Screen uniformity - why has this gotten so bad? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 23 Old 08-05-2018, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Screen uniformity - why has this gotten so bad?

I am in the market for a 65" FALD LCD.
I have read lots of reviews and forum threads here and am shocked how many people have horrible looking screen problems that seem to have cropped up in just the last few years.

There seems to be three variations:
  • Dark spots in all 4 corners ( vignetting)
  • DSE - random blotches 1" - 4" in size where the screen appears a little dirty - hence the name Dirty Screen Effect.
  • Banding, where the DSE is in regular vertical rows and may even show what may be FALD LEDs

Common excuses:

1. Its shipping damage, or, it was fine when it left the factory.

If the screen is cracked - sure I'll buy that. For DSE, I don't see how improper shipping could cause it. Has anyone ever been able to deliberatly cause DSE? e.g by pressing hard on the screen? Sure you can deform the screen enough to make a spot but a spot is not a large variable DSE blotch. That excuse is even less likely for banding where you have to believe that the shipping damage is repeated uniformly across parts of the screen. Unless the tv was laid flat on a cattle grid and the UPS driver jumped on it I dont see any way for that to happen.


2. It's normal - all screens have some variation so you are being too picky.

Hell no! My 10 yr old LCD's both display grey screens well with just a little color variation but no DSE, banding or vignette ( to be fair neither are FALD). And, from the recent good reviews of presumably cherry-picked units and from winners of 'the panel lottery' it is clear that it is possible to make a uniform 4K FALD LCD.



Possible Cause.

I am a retired Broadcast engineer and NOT a TV panel expert but in my opinion the most likely cause of DSE & banding is non-uniform deposition of material for a layer of the screen ( phosphor perhaps?) AT THE FACTORY!
Corner vignetting is perplexing in that it seems so common that it may be more of an engineering limitation of FALD ( getting light into a corner) vs manufacturing consistency - why not then make corner LED's brighter?

This leads me to conclude that occasional DSE and banding are just a normal part of the screen manufacturing process but some manufacturers are choosing to ignore the x% of 'bad' panels and pass them through Q.A. to consumers -presumably because the only other option is to trash the panel.


Question - what happens to a banding return to AZ or BB? Does it then get trashed or (scary) resold elsewhere?



Ideas:

1. Keep returning until you get a good one. Many here are doing just that but I suspect that the number of returns is not yet high enough to cause TCL, Vizio etc enough pain to improve QA.


2. Ask reviewers to give more weight to uniformity vs other measurements because bad uniformity cannot be overcome - it ruins the viewing experience.
Say Rtings reviewed some new TV and it got 10 out of 10 for every picture quality test except Uniformity which got a 4. The total score would be high - but would you want that TV? Not me.....


3. What about a LCD 'panel lottery' scorecard on AVS - 'how many returns of model xxx have you made?'
Admin could ensure one entry per model per user
results would show:
Make, Model, Total Users, Average number of returns(lower is better)

Not particularly accurate since happy customers are less likely to post but it may help to shame the offenders with worst QA.



Any other ideas?


Also I would like to hear from a Panel Manufacturing expert on what is really happening and why it seems to have gotten so much worse than a few years ago.

Bill
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post #2 of 23 Old 08-05-2018, 06:55 PM
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I've been in the market for a nice hdr set as well. DSE was my biggest worry. Lucky for me I decided on a Samsung nu8000 and it's got the best uniformity I've ever had in a LCD TV since plasma years. I know it's not fald, but it seems like your edge lit displays these days suffer just as much as the fald TV's do. I feel fortunate as I loathe returning TV's as much as the next guy.

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post #3 of 23 Old 08-05-2018, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Norse View Post
I've been in the market for a nice hdr set as well. DSE was my biggest worry. Lucky for me I decided on a Samsung nu8000 and it's got the best uniformity I've ever had in a LCD TV since plasma years. I know it's not fald, but it seems like your edge lit displays these days suffer just as much as the fald TV's do. I feel fortunate as I loathe returning TV's as much as the next guy.
I agree...I have an MU8000 65 inch and it is the best tv I've owned.I have no screen issues and no dead pixles.I feel very lucky.It is edge lit as well but edge lit TV's are alot better now than they used to be.

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post #4 of 23 Old 08-06-2018, 07:24 AM - Thread Starter
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I am not arguing that there are not uniform screens out there but that there seem to be way more that are not than there used to be.

I suspect manufacturers have taken a conscious decision to increase their panel 'yield' by just passing more panels that would previously been failed.

Bill
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post #5 of 23 Old 08-06-2018, 07:50 AM
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Uniformity is the one reason I wanted to upgrade from my M55-D0 to something new, now that I have the money.

My M55-D0 looked worse initially, and after some use the uniformity is mostly fine, the lack thereof only noticeable in some very minor use scenarios. Most movies and games look fine but Zelda: Breath of the Wild… the colors in the shrines (usually various shades of brown or light brown and grays) just wreaked havoc with it, and I hated this otherwise beautiful experience being marred by something as lame as uniformity. But hey, I still like the M55-D0 overall, but I want a better HDR experience too.

Much to my dismay, it seems there’s really no such thing as great uniformity unless you’re extremely lucky. On average, you should actually expect some DSE, either in the form of clouds, bands, or vignette (corners). That’s… really kind of crazy to me.

So, I figured, “No problem, this is a perfect excuse to finally upgrade to the wonderful world of OLED!” Went to a Magnolia Center Best Buy location and watched the LG C8 in action. All it took was one pan to make me say, “Woah… what’s with that stuttering?” Well, the way in which OLED’s handle motion is TOO good apparently, and bothersome enough for me to not even consider going that route.

So, I started looking more seriously at virtually every model that isn’t as low-end as Vizio or TCL or whatever. Samsung’s Q series, even the Q9F, has DSE. Sony’s 900F seems to be the best you can get this year as far as uniformity is concerned, but then you’re dealing with some blooming and a higher input lag for 1080p (or less) gaming.

Like… it’s insane. I was willing to spend more money if it meant getting rid of DSE concerns but it seems like no matter how much higher I was willing to justify spending, the concern was still there. I’m seriously at a loss now. Mayyyyybe I’ll wait and see what the Z9F can do since Sony seem better at uniformity over the competition, and it’ll be a darn good TV to boot… but I’d hate to wait for over a month and find out the TV is also a disappointment.

Currently I’m seriously considering the 900F. I really wish I didn’t feel like I was making the ‘lesser of evils’ choice, and could feel confident that I was making a GOOD choice.
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post #6 of 23 Old 08-06-2018, 01:26 PM
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It's extremely frustrating. I replaced my Samsung J6200 (that looked great!) with a TCL R617 and the DSE is driving me insane. Watching a 4K UHD is ok most of the time, but anything with fast panning or large amounts of solid colors just look gross. I'm leaning towards a Samsung Q7FN or a Sony X900F, but neither one is terribly exciting to me. I already have an OLED in the living room and it's great...except for the dark band near the center of the screen. It's only noticeable on solid black or very dark scenes, but it's one of those deals that once you see it you can't unsee it. Due to that, and potential for burn-in, my bedroom tv will almost certainly be an LED/LCD/whatever we're calling them now.
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post #7 of 23 Old 08-07-2018, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mzupeman View Post
Like… it’s insane. I was willing to spend more money if it meant getting rid of DSE concerns but it seems like no matter how much higher I was willing to justify spending, the concern was still there. I’m seriously at a loss now. Mayyyyybe I’ll wait and see what the Z9F can do since Sony seem better at uniformity over the competition, and it’ll be a darn good TV to boot… but I’d hate to wait for over a month and find out the TV is also a disappointment.

Currently I’m seriously considering the 900F. I really wish I didn’t feel like I was making the ‘lesser of evils’ choice, and could feel confident that I was making a GOOD choice.

I can imagine a corporate quality meeting going like this....

Boss - "what about this 5% bad panel rate - we have to do better"
Engineering - " 4K panels are harder to make so we have a higher failure rate on the line"
Manager - "Well, we can ship any panel without bad pixels to the USA - they only care about specifications and how bright it is in the store"
Engineering - "But won't bad reviews hurt us?"
Manager - " We just need to make sure we only ship good panels to reviewers - solved"
Customer Care - " We will get some returns from picky consumers but return is such a hassle that most people will live with the bad panels so in the balance we will come out ahead"
Boss - "I like it. Make it happen"
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post #8 of 23 Old 08-07-2018, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by bilmar View Post
I am not arguing that there are not uniform screens out there but that there seem to be way more that are not than there used to be.

I suspect manufacturers have taken a conscious decision to increase their panel 'yield' by just passing more panels that would previously been failed.

Bill


Vignetting :: technical drawback of FALD technology, nothing to do with the panels and something that on the vast majority of FALD sets is not noticeable during regular viewing.

DSE :: that is a little more complicated. Yes, manufacturing and choices made while manufacturing panels play a role in this. The higher the resolution and the bigger the panel the more amplified screen imperfections become.The long and short of it is, 1080p lcd panels from 10 years ago weren't really made any better, it was just not as noticeable because they were lower resolution and back then the size generally topped out around 55". Where as now your hard pressed to find sets smaller than 50" or 55". Think back to when HD broadcasts started to become the standard. The increased broadcast resolution forced all the stations to upgrade their sets, desks, production quality in general because now all of a sudden all the little warts and duct tape that was once hidden by the lower res was now visible for everyone to see and critique. It's kind of the same idea with the leap from 1080p panels to 4k panels and even more so with 8k panels (which is why micro led is a thing).

I see where you are coming from with your "yield" comment...but I think the problem is more that the industry basically hasn't changed their standards from 1080p panel manufacturing to 4k panel manufacturing. Let's also not forget the role backlighting plays. Maybe one of the biggest differences between now and 7 to 10 years ago is the LED backlight. 7+ years ago, more likely than not, your backlight source (be it edge or direct) was likely a form of CFL tube lighting (CCFL, HCFL, etc)....that in and of itself makes a massive difference in what imperfections can and can't be seen on a panel. The industry could still use those other types of light sources and uniformity would have the perception of being improved, but the displays would become bulkier, use more energy, generate more heat, would not be able to reach the same luminance levels, etc, etc, etc.


I hope it doesn't sound like I am trying to make any excuses for this issue, because I'm not. Frankly it's something that I hate. Like I said, manufacturing does play a role and I would venture to guess that some of the cost saving measures in that process that companies would implement with the 1080p panels do not translate as well to to 4k panels. That said, I think the industry has successfully convinced people that while they may loathe DSE, it is for the time being something that needs to be accepted/expected from a cost/price/performance perspective. The potential of some DSE (and other flaws not noticed by everyone) has unfortunately become an acceptable trade off to not having all TV's falling into the same price range of OLED's and the likes of the Q9FN. Even though those also demonstrate DSE.
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post #9 of 23 Old 08-07-2018, 09:07 AM
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I’m with you. But it’s really our own fault. We LET panel manufacturers provide sub par viewing experiences and we tell ourselves that a nearly perfectly uniform screen is the realm of the top tier of models and you have to pay for it to expect it. All the while, we (not the average consumer) are also providing a huge service to manufacturers by acting as unofficial testers en masse. We are (IMO) a vastly under-appreciated resource to them, providing a distributed computing like testing and real world evaluation resource that they could never provide for themselves, while simultaneously bearing the burdens of their poor QA/QC in our own attempts to simply enjoy fully the benefits of owning tech that rarely seems to deliver all that is promised.

My P75F1 was $2k and will be swapped out tomorrow. It functioned (with what testing I did) flawlessly. But the DSE jail bars were pretty bad, and not only do I like hockey, but (as noted in the OP) once you see (in my case) bad DSE, it becomes a triggered distraction. The Last Jedi was looking great until my heavy DSE distracted me during a panning scene and became a game of “where’s Waldo” from there on out. And to be sure, the banding is still there in every scene, still or moving. It doesn’t go away, it’s just harder to see in many circumstances.

I’d say that the interface and UI are secondary to the set doing its primary job: accurately displaying content. Everything else is bells & whistles. If a panel can’t produce a quality, distraction free picture, it has failed at its primary objective. Screen quality & uniformity should be a no-compromise priority for panel manufacturers. It should no sooner be accepted in a $500 set than it would be tolerated in a $5k set.

Your means of addressing it are good. I might add one: tell your friends and family members about DSE and poor QA/QC when you see it on their panels as well. Give them advice about it when they tell you it’s time for them to upgrade their tv. And then, once THEY see it and are annoyed by it, they’ll be looking for it as well and hopefully won’t settle for even a Vizio E series with banding or DSE. When a wider swath of consumers steer way from certain brands or sets due to unacceptable QA/QC, they will (maybe) listen.
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post #10 of 23 Old 08-11-2018, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Here is a really interesting idea for possible solution to uniformity issues from this 4/29/18 post by Charles A Hart on Amazon TCL R617 reviews:


I have a suggestion that may largely eliminate grey screen uniformity issues from tcl tv's.

Audio receivers typically ship with a microphone that can be used to provide feedback to the receiver to compensate for room, and speaker audio response curves. Why not do something similar for the tv. Roku already has a smart phone app. Why not add the ability to take a picture of the tv displaying a grey screen image (after the TV warms up), send the pic to the tv and then the tv can build a pixel map to compensate for screen anomalies that affect screen uniformity?"



My first thought was that this would be way too CPU intensive for real-time adjustment but maybe not since this would be an always (static) offset adjustment. Modern TV's can already create interpolated frames etc so why not apply some 'greyness' offset to each pixel so they all appear the same?
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post #11 of 23 Old 08-11-2018, 09:14 AM
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it is super surprising that my 2009 46 inch samsung edge lit i spent 1200$ on looks better then most fald tvs atm. just as dark and no clouding great viewing angles.

you should be able to turn fald off and run it like a normal screen and still have good picture. i noticed if you do that on the 55 tcl 6 series it looks worse then the 3 series they sell for 370$..
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post #12 of 23 Old 02-18-2020, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bilmar View Post
Here is a really interesting idea for possible solution to uniformity issues from this 4/29/18 post by Charles A Hart on Amazon TCL R617 reviews:


I have a suggestion that may largely eliminate grey screen uniformity issues from tcl tv's.

Audio receivers typically ship with a microphone that can be used to provide feedback to the receiver to compensate for room, and speaker audio response curves. Why not do something similar for the tv. Roku already has a smart phone app. Why not add the ability to take a picture of the tv displaying a grey screen image (after the TV warms up), send the pic to the tv and then the tv can build a pixel map to compensate for screen anomalies that affect screen uniformity?"



My first thought was that this would be way too CPU intensive for real-time adjustment but maybe not since this would be an always (static) offset adjustment. Modern TV's can already create interpolated frames etc so why not apply some 'greyness' offset to each pixel so they all appear the same?
When will manufactures incorporate a camera system that takes pictures and compensates for the variation in brightness at the pixel level? How hard can it be?
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post #13 of 23 Old 02-18-2020, 02:51 PM
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When will manufactures incorporate a camera system that takes pictures and compensates for the variation in brightness on a pixel level? How hard can it be?
you said it yourself, "brightness at the pixel level." unless you have a $30,000+ (at the moment) Panasonic-based light-modulating cell display, that's not going to happen.
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post #14 of 23 Old 02-19-2020, 09:27 AM
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you said it yourself, "brightness at the pixel level." unless you have a $30,000+ (at the moment) Panasonic-based light-modulating cell display, that's not going to happen.
$30,000 is nothing for a manufacturer. There must be something else holding them back.
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post #15 of 23 Old 02-19-2020, 07:10 PM
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Here’s a suggestion. Have the actual TV you’re buying ready to be hooked up at a “Try-before-buy” viewing area. Odd that you can get a test drive of a car but not a TV. If the TVs are weeded out right there at the retailer’s showroom, the makers will take it more seriously.

For now, the present practices basically require people to test TVs thoroughly and early in the ownership (return-eligible period). I won’t hesitate to return if or when that happens every single time until I get a good TV or give up on a particular model and/or maker.

Lots of people love Samsung, but I had to return 3 before I just gave up on the brand. Not to mention an exploding clothes washer from them too.
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post #16 of 23 Old 02-20-2020, 01:20 PM
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you said it yourself, "brightness at the pixel level." unless you have a $30,000+ (at the moment) Panasonic-based light-modulating cell display, that's not going to happen.
Having a light modulating layer has nothing to do with it. What he means it a LUT to correct for non-uniformity. The reason why manufacturers don't bother is because it's good enough for consumers. Why do something costly when it's not necessary to maintain sales?
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post #17 of 23 Old 02-20-2020, 05:11 PM
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Poor grey uniformity/DSE is also much more likely on larger sets. 50" and smaller sets tend to not have issues at all, 55" is where you start to see some of it, and 65" and up tend to start getting more noticeable--and for people that are highly sensitive and annoyed by it, this is usually where it happens...when upgrading to a larger set than their existing one.

Larger sets are much cheaper than they once were and are also where a lot of manufacturers are focusing their offerings--many models are never even offered in anything below 55".


Funny enough this sort of reminds me of the CRT days... Sets up to 32" had very little problems with "landing" due to magnetic fields. However the larger the TV got, the more it would be influenced by the Earth's magnetic field. 36" was really the upper limit and larger CRTs (the largest of which were pretty much 40" models) often had a lot of issues with landing due to this. These large, heavy, behemoths were often expensive but had the tradeoff of poor landing compared to smaller sets.


Anyway with larger and larger sets becoming the norm, DSE seems to be "getting worse" when the reality is a lot of people just haven't had much experience with 65-75" (and above) LCDs, until now.

Some degree of DSE is normal for LCD TVs, and you'll see more of it on FALD sets (which are also much more common than they once were). Very poor uniformity/bad DSE may warrant a return/exchange but TBH I'm not all that bothered by it. However if you are, the degree of DSE that bothers you may be far less than the threshold for return for someone else. DSE can be addressed to some degree with the jostling of the TV (not recommended esp. on larger sets since you risk just damaging the whole thing) or even massaging some of the panel, but these are not going to eliminate it. For the extremely brave you can dismantle the set and try to re-lay/reset the layers of the LCD but this is really dangerous as you can easily make it worse or just destroy the panel, lol. That's probably something to try on a set you scored for super cheap on the used market, but a new set, definitely try an exchange. Or, go for OLED if you need to.

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post #18 of 23 Old 02-20-2020, 06:03 PM
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Poor grey uniformity/DSE is also much more likely on larger sets. 50" and smaller sets tend to not have issues at all, 55" is where you start to see some of it, and 65" and up tend to start getting more noticeable--and for people that are highly sensitive and annoyed by it, this is usually where it happens...when upgrading to a larger set than their existing one.

Larger sets are much cheaper than they once were and are also where a lot of manufacturers are focusing their offerings--many models are never even offered in anything below 55".


Funny enough this sort of reminds me of the CRT days... Sets up to 32" had very little problems with "landing" due to magnetic fields. However the larger the TV got, the more it would be influenced by the Earth's magnetic field. 36" was really the upper limit and larger CRTs (the largest of which were pretty much 40" models) often had a lot of issues with landing due to this. These large, heavy, behemoths were often expensive but had the tradeoff of poor landing compared to smaller sets.


Anyway with larger and larger sets becoming the norm, DSE seems to be "getting worse" when the reality is a lot of people just haven't had much experience with 65-75" (and above) LCDs, until now.

Some degree of DSE is normal for LCD TVs, and you'll see more of it on FALD sets (which are also much more common than they once were). Very poor uniformity/bad DSE may warrant a return/exchange but TBH I'm not all that bothered by it. However if you are, the degree of DSE that bothers you may be far less than the threshold for return for someone else. DSE can be addressed to some degree with the jostling of the TV (not recommended esp. on larger sets since you risk just damaging the whole thing) or even massaging some of the panel, but these are not going to eliminate it. For the extremely brave you can dismantle the set and try to re-lay/reset the layers of the LCD but this is really dangerous as you can easily make it worse or just destroy the panel, lol. That's probably something to try on a set you scored for super cheap on the used market, but a new set, definitely try an exchange. Or, go for OLED if you need to.
This is why the makers are shifting to mini-LED and technology with much smaller zones. Blooming will always be an issue, but the zones will be so numerous and so small that it won’t “look” as bad even though it’ll likely still be there.
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post #19 of 23 Old 02-20-2020, 06:37 PM
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Most people only seem to care about price and size.
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post #20 of 23 Old 02-20-2020, 07:27 PM
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When will manufactures incorporate a camera system that takes pictures and compensates for the variation in brightness at the pixel level? How hard can it be?

You can't make the dark spots brighter. They are already as bright as they are going to be. If you want a uniform screen you have to make the rest of the screen as dark as the darkest spot.

My Eizo ColorEdge CG319X has such a (patented) feature. It's called "digital uniformity equalizer" (DUE). The monitor is 31 inches and costs $5,700. I know of no other monitor that has it.

I'm guessing the feature is expensive to implement.

Alex
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post #21 of 23 Old 02-21-2020, 02:45 PM
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This is why the makers are shifting to mini-LED and technology with much smaller zones. Blooming will always be an issue, but the zones will be so numerous and so small that it won’t “look” as bad even though it’ll likely still be there.
Mini-LED doesn't really do much for grey uniformity. See the TCL 8-series, for reference.
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post #22 of 23 Old 02-21-2020, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ES_Revenge View Post
Mini-LED doesn't really do much for grey uniformity. See the TCL 8-series, for reference.
What about Mini-Led on glass?
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post #23 of 23 Old 02-21-2020, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ES_Revenge View Post
Mini-LED doesn't really do much for grey uniformity. See the TCL 8-series, for reference.
That was 1st-gen miniLED. Let’s see how the 2nd gen works.
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