OLED TVs still face challenges; is there a real fix for it?

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Watching varying content can limit potential burn-ins

Burn-ins are an issue that has dogged OLED panels for quite some time now. And while companies that produce products – particularly televisions – have been working to resolve this, the question that lingers is, should they continue to fix or improve it, or altogether move on from it with a different innovation?  

The most common cause of burn-ins is static content, or content that stays at a certain part or parts of a TV screen for an extended period of time, such as a sports programme with scores in some corner, or a news channel with its logo displayed – content that is displayed all throughout a broadcast.

One potential solution broached – without going into technicalities – is to vary the content that is being watched, as seen in a test conducted by UK-based review site HDTVTest, which revealed that there was no permanent burn-in during a six-month trial on a brand-new OLED TV. However, that would, in theory, limit the time one watches a programme with static content, especially if it’s a favourite.

On the manufacturer side, the most popular fix for the issue is releasing firmware updates that improves performance – particularly targeting areas where burn-ins would occur – without sacrificing the rest of the screen’s picture quality.

As Forbes noted in one of its reports, measures such as these can be considered an acknowledgement that burn-ins are still a burning issue. It also quotes the 20-hours-per-day test of review site Rtings, saying that burn-ins can start occurring just within 4,000-5,000 hours of use. Rtings also noted that the sub-pixel colour that degrades fastest is red, followed by blue and green.

Also of note: Burn-in is different from image retention; the latter can be fixed while the former can result in permanent damage to pixels.

Lifewire suggests a few things, such as turning down brightness and contrast; using the refresh function of a TV that would fix pixel issues; and running a colourful, fast-moving video for half-an-hour in the hope that this would clean up pixels and restore order, so to speak.

There’s also the warranty card that will tell you if you’re covered for burn-ins. However, saving yourself all the hassle of doing the above by considering options to OLEDs could be the best solution.

Meanwhile, companies that make OLED TVs may need to rethink their strategies. To be fair, OLEDs have their advantages – thinner profiles, faster refresh rates and lower cost among others – but if burn-ins continue to be an issue, users may turn off these TVs altogether.