As flat-screen TVs become more affordable, you’ll be more tempted to buy one—if you haven’t already. In addition to LCD TVs, plasma screen televisions are one of the most popular choices for home sets, offering a variety of benefits and differences between themselves and LCD screen. Understanding a the basics about plasma TVs will help you make the right choice for your home or business.
Plasma TV Technology
Plasma television screens contain gas stored between sheets of glass, similar to fluorescent light bulbs. They have been around since the 1960s, but only recently have been able to display a full range of colors. As of 2011, plasma TVs are approximately 4 inches thick and up to 150 inches in screen size.
Plasma Provides a Better Picture
Plasma screens provide better contrast and better 3D presentation than LCDs, according to ConsumerReports.org, which tested a variety of plasma and LCD screens. Plasma screens cause less blurring when the action onscreen is fast, such as during sports, video games or action movies.
You will also get a wider viewing area with a plasma screen. This may not be important if you are placing the screen at the foot of your bed, or only one or two people will be watching TV, movies or playing games. If you want a larger group of people to have a good view of the picture, or if you are buying your flat screen to watch movies and want the best quality picture possible, go with a plasma.
Problems with Plasma TVs
Plasma TVs are susceptible to burn-in, which happens when the same pattern appears on the screen for long periods. For example, if you are buying a TV for your office and plan to keep the same financial channel on day after day, the stock ticker that appears at the bottom of the screen may burn-in. If you will play the same video game day after day, with a graphic that stays on the screen, you may experience burn-in, which appears as a ghost image when you watch other programs or play other games later.
A plasma TV may be easier to damage or perform poorly under certain conditions. For example the screen may not work as well at high altitudes, will generate more heat, is heavier and needs to be transported or shipped very carefully.
If you plan to use your TV in a bright room, a plasma screen may lose some picture quality. This may not be a problem if you are not showing movies in a brightly lit room and don’t need maximum picture quality.
Plasma screens reflect glare more than LCD screens. If you will be watching your TV in a room with sunlight, even if you have sheer curtains, or in a brightly lit light, the screen may reflect the glare from these lights. Look for plasma screens that have glare filter or anti-glare technology.
Plasma TV Prices
Plasma TVs can be expensive, but they are typically less expensive than their LCD counterparts. This means, you may be able to buy a larger screen if you go with a plasma, or pay less for the same-sized screen you’d get with an LCD.
Installing a Plasma TV
Although plasma screens are thin, the larger they are, the heavier they will be. You may want to have your plasma TV professionally installed not only to make sure you don’t damage your wall, but also to ensure it functions properly. Installing the TV incorrectly could result in long-term damage, poor performance or voiding your warranty.
How Current is the Technology?
TV technology is constantly changing, and electronics stores know what’s coming down the pike. Before you buy a used plasma screen TV from a friend or off the Internet, talk to an expert on these TVs to make sure the one you are considering buying will work with any changes currently planned by manufacturers. Older versions of plasma TVs did not last as long as LCD sets, but new models now last more than 10 years, with some claiming to work for 60,000 hours.
Servicing a Plasma TV
Make sure you can get whatever brand of plasma TV you buy serviced, or you may have to ship your screen to get it repaired. Just because a store sells a plasma screen doesn’t mean they can service it. If they don’t, ask them to recommend a local service shop. Check reviews on the store or repair shop before you commit to buying your plasma model. Make sure the TV comes with a warranty—if it doesn’t, ask the seller why not. If the store offers a warranty, but the maker doesn’t, that might be a red flag. Check the warranty to see if it covers parts and labor, and for how long. Larger, more expensive plasma TVs may come with in-home service.