Plasma Vs. LCD: Which is right for you?


Is there a difference in picture quality between plasma and LCD screens?
It’s not what’s happening behind the screen that’s important — it’s how the screen performs as a television that matters the most. In this regard, both plasma and LCD TV sets produce excellent pictures, and the differences between them aren’t as pronounced as they used to be. While the latest plasmas are particularly good, LCD sets are quickly catching up in terms of quality, with advances like LED backlighting.
For basic home cinema-like usage, plasma screens have a slight edge over LCDs. This is because plasma screens can still display blacks more accurately than LCDs can, which means better contrast and detail in dark scenes. The nature of LCD technology, where a backlight shines through the LCD layer, means that it’s hard for it to achieve true blacks because there’s always some light leakage from between pixels. As LCD/LED technologies such as polarising filters and dynamic backlights improve, the quality gap between the technologies grows narrower.

What advantages does plasma have over LCD Apart from better contrast due to its ability to show deeper blacks, plasma screens typically have better viewing angles than LCD. Viewing angles are how far you can sit on either side of a screen before the picture’s quality is affected. You tend to see some brightness and colour shift when you’re on too much of an angle with LCDs, while a plasma’s picture remains fairly solid. Plasmas can also produce richer, more natural colours, due to both light leakage and to a limit on the hues that LCD can reproduce.

Plasma pundits will also tell you that some LCD screens have a tendency to blur images, particularly during fast-moving scenes in movies or in sport. While that was true for older generation LCD screens, newer models have improved significantly — so much so that the differences in performance between LCDs and plasmas in this regard is almost negligible. (While the pixel response time, measured in milliseconds (ms), can give you some indication of an LCD’s performance with fast-moving scenes, it’s not always reliable.)
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