An Expert’s Advice – Plasma Flat Panels

Flat Panel TV

Let’s begin looking at the pros and cons of Plasma flat panels.

This is where Plasma flat panels shine:

  • The ability to produce deeper, darker blacks.  This yields higher contrast ratios, which is the single best thing a TV can do to produce a better looking picture.  All flat panels do a good job at producing bright whites. So when a flat panel is rated as having a higher contrast ratio, it is usually referring to how good it is at producing black images.
  • They produce a better, more natural, film like image quality.
  • They can be viewed from wider angles (further off to the side) without losing image quality.
  • They have a fast response time.  This is good for fast moving images.

This is where they don’t do so good:

  • Almost all Plasmas have glass screens so glare and reflections can be an issue.
  • They don’t perform as well as a LCD in rooms with a lot of light or outdoors.

Areas where they get a bad wrap that they don’t deserve.

You’ll hear that they have “burn-in” issues.  It’s not really burn-in, it’s image retention.  You know what other type of television technology had this same characteristic?  The Big Old Tube televisions a lot of us grew up with.  I don’t ever remember that being a problem.  That’s because it’s not.  It’s true that if you fall asleep playing your favorite video game and it goes to a graphic screen that never changes, when you wake up in the morning your still going to see a ghost image of the graphic that stayed frozen on the screen all night from the video game superimposed over whatever you are trying to watch. Don’t panic!  Put the TV on a cable or satellite channel and just let it play for an hour or two and the image will go away.

Plasmas consume more electricity.
Okay, how much??  If you were to watch comparable sized Plasma and LCD set for 5 hours a day, everyday for an entire year, the Plasma would cost an average of $17 more per year to operate.  If your watching TV 5 hours a day, you must really like watching TV and I’m not sure I would let $17 dollars be the deciding factor on which technology I went with.

They don’t last as long as LCDs
Flat panel lifespan means when the set will have lost 50% of its brightness, which is when it is considered to no longer be capable of producing an acceptable image.  Plasmas manufactured in the past had a rated lifespan of 30,000 hours.  If you watched the set for 8 hours a day, that would be about nine years.  Current day Plasmas have lifespan ratings as high as 100,000 hours.  Over the past twenty-five years, the average American household has replaced their TV every seven years due to advances in technology.  So I don’t see a problem here.

Your may find this surprising, but among most video experts, Plasma panels are considered to offer a far superior picture compared to a LCD for general video content viewing.  Despite what you may have heard, the reports of the death of Plasma technologies are greatly exaggerated.

One difference to point out about Plasmas and LCD displays is that Plasma pixels create their own light while LCD pixels are more like a filter and they require some source of back lighting.  Next time we will discuss LCD flat panels.