Rtings’ Exhaustive and Exhausting TV Reviews Will Never End

Seeking to gauge the longevity of current television technologies, consumer review site designed an expansive test platform to simulate intensive long-term usage across a diverse sampling of modern TVs. Its Accelerated Longevity Test displays identical content on a fixed schedule for up to 20 hours daily, with multiple power cycles per day to deliberately stress components.

The experimental setup comprises 100 televisions procured over the past 2-3 years that Rtings still had in their lab from previous evaluations. The included models span high-end offerings with advanced backlight systems along with more budget-oriented products. Represented display technologies encompass LCD-LED, OLED, QLED, and MiniLED, with test units sourced from major brands like LG, Samsung, Sony, TCL and others.

Rtings configured settings according to their recommended calibration guidelines for each model, while specifying peak brightness. All test TVs run the latest firmware available when originally integrated into the experiment, with automated updates disabled throughout the trial. Content comprises live CNN news streamed continuously via centralized distribution architecture.

The test regime puts products through 15-20 hour daily runtimes, shutting down overnight for cooldown and enabling automatic panel compensation mechanisms inherent to OLED. Test TVs also power cycle numerous times per day to deliberately instigate thermal shock effects that stress internal electronics over time. In its execution, the experiment intends less to target failures in specific models as to reveal wider insights around lifespan considerations across current mainstream display technologies.

Rtings Provides 10-Month Update on TV Endurance Experiment

We now have the first major update on how the test collection is holding up after 10 months and over 6,000 hours of relentless cumulative usage. Thus far two display failures have occurred that required removing units from testing. The casualties were TCL’s 6-Series R635 2020 QLED TV and Hisense’s U9DG ULED TV with dual-cell technology. Analyses uncovered blown capacitors on the power supply boards for both models. Rtings repaired other TVs exhibiting power supply issues over the past 10 months by replacing damaged capacitors, including models from Samsung and Amazon.

Across the 15 OLED test samples, all units exhibit short-term image retention to varying degrees. The approved workflow for OLED TVs includes periodic compensation cycles that refresh pixels, aiming to clear temporary retention and prevent permanent burn-in. After initially observing worse retention, Rtings discovered some manufacturers’ implementation of panel refresh cycles was not functioning correctly. Enforcing these cycles prior to measurements provided updated results at months 8 and 10.

Measurements confirm brightness decay is most severe on OLED test units, with losses to date averaging 10-20% of initial readings. LG’s G1 OLED has fared the best so far, declining only 3% over 10 months. Interestingly, Samsung’s QD-OLED S95B faded most at 15% – more data is required to gauge if integrated heatsinks in other models impact aging. All OLEDs showcase permanent burn-in of on-screen static logos, with older generation panels like LG’s CX faring worse.

Among the LCD-LED models, inconsistent backlights causing clouding and flashlighting have appeared over time rather than burn-in. Units from Insignia, LG, and Samsung currently showcase the worst uniformity measurements. A strange banding phenomenon nicknamed “zebra stripes” has also emerged on multiple LCD test samples. Additional analysis is required to determine the underlying cause.

While the test intends to run two full years, already trends are beginning to emerge regarding how contemporary TV technologies cope with extreme cumulative usage metrics. Many underlying reliability questions remain as the experiment passes the halfway point. With 80 out of 100 televisions still operational after nearly 12,000 hours of collective torture testing, will cascading failures occur or can most units persevere?

Helping People Pick TVs is Doing God’s Work

I would have expected Rtings to have a much bigger audience than it does, but maybe the true magnitude of the service it provides is not fully appreciated by the TV buying public. It can all get very overwhelming, and most of the time, you don’t want to know how the sausage is made just so long as it doesn’t have any pig anus in it, and it cooks well, you are good to go. But, Rtiings seems to be adept at coaxing out every detail of performance from its lineup, and is doing the equivalent of missionary work on behalf of display nerds everywhere.

There are a few things that would probably help make this particularly marathon of testing more useful and that is context, eg, what’s my best bang for the buck? Most people have very little faith in the longevity of consumer electronics products, living as we are in a disposable world. In fact, I doubt most people would even be thrashing a TV that hard in the modern age of smartphones and streaming devices to take advantage of the nuances of Rtings’ findings. But, for the display industry, this is comfort food, and it’s a good thing that Rtings is alive and keeps doing its thing. At the end of the day, enjoy and don’t stress out over the findings because the test circumstances don’t directly related to real world experiences (you could even say the real world is not as stressful for TVs as Rtings’ tests make it out to be), and I doubt Samsung and LG have the average consumer in their contact lists; if they suddenly experience a glitch in service, no one is rushing to update their firmware or make sure they are up and running quickly.

Most people suffer the slings and arrows of their TV problems in the quiet of a living room or den, and make do. I’d love to see the data on that anecdote.