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Plasma Television Pixel Problems -- What are Black Dots, Sunburst and Shadows?

Aug 17, 2007
Plasma Televisions are delicate and pixel problems are not uncommon. Here's a possible scenario:

You spent months anticipating your plasma television purchase, weeks working out the details of instillation and connections and will spend years paying for it. When you finally collapse down on the couch, you see little black dots on your screen. What is happening? Have you finally lost your mind?

A plasma television, like your digital watch from the 1980's, is made up of lots of pixels, tiny dots of color.

Sometimes millions of them make up a large screen television. Everyone is aware of the phenomenon of pixilation when they increase the size of a low-resolution image. But what you probably are not aware of is that most screens that you look at these days are made up of pixels. These pixels are so small that they make curved lines look natural.

Broken Pixels Do Happen

Sometimes, though, in manufacturing a screen of pixels, the manufacturer makes a mistake and one of the pixels gets broken. If this happens, you will see it as a tiny dot on your screen. If your screen has a rainbow colored dot; that is dust. You should dust your screen on a regular basis.

If you do see little dots on your screen, call the maker of your plasma television. They will probably have to replace your plasma television. There is nothing that you could have done to make the pixels go bad. Quality control is supposed to catch these things before they leave the factory, but mistakes do happen. (Lower end plasma television manufacturers sometimes have lower standards.)

No matter what the factor standards, if it is noticeable, complain until it is fixed. You paid a lot of money for your plasma television, and deserve a superior picture for that money.

Sunburst Pattern is A Common Problem

Another display problem with plasma television that is less often discussed is a sunburst pattern or a ring on your display. This is a common problem with laptop displays. Plasma televisions are much less durable than ordinary televisions.

Never Touch Your Screen

If the installer grabbed your plasma television wrong when installing it, he may have damaged the screen. Or if someone fell against the screen, it may damage your picture. Or your toddler pressing against the screen can damage the picture. Never, ever touch your plasma television. That is what a remote is for. If you are wise, you will encase it in glass. No, I am not joking. These things are delicate.

Phantom Shadows and Flickering

Other display problems like phantom shadows and flickering can also interfere with your picture. Phantom shadows and flickering you can probably fix using accessories. Your plasma television manufacturer will help you trouble shoot these issues. If nothing works, insist that it is not your fault. They will fix it if you are persistent enough.


Standard televisions have had over half a century to get all the bugs worked out of them. Even still, they are not always perfect. Plasma televisions offer many benefits over traditional televisions, but they are still new technology. If you have persistent problems with your set, call your television's manufacturer.
About the Author
Louis Zhang provides jargon-free, relevant information on plasma televison technology, selection and installation as well as a guide to consumer reviews. For more on plasma television technology tips, go to Plasma TV Pixel Problems
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