Why Does My LCD TV Have a Washed-Out Appearance?

By Matt Skaggs

Liquid crystal displays, or LCDs, are now the most common type of display, following the decline of CRT popularity. An LCD usually works reliably and displays a high-quality image, but you may occasionally experience problems with it. If your LCD television looks washed out and viewing it isn't as enjoyable as it once was, you can often identify the problem and correct it in only a few minutes.

Improper Viewing

Although many LCD TVs work well and provide a great viewing experience, all LCDs have a more limited viewing angle than other types of TVs. If you view the screen from an angle, the image can look washed out. Watching TV in a brightly lit environment can also cause the image to have a washed-out appearance. Try watching something in a dimly lit -- but not dark -- room when you're seated directly in front of the TV. If the image still looks washed out, another issue is the cause.

LCD Settings

All TVs provide a way to alter the basic picture settings. Different TVs have different processes for configuring the settings, but most of the time you press the "Menu" button on your remote and select an option like "Picture," "Display" or "Image." If those options are unavailable, check the TV manual for specifics. Use the display options to adjust the light levels in the picture. View an image with both light elements and dark elements as you adjust these settings. The most basic adjustments are brightness and contrast, but if your TV has additional options, experiment with settings such as white levels, black levels, luminance and backlight.

Device Settings

In some cases, an output device, such as a DVD player, contains settings that affect image lighting. Check these settings if you see a washed-out picture only when using a particular device; when you use another device, such as a cable box, the image appears fine. Many output devices, such as modern gaming consoles, don't have settings like this, so check the device's documentation to see what it can do. Normally these settings appear under menu options similar to your TV's, like "Picture," "Display" or "Image." This works much like adjusting similar configurations on the LCD itself, since the lighting options are similar to the brightness and contrast settings.


Perform a factory reset on your TV if you're unable to get the picture to look right. This returns your TV to its original factory configurations; you'll lose all your settings, including channel programming, video settings and audio options. A reset only corrects settings that have altered the display; it won't correct problems with the TV hardware. Different TVs have different processes for this; you may find the reset under a menu option like "Settings" or "System," or you may need to press and hold one or more buttons on the TV. For details, check the TV manual.


If you've tried everything but are unable to correct the washed-out TV image, the unit requires servicing. Check with the TV manufacturer's support department for servicing options. If the manufacturer doesn't offer local service, check your local phone directory for TV repair stores or contact places such as the Geek Squad, TVRepairPros.com or Sears Home Services.