Plasma TV’s vs. LCD TV’s: Which Is Better?

ShoppingProduct Reviews

  • Author Jesse Kelly
  • Published December 15, 2009
  • Word count 783

If you ask ten random people on the street what piece of electronic home equipment they most want to buy this year, chances are that at least 7 of them will tell you they would love a wide screen flat panel TV. Flat panel TVs offer previously unheard of levels of sharpness and clarity. Add high quality surround sound to the package, and a flat panel TV becomes a pretty difficult item to pass up.

When it comes to specifics, though, most folks are a bit less certain of exactly what kind of television they want. Even the most basic choice – plasma or LCD – can be confusing to an everyday consumer. One television ad extols the beauties and benefits of the latest plasma technology while the next tells you how LCD televisions represent the wave of the future. Is this a VHS or Betamax moment?

Not exactly, say most audio-video experts. Plasma and LCD televisions each have their own pros and cons, making them better suited in specific situations. It all depends on size, viewing area, the viewing conditions, and price. For many individuals, when all is said and done, it comes down to picture quality. However, these factors may influence your decision when trying to decide between plasma or an LCD television set.

Size – Bigger Is Not Always Better

If you have to fit a flat panel television into a wall space that’s less than 37 inches across, then you may want to go with an LCD television since current plasma TV technology does not allow for sizes much smaller than that. You can buy an LCD flat panel television as small as 10 inches across and as large as 65 inches. Plasma sets, on the other hand, start at about 37 inches and go up to 103 inches. And if you go much larger than 32 inches with an LCD screen, however, you are getting into pricey territory.

Lighting Level

The viewing conditions will also determine which type of set looks best in your viewing room. If you can position the television so that you can view it head on, LCD delivers a beautifully bright, sharp picture. If the room is bright, LCD is also the better choice, thanks to special screen coatings and the brightness of the LCD cells. If the television is going to be located in a room bright sunny room like a patio or kitchen, then go for the LCD.

On the other hand, plasma screen television are much better at delivering blacker blacks and whiter whites, which translates to sharper colors over a wider viewing area in normal lighted rooms. If your room is large enough that some people will be viewing the screen at an angle, then plasma screen televisions are your better options.

Picture and Action Quality

If you are watching a lot of sports and action movies, then plasma might again be your better choice. LCD screens have a slower video response time. It is not very noticeable in most scenes, but in fast action scenes like sporting events or high speed car chases in movies, you will see the difference. The biggest tradeoff for the picture quality is price – LCD screens are still cheaper than plasma screens until you hit about 42 inches screen width.

Plasma Pros and Cons

Overall, plasma television screens have a lot of things going for them. They have a wide viewing angle, better contrast for darks and light colors and a faster video response time, making them more suitable for viewing sports and action movies. In addition, today’s top of the line plasma televisions have a very high shelf life – they’re rated to run for about 60,000 hours before losing picture quality. That’s about 7 years of watching television 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In a more typical viewing household where the television might be on for 6 or so hours a day, the plasma television that you buy today will still be going strong in 27 years.

LCD Pros and Cons

LCD televisions are brighter, so they’re better for viewing in bright rooms like waiting rooms, patios and kitchens. They are available in much smaller sizes than plasma televisions – as small as 10 inches. Between 32 inches and 42 inches, LCD televisions are less expensive than plasma televisions. Because they have slower video response times, they don’t do quite as good a job of showing sports action and fast movie action scenes.

Armed with that information, check out the various television options that you have. Consider where you will place your new television, what size space you have to fill and how you will watch it to help you decide whether a plasma screen or an LCD screen is the better choice for you.

Jesse Kelly is a freelance writer who writes about style, fashion and shopping, often offering tips and advice about how to shop.

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