Plasma and LCD panels may look similar, but the flat screen and thin profile is where the similarities end. There are a number of significant differences between the two.
Let us understand the meaning of Plasma and LCD Televisions in order to better understand the differences between them.
LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY TELEVISION (LCD TV).
LCD TV uses LCD technology for its visual output. Liquid Crystal Display or LCD is a thin, flat display device made up of a number of color or monochrome pixels arrayed infront of a light source or reflector. In color LCDs each individual pixel is divided into three cells or subpixels which are colored red, green and blue. Each cell or subpixel can be controlled independently to yield thousands or millions of possible colors for each pixel. LCD TVs can make for excellent High Definition TV viewing.
LCD TVs – The Good
1. Excellent Color Reproduction – LCDs can display millions of colors accurately.
2. Multi-functional – LCD TVs have a plethora of connectivity options. They typically include inputs for composite video, S-video, High Definition Multimedia Interface(HDMI) and PC In.
3. No Burn In – With LCDs there is no problem of Burn In. Some TVs that rely on phosphors such as Plasmas and CRTs can experience Burn In where ghost images are permanently burned into the screen.
4. Inherently Progressive – LCDs use millions of tiny transistors that can be individually controlled by the “brains” inside the display. So LCDs can easily handle progressive-scan sources.
5. High Resolution – LCDs can display High Definition content with resolutions of 1366×768. The highest resolution achieved in a LCD is 1920×1080. 1080p is also called Full High Definition whereas 720p is called High Definition.
LCD TVs – The Bad
1. Expensive – LCD TVs are great but they are not cheap. LCD TVs cost more per inch than plasmas.
2. Poor Reproduction of Blacks – LCD TVs tend to produce grays, not blacks.
3. Limited Viewing Angle – LCDs have typically poor viewing angle. However, there has been a drastic improvement on this front with latest LCDs achieving a wide viewing angle of 178 degrees.
4. Slow Response Time – LCDs have longer response times than Plasmas.For example, when moving the mouse too fast on an LCD, multiple cursors can sometimes be seen. This is also known as Ghosting Effect. But this problem seems to have been addressed with the latest LCD TVs with response times as low as 8ms.
5. Low Contrast Ratio – Contrast Ratio is the ratio of the intensity of the brightest bright to the darkest dark. LCDs comparitively have lower Contrast Ratios than Plasmas.
A plasma screen contains literally millions of gas-filled cells (each one acting as a single image pixel) trapped between two pieces of glass. An electrical grid zaps these cells and causes the gases to ionize (and ionized gas is plasma – hence the name). The ionized gases, in turn, cause a layer of phosphor on the viewer’s side layer of glass to light up. Plasma TVs combine a thin, compact chassis with a truly large screen size. Despite their compact dimensions Plasmas are available in 42+, 50+ and even 60+ inch sizes.
Plasma TVs – The Good
1. Excellent Brightness – Plasma TVs don’t rely on a light bulb shining through or reflecting off of something (as an LCD or DLP system does). Plasma brightness is even better than CRT’s in some ways because the picture is evenly bright across the entire screen.
2. High Resolution – The finest plasma TVs have such high resolutions (and such smooth images) that they look life like.
3. Progressive in nature – All the pixels on the screen light up simultaneously. You can have progressive HDTV sources (such as 720p) and non-HDTV sources (such as progressive-scan DVD players) displayed to full advantage on a plasma HDTV.
4. Wide Viewing Angle – Plasmas have a wider viewing angle as compared to LCDs. Plasma displays have a good picture even when you’re sitting “off axis” (not perpendicular to the screen surface). This is a huge benefit for smaller rooms, where viewers may sit relatively far off to the sides of the screen, at wider angles.
Plasma TVs – The Bad
1. Burn-In – Plasmas rely on phosphor to display video. This can cause Burn-In where ghost images are permanently burned into the screen.
2. Short Lifespan – Another phenomenon of any phosphor-based display system is that eventually the phosphors “wear out” or lose their brightness. This is a subtle and slow process, but it inevitably happens.
3. Less-than-perfect color reproduction – Although plasma displays can produce a breathtaking array of colors, a lot of sets have the unfortunate tendency to make red colors look more orange than true red.
4. Poor reproduction of black – Plasma TVs fall short in the realm of reproducing black images. Most plasmas do slightly better job than LCD TVs at black reproduction, but they fall short of CRTs and some projection systems.
Other factors such as pricing, weight, power usage, high altitude performance and transportation are other considerations that apply on a person to person basis. So I will briefly just state the overall differences in these areas.
Pricing: Plasma TVs are still significantly less expensive than LCD in sizes over 32″.