Saturday, October 28, 2006

TV: LCD vs Plasma TV

If you are looking at getting a new TV, or building a home theater, then there is quite a bit of research to be done before you make the plunge. Right now there are two competing technologies for High Definition Flat Screen TV. The first is LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and the second Plasma TV. Both will offer a great picture, perfectly flat screens which will keep your straight lines looking straight, and immunity from magnetic distortion, but which technology is better? What are their prospective pros and cons? Read on for more information.

Before I get into what you should buy, you should get the �how does it work run down�, the quick and dirty edition. It is quite difficult to compare two competing technologies because they tend to be, by nature, apples and oranges. This is why it helps to know your fruit. Plasma and LCD TV�s generate their pictures in extremely different ways. A Plasma TV�s pixel consists of gas-filled cells coated with a phosphorescent material. When an electrical current charges the gas in a cell, it makes the coating glow. However, in an LCD TV, the pixels are liquid crystal cells placed over a fluorescent backlight. The cells opacity varies in response to an electrical signal, passing or blocking the light. This method has been used for computer monitors for quite some time.

Burn in has plagued the plasma TV�s reputation while the LCD is seen as a �view from the front� only TV, but recent technological advances have decreased the gap between these two competing technologies. Plasma TV�s are now more resistance to burn in and ship with screen savers while LCD�s have increased viewing angles. So what is the difference? Well, first things first. It is no coincidence that major TV manufacturers are offering plasma TV�s at the top of their lineup while placing LCD�s at their entry level positions. One reason for this is the fact that LCD�s are not economical in larger sizes. It is very uncommon to see a LCD with a screen size larger than 40". Also, If you are looking at screen sizes under 37", an LCD is your only flat panel choice.

In my opinion, overall there is still a gap large enough to have a clear winner. I feel that for large cinema type applications you will be better off with a plasma solution. Plasma will give you a slightly better picture with brighter colors and more contrast at larger sizes. LCD however is great for an extra TV and if you watch your power bill, you will be happy to know that an LCD will use much less power than a Plasma of the same size.

So if you need a flat screen for the kitchen, you will not be disappointed with the convenience of a LCD TV. If you are looking at a TV in a size that does overlap technologies, then you must decide which to go with. I would choose a plasma TV in most cases over an LCD TV of the same size. I feel the advantages of the plasma�s picture quality outweigh the cons of the LCD�s advantages which also happen to be quickly disappearing as the plasmas technology matures.