LCD vs Plasma

This is an age old question in the Audio/Video world that many consumers have been plagued with when considering their new HDTV.  With the change to digital viewing, more and more people are upgrading their old tube televisions and/or rear projection sets to a new flat panel option.  As technology evolves, so do the number of options in sizes and features- but one thing has stayed consistent and that is which one do you choose?  LCD or plasma?

LCD quality and technology has quickly caught up with plasma displays.  Several years ago plasma did have a clear lead over picture quality and performance.  As time goes on though, LCD has stepped up their game and is starting to give plasma screens a run for their money.  Each display has their clear benefits, but there are some areas where it is more of a personal preference than cut and dry facts.

The first question one should ask themselves when considering a new display is; how big?  We can eliminate a lot of the options at this point if you are considering a TV smaller than 42″ where LCD is the only option.  Plasmas start at 42″ and go up from there.  But if you are shopping for that new big screen for the man cave, then there is a second question to ask yourself; what will you be using the TV for mostly? 

Sounds like a dumb question but if you plan on playing a lot of Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4 you may want to consider this.  Plasmas are susceptible to “burn-in” where a static image gets burned into the screen and does not go away.  Whereas with LCD screens this is not a common problem and you can play your Xbox 360 to your heart’s content.  I’m not saying you cannot play video games on a plasma screen, just make sure that it is not your most common activity. 

If the purpose of your man cave though is to hang out and watch fast action films or sports, plasma screens are a better option.  Motion blur can occur when the TV cannot display the image fast enough to keep up with the speed at which the action is occurring on the screen, which gives a blurring effect.  Plasmas have the ability to react faster than LCD screens which eliminates the blur.  Though some LCD screens are getting better, the clear winner is still plasmas. 

The amount of light that is in the room can also play a huge impact on the performance of the screen.  A LCD will perform better in well lit rooms that have a lot of windows or are in common areas of the house that can bleed light into the viewing area.  A plasma screen is better suited for darker rooms that can either have the windows covered to eliminate most of the light or no windows all together. 

Price consideration is also a factor I’m sure, unless you are one of the lucky few who has a money tree growing in their back yard.  The initial investment is roughly the same across the board; the major difference is going to be the cost to operate the unit.  A LCD screen will consume about 40% less energy than a plasma screen.  So if you are shopping for your every day common use TV, the LCD will be less expensive to operate.  But if you are shopping for the ultimate picture quality for movie viewing in a controlled environment, plasma is a great solution.  The life span on either screen is rated at 60,000 hours, so don’t worry about one lasting longer than the other.  The plasma will simply cost you about 40% more to operate.

In the end it really comes down to personal preference.  In the short though, if you are going to play a lot of video games and the TV will be in an area that is susceptible to ambient light, go with an LCD.  If you tend to watch more movies and sports and can control the amount of light being radiated in the room, go with a plasma.  Overall, they are both great products, each just has their own little niches in the audio/video world.  Happy hunting!!