Hot News


Header Ads Widget

What is Dirty Screen Effect (DSE) Read this post before buying an TV

It's a TV term and acronym I flippantly toss around as if everyone knows what it is. But in reality, most folks haven't heard of it before. You may have recently seen this though in fact I'm willing to bet that if you recently purchased a TV and it doesn't look quite right, your TV might be suffering from this Dirty Little Secret. Here, I'm talking about Dirty Screen Effect, a phenomenon that's earned its own acronym among TV enthusiasts DSE. In some ways, Dirty Screen Effect is an appropriate term. I think once you've identified it, you'll get it but it doesn't exactly look the way it sounds like it should look.


So in this post, I'll show you what Dirty Screen Effect looks like, explain what's happening on a technical level, help you test your own TV for DSE and then talk about what if anything you can do to get rid of it.

Before we dive into it,

  • Did you recently purchase a TV that had Dirty Screen Effect?
  • And if so what did you do?
  • Are you living with it or did you keep playing the panel lottery?
  • Drop me a comment down below so we can talk about it.

What is Dirty Screen Effect?

Dirty Screen Effect, I'm just gonna say DSE from now on, describes an issue where an LCD panel has inconsistent luminance performance across its surface area. It can appear as random splotches, uniform lines, wide bars and in some cases vignetting or slight darkening around the corners. DSE actually plagued Plasma TVs as well, though to a lesser degree.

Anyway for most of this post, I'll be focused on LCD based TVs. Now as a reminder or for anyone who may not have known any TV that uses an LED backlight also uses an LCD panel. So TVs marketed as LED, QLED, QNED  and mini LED, they all have LCD panels and are all susceptible to DSE.

Also Read: What is the difference between LCD, LED and Plasma Television

Now while the reasons you get DSE on an LCD are different. We do sometimes see similar Effects on OLED based displays as well but like I said, that's a little different. So I'll address them separately. So DSE can be seen in all kinds of scenarios but it's most likely to make itself known when there are big swatches of the same color on Screen.

Take an ice hockey game for example, some areas of the ice will appear to be dingier or darker than other areas of the ice. You might also see DSE more easily when watching Golf, when there are vast sections of grass on the Screen some parts of the grass may appear to be darker or more muted in color than other parts and the trick with DSE is that the issue is fixed to the Screen. So as the picture moves, you'll notice that any part of the picture moving through these Dirty areas gets a little dimmer or dingier hence it seems as if the Screen is Dirty.

Some DSE is severe and impossible to miss no matter what you're watching but sometimes it's so minimal you may not notice it unless you look hard for it.

What causes the Dirty Screen Effect?

There are so many factors that can cause DSE. It's not really worth trying to go into all of them but just stemming from the manufacturing of an LCD panel. You might get variance in backlight distribution or variance in TFT switching for subpixels or variance in conductivity and or capacitance of transparent electrodes.

Anyway the thing is, the actual cause is less important than the common theme here which is inconsistency in panel manufacturing. There are numerous variables that can be introduced that would cause an LCD panel to have groups of pixels that shine less bright than others and this variance is unfortunately part of the tech and the manner in which different manufacturers handle that variance is also varied.


Different levels of quality control by different manufacturers allow for imperfect panels to pass through and they later get used as consumer products that's why the so-called panel lottery is a thing and I'll get into that in a moment.

Outside of a TV simply being made this way, Dirty Screen Effect also can be caused by damage to the panel in shipping or maybe mishandling of the TV during setup or installation process. Generally speaking, it's recommended one avoids pinching or otherwise exerting pressure on the front of the TV Screen. That's why we sometimes see these warning signs stuck to TVs when we unbox them.

How common is Dirty Screen Effect?

Honestly this is a difficult question to answer because I don't have data that supports objective analysis on the prevalence of DSE in newly manufactured televisions however I can offer some anecdotal perspective based on my experience as a TV reviewer.

The feedback I get from readers and viewers as well as reports I see in AV forums and from what I've seen, DSE ranging from insignificant to severe seems fairly common among newly manufactured LCD based televisions due primarily to the nature of LCD panel manufacturing. Very broadly speaking, the less expensive a TV is the more likely it is to exhibit some level of DSE more expensive TVs are not immune to the issue but some manufacturers have tighter quality assurance tolerances for their high-end products so again very broadly speaking DSE tends to be less prevalent among those high-end models.

Also Read: Samsung QD-OLED TV The best Television in the world from Samsung

Now DSE has a symptom of age, well that's virtually impossible to track however again totally anecdotally speaking I have witnessed DSE creep into a TV panel slowly over time and worsen with age. I've seen it happen in TVs I own TV, friends and family have owned and TVs installed in commercial environments like hotels and bars.

How to get rid of Dirty Screen Effect?

So if you've seen Dirty Screen Effect on your TV, then you might be wondering how can I get rid of it? Well I don't know that you're gonna like what I have to say here, unfortunately there's no way to eliminate DSE. Now some websites suggest loosening the screws on the back of a TV to lessen the strain on the TVs panel. I do not recommend this tactic as it a could void your warranty and also it's probably not going to work frankly and I realize this may not be the answer you were hoping for but it is the truth.

The best way to get rid of DSE on a newly purchased TV is to catch it early and return or exchange the TV within the typical 30-day customer satisfaction period. This is not something you can hope for a warranty to cover since manufacturers aren't likely to want to repair or replace your TV when your complaint is over a flaw that that manufacturer already deemed to be within an acceptable margin of error. Their response is probably going to be something like that's within acceptable tolerances.

Outside of that, is there anything else you can do? Well sort of I mean these are really just band-aid measures but most TVs offer a game mode which due to its tendency to brighten everything on Screen can help to obscure DSE but again this is just kind of a band-aid measure the DSE is still there but it may not be as obvious.


Another somewhat helpful tip is to view the TV from as direct an angle as possible. As you move off axis, DSE tends to be a little bit more obvious. So sometimes it helps if you've got a very direct line of sight for viewing.

Now in very limited instances, some cases of DSE on OLDE TVs can be remedied by manually triggering the TV's built-in pixel refresh system and that's usually located somewhere in the TV system menu.

Now earlier in the post you read about the Panel Lottery what is this so-called panel lottery?

Well really it refers to this kind of game that TV buyers unwittingly play when purchasing a TV. Sometimes you win the panel lottery which is a way of saying that the TV you got was in especially pristine shape and shows no signs of DSE. It's also a term used to easily express that there's such a variance in panel quality that it's virtually impossible that you'll win a perfect panel. In other words it's just all up to chance so as frustrating as it may be that you really don't have any control over this situation.

Also Read: Why do we see Random Codes or Number on Screen while watching TV (Hindi)

At least now you know what DSE is and what it looks like and you've got a shot at returning your TV and getting another one if you spot it when you make a new TV purchase. Thanks as always for reading everyone I hope you found this post  helpful if you did let me know down in the comments and don’t forget to share this with your friends as well.

Post a Comment