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    • Plasma Televisions

      The Pros and Cons of Plasma Televisions

      If you're looking for a flat screen TV picture that provides excellent picture quality with low picture distortion then a Plasma Screen TV monitor is the solution you have been seeking. There are currently a large number of Plasma Televisions available on the market which can be used for a number of different applications including presentations, home video and computer uses.


      Plasma flat screen technology consists of hundreds of thousands of individual pixel cells, which allow electric pulses (stemming from electrodes) to excite rare natural gases-usually xenon and neon-causing them to glow and produce light. This light illuminates the proper balance of red, green, or blue phosphors contained in each cell to display the proper color sequence from the light. Each pixel cell is essentially an individual microscopic florescent light bulb, receiving instruction from software contained on the rear electrostatic silicon board. Look very closely at a plasma TV and you can actually see the individual pixel cell coloration of red, green, and blue bars. You can also see the black ribs which separate each. plasma technology has the better picture quality in normal to low room lighting conditions and are better in 4 out of 5 picture quality categories. Plasma technology will almost without exception triumph during night time viewing. LCD televisions are great for sunroom/breakfast room type environments. Also, LCD monitors are generally better for public display such as airport signage and retail store signage due to the bright room light environment.


      Plasma technology has increased anti burn in tactics as well as computer and static signal handling. There are still issues with each depending very much on the model and manufacturer. For example, 720p plasma televisions do not handle a computer input well and product a very jaggy image on plasma's larger sizes. 


      Plasma displays are better for displaying fast moving video because of their excellent performance with fast-moving images and high contrast levels. There are still some 2nd tier manufacturers whose plasma product displays some phosphor lag, a dragging from brights to darks.

      While the response time of LCD TVs has markedly improved in the last couple of years, especially with the advent of 120/240 HZ displays they still suffer from a motion blur effect, where the individual pixels are just slightly out of step with the image on the screen. The high refrash rate LCD televisions can also have some undesireable effects on the picture. During fast moving sports scenes, the most discerning eyes can detect this slight motion response lag.


      There is a reason LCD panels are the preferred visual display units for use on airplanes: LCDs aren't affected by increases or decreases in air pressure. Their performance is consistent regardless of the altitude at which they're utilized.  This is not the case for a plasma TV. The display element in plasma TVs is actually a glass substrate envelope with rare natural gases compressed therein. So, at high altitudes (6,500 feet and above), an air-pressure differential emerges, which causes plasma displays to emit a buzzing sound due to the lower air pressure. This noise can sound rather like the humming of an old neon sign. NEC has been effective in producing several plasma models that are rated to 9,500 feet.


      LCD manufacturers claim that their displays last, on average, 100,000 hours. In fact, an LCD TV will last as long as its backlight does - and those bulbs can sometimes be replaced! Since this is nothing more than light passing through a prismatic substrate, there is essentially nothing to wear out in an LCD monitor. However, one nasty little known fact about LCD technology is that as the backlight ages it can change colors slightly (think of florescent office lighting). When this occurs the white balance of the entire LCD will be thrown for a loop and the user will need to re-calibrate, or worse, try to replace the backlighting or ditch the unit altogether. Some of the early purchasers of larger LCD screens will be learning this tidbit in a couple of years. One thing that Ive found in this industry, it is not easy to find out whether the backlighting on LCDs can be replaced. Manufacturers are either hesitant to discuss the topic, or they just dont know.


      Plasma, on the other hand, utilizes slight electric currents to excite a combination of noble gases (i.e., argon, neon, xenon), which glow red, blue, and/or green. This is an essentially active phenomenon, so the phosphoric elements in plasma displays fade over time. Many manufacturers state a new half life of 100,000 hours, that's just over 68 years if the TV is on 4 hours every day. It appears strides have been made to nearly even the playing field with LCD. At half life, the phosphors in a plasma screen will glow half as brightly as they did when the set was new. There is no way to replace these gases; the display simply continues to grow dimmer with use.


      LCD technology is not prone to screen "burn-in" or "ghosting"

      With plasma displays, static images will begin to "burn-in," or permanently etch the color being displayed into the glass display element. The time it takes for this to occur depends greatly on the anti burn-in technology of the manufacturer. Recent improvements by plasma manufacturers have certainly extended the time it takes to burn in a plasma pixel cell. Many of the enhancements such as better green phosphor material, and motion adaptive anti burn-in technology are greatly reducing the risk of burn in. Its gotten so much better you probably dont even worry about it anymore. In a new model plasma from any top tier manufacturer "ghosting" estimates are at an hour or more now (Ghosting can be "washed" out by displaying static gray material). Permanent burn-in would probably not occur until an image is static for more than 10 hours.



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