Click for DisplayMate Home Page   The Standard of Excellence for Image and Picture Quality   Click to Order DisplayMate  
  DisplayMate Home PageEnd User ProductsProfessional ProductsSelection GuideOrdering InformationContact Us  
Product Information
End User Products
Professional Products  
Complete Productline  

Ordering Information
Volume Discounts
Order Online Click to Buy DisplayMate  

General Information
Intro to DisplayMate
Reviews + Awards
Best Video Hardware  

Display Information
DisplayMate on Twitter    
Evaluation Guides
Mobile Displays  
HDTV Displays

Special Information
Printer Calibration
Macs + Linux + Unix
Consulting Services  

Customer Information
Customer Support
Join Our Mailing List
Register Online
Software License
Contact Us

Company Information
About Us
Contact Us

Site Map
Home Page
Legal Terms of Use

    Maintaining Your Display    
Copyright © 1990-2011 by DisplayMate Technologies Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
This article, or any part thereof, may not be copied, reproduced, mirrored, distributed or incorporated
into any other work without the prior written permission of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation.

Keeping your display in tip-top condition is necessary in order to continue obtaining the best possible image and picture quality, prolonging the display's useful life, and getting the most from your investment. These important issues are sometimes overlooked.

Cleaning   |   Set Up   |   Life Expectancy   |   Drift   |   Phosphor Burn   |   Screen Savers   |   Aging

There is no comparable section on maintaining your video board because generally nothing can be done for a video board except return it to the manufacturer for repair. Fortunately, they are extremely reliable, do not deteriorate with age, and seldom break. If they do, you'll be glad to know that most come with a long warranty period.

Screen Cleaning

Screen cleaning is the easiest and possibly the most important aspect of regular display maintenance. If you like to point with your fingers on the screen, you may need to do this daily, otherwise whenever there is a noticeable accumulation of dust or stains. The faceplate of most CRTs attracts superfine particles suspended in the air that may coat the screen so uniformly that you are unlikely to notice the buildup. In general, it's best to clean your display the first thing every Monday morning. In the absence of specific manufacturer's instructions, ordinary glass cleaner and paper towels should do fine. Spray the liquid onto the paper towel, not the screen, so that the drippings don't seep inside the display or stain the bezel or other plastic parts.

The anti-glare coatings on some screens are delicate and may easily scratch or even rub off under excessive pressure. The hardest screens to clean are those with anti-reflection coatings that absorb oils, particularly finger prints, which give them a multi-color iridescent appearance. With those you may need to clean the screen several times before all the streaks disappear. There are also special cleaning kits with anti-static cleaner and soft lint-free cloths. The anti-static liquid may slow down the build up of dirt. Most of the time the kits come with an insufficient number of cloths.

Display Set Up

Adjusting the controls on a display is something you will also need to do regularly. This is one of the primary functions of DisplayMate for Windows. For example: if the room lighting changes, you will need to adjust the Contrast Control. If the change in room lighting is substantial, then the Brightness Control may also require adjustment in order to reset the optimum Black-Level.

The display itself is subject to drift, possibly over a period of hours, often requiring minor adjustments for Centering and Brightness. The fastest way to readjust the display is to run the DisplayMate Master Test Pattern by double-clicking the "Master Test Pattern" icon. By adding this icon to your Windows Startup Group, you will obtain the test pattern automatically every time Windows is started.

Use the DisplayMate Set Up Program when you first install your monitor. The best time to use the Tune-Up Program is after you have worked with the monitor for a few days and are thoroughly familiar with it. Thereafter run through the Set Up Program weekly to check and touch-up settings. Run through the Video Obstacle Course once a month to check and correct for the inevitable aging and drifting. Use the Tune-Up Program when you make any changes to the monitor or video board settings, to the computer system hardware configuration, or to your work area.

Life Expectancy

There are a number of simple things you can do to increase the life of your display: the first is maintaining good ventilation in order to minimize the display's internal temperature. Keep all of the ventilation holes and slots free and clear, and never place papers or anything else on top of the display. If you notice dirt accumulating on the openings, then vacuum them clean.

Power line spike and surge protectors should not be necessary for well designed computer equipment, but they certainly don't hurt. Every once in a long while they may contribute to saving the life of your display or computer, for example, if lightning strikes nearby. If you experience periodic picture shrinkage on your display, then plug your computer into a power outlet that is controlled by a different circuit breaker or fuse. If you have recurring problems or experience other forms of power line interference, then do not rely on a spike or surge protector, but rather have the problem investigated by an electrician or an electronics technician.

If you want to maximize the long-term image quality and life expectancy of your display, then avoid repeatedly turning it on and off many times during the course of a day. Every time you turn your display on or off, voltage instabilities and current surges that stress some components may occur as the power ramps up or down. Temperature cycles inside individual components, as well as within the entire piece of equipment, may stress and prematurely age some components.

Beginning in 1994 the U.S. Government began strongly encouraging a reduction in computer energy consumption through the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Program. The government awards an Energy Star label to monitors that use 30 watts or less of power in a standby mode. Most monitors use between 60 and 100 watts during normal operation. A monitor enters a standby mode after the computer is idle for a certain period of time.

While at first sight our recommendations may appear to conflict with the goals of the Energy Star program, bear in mind that there is a large ecological cost from discarded units that fail, or perform unsatisfactorily. Not only is there a considerable waste of resources, because the display must be replaced, but monitors are a hazardous, toxic, and bulky waste for landfills. Recycling the CRT and other materials is currently not practical. It is definitely important not to waste electricity, so turn the display off when you're not going to use it for an extended period of time.

Stability and Drift

Another reason for not repeatedly turning the display on and off many times during the course of a day is that many monitors take a fair amount of time to warm up and reach their optimum operating point. Most CRT displays will experience their greatest drift when they are first turned on. Many will require at least 30 minutes in order to stabilize completely. During this period the image centering and black-level will often vary the most. Other parameters, such as focus, may not be optimal during warm up.

Most of the major manufacturers are implementing the Energy Star program using the DPMS (Display Power Management Signaling) standard developed by VESA, the Video Electronic Standards Association. The DPMS standard has 4 power levels: On, Standby with 30 Watts or less, Suspend with 4 watts or less, and Off. Because there are 2 low power states that are implemented by the monitor's own circuitry, some of the electrical and thermal cycling problems identified above are reduced, but not eliminated.

Phosphor Efficiency and Burn

All of the phosphors used in displays are subject to burn and to a loss of light emitting efficiency with time. Phosphor burn is seen as a patterned discoloration on the screen when the display is turned off, often in the form of stripes from recurring text output. The glass in some displays is also subject to discoloration.

A reduction in phosphor efficiency occurs slowly over a period of time, and may be noticeable as a pattern of reduced light output on the screen during the Screen Uniformity test. The loss of light emitting efficiency is proportional to the beam intensity and to the amount of time that it is applied. If you make extensive use of a program that produces a structured output, then that pattern also will become embedded in the screen over time. While color displays are highly resistant to these problems, some long persistence phosphors used in monochrome displays are more susceptible to burn.

Screen Savers

Screen savers have become extremely popular because of their entertainment value. Unfortunately, many screen savers actually accelerate phosphor aging because they continually produce full color, full screen graphic images on the display. Since the images move, the accelerated aging is at least uniform, so no particular pattern is embedded on the screen. If the screen saver has a strongly colored background then the red, green and blue phosphors will age at different rates, which will slowly affect the overall color balance of the display. In principle, the best screen saver is one that keeps most of the screen black most of the time, but still alerts you to the fact that the monitor and computer are turned on and possibly in the middle of an important application. The Windows Display Properties Screen Saver "Flying Through Space" is one example of such a screen saver.


All electronic equipment ages, but the aging process is most easily noticed in video displays where qualitative differences are easily seen. The aging arises from the variation of certain electronic components with time, and from a gradual deterioration of the precise mechanical configuration and alignment of certain assemblies in the display. This deterioration process will be accelerated by frequent rough handling in shipment, or by frequently turning the display on and off. Some of these effects can be corrected through the user controls. The changes may occur so slowly that you are unlikely to notice them if you frequently adjust the controls.

Screen brightness is also likely to decrease with time, so purchase a screen with a brightness higher than what you really need. In CRT displays, the screen brightness will decrease slowly with time due to a reduction in the efficiency of the cathode (the "C" in CRT), and the light emitting efficiency of the screen phosphors. In portable computers with LCD displays, another source of aging is the fluorescent tubes that backlight most displays, which deteriorate slowly with time.

Copyright © 1990-2011 by DisplayMate Technologies Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
This article, or any part thereof, may not be copied, reproduced, mirrored, distributed or incorporated
into any other work without the prior written permission of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation.

Next Top 10 Video Tip Article

Copyright © 1990-2014 by DisplayMate® Technologies Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Click here for Copyright, Trademark, Warranty Information and Legal Terms of Use

Screen Resolution: This site best viewed at a resolution format of 1280x1024 pixels or greater.
Printing: If your browser is improperly printing some pages with text cutoff on the right edge then print in
Landscape mode or reduce the font size (View Menu - Text Size) and margins (File Menu - Page Setup).