The Pixel Kunumdrum


All televisions have a small display unit of the screen called a pixel; a pixel is the smallest picture element on the screen.  It will produce a number of colors with varying intensity, comprised of three primary colors red, green, and blue. Take a magnifying glass and get real close to your tv and you can see the three separate colors that form a pixel. On the older crt type of televisions an electron beam was scanned across a set of pixels to illuminate the pixel. The pixel was made up of  a phosphor coating that illuminated each of the three pixel elements at different intensities generating the color for that spot.  In all of the new modern displays each pixel is a separate electronic component, independent from the pixel next to it. Because each pixel is on its own, it is possible for just one of these pixels to become defective over time.  It will do one of three things, it will stick on (always emitting light) or stick off (always black) or intermittently stick on or off.  There is no way that a technician can remove the defective pixel and replace it with a good one. If this problem occurs the whole display will have to be changed, The cost of the display is almost equal to the cost of the television when it was new.

        If while your tv is in warranty you develop a pixel problem. The technician does not have free ability to replace your display.  According to the manufacturers a few stuck pixels are acceptable.  The replacement of the screen is determined by complex set of rules.  We have to call the company and they will ask us questions about the problem and determine if it is bad enough to replace the panel. The manufacturers don't tell you about this policy when it comes to display malfunctions, but your screen is divided up into zones, the center being the most sensitive zone.  If the pixel is stuck "on" in the center of the picture where it is emitting a pin prick of light, you are more likely to get it replaced in warranty than if it is stuck off. Based on my experience, I believe it was up to 5 pixels can be stuck off in the center of the picture before replacement is authorized.  More are allowed in the sections not affecting main viewing, with the corners allowed to have the most defective pixels.   DLP types are also prone to this philosophy and problem as well, even though It is a tiny mechanical mirror moving, that mirror can become stuck on or off causing a tiny distortion in the picture that customers will notice. 

                The customer with this problem is usually very upset to find out about this policy.  Arguing with the servicer about this problem will not get you anywhere.  As a rule the customer can get a better response if they complain to the manufacturer themselves.  I am not defending their actions; I am simply stating facts as they are today.  I will let you make your own opinion about this kind of policy. Normally this information only comes to light after your TV has this problem. That is true about most issues with electronic equipment.  Stay tuned to my blog, I will bring you other useful information from the dark side of electronics.


While this article speaks specifically to pixel failures, the general problem of manufacturer's policies was raised.  I too can speak to this as the "dark side" of the repair business.  More specifically, I second the recommendation that the consumer speak directly to the manufacturer.  As an authorized servicer, I can only "follow the rules".  I do not have the authority to permit anything without confirmation from the manufacturer unless I plan on performing the repair at my expense.  This is an important point as anytime we (the service center) violate the policy (ie. repair something without permission if it is an unusual repair), we don't get paid.  Since warantee payments are usually small to begin with, losing them doesn't help the bottom line.


Try asking a sales person the manufacturers policy on screen replacement before you buy a TV set. I have just recently asked a couple of different sales people and they are unaware( or playing dumb) about these policies the manufacturers have. I would recommend to get it in writing from the manager of the store in case you do have a problem with a display screen. Sales departments of a manufacturer overrides service departments all the time.  I also had a small digital camera once where the pixels were bad on the edge of the display and was told this is a normal thing. I fought so hard, after a month or so, I received a new camera. You know, the new camera had bad pixels on the same side of the display but there were not as many.  

 i have been told this way; the warranty does not tell you that they will guarantee it to 100 percent functionality, it is 99% functionality that they guarantee. This is being tricky and deceitful if you ask me.

I agree man, but I will tell you something, If I bought a $4000.00 TV set and I saw a small black or white dot in any corner or anywhere on the screen, My eyes would be drawn to that section of the screen all the time. I would be on the phone daily till it was replaced. Not with the service people but with the manufacturer of the set or whoever I bought the set from. 99% functionality my foot! I want what I paid for! I want 100%! That's what I would tell them. I at one time was also a big warranty repair company that did just about everybody back in the 80s and the 90s. We went to  the CES in Vegas every year to rub elbows and comp. a few of the better companies. We even did the smaller ones at the time like Emerson and York.  If you did not follow the rules, they would not pay you. As a warranty company that does repairs for in warranty repairs, those are not your bread and butter money makers. It is the recommendations from  the manufacturers after the set is out of warranty is how you make money. There have been many repairs you would lose money on just to be an authorized servicer.

See the PixelTuneup solution for stuck pixels on


Connect With Techlore