Should we worry about screen wear and tear with Switch OLED? – Talking point

Change OLED Virtua Racing
Image: Nintendo Life

Editor’s note: This piece was originally published when the OLED Switch was announced and was updated with new content for the console launch.

Now that the OLED Switch is with us, the screen burnout issue is perhaps worth reviewing. We know, thanks to Bloomberg, that the Switch OLED display is supplied by Samsung, which has consistently led the way when it comes to OLED display technology for the past decade.

That’s one reason to feel confident that burnout won’t be a massive problem with Nintendo’s new console, but it’s worth remembering that OLED panels have come a long way in recent years.

“You don’t see a lot of wear on modern OLED panels because displays have evolved to actively prevent it,” Michael Helander tells us. Helander is President and CEO of OTI Lumionics, a leading developer of advanced materials for OLED displays, so it’s safe to say you know what you’re talking about.

“They record how long each pixel is on and compensate for it in the back-end hardware to combat the burnout effect,” he adds. “Almost 10 years ago, the PlayStation Vita also came out with an OLED panel and received very little feedback in the way of burning. Even that was an older version of OLED, so you can imagine that the newer OLED panels are equipped to address the concerns. originals while giving consumers the performance they have come to expect from advanced displays. “

While it doesn’t appear that Nintendo has employed any special software tricks to prevent the OLED Switch from burning out, it is at least offering advice on the matter. As seen by The edge, Nintendo includes the following warning in the user manual of the OLED Switch:

To minimize the risk of image retention or screen burnout on the OLED screen, do not disable the default system sleep mode setting and be careful not to display the same image on the OLED screen for extended periods of time.

It’s worth noting that image retention and burnout are not the same, although they are often confused with the same thing. Image retention is not permanent and disappears after a while.

Now that the OLED Switch is here, are you still worried about wear and tear? Or are you sure it won’t be a problem?

So what exactly is the problem?

Wear and tear can occur with various types of displays if they are designed to display the same static image long enough. It happens to telephones, televisions and, in general, to anything with a screen. It’s not just TikTok either – the icons showing battery, wifi, volume, and the fact that my phone is always set to vibrate are there too, ghostly appearances at the top right of my screen. On the left, there’s a pretty creepy amalgam of every time I looked at my phone, represented by a permanent spectral clock, plus an irritating reminder that I have too many unread emails and messages, because there are all these notifications. -shapes up there too.

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An example of screen burn-in on an amber CRT monitor
An example of screen burn-in on an amber CRT monitor (Image: Piercetheorganist, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

I have a Google Pixel 2XL, by the way, that … according to Wikipedia – it has a P-OLED display (the P, in case it’s important to you, stands for “polymer”). Screen burn reports were recorded on these phones already in 2017, a few months after its launch. Similarly, with PlayStation Vita, many owners reported burns, especially if they left the screen on for long periods of time (i.e. while playing games or pausing the console).

So of course, when it was revealed that the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) was largely the same as the old Switch, but with, you guessed it, an OLED screen, concerns about wear and tear began to spread.

As it stands out in CNET article on TV burnsmanufacturers, from Apple to Google to LG, are aware of the wear and tear curse and seem to respond largely with tell your customers how to avoid it, taunting companies that tell customers how to avoid it, or alone flatly denying that their televisions have the problem of burning, despite evidence to the contrary.

A trend emerges: If you have a screen burn, these companies say, it’s your fault, for watching videos with a static user interface or playing video games for too long. Just stop doing those things and you won’t get burned. Sorry, do you want me to avoid video games with static UI? That is all. That is everybody The videogames.

An example of an airport screen burn (airports are a great place to see it)
An example of an airport screen burn (airports are a great place to see it) (Image: Gustav Broennimann, CC BY 3.0 CH, via Wikimedia Commons)

Now, manufacturers have started anticipating OLED for their part, rather than denying its existence. New Apple iPhones they have “special algorithms that monitor the use of individual pixels to produce screen calibration data,” which is to say that they self-adjust the brightness to stop burn-in, although they say burn-in is just “expected behavior” with OLED displays. It’s a risk-reward thing, but you may mitigate risk, at least.

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Consoles, like the Xbox, try to reduce wear and tear on your side by having things fade to a “dim” setting after a while. The current switch has a “Screen wear reduction“Also, it does something similar after five minutes of inactivity. These settings protect the user’s TV from burning out, although that’s not really the responsibility of the console manufacturers. Good!

What does Nintendo say about the burnout on Switch OLED?

Screenshot 2021 07 06 at 2.36.11 Pm

But the question is not “will it leave the Switch burned out on my OLED TV”, but rather “will it leave the Switch burned out itself”. The new OLED screen is part from the console, and is clearly designed for better-looking handheld gaming. As someone who largely plays Switch in handheld mode, I want to know: Are you going to have permanent health bars and minimaps etched onto the screen?

Well, CNET isn’t concerned about wear and tear on the Switch’s OLED screen, at least. Here’s the statement Nintendo gave them:

“We have designed the OLED display to aim for longevity as much as possible, but OLED displays can experience image retention if subjected to static images for a long period of time.

However, users can take preventive measures to preserve the screen. [by] using features included in Nintendo Switch systems by default, such as the auto-brightness feature to prevent the screen from getting too bright and the auto-sleep feature to enter ‘auto-sleep’ mode after short periods of time. “

Long story short: They don’t deny that burnout is a problem, and their statement seems to imply that, yes, it could eventually happen, but you can prevent (or postpone) the problem with careful use of the brightness and -sleep levels.

So should I be concerned about wear and tear with the OLED Switch?

CNET themselves list a few things that have eased their fears about burnout: First, different games have different static characteristics, so unless you’re playing same game for hours, the OLED switch will be fine. Also, unlike phones, the Switch doesn’t have an always-on menu item like battery or a clock, and does it They have that automatic sleep mode that we mentioned.

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But of course, there are players who play the same games for hours at a time: games like Fortnite, Minecraft, or Tetris 99. Obviously, those players will have a much higher risk of burning their screen, and even Nintendo doesn’t deny it.

It goes without saying that OLED technology has advanced since the Vita days as it has built-in solutions and measures to mitigate the problem and improve the life of any screen you buy that is likely to have long, daily use. That doesn’t mean burning can’t happen on your Switch OLED screen, but Nintendo will have anticipated the problem. We can’t be sure until we spend considerable time with the console, and God knows Nintendo doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to hardware, but unless you put an effort into inducing wear and tear by turning off the automatic brightness sensor and just playing games. for hours every day at 100% brightness, our intuition is that probably be okay.

However, CNET puts it quite succinctly: If you think it is likely to burn out, “don’t buy the new Switch.”

Imagine having Buizel permanently on your screen
Imagine having Buizel permanently on your screen

You are, overall, you’re less likely to burn out on a console, even with the caveat that hours in a game could make it happen. My phone problem only started to happen three years after I own it, and that’s because I’m a garbage bag who watches too many TikToks. My real punishment will be the roast I get in the comments, hands down. When it comes to televisions, the problem becomes more likely when you have something like a news channel most of the time, like televisions in lobbies and waiting rooms.

We can’t say for sure if the OLED screen will have major burn-in issues, because we’re not psychic, but the safest answer for now is that it is possible, under specific conditions. As pointed out this Best Buy employee on Reddit, and by CNET, and On Nintendo’s part, there are precautions we can take to reduce the chance of this happening: Don’t leave the screen at full brightness for hours, especially not on a menu screen, and set the console to automatically dim or turn off. after a few minutes. minutes of inaction.

Also, there is always the option of not buying the new OLED switch at all if you would be using it primarily for really long Overwatch marathons in handheld mode. For some, the risk may be balanced by the reward of darker blacks, higher contrast, and brighter colors; for others, it is better to stick to the old, reliable LCD screen.