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Slow-Starting LCD Screens

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/31/2010

Do slow-starting LCD screens work all right? Is it OK for this to happen? All that and much more inside.

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    Slow Wins the Race, Right?

    A slow-starting LCD screen can be an issue if your TV is taking forever to turn on, but as long as it's working, you may be thinking "what's the big deal?" The big deal is that a slow-starting LCD screen can work for several years with no problem or can fail at any minute depending on what the issue is. With that in mind, let's take a technical look at some of the problems that can cause such an issue with the LCD screen slow-start.

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    Crystal Age

    liquid-crystal1 This problem, while the most difficult to solve is also the most fascinating in terms of how our technology ages when we start to put organic components inside our screens and computers.

    An LCD crystal works at a state of matter that is somewhere between a liquid and a solid so that it can flow and ebb across a layer, which is how the screen manages to create the different colors as the temperature of the crystals build. However, after a certain amount of time, the liquid crystals tend to lose their capacity to retain color as a result of a complex aging process that I won't go into detail here. As an additional response of the color loss, the crystals tend to change the color white on-screen to have a yellow-like hue.

    However, you can usually rest easy because this type of crystal age damage can only come after a long, long time of prolonged use. Usually a good number of years after the initial manufacture of the crystal, and as crystal technology gets better and better, this amount of time is constantly being extended and worked on by technology experts in the field.

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    Capacitor Issues

    rubycon-mcz-capacitors This is where the crux of all LCD slow-start problems lies. Capacitors are tricky little things when you're dealing with technology like a television that constantly suffers changes in temperature. Fundamentally, the hot-cold nature can cause several problems in the capacitor's ability to retain charge without destroying the rest of the board.

    A little physics/electricity review is in order. In case you've forgotten (or this is new to you), capacitors in general are simple electrical devices that are all about storing a charge once your computer has been turned on. The electricity that the computer needs often needs to be redundant. In the event that electricity is lost, these capacitors can retain enough charge to "finish the job" in terms of keeping your computer's essential parts alive enough to have a good shutdown. As a fun little aside, if you've ever had a desktop, once you turn off the PC, you'll be able to hear the capacitors losing their charge once the electricity goes out - this will be a high-pitched noise that comes a few seconds after total shutdown.

    If a capacitor in a non-pivotal area of the main board of a TV goes down or becomes inefficient, you'll get slower startup times as components cannot get their life-giving electricity in the same amount of time that they used to. This will lead to a crippling slow-down with startup time.

    Remember - even though the slow startup time can be a pain to deal with, fixing it will more often than not be too much trouble to actually deal with. It'll cost a lot of money and time to try to fix a problem that essentially is only applicable a few times a day. If the monitor is taking a few minutes instead of seconds to boot up, a new monitor can run you less than $100 nowadays for top-of-the-line technology as long as there is a deal going on.

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    Additional Reading

    Check out these awesome articles about LCDs and how to fix them:

    Fixing a Flat-Screen TV

    Fixing an LCD Backlight