Choose Plasma or LCD ?

It can be extremely confusing trying to decide on whether a Plasma or LCD screen is the best choice?

Although it is not possible to define conclusively what format is best for each individual as the quality varies so much betweem manufacturers and individual screens. Here are some thoughts on the advantages of both Plasma and LCD screens.

    Black Levels

    Generally Plasma has traditionally been best between the two formats at displaying deep blacks with accurate contrast levels. This gap has shortened somewhat over the last few years but it is probably still true. How a screen displays Blacks is usually counted as one of the main determining factors on how a screen performs that is why generally Plasma screens usually have a higher rating than LCDs. Plasma screens usually use their own calculations to block or reduce power to individual pixels in order to render black or dark colours. LCD screens use electrical charges to alter crystals to block light - effectively creating blacks. This is more complicated and why black and contrast levels vary between LCD screens so much - it can be done well but also extremely badly on an LCD screen.

    The difference in performance is usually more noticeable in darker rooms or night viewing. Also you are more likely to notice the difference in scenes with lots of dark and light areas displayed.


    Viewing Angle

    This is not such a consideration for everyone - but it may be very important to you depending on your layout. Plasma screens generally have a much larger viewing angle than LCD screens (up to 160 degrees) . Simply because each pixel produces its own light unlike an LCD screen if you're watching at an angle the display is much more consistent. The gap has closed again in this area but Plasma screens still hold a significant advantage in viewing angles.

    Colour Displays

    This is a very close call and to be honest is sometimes down to individual preferences. As Plasma screens have pixels which contain green, blue and red element - they effectively each have the capacity to individually produce all colours. This allows plasma screens the capacity to produce beautiful depth and warmth of colours - the accuracy of the colours projected to your screen is probably better with a plasma. However the LCD screens have the advantage of producing their colours by modifying light - this invariably creates a brightness in colours which some people prefer. Although Plasmas and LCD screens produce colours in completely different ways - there is probably not much too choose between the best LCDs and Plasmas in this category.



    The success of the LCD screen particularly when sold from the shop floor of your local electrical retailer is partly down to the efficency in which LCDs produce brightness. LCD screens can effectively create white or brightness using much less power than a Plasma - so if Plasma is mater of black - LCDs control the white lights ! A standard LCD screen can produce much higher levels of white and brightness and this can often look crisper and clearer when viewing lighter scenes. A plasma screen has to utilise much more power to produce this brightness and light using coloured pixels.


    Computer/Console Input

    If you are planning to use your screen for computer use or gaming - you are probably best looking at an LCD screen. They generally handle VGA and computer input much better than most plasmas. There has been the issue previously with 'burn in' with plasmas but most screens have technology to prevent this happening now. However prolonged computer use will have static areas for long periods which will utilise this technology to the full. Although most plasmas are fine with console and computer use - if this is going to be a major function you are probably best looking for an LCD screen for best results.


    To be continued.