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Plasma vs. LCD HDTV

December 26th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Before making a choice you need to know the pros and cons of LCD and Plasma in television technology. Each technology comes with its own merits and demerits. This is the reason for edge to edge competition between these two competing technologies on which most modern HDTV in market are based upon. Plasma display is close relative of CRT, considering the mode of operation while reproducing an image signal. On the other hand, the technical roots of LCD came from the display mechanism similar to your electronic wrist watch.


A large plasma display unit consists of millions of individual functioning pixel cells with miniature electrodes behind them. Electric voltage is applied through electrodes to excite the rare noble gases behind the phosphor dots for displaying Red, green and blue. Here each pixel cell is capable of working as a self functioning unit. It is possible switch between the colors of a single dot without altering the nearby pixels. Higher contrast ratio is achieved because of this. Depending on the frequency of electron flow targeted fluorescent phosphor dots or a combination of dots will glow. Maximum power is consumed while displaying white color. In simple word each pixel cell acts like a miniature CRT unit.

LCD display uses rod shaped liquid crystals which is capable of twisting and reverting back depending on the electric voltage applied to it. This alters the light penetration through these liquid crystals. A fluorescent white light is applied behind the liquid crystal and glass layers. The twisted crystals filters the white light to display the image parts depending on the voltage applied to it. Maximum power is consumed while displaying black. LCD displays with LED backlight attains maximum efficiency in terms of power consumption aspect.
Which one is better? (Plasma/LCD)

Both technologies came with a dozen of merits and demerits. The drawback one becomes advantage of other.

Plasma display works better with high level motion specific contents. There is nothing to worry about judder artifact and motion blur. Plasma can supply high contrast ratio. It is good under dim light or short light conditions including night mode viewing. Plasma is good with higher screen size (42” – 65”). Lower size range like 15” is not available in market. For giant display units under static air pressure conditions plasma is a good option. Off axis viewing is better with plasma.

A plasma screen makes humming sound like an old fashion fluorescent lamp while displaying images full of white light. This also occurs under low pressure conditions. In higher altitudes or in an airplane the longevity of the display unit decreases and humming problem increases. Plasma screen always consumes more power. It uses almost double the power required for an LCD display. The chance of wearing out due to use of rear gases is there, though this has reduced in the recent times with advances in technology. Normal longevity comes around 60,000 hours – which is good enough for practical life of the HDTV. The thickness cannot be much reduced like some modern LED backlight LCD screens.

LCD screens offer less power consumption reducing your energy costs. They exhibits high longevity compared to plasma. LCD with a higher screen refresh rate can fight with motion blur and smearing artifact effectively. They can be better for low pressure and high altitude operation like in an airplane. The display can be as thin as possible with TFT (Thin Film Transistors) supplying power to liquid crystals and LED backlight technology. Screen size can be large or as low as 15”.

However, LCD unit can be poor while displaying dynamic picture series with camera panning. Off angle viewing fails to clearly distinguish black and bright regions of an image. But, modern LCD can support off axis viewing up to 120 degrees. They are not good under dark or dim light conditions because of brighter black regions. Under outdoor conditions or a place with ambient lighting LCD is a good choice.
The Cost

Given the same size of the TVs, plasmas are cheaper as the technology behind it makes it possible to produce less expensive product than their LCD counterpart. The LCD HDTVs, on the other hand are catching up fast in the price and with the reduction in their prices in the last two years, have made them almost match the Plasma HDTV prices.

Choose a Plasma TV if

– You watch a lot of games, car racing or fast moving scenes and do not want the picture to blur as the scene moves. Plasma TVs have fast response time
– You want to see a lot of rich colors with deep black color.
– If your room is such that you will be sitting way off from the TV, or there will be many people watching the TV, many of them being way off the front of the TV.

Choose LCD TV if

– You want to see a lot of pictures in daytime, with a lot of light entering in your room through the window or the ventilation
– You want a thinner TV. Especially the recent LED backlit TVs are thinner and also lighter is weight. This is good for wall mount.
– You care for the energy saving. LCD TVs, especially the recent LED backlit LCDs will consume half the energy that a Plasma TV will consume.

Here are other facts you may be interested to know when planning to buy an HDTV

– The truth behind the HDTV Contrast Ratio

1080p Vs 720p resolution
LCD HDTV Refresh Rate
– Historical fact –
LCD TV Vs older CRT Monitor
LCD TV – Response Time

Even though the Plasma TVs seem to enjoy some exotic properties, more LCD TVs than the HDTVs are sold in the market. LCD TVs seem to have received the perception of being “techy”. Plasma TVs, however, can also save you some money besides offering some native advantage.

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