January 19, 2006

Choosing between Plasma’s and LCD’s

With LCD and Plasma screens falling in price both are becoming increasingly viable alternative to CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) technology. You only need walk in to your nearest electronics store to realise that flat screen TV's are here to stay. To the user at home flat screens offer several benefits to regular TV's. Firstly, they are much slimmer and therefore can be wall mounted, saving precious living room space. Secondly, flat screen TV's generally have a bigger viewable area then regular TV's and therefore are more pleasurable to watch. Most flat TV's are 'wide screen' meaning they can display pictures in 16:9 ratio, a more suitable aspect ratio for movies and digital TV.

When buying a flat screen TV the first big decision is about technology - Plasma and LCD. Plasma TV's are generally cheaper then LCD's on a price-per-square inch comparison - for example $2500 may buy you a 42" Plasma and only a 30" LCD. If you are looking for a screen for the bedroom consider a 22" LCD, as these are the best value in the LCD range, while a 42" Plasma represents the best value in Plasma - and is a more suitable size for your living room. Plasma's also have the edge when displaying blacks - LCD's tend to display black as a dark grey. A lack of 'black' definition can mean the picture has less depth and looks less realistic.

LCD screens have a much longer life then Plasma's - 50,000 hours compared to 20,000 hours and are more suitable for use in high altitude environments. LCD screens also don't suffer pixel-burn while some older Plasma’s can. Pixel burn results from static images being 'burnt' into the plasma image.

Another serious consideration is pixel refresh rate - Plasma TV's refresh rate is nearly as good as CRT TV's while LCD's are not as good - If you are considering an LCD make sure that the refresh rate is 16ms (milliseconds) or lower.

Most flat screen TV's can double as computer monitors, meaning you can plug in your computer or laptop in to them - however you'll need to make sure your computer can run a screen with the appropriate resolutions. Most Plasma’s have a resolution of 852 x 480 while LCD's typically have a higher resolution of 1280 x 720 (HD plasmas have a similar resolution). If you plan on using your flat screen for gaming consider either technology is good however you may want to consider the LCD as they don't suffer pixel burn.

In terms or brand names make sure you choose a reputable one, with good service and support. Most resellers also offer extended warranties and installation as an add-on. If your budget allows it these are both worth considering.