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The plasma vs LCD debate

Choosing between Plasma and LCD technologies can be tough

In the past, we could easily differentiate between the Plasma and LCD screen as LCD had not yet achieved the same screen size as Plasma and was significantly more expensive. However with LCDs now being made in larger sizes and are becoming more price competitive, the decision is not so clear cut.

Like any purchase, you need to decide what features and functionality are most important to you and then assess the two options against your criteria. Here is an independent review of both technologies to help you decide.

Contrast

Contrast ratios are a measure of the blackest black compared to the whitest white of an image. Recent improvements in LCD technology have meant that good LCD TVs can now match the contrast ratios of some Plasma screens. The key difference now comes when viewing off axis (not directly in front of the screen). The black levels of an LCD screen will drop consistently when the viewer is off to the side of the screen. This will be particularly evident when playing DVD and video images when there may be a lot of dark and light images being played simultaneously. So if contrast is important, Plasma is the way to go.

Colour

LCD displays reproduce colours by manipulating light waves and subtracting colours from white light. Whereas in plasma displays, each pixel contains red, green, and blue elements, which work in conjunction to create 16.77 million colours! With each pixel able to produce every colour in the spectrum, colours are more accurately reproduced with plasma technology than other display technologies. However, it is worthwhile considering the environment the screen will operate in. Typically Plasma is better suited to rooms with normal to lower lighting, while LCD will provide a brighter image so are a great choice for very light environment.

Viewing Angle

This can be an important consideration for our clients putting screens in classrooms, boardrooms and at home. Plasma is the clear winner here, with viewing angles of around 160 degrees. Whereas even the best LCD TVs are still only achieving viewing angles of around 120 degrees. The real advantage with Plasma here is that you can have your audience sitting in more positions in the room without losing image quality.

Type of Input

Both technologies will display video and computer images, however there are key differences in image quality when you compare them. If your screen is used primarily for computer inputs, the LCD technology performs exceptionally well with full colour detail, no flicker and exceptional clarity.

On the other hand, Plasma rates higher when displaying fast moving video images. It is a good idea to always test the model you are looking at with the type of images you will typically display to ensure the picture quality meets your requirements.

Screen Sizes

It seems that Plasma and LCD screens are getting bigger all the time, however Plasma technology still provides the largest screens. You can now get a Plasma screen that measures 65 inches diagonally, whereas the largest LCD screens are only available around the 46 inch mark.
So if it is size you are looking for, check out the Plasma range.

Longevity

These days manufacturers of both Plasma and LCD screens are quoting around 60,000 hours for their screens. That equates to running your TV for 6 hours a day, every day for over 27 years! Just don’t expect the images on either screen to be as bright as when you first purchased it. In terms of longevity, whether you choose LCD or Plasma, you will probably find yourself wanting to upgrade your screen well before it runs out of steam.

Screen Burn-In

LCD technology is not prone to screen burn-in at all, whereas early Plasma models did show evidence of this. However independent reviewers believe that if you purchase a new Plasma from a reputable manufacturer, screen burn would only occur if the same image was displayed for over 10 hours. So in most home, office and school environments, screen burn-in is no longer an issue.

Cost right now, if you were to compare a 40-inch LCD with a 42-inch Plasma from the same manufacturer, you will pay about a third more for the LCD.

So what do we recommend?

Based on what you have just read, we obviously recommend different solutions for different situations. We are happy to help you work out what features and functions will be most relevant to you and discuss the various options available.

See our full range of display panels