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While some brands of plasma displays are more prone than others to burn-in, yet in general, plasma screens are more prone to suffer permanent burn-in during their first 200 hours of use; reason being that fresh phosphors burn more intensely as they are ignited.
Technically speaking, burn-in is result of a damaged pixel, whose phosphors has been prematurely aged and therefore glows less intensely than those of surrounding pixels. The presence of a static image for more than half-an-hour is enough to cause temporary burn-in; temporary burn-in or image ghosting, should not be cause for alarm as normally this will wash out after several hours of use.
Worst still is prolonged presentation of static displays, such as use of black or gray bars to view a 4:3 picture in its original format on a wide screen display; this will result in a permanent burn-in. Once permanent burn-in occurs, damaged phosphors cannot produce same levels of light output as other phosphors around them do. In these circumstances, an LCD display may be a better choice. Viewing distance: It seems that pixel size and shape of an LCD panel renders a smoother picture than an equivalently sized plasma panel for same pixel count.
This means that even if your viewing distance falls within recommended distance of approximately twice screen width, if this is less than at least nine feet, most probably you will be better off with an LCD TV.
Life-time: The rare gases used in plasma display panels have a life and will fade over use. Earlier plasma TV sets had a quoted half-lifetime of between 20,000hrs, following which image brightness will fall to half its original value. However, latest plasma displays can boost anything between 30,000 and 60,000 hours. On other hand, LCD displays have a guaranteed lifetime of between 50,000hrs and 60,000 hours. This degradation in image brightness takes place gradually over time.
Now, average household in US replaces their TV set every 7 years. Taking a conservative figure of 30,000 hours for either technology, this corresponds to well over 6hrs usage a day - every day - for over a period of 14 years! In other words, both plasma and LCD displays are extremely stable and reliable devices. This means that life-time should not be an issue with either display technology.
At same time, keep in mind that there is no way to re-generate gases in a plasma display or to repair any dead pixels in an LCD display only option in such circumstances will be to replace display.
Response: Some LCD panels especially on older generation models - had a tendency to blur images particularly during fast moving scenes in movies and sports. However, recent advancement in LCD technology means that response times are such that there is no noticeable difference in performance between LCD and plasma TV sets in this regard.
Power requirements: The advantage here goes to LCD panels as these consume less electricity. Estimates show that use of LCD panels can result in some 30% power savings for same screen size than plasma display.
Price: Price is always a big issue when it comes to choosing your TV display. Although prices online vary considerably, yet LCD TV sets tend to be more expensive than Plasma Televisions. The main reason behind this price gap is that production process for plasma technology still supports a better yield and thus carries a pricing advantage especially at large screen end of market.
This contrasts heavily with LCD display technology where an estimate 30 to 40 per cent of all manufactured panels will have to be discarded as a result of defects leading to what are known as 'bad-pixels'.
There is a market for both plasma and LCD displays - Plasma gives you a bigger screen for your dollar, deeper blacks, but then LCD do not suffer from burn-in and at smaller end of market (less than 40-inch screen size), LCD is your only way forward if you want something slim and stylish.
It is all a question of knowing what are advantages and limitations of each with respect to your specific needs.
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Editor & publisher of www.practical-home-theater-guide.com - a comprehensive home theater guide to home theater systems, product reviews and home theater design.
This article is an excerpt from a series of guides appearing under the Plasma Television section of the site.