My girlfriend and I just nabbed a brand-spanking new 47 inch LCD TV screen. It took us a while to finally pick our favorite, but not before talking to every sales representative in the store and comparing prices for hours.
So, to save you folks the headache when you go out to grab your next TV, I’m going to create a handy-dandy guide to 2012’s latest and greatest TV technology.
Yes, plasma is the form of matter that you find roiling in the sun. It’s also a common type of sci-fi laser gun and a component of blood. So is “plasma” just a meaningless term that we apply to anything that we want to sound cool?
Plasma TVs actually have that name because they utilize electrically charged ionized gases, as well as other materials you’re likely to find in the Death Star, to create the picture.
Plasma TVs give you the most bang for your buck with their superior picture quality, but as you might expect they’ve got a few advantages and disadvantages.
- Shaper Contrast: Plasma can pull off darker blacks and brighter whites, allowing crisper images that can show the full spectrum of brightness.
- Viewing Angle: You ever look at a digital screen from a sharp angle and see that it just all goes kind of fuzzy and grey? Plasma doesn’t suffer from that problem due to the magic of ionized gases.
- Motion Blur: Plasma TVs don’t really suffer from motion blur, which is a blurring effect on an image that occurs when an object is moving extremely quickly.
- Home Theaters: The dark screens are ideal for darker lighting conditions.
- Screen Door Effect: You can sometimes see tiny little lines spread out across your screen when most of the screen shows certain colors.
- TV in the Alps: Plasma screens can bug out at high altitudes.
LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. How something can be both a crystal and liquid is anybody’s guess. I think they just named it that to make it sounds cooler than INP (It’s Not Plasma). There’s also a sub-category of LCD screens known as LED (light emitting diode), which is a bit newer technology and is a tad better than its LCD predecessor.
- Paper-Thin: LCD screens with LED technology can be extremely thin.
- Bright Screen: LED screens are much brighter than plasmas, which means they’re much easier to view in bright lighting or during the daytime.
- Electricity Bills: Certain LCD TVs can use very little energy, which can save you tens of dollars per year in utility bills.
- Give it to your Grand Kids: LED TVs have the longest shelf life of any next generation television.
- Slightly sub-par picture quality.
- Slightly susceptible to motion blur
So, considering all of these factors, which TV is right for you? To be honest, there really isn’t a magic answer that fits everyone. Generally speaking, though, the bigger you go, the more appealing Plasma looks. For smaller TVs, you’re probably better off going with an LED option to make it super light and thin.
Past that, the only other condition that you should really factor in is lighting. If you do most of your viewing at day, then go for an LCD. If you’re often up at midnight flipping through the channels, then maybe you should go with a Plasma.