Q. I had to replace my TV after just three years. I am very disappointed. Aren’t TVs supposed to last forever? Is there anything I can do to keep my new TV longer than three years?! — Rod, Phoenix, Arizona.
Rod, televisions are built to last a long time, but forever? Well, not quite. However, there are three things you can do to help keep your TV running efficiently for years — and make sure you don’t have to buy a new one unless you really want to.
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1. Turn It Off
Do you watch your TV several hours a day? If so, that’s fine. But don’t keep it on if you’re NOT watching it. I know that may sound silly but many people keep their sets on when they leave the room for a long period of time. And others like to have the set on for background noise.
Both practices take unnecessary hours off your TV’s life. See, a television only has so many hours in it and you don’t want to waste them. (All TVs are different so I can’t say a set should last for a specific number of hours. But any quality set should last for several years even if you watch it several hours a day.)
2. Do the Bright Thing
Many TVs come from the factory with the brightness level higher than it needs to be. While some people like an ultra-bright picture, it can soften picture detail — and cause your TV to work harder to display all that light. Try adjusting the brightness level so the picture looks more realistic, displaying more detail. Your eyes will be happier and so will your TV. The reduction in brightness will add more hours to your set’s life.
3. Take a Contrasting View
Finally, the Contrast, or Picture, setting measures the difference between your set’s brightest and darkest colors. Once again, if your set’s Contrast or Picture level is too high, it can force your set to exert more power, again reducing its total hours of use. To ensure this doesn’t happen, I would recommend setting your TV to Standard Mode rather than Vivid or Dynamic. This will keep your Contrast or Picture level at a more efficient setting. The Standard mode will also display a more realistic picture, in my view.
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I can relate. I’ve had no less than 3 flat screens go bad, each less than 3 years. All were Samsung. Admittedly this was a few years ago and overall build quality does seem to have improved since then. That said, I still don’t believe that today’s TV product is built to nearly the same standard as were the old CRT.
Another tip: don’t block any ventilation holes or slots on the set. Allow enough space around it so it stays as cool as possible when the TV is on. Don’t bury it in a cabinet, block it with items on it or next to it or mount it up directly on a wall without leaving some airspace behind it, even if it’s just 1″ or less. Heat is your TV’s #1 enemy. Over several years, dust can build up on those ventilation slots. Some gentle light dusting can help (be careful of your screen, you can damage it if you clean it improperly).
My current set is now 11 years old. It’s an earlier gen LCD Sony XBR (non-LED) that uses cold cathode (fluorescent tube) backlight that in theory shouldn’t last as long as LEDs. I’ve been running it for most of those years about 12 hours daily. The uniformity and black level of the picture has gone down, but the PQ still is excellent. The PQ from cable TV used to be much better back in 2007, before they started overly compressing the signals to fit all those hundreds of channels in the same limited bandwidth of their coax, which also has to accommodate higher broadband internet speeds. Blu-ray still looks great, even HD streams are better than cable’s PQ.
It was a top-line expensive TV that continues to hold up as well as the CRTs of yesteryear.