LCD vs Plasma TVs: What screen technology is best for you?

We explain plasma and LCD TV technology including 100Hz, Dynamic Contrast Ratio and more specifications.

New plasma panels have high contrast ratios such as the 1000000:1 rating of the Panasonic TH-50PZ850A plasma television.

New plasma panels have high contrast ratios such as the 1000000:1 rating of the Panasonic TH-50PZ850A plasma television.

Colour

Colour is an aspect that is largely independent of the television's type, relying on the processing technology independent to each manufacturer and specific screen model. However, it is important to note that plasma televisions can in theory produce brighter colours overall. Colour accuracy can be adjusted on almost all screens, whether you choose a plasma or LCD TV.

Motion

There is much discussion as to whether plasma or LCD screens are better at handling fast motion — sports or action movies are a great example of video footage that moves across the screen at a fast rate. A plasma screen's ability to refresh each individual cell at a much faster rate than an LCD pixel refresh, means that plasma panels have an inherent advantage in displaying fast motion free of blur and jitter.

Importantly, new LCD screens can now update the image displayed 100 times per second — the often touted '100Hz' technology — which is double the standard 50Hz rate. This removes significant amounts of jitter from the LCD screen's image, resulting in a smoother and more visually pleasing picture. It is a great feature when watching sports where both the players and camera move often. The next generation of this technology doubles the refresh rate again to 200Hz but screens with this technology is not commonly incorporated into all LCD TVs on the market. At present, our tests reveal that plasma TVs are still superior in delivering fast motion on screen, but the latest LCD TVs have greatly improved the motion-handling problems experineced five years ago.

Power

Most LCD televisions require a single fluorescent backlight to be lit for the entire screen's brightness. Plasma televisions, on the other hand, require every sub-pixel to be lit individually. When you compare screens of equal size — plasma televisions consume more power than their LCD counterparts. A 42in LCD consumes around 200 Watts in normal use while a plasma panel consumes approximately 300 Watts. In a year of use this means the power bill for running a plasma will be 50 per cent higher than if an LCD panel was used instead. Also consider the power-saving features of individual models — power-reducing features may make a plasma screen just as affordable in the long term.

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