Concerns about OLED burn-in are alive and well in 2023. However, some findings published earlier in the year included errors regarding OLED burn-in severity, particularly with Sony TV models. A new video from consumer electronics testing specialists RTINGS (pronounced ‘ratings’) seeks to clear up any confusion and delivers an update on its long-term OLED TV testing process.

To recap, the large testing project RTINGS is running has over 100 modern OLED TVs playing CNN for an average of 18 hours per day. This is intended to “simulate 10 years of usage in just two years.”

There is some important background information to consider when observing or measuring OLED burn-in. Two other image problems are seen on OLED TVs, which look a lot like burn-in but are usually temporary and fixable. This “temporary image retention” can quickly occur in modern OLED TVs, but manufacturers have built-in features to stop it from impacting your viewing pleasure.

Firstly, temporary image retention can happen due to heat build-up in the panel, and turning off and resting the TV will typically clear it, which is pretty simple.

Secondly, and much more complicated, TFT layer image retention can occur, and it looks like OLED burn-in. Modern OLED TVs periodically run a ‘short compensation cycle’ to remove this type of image retention. However, each manufacturer uses a different name for this tech and implements the scheduling and other related options differently. Usually, when the TV is off, it will run a ‘short compensation cycle’ for about 10 mins. In technical terms, this functionality will “detect and compensate for changes in the TFT layer’s electrical characteristics and return it to a baseline state.”

RTINGS found these short compensation cycle functions worked pretty well across brands. Sadly, some TVs do this housekeeping in a buggy way and don’t allow for simple manual prompting.

LG models run the firm’s “pixel clean” cycle immediately after you turn the TV off, as long as it has been running for a cumulative 4 hours since the last time it was switched off. LG TVs launched since 2022 have also included the ability to manually begin a “pixel clean” cycle.

Samsung OLED TVs are said to follow the same 4-hour policy as LG but were less consistent in applying it, according to RTINGS’ testing. Some Samsung models worked as expected, while others were “a mystery.” However, manually un/plugging the set seemed to force a short compensation cycle should the user think one is needed.

RTINGs observed that Sony’s approach is even less consistent than Samsung’s. The cumulative time between recalibration ranges from four to six or more hours, depending on the Sony OLED TV model. Timing differences seem to be intentional, backed up by RTINGS testing observations, so they must be design changes implemented between Sony TV series.

Sony also tends to run its short compensation cycles several hours after the TV has been turned off. Sony said it delayed the image retention clearing function so it didn’t disrupt households with the ‘click sound’ from the process starting. You can manually trigger this process on Sony TVs, but it requires fiddling deep in the Sony TV OSD menus.

Sony OLED Reassessment

Previous Sony OLED comments from RTINGS mentioned that the image retention may have been “early onset burn-in,” but now that it has figured out Sony’s peculiar scheduling, the testing site admits it was wrong.

OLED TV testing

(Image credit: RTINGs)

The site now says that most of the image degradation in the picture above in ‘Month 6’ was TFT layer image retention. Things are now improved in ‘Month 8’ since it got to grips with Sony’s weird recalibration cycle timings. Thus, what you see in ‘Month 8’ is actually “Electroluminescent Layer Degradation” or Permanent Burn-In of the OLED panel. In brief, Sony OLEDs don’t look so bad for burn-in anymore.

During its 100 OLED TVs testing, RTINGs has also noted a PSU failure, two motherboard replacements, two screens showing lines of dead pixels, one TV died due to a boot loop and couldn’t be repaired (needed replacement), and another was destroyed during the repair process (oops).

It is also commented that CNN thoughtlessly changed its logo/position, so tests since 2017 are no longer directly comparable with newer tests.

Lastly, PC enthusiasts will probably be pleased to know that RTINGs has inserted some OLED monitors into its torture test: the Dell Alienware AW3423DWF, Samsung Odyssey OLED G8/G85SB S34BG85, and LG 27GR95QE-B. It asks for those interested to stay tuned for longer-term findings. Some new 2023 TVs were also added; hopefully, they are more reliable, as the manufacturers claim.

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