Protecting your Plasma TV Unit
Keeping your plasma television performing at its best!
Your Plasma TV is probably the most expensive item in your home theater or entertainment room. It is also that piece of high tech equipment in your home most of us put to use for at least a few hours every single day.
Hence, it is only natural that you will want to keep your plasma HDTV performing at its best. This short article shows you how to do just that.
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This happens to be the shortest guide in this series of Plasma TV articles, and surprisingly as it maybe, the one that is easiest to follow!
There is a very simple reason for this. It does not take much to protect your plasma television. The truth is that a plasma TV unit is one of the most robust electronic products in the home theater—it is even more robust than traditional CRT TVs.
And with a little bit of care, a plasma television set can give you several years of good quality entertainment.
What follows are simple steps you can take to keep your plasma TV unit performing at its best.
As detail in our Plasma vs. LCD/LED TV guide, burn-in is the result of damaged pixels, pixels whose phosphors have been prematurely aged and therefore glow less intensely than surrounding pixels. Though with the latest plasma HDTVs, burn-in is more of an exaggerated issue due to anti-burn screen protection technologies such as the use of pixel shift, yet it is always best to take your measures.
As they say, precaution is better than cure, except for the fact that in the case of plasma HDTVs, once permanent burn-in takes places, there is no cure, so it is even more important to avoid those situations that may eventually lead to burn-in.
In this respect, it is enough to keep in mind that the presence of a static bright image for more than 30 minutes may be enough especially with earlier plasmas to cause temporary burn-in, (also referred to as shadowing). Furthermore, prolonged presentation of the same static image may lead to permanent damage of the phosphors in the plasma display panel.
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Temporary burn-in should not be much of a concern in that it will eventually clear over time.
Keeping the brightness and contrast levels down especially during the first 100 to 200 hours of use, will help reduce the risk of burn-in.
While some brands of plasma TV sets are more prone than others to burn-in, yet in general, plasma screens are more prone to suffer permanent burn-in during their first 200 hours of use. The reason is that fresh phosphors burn more intensely as they are ignited. Hence, special attention during the first 200 hours or so will help you avoid some serious problems.
Additionally, certain screen burn protection features found on most of the latest plasma TV units e.g. the 'scrolling' white bar option to wipe out retained images, should help clear away any shadowing.
Still, avoid pausing a picture on your plasma display, nor allow station logos, program menus, etc., that remain still on the screen for more than several minutes. Avoid burn-in by ensuring that any pixel-shift mechanism provided with your plasma TV is activated.
If for some reason you need to pause a movie or a show to do something else, say like answering a phone call, turn off your plasma TV unit. This is the obvious way to go but unfortunately many fail to master this simple trick!
If for some reason, you need to display static images on your plasma TV unit, alternating frequently between a static image and a motion video will limit the potential of image shadowing and possible burn in. The rule of thumb here is to display motion video three to five times longer than a static (say computer generated) image.
Similarly, try to avoid displaying black or dark gray bars to view a 4:3 picture on your wide-screen plasma TV unit. It is better to adjust the content aspect ratio using image stretching or pan-and-scan features if supported by your plasma TV, rather than use black or dark gray bars as these may also lead to permanent burn-in.
Finally, avoid displaying 100% static blue screens. This helps offset the color balance due to the naturally shorter life span of the blue phosphor.
Proper Calibration: Calibrate your plasma display brightness and contrast to better match your ambient light
Too high brightness levels are a sure way to help increase the aging rate of the sensitive phosphor lining the miniature cells of your plasma TV unit. It is therefore a fast and easy way to reduce the display lifetime.
A simple first step here is to avoid the use of pre-set display modes that produce a bright image.
Equally important, calibrate the display brightness and contrast properly. Brightness and contrast levels should be set to match the ambient light present in the room. For this purpose, most plasma TV units incorporate memory pre-sets which you can select with the touch of a single button; these let you set different levels of brightness and contrast for daytime and nighttime viewing.
Ideally, to correctly calibrate your HDTV, you should use a set-up DVD or Blu-ray disc such as Digital Video Essentials HD Basics or Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark Blu-ray calibration discs. More information on the use of these calibration discs is available in our guide to HT Set-Up DVDs.
Not only will your plasma TV unit benefit in the longer term from properly calibrated brightness and contrast levels, even your eyes and equally important your energy bill will benefit! A properly calibrated plasma TV will be less tiring on the eyes especially during long viewing periods, while correctly set brightness levels may help you achieve up 50% savings in electricity requirements for your HDTV.
Plasma TV units can generate a lot of heat. Therefore, it is important that you always keep the unit properly ventilated to ensure your plasma TV remains within its correct operating temperature.
It is important to realize here that the aging rate of electronic components is also dependent on the operating temperature. This means that a higher operating temperature increases the aging rate and therefore reduces the lifetime of the electronic components inside a plasma TV unit.
Particular care should be taken here when you mount a plasma TV unit in an enclosed space—like when you mount the unit flush with the wall. Leave enough clear space around the unit to let it breathe. If your mounting option does not include enough clear space around the unit to let enough air to circulate, it is recommended to use small PC-type cooling fans to help circulate enough fresh air to maintain the correct temperature.
For the best viewing results, it is important to keep the screen of your plasma TV unit clean from dust, dirt, and fingerprints. This will help reduce glare and produce a clearer picture.
An occasional cleaning is definitely in order. The use of a soft lint-free cloth to wipe down the screen is normally enough to remove fingerprints and smudges from the screen. While it is not necessary to turn your plasma TV unit off to clean it, it is still preferable that you do so especially if you need to use a cleaning solution spray to remove stubborn marks from the screen surface.
If you need to use a cleaning solution, never spray this directly on the screen. Instead, spray the cloth with the cleaning solution. You can use either water or preferably an isopropyl alcohol based PC screen cleaner. Never use strong cleaners as they may damage the ant-glare coating found on most plasma screen displays. Then wipe the screen.
You can use the same damp cloth to clean the entire plasma TV enclosure as well. In particular, keep the ventilation holes clear of accumulated dust as this reduces the efficiency of the plasma TV cooling system. However, clean the enclosure of your plasma TV unit only from the outside; never open the casing as you may risk electrical shock besides causing possible damage to the electronics inside.
This is all it takes to protect your plasma TV unit while ensuring a more enjoyable viewing experience!