Flat Screen TV Comparison: Plasma vs LCD
By Mitchell Medford
Flat screen TV is one of the most popular and exciting TV technologies today. At only a few inches thick, flat screen TVs offer unparalleled flexibility and convenience. Older conventional TV's, in fairness to them, did offer crisp and vibrant images. However, these TV's, which operate through a cathode ray tube (CRT), suffered from one major drawback, they were bulky. As screen size increased, so did the bulk and weight. However, the TV of old has reached its twilight years. New television technologies have enabled TV manufacturers to create TVs with wider screen size yet still only a few inches thick. Thus, flat screen TVs usher home entertainment into the 21st century.
Flat Screen TV basically refers to two technologies: Plasma and LCD. The advances in these two technologies have enabled TV makers to build thin, lightweight TV screens with a large picture area. Plasma and LCD both offer similarly large, lightweight, flat screen TV's but the similarities are skin deep for their inner workings are different.
Plasma or LCD?
Plasma and LCD TVs generally look similar however they use very different technologies. Plasma utilizes a grid of tiny cells of gas plasma that light up and create a picture when charged by precise electrical voltages. LCD (liquid crystal display) screens on the other hand are made of liquid crystals sandwiched between two glass plates and create images by varying the amount of electrical charge applied to the crystals. Both Plasma and LCD offer excellent picture quality. The following are their strengths and weaknesses and edge over the other.
1. Plasma screens can display blacks more accurately compared to LCD. Thus, pictures in a Plasma TV have richer contrast and better detail especially in dark TV and movie scenes. LCD TV's are catching up however.
2. Plasma TV has better viewing angles than LCD TV. How far you can sit on either side of the screen before the qualities of the pictures are affected is what the "viewing angle" is. In LCD TVs, brightness and color tend to shift when angled too far while that of Plasma TVs remain solid.
3. Plasma TV can produce brighter color while light leakages in LCD screens affect the color saturation.
4. Plasma TVs are priced relatively less than their LCD counterparts especially in the large screen segment. Plasma TVs offer much larger sizes than LCDs, yet are still priced lower.
5. LCD has a higher native resolution than plasma TVs of the same size. This results to sharper images and makes LCD TV the better choice for HDTV.
6. LCD TVs consume almost 30% less power than Plasma TVs.
7. LCD TVs are generally lighter than similar sized Plasmas.
8. Among the two, LCD screens have a longer life span than plasma screens. LCDs can last up to 60,000 hours compared to Plasma that average from 30,000 to 60,000 hours.
9. Plasma TVs are more prone to screen burn-ins compared to LCDs although newer plasma technology are less susceptible to these.
If you are looking for a large flat screen TV, Plasma TV is recommended. Plasma TVs can give you better value for your money. The price difference between Plasma TVs and LCD TVs is big. However, if you have money to burn, then LCD TV is the better choice especially if you want the sharpest images. For smaller flat screen TVs at the range of 15" to 36", LCD is the way to go. Ultimately, both technologies are still evolving and new innovations and improvements are definitely in the works.
About the Author
Mitchell Medford is an author and product consultant for several consumer electronics manufacturers. Visit his website for more information on home theater, LCD TVs, and plasma televisions.
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