Plasma Versus LCD For The Average Joe

by picis

A quick comprehensive information on the right way to consider and select Plasma Versus LCD.

If you want to change your old TV for a flat screen TV and you cannot decide between LCD versus Plasma, don't worry, you are not alone.

If you have been looking for information to decide which to buy, then you will have seen that in the battle Plasma versus LCD the opinions are divided.

Each side will magnify the "virtues" of a technology against the "defects" of the other one.

Most of the times the discussion is: which is better, LCD or Plasma? when reality indicates that each technology is most appropriate for different purposes.

What is important when deciding which to buy? The salesperson of the local showroom will tell to you that the most important aspects are:

  • The Contrast
  • The Resolution
  • The Brightness
  • The Angle of Vision
  • The Energy Consumption

Next he will explain to you the difference between HD Ready and HD Full, will sell you whatever they have in stok in that moment, and you will go home with the new flat screen under your arm having spent money on something that you don't need.

Is it maybe that the image quality characteristics are not important?

Yes of course, but what you have to have in mind before buying a LCD or a Plasma is:

  • What is your intended use?
  • Where in the house will you locate it?
  • How much do you plan to spend?

What is the intended use?

It is important to take into account which will be the primary use of the screen: If it will only be used to see television, or if it will also be used as PC monitor. This will mainly define the technology and the size of the screen.

If you plan to share the use of the TV with your PC it is preferable to buy a screen TV with a computer input, not a computer screen with a tuner. Due to the proximity of the screen used as a PC monitor, there is a fixed upper limit for the size of a widescreen.

A screen bigger than 24" will force you to swivel your head back and forth constantly.

Finally, the LCD screens are more appropriate to show quasi fixed images (as the toolbars of any program) for very long periods of time without "burn-in" of pixels.

One of the problems of the plasma screen is the “burn in” effect caused by still images. Burn-in is better described as "image retention".

Although this was worse some years ago and now this has improved a lot, it is a problem inherent to the technology that will always persist in more or less latent form.

If the screen will be used to see television and also as PC monitor, the best option is an LCD with a computer input from 24" to 26".

If the main use will be to watch television and movies, the image quality and the size of the screen is more important.

When showing a fast moving image, the pixels of a screen should react the fastest possible to color changes.

The time it takes for one pixel to go from black to white and back to black again is called "Response Time".

The lower the Response Time, the better the image quality, since otherwise it will be seen a trail or blur when the things move quickly on the screen.

The viewing angle also affects considerably the image quality, especially the tint of the colors.

Although the specifications say that this or that flat screen has a viewing angle of 170 degrees the reality is that you can not see a clear image beyond 90 degrees (45-degrees to either side from the front of the screen).

LCD Viewing Angle
LCD Viewing Angle
Plasma Viewing Angle
Plasma Viewing Angle
  • LCD-Plasma Display

    A comprehensive study over the performance of Plasma and LCD carried out by Dr. Raymond M. Soneira at DisplayMate Technologies

Response Time:

LCD screens have bad Response Time, and it is a problem inherent to the technology. Is less perceptible in small screens, up to 30" or 35". On bigger screens the response time completely ruin an otherwise good looking image.

The Plasma screens have an almost negligible response time, which helps in making the performance with fast-moving images excellent.

Viewing Angle:

LCD also has disadvantages. The tint of the colors tends to whiten with the viewing angle, causing the loss of vivacity and clarity of the image. This is also a problem inherent to the technology, and although it is improved, it will always be present.

In the Plasma screen, each pixel produces its own light, rather than light being spread across the screen from one central source. So the color is hardly affected by the viewing angle.

Where in the house will you locate it?

Although you are excited about buying the biggest flat screen you can afford, you should keep in mind the size of the room where you will install it.

For each screen size, an optimal distance has been calculated from which you can comfortably see and appreciate the details. In the following table some suggested distances are shown:

Suggested Distances
Suggested Distances

The resolution is measured as the number of pixels in width and height. Let assume a 32" flat screen which has 1,500,000 pixels for a given resolution.

A screen of 50" of the same resolution has the same amount of pixels, but spread over a larger area, ie the pixels are larger.

If you want to install a screen of 50" in a room where you will be sitting at no more than 8 feet, you will not be able to see a clear image.

How much do you plan to spend?

Once you have decided the technology and the size, finally you must decide how much you want to spend. You will find price differences between two seemingly identical screens. The difference is due to the resolution (number of pixels) of the screen.

Nowadays there are two resolutions: HD Ready and HD Full. The HD Ready has 1280x720 pixels on screen, while the Full HD has 1920×1080 pixels.

To refer to them is common to indicate only the number of lines (720 or 1080) and a letter that indicates how the lines are presented on-screen: i: interlaced, p: progressive (non-interlaced).

A 1080p flat screen may or may not offer a better picture than a 720p, it all depends upon the input signal. The highest resolution signal being broadcast by either cable, satellite or broadcast TV is 1080i or 720p.

Just because the screen has a high resolution the quality of the image won't be increased, the 1080p screen must up convert the signal to show it in its native resolution. Thus a 720p screen will have just as good or better picture quality.

The Blu Ray is the only DVD format that puts out a 1080p signal.

The brand names are those that improve the technological problems that each technology faces.

Cheaper brands intentionally exaggerate or distort the data to show better characteristics, so refrain from purchasing non-recognized brands.

Updated: 09/29/2012, picis
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Mira on 09/16/2012

Thank you for a nice article.:)

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