Does it RE­ALLY work?

Wayne Williams tries to avoid buy­ing a re­place­ment mon­i­tor with the aid of a damp cloth, a pen­cil and some gentle rub­bing

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We try to fix a stuck pixel with a damp cloth

Your mon­i­tor’s screen may dis­play sev­eral mil­lion in­di­vid­ual pix­els so a sin­gle stuck (or dead) one re­ally shouldn’t mat­ter. How­ever, once you spot it, you won’t ever be able to un­see it – that tiny wrong- coloured dot will taunt you con­tin­u­ally. For­tu­nately, you may be able to un­stick it with noth­ing more high-tech than a warm cloth.

Be­fore we progress, it’s im­por­tant to ex­plain the dif­fer­ence be­tween a stuck pixel and a dead one. If your prob­lem pixel is dis­play­ing a dif­fer­ent colour from all the pix­els around it (slightly chang­ing hue as the colours around it change), then the pixel is stuck. If it’s per­ma­nently black, then it’s prob­a­bly dead. A stuck pixel, which can be red, green, blue or any com­bi­na­tion of th­ese colours, can be un­stuck, but a dead one can’t be brought back to life. That said, stuck pix­els can some­times look like dead ones, so it’s still worth try­ing to un­stick it.

How we tested it

Our first step was to give the en­tire screen a gentle clean, to make sure any prob­lem pix­els we’d iden­ti­fied weren’t merely specks of dust. We then fired up our web browser, set it to full-screen mode and ran the LCD Dead­pixel Test ( bit.ly/pixel446). The test dis­plays pages with a solid back­ground colour (black, white, red, green or blue) to make it easy to spot any stuck (or dead) pix­els. 1

We were al­ready aware of one stuck pixel on our test mon­i­tor, and used the solid back­ground to check whether there were any oth­ers. Hav­ing es­tab­lished that there was just the one, we took a blunt pen­cil and wrapped the point in a small piece of cloth, then lightly dipped the end in boil­ing wa­ter. We then care­fully – and gen­tly – ap­plied pres­sure in a cir­cu­lar mo­tion to the prob­lem pixel, 2 tak­ing care not to press too many sur­round­ing pix­els.

The idea here is to mas­sage the stuck pixel so that the liq­uid in its sub-pix­els is spread equally and it lets through the right amount of light.

The re­sult

Af­ter a cou­ple of at­tempts, we man­aged to un­stick the pixel, but about 20 min­utes later, it stuck again. We re­peated the process a sec­ond time but – again – it only worked tem­po­rar­ily and the stuck pixel sim­ply came back again, sug­gest­ing this prob­lem isn’t some­thing that can be eas­ily fixed. How­ever, it’s still worth try­ing as it may work for you.

Be­cause this fix in­volves an el­e­ment of risk (if you’re not care­ful you could dam­age your screen), it should be treated as a last re­sort. We would rec­om­mend try­ing the Jscreen­fix method first (see box­out, be­low), or if your mon­i­tor is still within war­ranty, you could try re­turn­ing it for a re­place­ment.

1 The LCD Dead­pixel Test clearly high­lights the prob­lem pixel on our screen

2 Press the pencil’s cloth- cov­ered point on the stuck pixel and massage it gen­tly

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