Burn-in on CRT and plasma TVs- proper picture settings can help you avoid it

Week of August 22, 2004

Q: Many of us who own rear projection TV sets have a serious problem! Because most channels insist on displaying their logos 24/7 in the lower right section of the screen, the logos are now burned into the picture guns or tubes permanently.
Since I watch a lot of TV, and I watch the History Channel about 75% of the time, I now have their logo burned into my set, along with a few others on top of it!  As I am sure you know, replacing these color guns is a very costly venture to the tune of about $500.00 each.
I have written to several of these stations explaining what their logos are doing to our sets but have yet to get a reply from any of them and I’m at my wit’s end as to what I can do about this.

I even noticed some months back in our newspaper that someone was trying to sue one of the stations for ruining their set! Why do these stations have to broadcast their logos 24/7 instead of just flashing them on screen at the beginning and the end of each show??
My extended warranty doesn’t cover the repairs to my set caused by these logos and something MUST be done about this problem. I plan on buying a 60-inch HD Rear Projection TV soon and I hear that these sets are affected even more easily than the standard rear projection sets.
Any comments or advice you can offer would be appreciated!

-James B. Elsey, Wildwood, NJ

A: My condolences on the state of your television and your general situation. I can tell by your email that you definitely feel “burned” (no pun intended) by the situation, and the non-response of the stations must add to your frustration.

Networks do everything they can to increase their visibility and name recognition, but I agree with you that it is irresponsible to display the logos 24/7. I do not think anything short of a class-action lawsuit will persuade them to change their ways.

There are dangers other than the logos. Many widescreen HDTV owners are now learning that if they watch 4:3 (conventional square format) programs on a widescreen TV without stretching them to fill the screen, they will burn-in the tubes as well.

You can make some adjustments to your set to make burn-in less likely.

Most televisions come delivered with the contrast, color temperature, and brightness set too high. This can cause premature wear of the picture tubes, as well as increase the likelihood of burn-in of logos or picture lines when widescreen movies are watched on a conventional TV, and vice-versa.

Check the contrast (called “picture” by some manufacturers) setting on your television and reduce it to the halfway point. It may look dim, but that is in relation to the overly bright settings you have been using. For more natural color, change the color temperature to “warm” “low” or “NTSC Standard”. Turn down the room lighting a bit and you will enjoy a more natural picture, as well as extend the life of your television.

Not all television technology is vulnerable to burn-in. The new fixed-pixel projection TVs such as LCD, DLP, and LCoS do not burn in like CRT sets do. Not only can you watch The History Channel 24/7 without fear of logo burn-in, you can watch 4:3 programs without stretching them to fill the wide screen so they look natural and faces are not distorted. I would recommend buying one of these types of televisions when you buy your new 60-inch model.

One final note of caution: plasma sets burn in even more easily than CRT TVs.

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