The age old question: LCD or Plasma?

I visit a lot of forums, and I have yet to visit one where the question “LCD or Plasma” hasn’t bee posted yet. When buying a new TV, this question will inevitably come up, so here are some tips to help you choose.

Why you should buy an LCD?
Plasma only comes in 42″ or above sizes, so if you want something smaller, LCD is your only choice. LCDs will usually have a brighter picture (higher contrast), and more vibrant colors (although not to everyone’s taste, some say the colors are unrealistic). The better brightness helps if your screen is placed in a bright room.

Why you shouldn’t buy an LCD?
Older LCD panels suffer from motion blurring, due to the high response time of the panel. Newer models have response times less than 8ms, and so suffer less (but still do suffer) from the problem. Viewing angles (both vertical and horizontal) can be a big problem, especially with a large size screen – even when sitting straight in front, the edges might be less visible/brighter than the center, but again, newer models will suffer less from this problem, if at all.

Why you should buy a Plasma?
In 50″ or above sizes, plasma panels still represent the better value for money. Plasma technology has been around for a while now, most models are in their 7th or 8th generation, and so the technology has matured quite a bit. Some prefer plasma’s more natural contrast/brightness, although you will need a more dedicated home theatre environment (ie. darker room) to enjoy it as its best. Viewing angle is amazing on a plasma, as good as a CRT in practical terms.

Why you shouldn’t buy a Plasma?
Plasma screens can sometimes offer blacks that are more gray due to the inherent nature of the technology (although newer models have ways to reduce this problem). Motion judder can also be a problem with plasma screens. Then there is the issue of plasma burn in, which is not as serious as most people think. Early panels suffered from this, but this is a non issue with most newer panels. Some screens suffer from temporary burn-in, but it usually goes away after you switch of the panel for a while or watch something else. What most people fail to realise is that old CRT TVs suffers from burn-in much more so than plasmas ever will, and LCDs do suffer from burn-in as well.

The best way to find out which is suited to you is to go to your local electronics store and see which screen grabs your attention the most. Of course, this relies on the store having set up these screens properly, but you should get a good idea. Stores usually have very harsh lighting, and this will favor LCDs more, so keep this in mind. And if possible, ask them if you can bring along your own equipment to test these TVs, for example bring your Xbox 360 and see how games play on it.


One Response to “The age old question: LCD or Plasma?”

  1. DVDGuy`s Blog @ Digital Digest » Blog Archive » New blog, some TV buying tips Says:

    […] because it’s getting quite boring, and that I’ve already covered it in a previous blog entry. Instead, I’ll list some of the features that you should be looking […]

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