For many years, the requirement for flat panel displays was confined mostly to home theater enthusiasts. But with the advent of digital television and the eventual demise of the typical household boob tube CRT TV, there is no other way to go but to make the switch. There are two competing technologies to date and the issue of which technology is better – LCD TV vs. Plasma, is an on-going debate. This article is a simple guide to help you make the selection.

Plasma TV technology is based on Plasma gas made up of xenon and neon contained in tiny chambers or pixels on the screen. Each pixel is coated with phosphor and made up of three fluorescent lights – red, green and blue. When lighted, they make the phosphor coating to glow to the desired color and intensity on the screen.

LCD TV technology on the other hand is based on liquid crystals which align themselves when activated by electric current. This alignment process, in conjunction with color filters and a fluorescent light sitting at the back of the screen, produce the desired color and intensity to be displayed.

Why choose Plasma TV?

Color saturation – color information is more accurately reproduced because each pixel contains active light-emitting red, green, and blue elements.

Black response – current technology can produce contrast ratios (black to white) far better than that for LCD. This means Plasma can provide more detail in dark picture areas. This is probably the area where Plasma is the clear winner in the LCD TV vs. Plasma row.

Screen refresh rate – refresh rate is fast enough to be almost the same as that for CRT TV because it uses the same phosphor technology. It is better than LCD in displaying moving images while the latter is better in displaying static images.

Viewing angle – there is not much difference in this category but experience suggests Plasma is better. It should also be noted that there are some LCD TVs in the market, especially non-branded, that displays deterioration in picture quality with off-axis viewing.

Screen size and price – it’s cheaper for manufacturers to use Plasma for bigger screen sizes so it is the winner for screen sizes greater than 50-inch. The price difference starts to become less of an issue at sizes of 42-inch and smaller.

Why choose LCD TV?

Screen life – life span is about twice as long as that for Plasma TV. But recent Plasma technology is closing this gap. This advantage makes LCD the better choice for long-period viewing applications like CCTV, digital signage and broadcast monitoring.

No screen burn – Plasma TV can suffer from screenburn when an image like a TV station or program logo is displayed on the screen for an extended period of time. LCD TV do not suffer from this problem.

Better glare response – LCD TV do not suffer from reflection glare in bright rooms.

Thickness and weight – tend to be slimmer and lighter so better choice for hanging or in-wall installations.

Power consumption – on the average use half the power as Plasma TV does. LCD TV uses fluorescent backlighting that requires less power than the vast number of individual pixels to stimulate the phosphor in Plasma TV.

Both display technologies have their strengths and weaknesses. It should also be noted that the LCD TV vs. Plasma divide is becoming smaller as technological advances are being made for both. It’s up to the user to choose which is suitable to his needs and viewing environment. In summary, Plasma TV is better when it comes to color quality, black response, refresh rate and better value for your money in bigger screen sizes. If you are a home theater purist and enthusiast, then Plasma is the way to go. LCD TV in turn has longer screen life, do not suffer from screen burn and reflection glare, is lighter and slimmer, and uses lesser power. LCD is your choice if what you want is something slim but stylish.

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