Displays don’t last forever. Whether you’re shopping for a TV, monitor or any other type of display, it will typically last for about 10 to 20 years. As it approaches the end of its usable life, it may succumb to technical problems like image burn-in or image persistence. While they both involve visual distortion, though, burn-in and image persistence aren’t the same.

What Is Image Burn-In?

Also known as ghost imaging, image burn-in is a visual phenomenon that’s characterized by permanent discoloration. Displays, of course, have pixels. To produce an image, displays must illuminate some of their pixels with light in a specific color. Image burn-in involves some of these pixels becoming permanently discolored.

Turning the display off isn’t always enough to resolve image burn-in. Even when turned off, you may see the discolored pixels. The discolored pixels will appear as a shadow. No matter how many times you turn off and on the display, the discolored pixels will remain.

What Is Image Persistence?

Image persistence is a visual phenomenon that involves temporary discoloration. Some liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are susceptible to image persistence. When an LCD displays a static image for a prolonged image, it may develop image persistence. The LCD will essentially show some of the static image — even after the image has changed.

The Differences Between Image Burn-In and Image Persistence

Both image burn-in and image persistence involve discoloration. With that said, they aren’t the same. Image burn-in is a permanent phenomenon that can’t be easily fixed, whereas image persistence is a temporary phenomenon that will typically subside on its own.

Image burn-in and image persistence also affect different types of devices. Only displays with phosphor compounds can suffer from image burn-in. Image burn-in occurs when the phosphor compounds begin to lose their luminescent properties. Phosphor-based displays include cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) and plasmas.

Liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) don’t contain phosphor compounds. They still have pixels, but LCDs feature liquid organic compounds for their pixels rather than phosphor compounds. As a result, they can’t suffer from image burn-in. LCDs can suffer from image persistence, but they are immune to the effects of image burn-in.

In Conclusion

Displays are often susceptible to visual phenomena like image burn-in or image persistence. Image burn-in involves permanent discoloration and is limited to phosphor-based displays. In comparison, image persistence images temporary discoloration and can occur with nearly all types of displays. Assuming you choose an LCD, you don’t have to worry about image burn-in.