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Purchasing a Television: Plasma or LCD?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012 by | Filed Under: TV Tech

If you’re ready to make the leap to a flat-panel television set, you may be overwhelmed by the plethora of options available on the market today. Not only do you have to select a brand and size, but you’ve got to determine whether you want 1080 or 720p and wade through a wealth of features and options, such as Internet connectivity. Another big decision you’ll need to make is whether you want a plasma or LCD TV.

Very simply put, plasma and LCD are two different technologies used in the manufacturing of television sets, similar to Windows PCs and Macs in the computer world. There are many similarities and differences, and each type of technology has its pros and cons. To determine which type of television is right for you, you’ll want to think about what you plan to use the television for and consider several factors to find the technology that meets your needs.


One of the most noticeable differences between plasma and LCD TVs is the color quality. Plasma TVs are known for producing a truer black than LCD TVs. Color contrast is also typically superior with plasma screens. The LCD technology still delivers a crisp, clear picture, but if you’re looking for top-notch color quality, plasma is still the best option. Some LCD manufacturers have started using LED backlighting on their televisions, which produces a truer black. While it is an improvement over standard LCD displays, only the higher-end models can rival the black produced using a plasma display.


Another important factor to consider before selecting a television is where it will be placed. You probably already know whether you’ll be placing it in the family room, bedroom or somewhere else in your house, but you should also consider whether it will be mounted on a wall or set atop a TV stand. Will there be people throughout the room that might watch the television or will it be viewed primarily from one spot? If you’ll mainly be watching this particular set from one position, both LCD and plasma will work, however, if people will be viewing the television from a variety of spots within the room, plasma may be the better choice. Plasma TVs have a full 180-degree viewing angle, which means you’ll get a great picture regardless of where you are in the room. This also applies vertically, so a viewer sitting on the floor will see the same quality picture as someone sitting on a sofa. LCD television manufacturers have improved their viewing angles in recent years, but you’ll still only get a viewing angle of about 120 degrees.


One of the main factors to consider when selecting a new television is cost. You want to get the most bang for your buck, so along with all the bells and whistles, make sure you compare the prices of the models you’re considering. There’s not too large of a difference in price between plasma and LCD, but plasmas tend to be a bit cheaper, so you may be able to get a larger screen if you go with plasma over LCD. Manufacturers typically estimate the lifespan of a plasma television at 60,000 hours, whereas LCDs are estimated to last to 100,000 hours. If you watched your plasma television for four hours every day of the year, it would take more than 40 years to wear it out. Considering how much more advanced technology will be at that point, the difference in lifespan is negligible.

While this seems to all suggest that plasma is the way to go, there is one important factor to consider: Plasma TVs, if left on a still frame for too long, will run you the risk of permanently burning pixels onto your screen. While many models are taking measures to combat this with automatic screensavers, it nevertheless means that plasma televisions aren’t recommended for video games, and certainly shouldn’t be used as computer monitors.

I hope this helps you make up your mind when shopping for your next television!

~ Chad Stetson

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14 Responses to “Purchasing a Television: Plasma or LCD?”

  1. Ron says:

    I am in the market for a new TV so this article is timely for me.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that none of the new TV’s I’ve looked at so far have PIP. My 20 year old TV has PIP, I depend on my PIP. Has the PIP gone the way of the Dodo? I’m sad. Now I’ll have to buy 2 TV’s.

    • jimbo says:

      PIP (Picture in Picture) requires access to two (or more) TV channel feeds. With today’s cable companies requiring a descrambler box, you would need two cable boxes for PIP (and you would need the remotes to address each box differently for changing the two channels uniquely). Similar is true for Satellite TV. The difficulty is not in the TV but in the source of the signal.

  2. June says:

    This is great to know as I will be in the market for another flat screen TV and was wondering,, which one should I buy…either one will be Ok as I am not a gamer and won’t be using it as a monitor either…Thanks for the heads up! As always you guys are very helpful, keep it up!!

  3. dond says:

    Check out Samsung plasmas. They have pip. You just have to be sure you hook up a 2nd video source in order to be able to flip from one to the other. Standard cable with a second hook up thru a cable box, both to TV or a 2nd video source such as VHS or DVD, etc.

  4. Bob says:

    One thing you didn’t mention was energy usage. I have a 65 inch plasma and I love it, but it takes almost 900 watts to run it. It certainly provides plenty of heat on those chilly winter nights! Unfortunately, it also heats the house on hot summer nights! (and do not place it near a thermostat!)

    I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that LCDs take a lot less power.

  5. Baz says:

    @ Ron- I have two Freeview PVR’s, in different rooms, both of thes have PIP hope this helps

  6. Joyce Carter says:

    Very good information! Thank you so much. I had no idea about the differences and knowing about the gaming risks helps me made better decisions about what I want and need to buy. My grandsons play Wii, so I will keep that game on the old TV and use my new one for ME!
    Thanks again

  7. George Poteat - NC0G says:

    Plasma is also known to cause RFI (Radio Frequency Interferance) to HAM and other communications. I had a Samsung that drove me crazy, switched to a Samsung LCD and am now VERY pleased with the switch.

    Also plasma usually reflects more light from windows, etc. Maybe that has changed??

  8. Phil Potter says:

    I was told by a installer that the amount of windows or light in the room where it was to be installed was a serious consideration. Too much light means choosing an LCD.
    your response?

    • Denise says:

      Phil, that was the main question the salesperson asked us when we were shopping for our tv. He said plasma tv reflect more light in the room than LCDs. Plasmas are better for a basement or an interior room with no windows, or if you plan to mainly watch at night with the lights off. Since our new tv was going in our living room where we have 2 big windows and a patio door in the next room, we chose an LCD. We have never regretted our choice.

  9. Russ says:

    Great info

  10. Gail says:

    Plasma, plasma, plasma all the way!!! My kids play video games, too. No problem (yet!) after two years. Love them!!!

  11. Software for Television says:

    NO!!!….how can btjunkie get closed down!!….cant believe it!!

  12. Carey Lawrence says:

    This might not be the ideal place to request this, but I’m trying to find a reliable shop to repair our television online and and have no method to find out who is the very best. I uncovered this website which is I find reliable and wanted to see if any person has any reviews on them. Richmond TV Repairs.
    Please help me with this as my wife and I have been struggling to find a good/reliable shop to repair our television.

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