Plasma vs LCD – Demystified

Plama vs LCD

It has been a few years since entertainment at home has changed gears. Some of the reasons may possibly include – technology getting cheap and markets getting flooded with options. Festive seasons create good buying pockets as well! However, there are myths which are yet to be answered for people who wish to buy their next TV and are not sure of what shall be their best buy!

For some people, it is a daunting task trying to choose between a plasma television and an LCD. Color rich plasma televisions with high degrees of contrast cannot miss the eye of any buyer. On the other hand, we have the LCD, always changing for the better. The next generation of televisions, the LED TV, is lighter and extremely thin with bright crystal clear images. They are however LCD HDTVs that use an LED backlight instead of a conventional fluorescent one. The question is, which one should one go for?

Contrast

The game of contrast ratio started after 2004, when the optimum peak was 4000:1. Before LED TVs came into being, Plasma televisions have has the best contrast with a contrast ratio. Today they lie in the same band. They give the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. They perfectly display images from DVDs, video games and NTSC TV signals. This is because they are accurate in displaying images with a lot of dark and light images simultaneously. LCD manufacturers have tried to make improvement in there black and white levels. However the fact that LCD uses much power when displaying full white makes them further inefficient.

Color

The impressive color richness of the plasma is because it has pixels with amazing colorations. These pixels when stimulated by electric pulses produce amazing color sequences. The LCD on the other hand uses a twisting crystal matrix which filters white light into different colors. This particularly blocks some color wavelengths making LCD less colorful compared to the plasma.

Burn in

The twisting matrix despite its above disadvantage makes LCD less prone to premature aging as compared to plasma. Plasma is susceptible to premature aging as it uses pixels which are burned in when a DVD is paused for more than 15 minutes. This permanently distorts the color. However there are newer improved plasmas which can stay in the pause mode for over 10 hours without being burned in.

High altitude

This one may be astonishing, but true! LCD is the appropriate television for use in airplanes and in high altitudes. This is because unlike plasma which has compressed natural gasses in glass envelopes they are not affected by atmospheric pressure. This natural gas is what makes plasma TVs produce a buzzing sound in high altitudes. However there have been some latest models of plasma TV which can function in high altitudes. Performance still remains a question!

Energy Efficiency

LCD TVs save a lot of energy because they utilize fluorescent tubes in their backlighting. For the plasmas, a good amount of energy is required in lighting every pixel which are high in numbers.

Size and Price

The Plasma is pioneer in having extra large television sets. Samsung has manufactured a gigantic 100 inch plasma TV. There others like Panasonic in the 65 inches segment. Thou Bigger models of LCD are now being produced; they cannot match the prices of the bigger plasmas because they are relatively affordable as you go towards the higher size and compare it with the full HD LCD.

The Verdict

Both, LCD and Plasma are two competing technologies. One needs to identify the use case before deciding to buy any of these. For a reference, I shall suggest you to use this as a basis;

Look out for a Plasma TV if,

  • You need something which is in excess of 42″ of screen.
  • You like rich and warm colors along with deep black levels.
  • You would probably sit off-axis when you watch the Television.
  • You shall prefer the smoothest, most natural motion with fast on-screen action, like sports or video games.

Look for a LCD TV if,

  • You need something that is sleek. The newer LED TVs are still thinner than LCDs.
  • You watch in TV a room that has a lot of light coming in from windows or otherwise. LCDs are known to be very bright. Hence less of glare.
  • Power consumption is something you would want to consider.

I hope this would help you to decide on what suits you the best! Do share your experiences with display devices.

(Comic strip: Shoebox Blog)