What if your screen looks dirty?

Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) can sometimes show small pixel-sized spots. You will see these spots as either white, black, red, green or blue dots.
A free application we carry in our TechnologyTips Software Library to check for dead pixels is Dead Pixel Buddy.

It is the color of the pixel that determines the problem or condition itself. Pixels can get stuck in a certain state, or simply die and become perfectly useless.

LCD panels are manufactured in a process that simulates a sandwich. An LCD glass panel contains millions of transistors, each the size of a pixel, roughly 1mm square. These consist of red, green and blue sub-pixels. A chemical compound called liquid crystal is sandwiched between plates of transistors which produce a lighted pixel. A combination of millions of pixels creates the image that you see.

Occasionally, a pixel can stop responding and appear in one of several colors. A black- or white-colored pixel indicates it’s dead. This basically means that the electronic transistors for that particular pixel are not functioning.

Red, green or blue pixels indicate that the pixel is stuck. This also means that that pixel’s circuitry is not functioning. A stuck pixel is not as serious as a dead pixel, and can very often be unstuck using various methods.

In the case of PC and laptop LCD, there are various homebrew software utilities that can help. Homebrew is a term used for free software created by individuals for non-commercial use.

The pixel-fixing software rapidly changes all the possible colors of the pixel in a repeating cycle until the pixel responds and becomes unstuck. A similar process is used for dead pixels, too, but it’s not as likely to repair the problem.

If you have a LCD TV, you may be able to connect it to your laptop, and use the same pixel-fixer software. Please remember that you’re using it at your own risk, though. Some manufacturers include options built into their LCDs’ menu and setup utilities. Otherwise, you may have to contact the manufacturer for assistance.

It is quite common for brand new LCD panels to have one or several pixels stuck or burnt out. Of course, this is very disappointing and a cause for concern. Each manufacturer and retailer has different criteria for acknowledging this type of problem and dealing with it. It is not uncommon for a LCD panel to have ten or more dead pixels before the retailer or manufacturer will consider a warranty replacement.

But frankly, one dead or stuck pixel in a new display is one too many. You should check with the retailer before you purchase an LCD panel to understand what their return and replacement policies are in this regard.