Ask a Pro
Q. Can I Fix Image Retention on My Plasma TV?
Scott Varn offers several tips which could help reduce "burn-in."
February 06, 2009 by Scott Varn

Q. I’m getting image retention on my 42-inch HP plasma TV even without having a fixed image on my screen for a long period of time. When watching a movie, I will see images from a previous scene. I can usually solve the problem by turning the TV to a black screen or turning it off for a few minutes. Anything else I can do? - Mike

A. Image retention or “burn-in,” is one of the most common issues to plague plasma TVs. This is due to physical properties of phosphor and its reaction to light, especially high contrast images. Most of the current high-end models do not have this issue but many older models still suffer with it. This is essentially a design flaw and part of the reason for the technology’s demise.

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for the problem - short of a new TV. Typically people see the issues more with logos and news tickers. It is unusual to see it during a constantly changing movie. 

A few general burn-in tips that may help:

  • Use screen-saver feature on TV or DVD.
  • Turn down the brightness and contrast. These are generally set too high out of the box. Get a professional to calibrate the set or even use one of the calibration DVDs, but bright is not always better.
  • Alter 4:3 image to 16:9. Not my personal favorite, but I recommend it with plasma to reduce the bars from burning in.
  • Check for a pixel shift feature in the setting menu of the TV. Not all have this, so check your manual.
  • To clear up the problem temporarily, try turning to a black screen. Even better, you can switch to a blank station and let the “snow” clean it up.
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Scott has been in the technology industries for over 20 years. But his experience as an artist is what led him to create an award winning business that combines engineering and aesthetics for home theater design.

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