing the channel. But it’s not quite that simple, actually.
Before you panic, thinking that your $1,000 TV is ruined for good, give it some time. You may be dealing with image retention, which is temporary (as CNet noted). Here’s how to check.
Power off the TV and wait a few minutes. Turn it back on and check whether the issue has been resolved. If it hasn’t, change to a channel or video source that doesn’t look anything like the potentially burnt-in area. If that doesn’t solve it, leave the TV powered off overnight and check it again in the morning.
Most cases of suspected burn-in are actually just image retention. These problems will resolve themselves on their own. Do watch out, though: sometimes, image retention can be a precursor to burn-in. If you see the same image retention consistently, you might need to change your viewing habits to avoid complete burn-in.

How Big of a Risk is TV Burn-In?

Because usage patterns vary so widely, we can’t exactly quantify this. For most users, though, burn-in isn’t likely to be a problem. If you’re using your TV like most consumers, you’re probably watching a variety of content types. You also likely don’t leave the TV running on one channel for days on end with no breaks.
OLED screens are at a higher risk. Early OLEDs were more susceptible than the ones being manufactured now, too, per How-To Geek.

How Can I Protect Against TV Burn-In?

First, don’t leave your TV running all day on the same channel. Second, adjust brightness settings downward when possible. (Blasting full brightness does increase the possibility of burn-in). Third, break your cable news or ESPN addiction and vary your content consumption. For most users, this is plenty to protect against burn-in.
If you’re still worried about burn-in, an extended TV warranty from Upsie covers all sorts of defects – including burn-in. If you’re encountering burn-in on a set you’ve protected with an Upsie extended warranty, Upsie will repair or replace your TV at no additional cost to you!
Ready to get protected? Get your Upsie extended TV warranty today.

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