LG OLED TVs are some of the best TVs on the market — and I’m lucky to be able to test them year-round. Still, despite their incredible performance, there’s one safety feature about them that drives me up a wall whenever it happens: the screensaver.
For those who don’t own an LG OLED themselves, the screensaver kicks after one minute of inactivity and there’s no way to change how frequently it happens — at least, not through the options that you can find in the menu settings. You can do it through the service menu, but doing so requires some knowledge of what you’re doing and will void your warranty.
LG has a good reason to stop us from tampering with the screensaver, but it’s the one feature that I truly, truly hate about its otherwise amazing OLED TVs.
The world’s most annoying screensaver?
The screensaver in question is the iconic LG fireworks that have been the screensaver of every LG TV for, well, as long as I can remember.
As far as actual screensavers are concerned, the visuals aren’t as awe-inspiring as the artwork of Samsung’s QLED TVs or the jaw-dropping locations of Sony's Google TVs, but I’ve always enjoyed the splashes of color against the all-black background that really highlights the inky black levels of the OLED panels.
Don't like the pixelated fireworks? There's an option in the settings where you can change the screensaver to images from your TV's photo gallery or USB stick if you really want to replicate what you see on other brands' TVs.
The issue here, however, is that when the screensaver comes on during a show or movie playing on Netflix, playback stops. Not a pause, mind you, the show stops playing.
To go back to where you were in the show, you’ll have to reload it from the Netflix menu. How long the whole process takes will depend on your internet connection. On my network, relaunching the show only takes a second or two, but it’s a hassle all the same. For someone who likes to discuss plot details and character predictions with their partner (guilty as charged) this constant reloading of the show every time I pause is rough.
Thankfully, while every on-board streaming app suffers from the overly protective screensaver, not every on-board app will stop the playback entirely every time it pauses.
I know why the screensaver exists — but I don’t like it
The reason why the screensaver works this way is a good one. It’s there to prevent image retention or, as you might know it, burn-in.
Burn-in has long plagued OLED TVs, first as an actual issue that occurred regularly and later as a boogeyman that scared folks away from buying an otherwise great TV.
These days, burn-in is incredibly rare. For it to happen, all of LG's fail-safes would have to stop working. That means the pixel-shifter technology, the pixel refresher and, yes, the overprotective screensaver would all have to fail around the same time.
It's an unlikely scenario, honestly, but it's one that LG must be slightly worried about if it's stopping people from changing the length of time it takes for the screensaver to pop on.
Ultimately, it's really difficult to stay mad at LG for its desire to keep your TV looking its best. These are expensive investments, and if they fail before the warranty is up, then it becomes LG's problem to replace them.
For those reasons, I totally understand why LG designed the screensaver the way it did...and yet, it doesn't stop it from being annoying.
Want to become an expert on burn-in? Check out our guide to OLED burn-in — what causes it and how you can fix it.