Plasma, LCD or LED: Which HDTV is best for your needs?
A wonderful thing occurred in 1964 at the University of Illinois: the flat screen plasma television was invented. That technology was so revolutionary that its still around today, although plasmas now have two other competitors to watch out for, LCD and LED TVs.Fortunately, all three technologies offer numerous benefits, but also carry a few downfalls. Thats why ElderGadget has broken them down by feature. This will allow readers to determine which features are most important to them, based on how, why, when and where they utilize their televisions.Remember that no television is completely flawless, so be sure to visit your neighborhood electronics or television store to compare models in person before making a purchase.
Plasmas: Display bright colors exceptionally well. However, picture quality suffers in smaller plasmas because they dont pack as many pixels per square inch as LCDs or LEDs, thereby diminishing the pictures resolution. There is no resolution difference between the three in larger units, however. So with all else being equal, the plasma generally provides a picture superior to LCDs on larger sets.
LCDs: Display static images nicely. The picture quality is higher on a small 15- to 26-inch LCD TV because it contains more pixels than its plasma counterpart. However, it can take these pixels longer to change color states, meaning that colors, shadows, outlines and images may linger a bit after changing channels.LEDs: Produce crisp images regardless of the colors, shadows and contrasts used. They also contain a more exhaustive color spectrum, creating extremely accurate images.
Plasmas: This occurs if a channel''s logo or paused DVD is left on for extended periods of time. The stagnant images appear as though they have been burned into the television once the channel is changed or the DVD is continued. Temporary burn-in can occur after one hour of static, permanent burn-in takes approximately 10 hours, according to the Plasma TV Buying Guide. Burn-in most often occurs within the first 100 hours of usage.
Note that these problems have been addressed in many of the newer plasma models. LCDs: Does not occur. LEDs: Does not occur.
Plasmas: Tend to be quite large. Its difficult (but not impossible) to find a plasma TV thats smaller than 32 inches, although most are 42 inches and above.
LCDs: Are more diverse in size. According to the LCD TV Buying Guide, these televisions mostly range from 15 inches to 52 inches.
LEDs: Also tend to be large, ranging from 32 inches to 55 inches. However, piggybacking on the success of LED TV innovator Samsung, which currently dominates this product type, Jean, a Tawain-based LCD manufacturer, plans to release a 23.6-inch LCD TV that utilizes edge-type LED backlighting this December.
Plasmas: Easily viewed from most angles.
LCDs: Oftentimes has viewing limitations that cause the color and brightness to suffer when a watchers not directly in front of the TV. The picture may also appear blurred or cloudy based on ones position in relation to the TV.
LEDs: Experience the same viewing limitations as LCDs, especially those sets that are edge-lit.
Plasmas: No blur occurs. This makes plasmas ideal for sporting events, video games, action movie and any other fast-motion video.LCDs: Objects moving with relative quickness may look blurry. It may also appear as though the image and colors are being dragged or bled across the screen. Many users note, however, that the image is moving so quick that they have never noticed this blur.LEDs: Little to no blur occurs.
Plasmas: Contain glass screens, which cause glare and reflect a lot of light. Plasmas are ideal in rooms with low lighting or for nighttime TV viewing.LCDs: Contain plastic screens that almost always have a matte coating. This means that they dont reflect light well, allowing the picture to maintain its integrity even on the brightest days. A reasonable amount of light is needed, however, to see the images clearly. Note that some LCDs contain a gloss coating instead of matte, so double check this feature before purchasing.LEDs: Most contain ultra clear panels, which eliminate almost all light from bouncing off the TV. Those that dont will maintain the same characteristics as LCDs
Plasmas: When the picture calls for black or darkness, the plasmas individual pixels can be turned off, producing a dramatic, dark shade.LCDs: Utilize backlights that must remain on anytime the TV is on to illuminate the screen. This can easily allow light to leak through the pixels, making it nearly impossible to achieve a truly black hue.LEDs: Utilize local dimming, or the ability to dim the lights when a picture calls for darkness. This prevents any leakage that may lighten an intentionally dark image.
Plasmas: Emit buzzing noises when used at high altitudes because the elevation places great strain on the units.LCDs: Not affected by altitude, making them ideal for airplanes and for homeowners who live above 6,500 feet, according to LCDTVInformation.com.LEDs: Not affected by altitude.
Plasmas: Most last for more than 60,000 hours, but plasmas can last for up to 100,000 hours, or 17 years, before its brightness drops to 50%.LCDs: Can last approximately 55,000 hours. Its lifespan is based on its CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) backlight, which lasts about this long. This bulb can oftentimes be replaced in the units, giving them double or even triple this lifespan.LEDs: These bulbs are lauded for lasting 15 times longer than incandescent or fluorescent lamps because they run much cooler and dont utilize as much energy. However, being that LED TVs are new to the market its difficult to say whether they could actually last that much longer than their counterparts.
Plasmas: Must illuminate one million or more pixels to provide an adequate picture, which uses a great deal of energy.LCDs: Must only illuminate one light: the backlight. Once this light is lit LCDs utilize mirrors, tiny holes and color filters to create a picture, thus using significantly less electricity. Some LCDs also come with adjustable backlights, which allow users to dim them, saving even more power and, therefore, money.LEDs: As previously mentioned, LEDs run cool to the touch, which eliminates the extra energy other bulbs use when they heat up. Samsung notes that its LED TVs require up to 40% less energy than LCDs.
Plasmas: According to the Wall Street Journal online, 42-inch plasmas are selling for approximately $700 to $800, and 50-inch sets are going for $1,200, on average. The Journal attributes these low prices, which are approximately 23% cheaper than they were a few years ago, to the fact that two major television manufacturers, Vizio and Pioneer Corp., announced in January that they would stop making plasmas.LCDs: According to a report released by WitsView in the first quarter of 2009, prices for LCD TVs fell 7.5% from the previous quarter, mostly because of the recession. The report notes that 19-inch LCD TVs sold for $284, while 52-inchers sold for $2,264.LEDs: According to the Buying Guide for LED TVs, put out by UK-based flat screen installer Custom Installations, you should expect to pay approximately 20% more for LED TVs than LCD TVs. Based on WitsViews numbers, that would mean a 32-inch LED TV would sell for approximately $726, while a 52-inch would go for $2,716. However, being that this technology is the newest of the three - not to mention the fact that it has yet to be utilized by most TV manufacturers - you can expect to pay an even higher premium on many units.
A Word on LED TVs
The phrase LED TVs isnt exactly accurate, as they are actually LCD TVs that simply use LED, or light-emitting diode, bulbs as their backlights or edge lights. However, instead of using just one bulb, which is the case with most CCFL-based LCDs, LEDs are either placed around the TVs perimeter, making the unit slimmer, or across the back of the TV, producing a clearer image but a bulkier set.
This term was actually created by Samsung as a way to market its televisions as environmentally friendlier than what was currently on the market. The term has definitely caught on, but so far only a few manufacturers have entered the market. Aside from Samsung, they include Sony, Vizio and, as of this December, Jean.