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Burn-in: How concerned should you be? Read this first.  

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 
One of the most common topics on this forum has to do with the issue of burn-in and plasma displays. You'll find most everybody has an opinion on it ranging from "Not a problem" to "Huge problem" and there is a great deal of confusing information regarding what it is, how it happens and how much to worry about it. It's addressed a bit in the plasma FAQ, but it seemed to bring up more questions than it answered, so I finally figured out that this is a better topic for an ongoing discussion than a FAQ answer. First off, lets talk about some of the basics....

What is burn-in?

Please take a look at Oferlaors description here from a recent thread discussing it. You may want to scroll up for a very colorful description by Dandrewk (then don't forget to come back here).

Is burn-in still a possibility?

With the recent generations of plasma displays, the technology has been improved in the areas of contrast ratios and lifespan. One problem with earlier generations was lower contast ratios, and plasmas with low contrast ratios appeared to burn-in more easily as discussed here, so one of the theories is that higher contrast ratios combined with longer phosphor life helps create less risk of burn-in.

Are you saying the problem is all gone now?

Provided you take proper care of your display (see below for suggestions), the risk will be minimized a great deal.

Why can't anyone tell me what the exact settings are that could cause it?

Because it's an unanswerable question. There are so many variables (manufacturer, generation of the model, settings, percentage of 4:3 viewing and the color of sidebars used, etc) to keep in mind, that picking a white level setting, or a range of hours watching 4:3 ratio, or something along those lines and saying "Don't exceed this" would do more of a disservice than being helpful.

Well, that didn't help me very much.

Sorry if it doesn't, but every plasma is different and one size definitely does not fit all in this area.

How much of a risk really is there then?

Very little from what's been reported by other members here, but as Nabsltd points out, this is a group of people who most likely have taken steps to avoid it.

But a lot of people have said they have it.

What most people have seen is "temporary image retention", like Ofer describes in the post linked above. There are times you will get faint residual image "hangover" resulting from things like keeping static DVD menus paused for servel minutes, or certain channel logos ("bugs") that can remain from seconds to sometimes minutes, and in extreme cases, maybe an hour or two. This is normal and will in most cases go away when watching other material for a while. A lot of displays have an "image reversal" function that can be used also to get rid of it. You just re-run the same material for the same amount of time with the negative image. It's pretty easy (and kinda trippy looking). I've never actually used it except for fun.

So if it's only a temporary effect, I can do whatever I want with my new plasma like setting the contrast to maximum and it'll all be okay?

I didn't say that :). Your car can probably go 100 mph, but would you
always drive it at that speed? Besides getting a bunch of tickets, you're gonna wear that car down pretty darned fast. You'll notice on your display that you can select *very* high values for contrast, brightness and color. Now, why would they be able to be set that high if they weren't meant to be used? That's pretty simple. Over time, *any* display will *slowly* and *gradually* dim with use. If you overdrive your plasma by running it in higher settings than meant for for that period in that displays "life" you're just going to speed up the process and *prematurely* age your plasma.

But that's okay, I'm going to get mine from Costco and then I can do whatever I want with it because they will take it back no matter what.

Costco has the most generous return policy I've ever seen, and it's great
for someone looking for the security of no hassle unlimited returns.
However, to take advantage of it by using your plasma in a reckless manner and then return it is so not cool that I don't even know where to start and it's almost another topic entirely. I know that most of you buying from Costco have good reasons and won't abuse it but everybody please keep in mind that vendors *do* change policy (think of Sears price match) and who knows what will happen if they get so many returns that it causes changes for the worse by Costco or the manufacturer.

But back to the main topic:

So even though it sounds like there's not as much risk now I still have concerns, so can I do anything to prevent it?

Yes! There are things you can and *should* do!

1.) Turn your picture (contrast) settings down from the factory default.
You may find the Avia Guide to Home Theater, Video Essentials, or even a THX setup disk helpful in this area. You'll want to calibrate for each input you are using (then you can make minor adjustuments from there). If for some reason you can't hook up the DVD player to each input, write down the calibrated settings and apply them to the other inputs (won't be an exact match, but better than defaults). Or you can check with others on the forum who have the same model to see what they are doing (temporaily) until you can either get a setup disk or professional calibration. Their settings probably won't be an exact match because thing like room lighting, etc. vary, but you'll be starting out in a "safe" range.

2.) Zoom or stretch most 4:3 viewing. I know a lot of you don't want to hear this (and these modes), but until the transition to 16x9 for most newer programming, it's something anyone looking into a plasma (or other non-LCD or direct-view display) has to deal with. There are many options
available for comfortable viewing. The majority seem to like "Panoramic"
non-linear strect modes (called "Stadium", "Just" or other names depending on the plasma). I prefer a linear "Zoom", but with some modifications. Felgar has also come up with a modified stretch setting for "Full" mode. You may want to try one or both methods if you dislike the preset modes and your display gives you easy access to the horizontal and vertical controls.

3.) Turn on your pixel shifter if you have one for channels with opaque or
otherwise obnoxious logos, screen tickers and other problematic content. It's called a "wobbler" or "orbiter" (names vary depending on display). It gradually shifts the picture up and down over time. Or even better just crop it out entirely using the picture position control (if your display has them).

Games are a special issue and I'd like to hear from the forum gamers on this. I know how easy it is to play for hours at a time (before I put myself
on a "games moratorium" a few years ago, I'd lose entire weekends playing Half-Life).The problem is that a lot of them have static elements, and running a wobbler would be distracting.

After reading all of this, I still have many concerns and I'm not sure plasma is ready enough yet for me to get one.

Perhaps instead of wondering if plasmas' are ready for you, the question should be: Are you ready for a plasma? If you are not willing to take a reasonable amount of care with it, then probably not. If you are willing to use some common sense and treat it like the very expensive display device it is, you should get years of spectacular viewing from it.

I'm more confused than ever now.....

That's to be expected :). That's why I finally broke this out of the FAQ for
it's own discussion. This is just the starting place and please feel free to
ask your questions here. There are many knowledgeable people on this
forum who want to help you get the most you can from your plasma. When I was new here (not that long ago), it was forum members who helped me learn what I have so far (and there's always something new to learn).

In closing (whew!) hopefully this has helped with some of your questions
and concerns. But I know there is so much more to the topic, that I've
asked this to be a "sticky" thread for reference, help, and whatever need
be for burn-in related issues and questions. Since I am of course, not perfect, I'm also asking for corrections/clarifications to anything I have posted here that's either wrong, or unclear. Thanks!


(Panasonic 4UY owner).

One last thing- this is an open thread (even though it's sticky, it's not closed), so if you've got a question or something to add, please do!!
post #2 of 60
deeann, thank you VERY much for this post. Lots of good stuff in one place!

I have one question that my wife keeps asking (well, lots really, but just one for this thread).

How do people handle pausing their Tivo units?

I've got the Panny TH-50PHD5UY. I've only had it for a few days and I'm still waiting for other equipment. In the meantime we're watching a lot of 4:3 stuff in 'Just' mode through a Directivo.

I've got my wife to the point where she's afraid to pause it at all and I usually hit the display's screensaver if I have to pause for more than about 10 seconds.

What's everybody else do?

Thanks again for the excellent post.
post #3 of 60

10 seconds or even a few minutes will be okay. When I'm watching a DVD and I need to take a break or something and it looks like I might be away for more then a few minutes I "pause" and then I hit the "Input" button on my remote which puts up a blank screen. Works for us and is really no problem since I already have the remote in my hand anyways.

post #4 of 60
That's a good idea. Quicker and easier than getting to the screensaver.

post #5 of 60
I use the freeze frame for a few mins. here and there all the time. It doesn't concern me at all... If it's going to be more than 2-3 mins, I shut off the display.
post #6 of 60
Great FAQ - hopefully reduces the number of questions about burn-in...other suggested FAQs that would be useful:

- A general pictures area where pictures from each set could be posted - so, one for Panny, Fujitsu and Pioneer.
- A link to various comparisons of different plasma units - so, Fuji verses Pioneer, etc.
- How about one just about Panasonic and DVI/HDCP? I realize that it exists already in the form of DVI/HDCP-enabled sets, but it might answer people's questions more directly by having a thread about that....

Some of these exist in the general FAQ, but might be worth promoting up a level so that people see them more easily when they first come into the forum.

Thoughts appreciated...

post #7 of 60
I know the black pillars on a 4:3 feed can cause problems, but what about blue? Our local (Houston) FOX/UPN affiliate broadcasts digital 4:3 with blue pillars filling the outside of the screen. The pillars have the station id text verticaly on both sides.

Will these pillars and text cause a problem over time, or are they there to prevent burn in?


post #8 of 60
Thread Starter 
Damien, we just opened up the FAQ thread for posts (it was closed before), so when you get a chance why don't you bring over your suggestions there.

DLM, that sounds more like a marketing gimmick then burn-in prevention. I'd complain to the station.
post #9 of 60
I’ve had a Panasonic 42PWD4B since October 2001.

My main uses are videogames (PS2) and DVDs. I do not watch any TV.

I’ve had about 500 hours of use so far. (8 hrs per week) (Might check on service menu for more exact figure.)

For the first 12 months I used an S-video connection. Since August 2002 I’ve use Component.

I used to always run the Plasma using the Cinema setting. So the factory defaults remained unchanged:

Contrast 20
Color 0
Brightness 0
Sharpness –8 (For games)

I now have the following settings. I find these are the Normal equivalents to the Cinema setting.

Contrast –5
Brightness –2
Color 0
Sharpness –8

I set these up using the Video Essentials disc.

The Cinema setting reduced the contrast by a considerable amount. I would have to dim the room light to play most games.

I was very sensitive about burn-in in the early days. I remember I once activated the scrolling white bar and left it on all night!

I noticed a few instances of image retention. Running the screen saver cleared this. I especially noticed it after a session playing GTA3. This was when the Panel was only a month old.

I have found that the panel is now much less likely to suffer from image retention. I can play a videogame for 2 hrs and find no image has been retained.

Because I play a lot of games, I take special care to run the screen saver after a period and to make sure I don’t leave the same image on screen for a long time. I look for games that don’t have onscreen HUDs, or I change the options to remove them. For some games this actually improves them, I’m thinking Metal Gear Solid with no radar and GTA:Vice City with no Map, it really makes you learn the environment.

So, this is one medium term Plasma owner that has no burn-in to report. I hope it stays like that.
post #10 of 60
deeann, thanks for taking the time to put this together. Very well done.
post #11 of 60
Excellent post. Very helpful.
post #12 of 60
I think it should be added that people who have buttons/menus on screen (i.e. computer usage) or view 4:3 content for several hundred hours do tend to get permanent burn-in. There have been several threads where people reported watching 4:3 content for a few months and eventually started to notice burn-in when viewing full-screen images (example). It does tend to take quite a large amount of time though. As far as I know, no one has reported permanent burn-in from just a few hours of having a static image on screen.

Also, even this "permanent" burn-in likely could be reversed by leaving an inverted image on for a large period of time, or white sidebars, or something to that effect.
post #13 of 60
Nick, just to add

I have a TH-42PW3 that I have owned now since December 2000. Its been our main TV and had use of perhaps 6 hours per day, i.e. 3.25 years x365days x6hours = approx 7,000 hours use.

I have been fairly (but not obsessively) careful to try to avoid burn-in, and I don't watch any 4:3 material. But I do watch a lot of DVD's, many with black bars top and bottom.

I have absolutely no burn in whatsoever. For all I can tell, the picture is the same as the day I bought it. Perhaps in a side-by-side comparison with a new model you would see a difference, who knows. But for all practical purposes, it still performs absolutely as new.

post #14 of 60
I was watching Headline News last night (on a regular old Sony TV in the bedroom) and when the camera in the studio panned down across a plasma TV I could see "headline news" burned into the thing plain as day. They were showing a clip of an airplane taking off, but quite noticeable across the entire screen were the words "headline news." Talk about obvious burn-in. They must have really kept that up there for a long time (and I'm sure all the picture controls were maxed out) to get such a bad burn.
post #15 of 60
I am in the camp of people who think that the dangers have been a bit overstated. I too have always turned off the display if the image was going to be frozen for more than 5 or 10 minutes. One morning a few months ago, I came downstairs in the morning to discover my beloved Pio 50" blazing a lovely static image from a freeze framed TiVo that my lovely bride had forgotten about the night before. It had been on for at least 9 hours. When I switched to a LiveTV, the "ghost" image was very clear from the original freeze frame. In disgust, I turned off the display, decided not to discuss the subject in my state of pique and went to work. It was one of those days and I didn't get home until well after midnight. Too tired and depressed to watch my now ruined display, I went to bed. In the morning, I found my wife watching TV cheerfully. As I tried to find the right words to express my unhappiness, I noticed that the picture looked fine. My wife said that the picture might have looked "funny" for a few minutes the night before, but she hadn't really noticed it. After studying test patterns on Avia intently for 20 minutes, I was forced to conclude that a freeze frame image for 9 hours had no discernable burn-in whatsoever.

I still turn it off whenever there is a static image, but I'm not nearly so worried as I used to be.
post #16 of 60
Not that anyone really wanted to run an empirical test....lol...but if you had to find out somehow that it's not the Y2K bug it's been cracked up to be, may as well be that way. I would've felt similarly had my gf left the tv on, glad it didn't have a lasting effect.
post #17 of 60
Hi guys

Almost everything I've read on this forum says that if you are going to use your screen for games and PC as well as DVDs and digital TV, then don't buy a plasma, but buy an LCD, RPTV or a projector cos of the burn in.

Does anyone have any experience or views on this, having read the statements above? I still haven't made the plunge because I was waiting for a 40" LCD to come out for $3000-4000 (may be waiting a long time).

post #18 of 60
well, I use my plasma as a computer display, for gaming with my xbox, as well as for the normal TV and DVD use and I've had no issues as yet.
post #19 of 60
Is there some kind of "screen saver" aparatus that one can get for Plasmas in general when watching SD/HD TV? I know most DVD players, Xbox, etc have this feature, but I wonder if most displays have this kind of feature for television viewing or if a 3rd party device could do the same thing. Kind of like a "signal timer"...

The problem - My mother-in-law is currently living with my wife and I and we're looking into a Plasma display. I love my MIL, but not only is she techno-retarded, but she doesn't follow directions very well and with her at the house all day long, I know it would just be a matter of minutes before she has a Martha Stewart logo burned into the display while she's out shopping for 8 straight hours and "forgot to turn the TV off"...

Are my fears founded? Is there such a screen saving device?
post #20 of 60
Dripgoss: Buy a 27" direct view just for her as an insurance policy. Only
half-kidding... She'll probably be just as happy.

post #21 of 60
Originally posted by PooperScooper
Dripgoss: Buy a 27" direct view just for her as an insurance policy. Only
half-kidding... She'll probably be just as happy.

HAA! She already has a 21" in "her" bedroom and a 35" Toshie RP in the basement for her SD viewing pleasure. But I just know what will happen:

I'll have a FoodTV or Lifetime emblem permenantly nuked into my $7000 purchase and she will mysteriously not know what happened even after warning her several times to turn the display off when not in use...
post #22 of 60
Originally posted by Nick Laslett
I’ve had a Panasonic 42PWD4B since October 2001.

My main uses are videogames (PS2) and DVDs. I do not watch any TV.
THANK-YOU Nick! Excellent info. I still have another month before I have to decide between the Sony 50XBR800 or the Panny 5UY :rolleyes: . This has silenced my worrying about burn-in, since my usage will be exactly the same.

post #23 of 60
My son an I have been playing Zelda Wind Walker after work for a couple of hours each day. Today Saturday, we played for about 6.5 hours. I am sad to say I have images of the number of Rupees in the lower right, the config buttons in the upper right, and an outline of the map in the lower left. THe images are there after watching normal TV for over 4 hours. Kinda cant believe it. I have a Fujitsu 50
post #24 of 60
bait28: Do a search on this site for ghosting Vs burn-in. Hopefully you are only experiencing ghosting which is temporary.
post #25 of 60
I am contemplating buying a plasma display. However, most of my viewing is 4:3, and I'm afraid the various stretching modes are just not going to cut it. I don't know how gray bars are going to look.

Reading the burn-in FAQ and the rest of this thread, an idea occured to me. People here mentioned they avoid burn-in when watching 1:2.35 movies by moving them slowly up and down the screen. So the black bar is sometimes at the top, sometimes at the bottom and possible in both places (although a shorter bar).

Then it hit me - why can't we do the same with 4:3 broadcasts? Have the picture move gradually from left to right (say, an inch every 10 minutes). I'm sure such gradual shifting won't irritate the viewers as much as gray bars (not to mention non-linear zooming. I find it hard to believe it won't bother me). Won't it also drastically reduce the burn-in risk?
post #26 of 60
You could do the moving if you wish and can make it happen.

But you probably won't need to. You could easily be like me: "No way, no wout.ay, could I stretch the picture" I said to myself. Then I got the plasma, stretched the picture, and 2 weeks later, I forgot what all the hype was about. If you are anywhere near Modiin, you should become friends with Oferlaor (a fellow AVSer).
post #27 of 60
Just came home from vacation and brought up my screen. Apparently, my roommates have been playing Ghost Recon on the XBOX the entire time I was gone, I could see the the clear evidence on my screen when I turned it on. So I'll be feeding it 4:3 for the next day or so in the hopes that it'll go away.
post #28 of 60
Excellent post and info.
post #29 of 60
I liked the idea of the one suggestion that you simply hit the "input" key and a black screen comes up and remains until you return.

Do all of the plasma displays tend to have that type of safety valve.

The P50 has the orbiter, but I don't think that is a solution that thrills me too much. Too much fiddling and too much wondering.

I like watch, hit remote to make it black, walk dog, hit remote again, give dog bone, watch again.
post #30 of 60
On the Planar, if you switch to an input with nothing plugged in, it floats a little screen saver thing saying: "Input Name, No Signal Detected" or somesuch.
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