LCD v. Plasma Television
August 22, 2006 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Plasma v. LCD - current opinions?

I'm in the market for a new flat panel TV in the 40-45 inch range. One for my folks, who are relocating to a condo and have space issues, and one for me. Both viewing areas have a lot of glass/windows adjacent to the viewing areas, and I've been partial to LCD for the non-reflective screens until now. I've been really happy with the reliability of my current 26" Sharp Aquos but it's small for my viewing area (a room with three window walls, approx. 15x15).

To complicate matters, is the talk of 1080p resolution, which means little to me at this time but perhaps more informed MeFites can enlighten me.
posted by docpops to Technology (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Yep. From what I understand, plasma's on the way out now that LCD is maturing.
posted by SpecialK at 7:51 AM on August 22, 2006

At that size I would recommend plasma. LCDs have black level problems above about 32". (Which means that "black" will appear as "dark grey" instead.)

You can have burn issues on Plasmas, but they are easily avoided. Keep the contrast turned down for the first couple of hundred hours of use, and after that, just be careful not to have static images displayed on the screen for more than about half an hour, especially if they're brightly coloured. (Most channel logos are translucent, and so aren't a problem.)
posted by Mwongozi at 7:53 AM on August 22, 2006

I think the most informed and comprehensive coverage of this issue can be found at

Read the articles and forum posts there. This has been debated since the dawn of... well, not time, but the dawn of plasma and LCD. And these people know everything. Educate thyself.
posted by kookoobirdz at 7:54 AM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

What about DLP?
posted by jozxyqk at 8:22 AM on August 22, 2006

Recently in the Toronto Star.
posted by ChazB at 8:24 AM on August 22, 2006

Best answer: My experience- just an anecdote, but here goes-

I got a great deal through a friend on an LG 42" plasma. Still cost around $1500... pricey but still a deal at the time. I've had it for a year almost, and use it quite a bit. Mostly watch cable tv, but also play an XBox360 on it, sometimes for several hours at a time. So far there is no burn-in at all, and I've checked very carefully at least once a month.

Keep in mind that my household is two working adults and no kids, so our TV use is limited compared to folks who have kids or are home during the days. I don't have HD, but the picture is great, and I'm not really interested in the limited offerings HD has in our building for now. I really got it because we live in a loft-type space, and our living area is huge, so it was difficult to see anything on a small tv.

I went with it because of the price. However, reading up on it online before we bought, I got the sense that the newer plasma screens don't degrade nearly as quickly as some of the older ones, and I got the sense that many of the detractors of plasma and LCD boosters these days were a bit on the 'evangelistic' side... the equivalent of hardcore audiophiles (videophiles?).

If you're a purist who needs the mental insurance that your television will be perfect for a long, long time, go with LCD. Otherwise go with a good deal. Personally, I'm skeptical about technology and don't buy the 40,000 hours for plasma vs. 60,000 for LCD as suggested in the Toronto Star article listed above. I don't believe any electronic gadget is going to make it that long.

A couple other things. I took the advice to turn down the default brightness and contrast on the set when I got it. This is supposed to help put off burn-in as well. I felt it actually improved the image a bit, as the factory defaults seemed a bit grainy and definitely way too bright.

Another ridiculous downside listed in the article is that plasmas don't work well when moved from room to room. My back wouldn't work well if I was moving that thing from room to room with any regularity. It's 42" and heavy.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:39 AM on August 22, 2006

A buddy of mine wrote up a helpful essay on the topic here.
posted by spilon at 9:19 AM on August 22, 2006

Best answer: I posted this question about Plasma burn-in eight months ago.

I've watched many letterbox movies and played many video games on it since, and I'm happy to say that there is no burn-in apparent on it.

I use it rather heavily, and the one time I did see a trace of burn-in (a station identifier bug in the lower left corner), further use of the set made it disappear in the space of an hour or so.

Again, that was one time, and it was about six months ago, and I've had no other problems whatsoever.

It's true that the thing is quite heavy. I'd recommend finding a place to hang it on your wall where you're fairly sure you'll want to leave it for a while, buy a mounting kit and hang it there.

I have re-hung my TV once since I bought it. It's definitely a two-person task, but it's really not as bad as moving a lot of other things.

I got a similar deal to j-o-m's, but mine's a Samsung 42" and I bought it at Sam's club.

I worried for a while that as the phosphors wear on the set, I'd have to turn up the brightness, but so far I can make out no loss of brightness at all.

I'm very, very happy with my plasma. I didn't like the muddy colors of the LCDs that I had before it, but then again, the LCDs that I had weren't great brands.

The set was bought for my HTPC setup, and I use a stunningly beautiful free screensaver from this site. It turns my plasma set into modern art when I'm not watching a show on it.

An HTPC, a plasma set, a Harmony remote, some game systems, and I think a geek is pretty well set. But I digress.
posted by SlyBevel at 10:21 AM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

They both still suck (though a good LCD is a little less sucky).
posted by cillit bang at 10:24 AM on August 22, 2006

Response by poster: They both still suck (though a good LCD is a little less sucky).

Most helpful. Can I have your next thought, please?
posted by docpops at 10:33 AM on August 22, 2006

Best answer: I have a relatively small (10x15) living room with huge (12' x 7' of the largest wall) east facing windws. Glare is an issue for the first half of the day, more so in winter (no tree leaves in the way, sometimes snow glare). My friend brought over his 40" plamsa for a few days, and it just couldn't compete with the ambient light. LCD is soooo much brighter overall. I brought home a 42" LCD (Westinghouse LVM-42w2), and couldn't be happier.

The matte screen surface, and better brightness mean that I can view it comfortably at any time of day, and the 1080p with excellent digital inputs mean it's a very nice HTPC (I'm typing on it currently while watching video in another window).

Black levels are not perfect... in very dark films you do lose some detail compared with CRT, and a little less compared with plasma... but I'm not a huge video snob. I just care that the upsampling of my DVDs is smooth and doesn't leave many artifacts (a very TV/DVD player specific issue, unrelated to LCD vs plasma). And I see the PC hookups (DVI and HDMI) as my future-proofing insurance.
posted by zeypher at 12:01 PM on August 22, 2006

i just bought the westinghouse 42 inch lcd and its 1080p. i love it. and its sub $2000 (got mine for $1600 with free delivery and mounting from best buy).
posted by fumbducker at 12:40 PM on August 22, 2006

On the resolution issue, the question is is the *panel* capable of that many pixels, regardless whether you can *feed that signal in*.

Some sets downconvert. Even some that *say* "HD".

Find an actual panel pixel count spec, if that's important to you.
posted by baylink at 1:21 PM on August 22, 2006

Most helpful. Can I have your next thought, please?

If you'd asked for a verbose technical explanation of the issues, I would have either written them out or skipped the question, but you didn't, you asked for opinions. I gave you mine because I believed it to be a useful datapoint if nothing else. You have no right to be so abusive in response.
posted by cillit bang at 1:23 PM on August 22, 2006

Response by poster: Cillit, your answer was complete noise. If my response was taken as 'abusive' I apologize. I always assumed verbose technical explanations were offered in tandem with one's opinion, but I am apparently mistaken.

To say that 'both still suck' just sounds too much like one is standing by hoping to be asked to share their brilliance and enlightenment on the subject with the world at large, so I bit, and asked, albeit somewhat sarcastically. Basically you made a comment that two of the HD standards are crap. The question, then, is what is better? Does the dilettante simply imagine that a 1080 signal is great because they haven't the discerning rods and cones of the truly initiated?

If you have something relevant to add, spill it. Otherwise, shut it.
posted by docpops at 3:02 PM on August 22, 2006

The issues surrounding Plasma vs LCD have already been enumerated on a million other threads (which being a good AskMefite, you've read), so I don't see why everyone needs to provide backstory to their opinions yet again. They both still suck. A good LCD sucks a little less.
posted by cillit bang at 3:46 PM on August 22, 2006

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