OLED TV Image Retention

This is a subject that hasn’t received much attention. Usually, OLED TV reviews mention the attributes of the OLED displays that differentiate them from LCD or Plasma screens.

Amazing contrast levels, fantastic color and impossibly thin screens are many of the things that promise to make TV viewing, at least in the future, so much better. There are still production difficulties to overcome and the problem of offering a consumer ready product at a price point that is at least semi-competitive with LCD or plasma TV.

However, OLED TVs are not perfect. With the first OLED TV available to consumers, the XEL-1, Sony warns about screen damage due to image retention. This has been a problem in the past with plasma TV but apparently this is still something that OLED manufacturers are dealing with.

The XEL-1 manual states the following;

“Prolonged display of still images over time may cause permanent image retention. Avoid displaying images that cause image retention and take the following measures to protect the screen.”

The following are images that Sony says may cause image retention.

1. Letterboxed image

2. 4:3 screen sources with black bars left and right

3. Non-moving images such as photos

4. Game sources

5. On-screen tickers, such as those used for news and headlines

6. On-screen menus, program guides, channel numbers, etc of connected equipment such as a set-top box, video recorder, disc player etc.

There are several recommendations in the manual to reduce the risk of image retention. Basically the idea is to fill the entire screen with images.
The Sony XEL-1 also has a feature that will shift the picture position slightly after a set time has elapsed.
A screen saver will also start up after 5 minutes of still images or if no operation is performed during that time.

The final option that helps prevent image retention is that the screen will grdually fade to dark if still images are displayed in a broadcast display or from an HDMI connection.

Whether the problem can be eliminated with future R&D remains to be seen, but Sony has taken a number of design steps to help prevent image retention in the first consumer OLED TV.

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