Plasma TV "break-in period"

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by 954General, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. 954General

    954General Auditioning

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    A friend of mine has informed me of a break-in period on new plasma televisions. Is there any truth to this?

    The claim is that for a certain number of hours of use I should be careful about pausing any images on screen and also careful about watching the same channel for long periods of time if it uses the little logo bug and constantly displays it.

    If true, can anyone tell me any general tips or guidelines to go by?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Joseph DeMartino
    Your friend is confused (or you misunderstood.) The things you are describing could cause burn-in, and have nothing to do with any "break-in" period. As with CRT TVs (which are also phosphor based unlike most newer display technologies) any static screen area (closed caption bars, pillar bars if you watch a lot of 4:3 material) can physically burn-in to the screen and leave a permanent "ghost". By all accounts plasma TVs today are much less suscepitble to this than early plasmas and CRTs, but it can still be an issue if you don't exercise a reasonable amount of care. The risk does not lessen over time, so it would not be the case that you only have to be careful for "x" hours of use.

    The first and best thing you can do for the set is take it off the factory settings for brightness, contrast, etc. These are typically turned up way too high to make the set stand out on the showroom floor and are horrible for actual home-viewing. (They will also make your HD and especially SD viewing material look hideous, another reason for bagging them as soon as possible.)

    Ideally you should buy or rent Digital Video Essentials or Avia Guide to Home Theater to adjust your set. (Both come with color filters and test patterns to help you adjust the image as close as possible to industry standard.) Barring that check your DVDs and see if any other them have the THX Optimizer program on them. This doesn't give you a color filter, but it does help you do a basic adjustment to all the consumer settings on your TV. (All of these programs also help you calibrate your sound system as well.)

    If you don't have any of these available, reset all of your picture adjustments to the middle position (except "sharpness" or "picture", which you should reduce to no more than 20%.) This will take the set out of "torch mode" and reduce the chance of anything burning in until you are able to do a proper calibration.

    The main thing (as with old CRT computer monitors) is to avoid static images or areas of the screen that remain unchanged for long periods of time. My first (standard-def) widescreen CRT RP set burned in badly because I was watching mostly 4:3 TV material (there being little else in those pre-HDTV days) and only used widescreen mode for letterboxed VHS and laserdisc movies. We're talking hours with those grey pillar bars in place on either side of the screen for days at a time. And this was before I discovered the HTF and learned about calibrating displays.

    As long as you're reasonably careful (and get out of "torch mode" ASAP) you should be fine. If you keep the closed captions up all the time (as my mother did on her old CRT RPTV) or go on a meth-bender and stay up watching 2:35:1 movies for a week straight, you might run into a problem, but short of that you should be OK. (I should add, "from what I've heard" since I don't personally own a plasma TV.)

    Hope this helps,

    Joe
     
  3. 954General

    954General Auditioning

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    Excellent information. Thank you for the reply and the advice on the DVD's for helping to calibrate it all!

    Geoff
     
  4. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    There is no "break in period" per se. You can go right ahead with calibration.

    The contrast (occasionally called white level) should be set no more than halfway. If your viewing contains bright or vivid lines or patches always in the same place, such as video games or sports scores or stock tickers or station logos, restrict the contrast to one third. Within this restriction, do the rest of the calibrations using the aforementioned Video Essentials or AVIA test disks as best as you can.

    On a plasma, the contrast test's needle will not bend and the contrast test's white square will not swell (bloom). You do not need to pay further attention to these steps.

    Video hints: Video Technicalia Made Easy
     
  5. Farky14

    Farky14 Auditioning

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    I have a follow-up question to 954General's original question.

    I bought my new panny plasma back in April 2008 sometime. I had changed the settings to some recommended on cnet, however somehow they got changed back to the default (probably shortly after our purchase). So needless to say we've been watching a very bright tv (I guess we got used to it and didn't know any different). After watching the presidential debate the other night for just 45-60 minutes we flipped the channel to watch another show and noticed that the banner on the bottom of the debate was "burned-in" at the bottom. We watched our program (60 minutes) and by the end it was pretty much gone. It's 100% gone now...and I have changed my settings from vivid back to a sensible brightness/contrast ratio.

    My questions are: (1) Did I do any permanent damage to the tv during the last 6 months (I'm well past our initial 100 hour break-in period)? (2) Am I at greater risk of having image retention in the future b/c of having the set at such bright settings for the first 6 months of its life?

    Thanks for your thoughts!
     

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