A Plasma HDTV or a LCD Television – Is this your dilemma? This is a rather difficult and complicated comparison between two technologies that process image in a totally different manner.
This article highlights pros and cons of plasma versus LCD as applicable to a television display. It also presents a set of guidelines to help you determine where either of these two flat panel display technologies fit best.
Plasma or LCD – Which type of display is right for you?
Though both LCD and plasma displays come in form of slim flat panel displays, yet from a technology perspective, these two flat panel displays process image in a totally different manner.
Plasma uses a matrix of tiny gas plasma cells that are charged by precise electrical voltages to emit light and hence to create picture image. Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) panels - work by trapping a liquid crystal solution between two sheets of polarized glass. When an electric current is passed through liquid crystals, they change polarization of light passing through them in response to electric voltage – as a result of which, more or less light is able to pass through polarized glass on face of display.
It is not scope of this article to go into actual details of how these different display technologies process image – after all, what really matters is not what is going behind screen but rather how these different display technologies perform as a television screen. At same time, it is worth taking note that it is these same differences that gives each of these display technologies, its strengths and weaknesses, and that therefore renders one more suitable than other in certain circumstances.
The list below highlights most important differences between these two flat panel display technologies:
Size: For time being, collision between plasma television and LCD TV occur in 40 to 50 inch screen range. In reality, LCD TVs top out at around 45” – meaning that for bigger screen sizes, a plasma display is your only real option if what you are after is a direct-view TV system. On other hand, at smaller end of spectrum, namely 15” to 36” TVs, LCD is way to go if what you want is something stylish and slim (at under 4-inches in depth).
Picture Quality, Contrast and Color Saturation: Both plasma and latest TFT-LCD flat panel displays are capable of producing excellent picture quality – with bright, crisp clear images.
However, plasma flat panel displays are more suitable for basic home theater usage than LCD. The gas cell structure within a plasma display is such that there is no light leaking between adjacent cells (or pixels). This renders plasma displays capable of displaying deeper blacks – hence better contrast and detail in television and movie scenes where lots of dark and light content is shown simultaneously.
In comparison, nature of LCD technology – where a backlight shines through LCD layer – means that it is hard for it to achieve true blacks (i.e. true absence of light) as there is always some light leakage from adjacent pixels.
This does not mean that LCD panel s are not suitable as TV screens; today’s LCD TV sets make use of extreme high contrast panels that are capable of displaying deeper blacks, yet latest plasma TV sets still have a slight edge over LCD when it comes to contrast levels.
The situation is somewhat similar when it comes to color saturation. Again, it is different display structure between LCD and plasma that is reason behind difference between two technologies in this respect, and though both are capable of handling color in an exceptional manner, yet plasma displays still lead in this respect - producing more accurate and vibrant colors. Viewing-angle:Plasma Television sets – like their CRT TV counterpart - typically have better viewing angles than LCD. The viewing angle represents how far one can sit on either side of screen away from center, without experiencing significant deterioration in picture quality – mainly as a result of color shifts and reduced contrast.
Though recent developments in LCD technology means that this is less of an issue with some of latest LCD TV sets boosting a viewing angle of 160 to 170 degrees vertically and horizontally, yet it is always best to check. The tendency – especially with cheaper sets – is that deterioration in picture quality is more accentuated with LCD than with plasma displays.
Burn-In: As with all phosphor-based displays, plasma displays are prone to burn-in, or image retention. Screen burn-in occurs when an image is left for too long on screen – resulting in a ghost of image burned on screen. Surely, keeping brightness and contrast levels down will help reduce risk of burn-in.