What’s Right With This Picture? Choosing Between LCD and Plasma TVs

What's Right With This Picture - Choosing Between LCD and Plasma TVsYou’ve finally decided that it’s way past time to upgrade your home entertainment experience by purchasing a new television. After all, you spend many of your evenings in enjoying movies, sports or your favorite shows on TV, or just keeping with what’s happening on one of the cable news networks. Why shouldn’t you be able to watch in style?

There are several options to consider, including which brand to choose, what size TV will work best for you and whether you’ll make the purchase online, at one of the big-box electronic stores or at a discount outlet such as Wal-Mart or Target. And, of course, you’ll have to figure out how much you can afford to spend on a high-definition TV.

One of the most basic decisions you will have to make is choosing between plasma and LCD. They both have advantages and disadvantages to consider before you determine which will go furthest in enhancing your viewing experience.

What’s the Difference?

First, let’s take a brief look at the difference between plasma and LCD technology. A plasma TV screen consists of a pair of glass panels separated by a narrow gap filled with neon-xenon gas. The gas, which is electrically charged periodically when the set is on, strikes red, green and blue pixels (or picture elements) to create what you see on the screen.

On the other hand, LCD screens consist of two layers of transparent material, one of them coated with a polymer that holds liquid crystals. The LCD screen creates images by blocking light or letting light pass through when current is applied to the crystals.

Keep in mind that there are two types of LCD screens. Some have a fluorescent backlight, while others are built with an LED – light-emitting diode – backlight. The latter are generally thinner and lighter and use less electricity, and they also offer better picture quality.

Four reasons to consider a TV with a plasma screen:

  • The picture has better contrast than an LCD because the TV can produce deeper blacks. Plasma screens also are able to provide richer, more natural colors.
  • Plasma screens usually have better viewing angles; you can sit farther away on either side of the screen without the quality of the picture being affected.
  • TVs with plasma screens are generally less expensive than their LCD counterparts.
  • Plasma screens do a better job of tracking motion.

Four reasons to consider a TV with an LCD screen:

  • TVs with LCD screens weigh less than plasma TVs.
  • LCD screens have no problem with burn-in, which is a possibility with plasma screens. If you pause a video game or a DVD and the same image is on the screen for a long time, some of the pixels can freeze that image forever.
  • LCD screens run cooler and use less energy than plasma screens.
  • LCD screens are less susceptible to annoying glare than plasma screens.

Pixels Make a Difference

In addition to choosing between plasma and LCD, another factor you should consider is screen resolution – the number of pixels used to create the picture. Resolution is represented by two numbers, the first indicating the number of pixels going across the screen and the second indicating the number of pixels from top to bottom. The more pixels, the finer the detail on your television screen.

The least expensive high-definition TVs have a 720p display (usually 1024 x 768, 1280 x 720 or 1366 x 768 pixels), while those with larger screens and higher price tags feature 1080p displays. These are usually considered to be “full HD” (or at least they were until the emergence of ultra-high-definition (UHD) screens that display 3840 x 1260 pixels).

Pixels make a difference, but there are other factors that determine the quality of your picture. Besides brightness, contrast and color, the source of what you are watching is also a critical factor. For example, a Blu-Ray disc will provide you with a more pleasing viewing experience than the signal that comes to your TV through your cable box.

The same principle applies to digital content. If you’re utilizing ‘smart TV’ technology, you’ll want to make sure your model has Wi-Fi capabilities (and be prepared for the extra cost of apps, service, etc…)

The Bottom Line

When you finally decide which TV you would like to purchase, you’ll probably have to consider how much it will cost. And, for the most part, you’ll be able to spend as little or as much as you want for a high-definition, flat-screen TV. For example, taking a quick look at the website of a national big-box store, you can get a 19-inch, 720p Samsung with an LED screen for $169.99, while a Magnavox with the same specs goes for $30 less.

If you are interested in something larger, a 43-inch Samsung with a 720p plasma screen is selling for $399.99. A 40-inch Samsung with a 1080p LED screen retails at $499.99, as does a comparable 42-inch Vizio. If you jump up to a 55-inch Samsung, also with a 1080p LED screen, you’re looking at $1,299.99.

And, if you just can’t live without a 60-inch television, you can spend $1,499 for a Panasonic, $1,699.99 for an LG or $1,599.99 for a Samsung. All three have 1080p LED screens. You can get a similar Samsung with a plasma screen for $949.99.

Finally, Sony’s LED-powered 4K UltraHD TVs hit the market in April, with vertical resolutions of 2160 pixels, but a 65-inch model will run you a cool $6,999 until other manufacturers catch up with competing products.

Whatever you decide upon, also don’t forget to measure your home’s space first, ensuring that you have a place to mount it on the wall. And whenever you’re buying new electronics (especially with brand new models), purchase the longest warranty possible.

Before spending any money on a television, do the research to determine which TV works best for you, so that you’ll be happy with your viewing experience for years to come!

Norman Fong

Norman Fong

CEO and Co-Founder at Buy Via
He is CEO and Co-Founder of BuyVia.com, an online, Android and iOS App smart shopping service that finds high quality products at the best price available. At BuyVia.com, deals on popular products like tablets, including the iPad and Android tablets, can be sent automatically to users.
Norman Fong

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  1. I bought a plasma last year and would still buy a plasma if I were looking for a TV today. I value picture quality over anything else when it comes to buying a TV, and plasmas are unmatched in that category

    As for the issue of “burn in.” That really isn’t an issue any more as most of the newer plasmas don’t suffer from the issue. Image retention may exist, but that can be solved. I have several hundred hours on my plasma, and so far I have had no screen/image issues.

    In my opinion Panasonic and Samsung make the best plasmas available.

    • Amit Verma says:

      Yes agree with your suggestion we also have Plasma on our office and its awesome never face any issue. Glad you enjoyed reading post and thanks for your comment.

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