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How the Xbox One and Xbox One X will protect your OLED TV from burn-in

The general consensus right now is that OLED TVs are the best for 4K HDR gaming, providing the best viewing angles, the best contrast ratios, and the best color gamuts. We list the LG C7 (opens in new tab) as the best OLED 4K HDR TV you can pick up right now for the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, and that's not likely to change for a while.

However, more and more people are waking up to the fact that OLED sets can suffer from burn-in and image retention. Microsoft is aware, however, and in Xbox One build 1710, they have already prepared a way to combat this issue.

What is OLED burn-in?

Burn-in typically refers to the appearance of previous images shown by the becoming "burned" into the display, appearing like a faint ghost-like blur or image on top of whatever you're currently watching. Burn-in was particularly notable on Plasma TVs, which are no longer in circulation.

OLED TVs are made up of organic light emitting diodes, with each pixel representing an individual point of colored light. The "black" in an OLED is simply a pixel that is switched off, giving OLED screens vivid contrast ratios with support for truly black points of darkness.

For Xbox One and other consoles, burn-in is potentially a bigger problem, as the system menus with bright elements and outlines can quite easily lead to burn-in if left turned on and unattended, fixed on screen for long periods of time.

OLED burn-in doesn't seem to be anywhere near as widespread as Plasma burn-in was, but it still represents an issue potential owners should be aware of.

One of the more common issues you'll notice for OLED sets is temporary image retention. If left on a static screen for too long, the image can become retained in the display, albeit temporarily. For example, the white text on the Xbox dashboard or the HUD in a first person shooter fixes pixels in a high-intensity state for the duration of their active use. If you're playing 4-6 hours of Battlefield 1, you're keeping those pixels representing the HUD locked in a single state for a long time.

Turning off the TV for a while, typically, seems to resolve this temporary retention issue, but OLED TVs on display in stores for months, cycling through the same content or displaying a single image have been known to suffer from more serious bouts of burn-in. If you're playing serviced-based games for months, showing the same HUD for months, that could potentially represent a problem. Thankfully, Microsoft has already developed technology to help combat this issue.

How the Xbox defends against burn-in

In the Xbox One's 1710 update, Microsoft introduced new screen dimmer features to the console. Some of these features include large notifications that let you view invites at a glance, when you might not be paying attention to the TV, but also, a special technique designed to prevent against OLED burn-in and other types of image retention.

By enabling the new Xbox One screen dimmer, it will induce a screensaver of sorts, that not only defends against burn-in over longer periods of time but also "scrubs" image retention from the screen.

In the capture above, we've dialed up the contrast and brightness quite high so you can see the Xbox screen dimmer in action. In practice, it will be very hard to see with the naked eye.

There are bands of varying intensity scrolling from left to right across the screen, comprised of a noise pattern that is quite difficult to reproduce in a screen shot, but you can see it if you enable it on your own TV. The noise intensity increases and decreases as the pattern scrolls across the display, exercising the individual diodes with subtle differences in light and color.

Your OLED should be safe with Xbox

This technique was designed specifically by the team at Xbox to combat image retention and burn-in, and for those picking up OLEDs, enabling the screen dimmer will go a long way to extending the longevity of your set.

Jez Corden
Jez Corden

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

26 Comments
  • 1.. I can't wait to get the new Xbox UI. I'm in stupid delta ring and it hasn't updated in months. 2... The LG oleds have two features that get rid of burn in. It's in settings. One slightly moves the screen and the other requires the TV to be turn off for an hour to clean the image. 3.. Thanks for this write up! The dimming feature is very cool. With all the thoight being put into this, and doing my due dilligence by being conscious of what can cause burn in, I have little worry about this anymore
  • LG sets also have a screen saver to protect the TV but the Xbox overrides it. Which I guess is why Microsoft is doing this. I'd still prefer for the Xbox to respect the TV settings instead of trying to replace them with its own. Then again, it's just a personal preference and once the new UI is forced on me, I'll probably seldom use the Xbox again.
  • The Xbox has no way to be aware of the TV settings. If you don't want to use the Xbox screen saver, turn it off.
  • You can't turn it off any more. I was recording time lapse from elite dangerous. Can't do it anymore. Thanks Microsoft.
  • And allow the console to f*ck up my TV? Yeah, I'd sooner burn the Xbox than allow it to burn my TV ;)
  • How is a feature which is designed to protect your TV going to "f*ck up" your TV? Man, pick your battles. You're not convincing anyone.
  • So dj, what DO you actually like. Besides Nokia. Inquiring minds want to know
  • I like good UIs. Like the original Xbox UI for example. Like the PlayStation UI that doesn't shove ads down my throat after I've paid hundreds of euros for the console.
    Like the Windows 10 UI before that Fluent sh*t turned black backgrounds into grey. I like lots of things. Unfortunately Microsoft has been removing them one by one.
  • Am I hearing it wrong? PS4 UI has no ads? On the home tab of xbox dashboard.
    There's roughly 4 little square on your right, 1 is newest games, 1 is Gold Deal, 1 is random stuff (movie, gamepad, new game, etc), 1 is What's On Xbox (content only change once in a while).
    You see nothing if you don't click it. Just 4 small still images. On the ps4.
    After login, your first stop is the "What's New" tab and the ads starts loading on its own.
    If you stayed till the loading ends, there goes ads for you.
    (Even if you move away instantly, bandwidth is spent)
    Not just that, on the main dashboard, sometimes games-you-don't-own hidden in with your recent activity.
  • Still on this bit? Even though there is no way for the TV to communicate to any device to do do a screen saver, even though all devices do some sort of dimming, you have decided to do your usual rant against the Microsoft product. Why not blame the TV industry or HDMI standards body for creating a mechanism to do this? Why not blame all the device manufacturers for setting a standard? Instead, you repeat this same old line. 
  • Because the "there's no way the Xbox knows my tv settings" is the sort of argument that has that smelly smell of bullsh*t. And until you prove me empirically how the Xbox - who can control the TV - can't for some reason respect its settings (it doesn't need to know them, it just needs to respect commands coming from the TV), I won't be shifting the blame to someone else just to please fanboys. Plain and simple.
  • There's a huge difference between sending simple commands such as power on/off, volume up/down, or channel up/down to a TV (using simple IR codes) or getting supported display modes (via HDMI) and reading and understanding a TV's settings (for which there is no standard or means to transfer this info). What "command coming from the TV" are you talking about? The TV doesn't send commands to the Xbox.
  • The TV turns on Screensaver when it senses no input from the signal. Since the Xbox is always sending input, it doesn't know to turn on the screen saver. It gets around this with cable or other hdmi connected devices by relying on input from the remote control
  • @Jf.Vigor Your suggestion that the TVs built in screensaver is defeated by the use of the TV remote is not true in most cases. A TVs screensaver will not just turn on randomly unless it senses that the operator used the remote control. Most screensavers automatically activate only if they sense no signal or a static image. A TV remote may communicate with the set and cancel out the screensaver function but how many people actually use their TV remote anyway (other than to turn on/off the set)? I'd say the majority of individuals control their TV with the remote that came with their cable box, DVD/Blu-Ray player, digital set top box, or audio receiver  A TVs screensaver will engage if it senses a long term static image or no signal input. Unfortunately, the signal from all of the HDMI inputs is always active as long as the devices hooked up to them are turned on, just like the XBOX, so in most cases the TVs screensaver will not activate. The irony is that the "problem" that DJCBS is ranting about will materialize on all devices WITHOUT a built in screensaver...unlike the XBOX.
  • @DJCBS "the Xbox - who can control the TV - can't for some reason respect its settings " LOL! You have have no idea what you are talking about.
  • Either you are highly ignorant or you so badly wants to blame Microsoft you have turned completely blind. Of course the Xbox can send commands to the tv... That is not what you are asking for in the first place... You want the tv to tell the Xbox it doesn't need to send a signal... That is entirely up to the tv manufacturer. Put your blame to good use and tell your tv manufacturer this... Maybe they will care if enough people tell them. Microsoft can't do anything about it though.
  • @DJCBS  I would be happy to buy your Xbox from you since you seem to think it's such a POS.  If not you should find it a good home with someone who will actually appreciate it.
  • "Because the "there's no way the Xbox knows my tv settings" is the sort of argument that has that smelly smell of bullsh*t." Ahh, so you expect the Xbox to magically know how each model of TV works, and Microsoft to force a standard upon every single TV maker? If that were to happen, you know all too well you would be here screaming about how Microsoft is using their power to force other companies into their will. And there is a spec detailing how devices communicate with one another. It is called Consumer Electronics Control, or CEC for short. The specs are available, I suggest you read them. And when you find this unicorrn of a magical communications protocol to inform devices of a screen saver kicking in, please tell us about it. I will wait (and I will be waiting a long time).
  • Just like several people told you when you wrote this complaint on the last article the fault here is with the tv manufacturers and not the manufacturers of peripherals. The Xbox doesn't override anything. Since your tv doesn't tell what it is doing, there is no way for peripherals to "respect" what your tv is doing.
  • Neither are big deals really. I have an LG B6 OLED & am in the Xbox Alpha ring. The problem I find with OLED is say your in the store looking at Fire Watch, for example. (Black background & bright yellow box art), scrolling down or moving to another page, will often have an 'shadow' of where the box art was. (again, just saying this is what I find in my own living room) Take a light bulb as an illistration. some times when you turn it off, you can still see a glow. & that's kind of what's happening. It's as if the few pixels that were lit, continue to hold a glow on a black background when compared against the pixels beside that were never turned on. Still, I've never had an issue with my OLED and to be honest the pure blacks and HDR are unbelievable. I would 100% recomend an OLED. Just remember to set it to game mode and set your brightmess to around 49 to 51 (the Xbox's screen calibration wont work with an OLEDs pure black levels) On my OLED the LG screen saver (black screen with "fireworks") will come on if an app like Netflix is paused for a few minutes. It never overrid the home page. Though if I knew I wasn't going to be using my Xbox for a few, I change it to a diffrent input for that time (pure black screen). Currently I'm trying out the Light Theme for my Xbox, appears much like this page. Not everything is in white so not too worried about 'mass residual immage'. But the new UI only really effects your home page. They brought a 'blade' back, making navigation much easier. You still have your pins, but you can add (what's best describe as) little hubs, on your home page. Games, friends, whatever. Instant access and your kept upto date with their activity. Clips/pics in the activity feed can be recorded in 1080p and viewed in full screen. Beyond that it's pretty much the same, though definatly taking some getting use to.
  • So if you have this feature enabled, how long will it take for the screen to be idle for it to kick in?
  • I just got it in Beta ring last weekend.  It's fairly aggressive.  somewhere between 45-90s of idle time. I've never actually sat and timed it.  I just know going to the toilet and back it's there upon my return.
  • You can choose, starting at 2 minutes, or activate it yourself by holding the Xbox button and pressing X.
  • The real question here, why they don't just port the lockscreen from Windows 10 so we can have lockscreen or better even Glance screen on our TV interface when idle through Xbox? Have anyone thought of this great idea on Microsoft Design? Of course not?!
  • That's almost what they have done except they have a moving clock.
  • The potential for burn in is why I decided to go for QLED this time around, and the fact they're about 1/2 the price while actually doing some things better than OLED.  Theres a reason Samsung hasn't gone all in with OLED right now, I bet they've seen its problems over 8 years of producing OLED phone screens and don't want the sort of return rates LG has seen after the first 9-12 months. I couldn't trust all my devices (xbox/ps4pro/roku/etc/etc) would be as consumer focused as the xbox with its scrubbing feature, even though you'd imagine somehting similar would be built into the TV itself too.