Dead Pixels… No… Not A Problem? Like Hell!

Is it bad luck or a strike of fate? It seems LCD monitor and TV manufacturers have got together to force us to accept sub-standard LCD display products. People say “you can’t see them” or “that’s fussy” but dead pixels are defects and whether white, red, green, blue or black, on a modern large screen TFT they are right “in your face” when working on documents (large white backgrounds) or playing atmospheric (dark) games or movies. I’m a software developer who also does a bit of graphic work occasionally, so I must stare at the screen and think, so the dead pixels jump out on me! 🙂

So yeah, “dead pixels are a problem”, and after my recent experiences I would like to share, here are some facts and tips that will amaze you:-

  1. More than 10% of monitors, TVs and laptops have dead pixels. It’s probably even higher than 30%. Maybe this changed in the last few years. Unfortunately the fact is if you buy a new screen or laptop today, you probably have one or two faults there and can do nothing about it…
  2. There are no Pixel Fault Class 1 (dead pixel free) monitors. There are some very expensive ones who’s manufacturers or resellers “promise” no faults, but then they are three times the price so you would have to be stupid to buy them when they actually have a lower specification than the bulk of monitors (else you could just buy three cheap ones and throw away the one with dead pixels!).
  3. Unless you live in South Korea, you have limited options for a dead pixel warranty. I did lots of research and found that the few “big announcements” from companies like Samsung and Philips were limited to that country, and was normal business because monitors cost three times the price there anyway. There are also “Perfect Panel” and “Pixel Perfect” guaranties available from LG and Samsung in Canada and one or two other places.
  4. You cannot trust the ISO standard (9241-307). I thought I found two possible fault class 1 monitors, namely the Fujitsu SL3260W (1200p) and SL3230T (1080p) which stated “Pixel Fault Class 1” in their German and English data sheet. So I called Fujitsu UK to ask if this was a misprint and got the answer “yes we can confirm it is printed correctly as fault class 1, but you can still have 1 fault per megapixel”. That is actually wrong, because the point of the ISO standard was to clarify what the manufacturer’s policy is regarding dead pixels, so this is effectively “Fault Class 2” because class 1 is and always is zero defects for all types of possible pixel or “sub-pixel” fault. So you cannot rely on that either, and even if you have a class 1 monitor it may have manufacturing faults when you buy it or the manufacturer may refuse to honour the standard later when it fails.
  5. The current quality level is poor. Maybe I had “bad luck” or it was to do with rushed Christmas stocks, but last month I bought an Acer T230Hbmidh touch screen for 330 euro with a stuck pink pixel, so sent that back then went for the “fault class 1” Fujitsu SL3260W for 300 euro with had a dead pixel in the middle (and cannot turn off the 16:10 zoom / cannot display 16:9 natively!), then a Dell laptop with two dead pixels!
  6. The ultimate solution is to buy ANY monitor you like, from a shop that performs a “dead pixel test”. But careful because normally these are expensive. Luckily a friend told me about a 20 euro test at www.atelco.de and wrote an email to check the terms, which are yes, you are guaranteed a fault free display on delivery, no return postage or other lost charges, they really do the test properly (and put everything back in the box too – no missing cables or scratches!) So I decided take that with a trusty (in my experience) Hanns-G monitor, buying the Hanns-G 24 inch full HD HH251 for just 209 euro, nice!
  7. By the way the Hanns-G displays have very good OSD/software with full aspect ratio/zoom control, so in contrary to my experience with the Fujitsu SL3260W I would now recommend (and buy next time) the larger Hanns-G 28 inch 16:10 / 1200p monitor for the best of both worlds (office and gaming/video) without messing up the picture in 16:9 mode.
  8. Recently I found some additional news that Dell provides a “Premium Panel” warranty extension, which is 40 euro for one year or 80 euro for 5, or included with some models (their new 21 inch touch screen). But be careful because their official statement is the typical fault class 2 (up to 6 dead pixels on a laptop)!
  9. So go ahead, buy any monitor you like (16:9 to be safe or 16:10 if you KNOW the OSD allows you to disable zoom) BUT ONLY WITH A DEAD PIXEL TEST at a good price. If it has no faults to start with it is likely (if you don’t leave it switched on 24 hours a day) to have no faults in a long time.

I saw a Toms Hardware poll on manufacturer dead pixel policies in 2003 that looked positive but not perfect, then a follow-up a few years ago saying many of the manufacturers withdrew their promises! Maybe things got worse in the last few years with outsourcing and price drops. I think people would prefer the price to go up by just 10% (20 euro on a 200 euro monitor = nothing!) to cover the so called “less than 10% with pixel faults” and maybe even bring jobs back to the west, LOL!

Good luck, may your pixels be born whole and live forever!

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