LCD vs. Plasma TV

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Prices for LCD and Plasma televisions are fairly comparable so which is the best buy for you really depends on your personal preferences.

LCD Television Technology

An LCD TV is short for liquid crystal display television. The LCD picture is created when light from behind the screen shines through a matrix of coloured liquid crystal cells. These tiny cells are individually controlled by signals which determine the amount of light each crystal lets through the varying light levels create the picture.

Plasma Television Technology

A Plasma television picture is created by thousands of tiny gas tubes which are arrayed between two sheets of glass. Each tube emits an ultraviolet light creates the picture which when it strikes the screen.

Television Size/Screen Size Comparison

Both technologies are commonly called flat screen TVs because they are both less bulky than the conventional CRT televisions of the past. However, LCD TVs weigh considerably less than Plasma TVs and are much easier to move around and wall mount than the Plasma screen televisions.

When flat panel TVs originally hit the market the Plasma televisions were the only option if you wanted a television screen of larger than 32 inches. However the LCD technology has evolved over time and today there are larger screen options available with the LCD technology.

Some manufacturers’ abandoned Plasma technology as the LCD technology became more flexible and the LCD screens became larger. Sony, Sharp and Toshiba are no longer making a Plasma screen television.

Some suggest the Plasma technology may soon be a relic of the past as the LCDs and the newer LED litLCD televisions command a larger and larger market share.

Picture Quality

Both the LCD and Plasma televisions have a better picture quality than the older CRT televisions. This is because both the LCD and Plasma TVs have digital processing software which stores the pictures and show them on the screen a frame at a time instead of scanning the picture directly onto the screen like the older CRT televisions. The quality of the digital processing software is key to the quality of the picture.

Regardless of the software the LCD televisions do not show blacks as well as the Plasma televisions so darker pictures don’t show up as well with the LCD technology.  However, LCD televisions are improving all the time and the blacks on an LED lit LCD television is comparable to those on Plasmas.

The Plasma television pictures also look better from wider angles than the LCDs which are generally better if you sit directly in front to the television.

Part of the picture quality evaluation has to do with the type of feed you are watching. Standard-definition signals look better on smaller screens (under 32 inches) and high definition signals look better on bigger screens (42 inch or larger) which show the extra detail and sharpness of the HD technology.

Many programmes are still delivered with standard definition signals which show better on the smaller screen LCDs. Therefore the LCD televisions tend to be the consumers top choice if they are interested primarily in picture quality. If however screen size is an important consideration and if the consumer is primarily interested in watching HD programming the Sony and Toshiba LCDs are virtually tied with the Panasonic and Pioneer Plasmas in consumer ratings based on picture quality.

Energy Consumption Comparisons

Plasma technology uses more power than LCD technology.  Testing research has concluded that LCD technology uses half the power of a Plasma television when the televisions are turned on. LED lit LCD televisions are the most energy efficient.


So unless you are primarily interested in a really large screen showing primarily HD programming and need  a clear picture when viewed from many angles (like those televisions in sports bars) you may be well served by considering one of the many LCD models on the market.  The latest LED LCD TVs  give the best blacks, are greener, thinner and lighter.

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