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Plasma vs. LCD TVs

20 Oct Posted by in Blog | Comments
Plasma vs. LCD TVs

Plasma vs LCD Home Theater TVs

QUESTION: Should I Buy an LCD TV or a Plasma TV?


ANSWER: The final decision as to what type of flat panel television to purchase (LCD or Plasma) is really up to you; both types of flat panel televisions have advantages and disadvantages.

Plasma TV Advantages

Plasma TVs have advantages over LCD, in the following areas: Better contrast ratio, better ability to render deep blacks, more color depth, better motion tracking (response time), and more availability in very large screen sizes.

Plasma TV Disadvantages

However, the disadvantages of Plasma vs LCD include: more susceptible to burn-in (although this is not as much of a factor now, due to technology improvements, such as “pixel orbiting”), more heat generation (as well as more power consumption), does not perform as well at higher altitudes, naturally darker image and screen glare in brightly lit rooms, heavier weight, and more delicate to ship.

LCD TV Advantages

LCD TVs have advantages over Plasma TVs in the following areas: no burn-in susceptibility, cooler running temperature, less screen glare, more functional at high altitudes, longer display life (although improvements are being made in Plasma screen life), looks better in brightly lit rooms due to the ability to produce a naturally brighter image, and less power consumption than Plasma.

Also, LCD TVs have made great strides in upping-the-ante in native pixel resolution, with a majority of sets offering a full 1080p (1920×1080) display capability at affordable price levels in screen sizes ranging from 37-inches and up, but there are some 1080p set down into the 32 and 26-inch screen sizes. On the other hand, the number of Plasma Televisions offering 1080p native pixel resolution are increasing, but many “budget-priced” sets in the 42-inch (and even some 26 and 50-inch) screen size are 720p sets.

One factor to consider in favor of LCD over Plasma (at least for the near future) is that if you are looking for a smaller screen television, Plasma TVs have not been available in screen sizes below 42-inches for some time now.

One other factor to consider is that LCD TVs are typically lighter (when comparing same screen sizes) than their Plasma counterparts, making wall installation easier.

LCD TV Disadvantages

LCD TVs do have drawbacks in several areas vs Plasma televisions: Lower contrast ratio, not as good rendering deep blacks, not as good at tracking motion (although this is improving, especially with the implementation of120Hz refresh rates (and some now offer 240Hz on higher-end models).

Also, although LCD TVs do not suffer from burn-in susceptibility, it is possible that individual pixels on an LCD televisions can burn out, causing small, visible, black or white dots to appear on the screen. Individual pixels cannot be repaired, the whole screen would need to be replaced at that point, if the individual pixel burnout becomes annoying to you. Finally, large screen LCD televisions are usually more expensive than an equivalent-sized Plasma television, although the price gap is closing.

The Mercury Issue

Also, one argument that Plasma TV manufacturers have made about LCD TV is that many sets still use traditional florescent backlight technology to illuminate the screen surface, and, as such, employ mercury as part of the chemical makeup of the florescent backlight system.

However, this is a “red herring” with regards to choosing a Plasma Television over an LCD Television. In LCD sets, the amount of Mercury used is not only small, it never comes in contact with the user. Also, keep in mind that most common high-efficiency florescent lamps, such as many used in video projectors, and the “green” lamps we are all supposed to be replacing our traditional light bulbs with also use Mercury.

You are probably in more danger eating fish, that may contain traces of Mercury, a couple of times a week, than watching, touching, or using an LCD TV. Also, with the increased use of LED lighting sources in LCD televisions, which is a Mercury-free light source, this is quickly becoming a non-issue.

Closing Thoughts

My recommendation is to visit our showroom and really take a look carefully at several Plasma and LCD televisions and compare the performance based on the above factors and narrow down your choices to one or two of both types and make your decision based on what type will give you the most pleasing image, connection flexibility, and fits your overall budget expectations.

However, both Flat Panel Plasma and LCD TVs are viable options for home theater, and, with prices continuing to come down and features and quality continuing to go up, both types, depending on the features and performance desired, are a good value for consumers.

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