Is a plasma TV still a worthwhile option?

Here in the UK, they’re widely associated with the pub or social club, and those massive screens on which people like to watch their favourite sporting events. But with LCD technology approaching rapidly on the horizon and promising a different, yet much more sophisticated type of viewing, are there still any good reasons for opting for a plasma TV?

The two TV types operate using very different technology, yet the results they can achieve cannot be so easily separated. And on the surface, there is also little to distinguish between them. A plasma TV works by passing electrical pulses through hundreds of thousands of individual cells. These react with gases contained in the TV screen, usually xenon or neon, causing the individual particles of gas to glow and radiate light.

Each of these cells is like a tiny lightbulb, and it works by receiving instructions from the software on an electrostatic silicon board behind the screen. The individual cells radiate red, blue or green light, according to the signal being sent, and millions of these combined together create the picture which the screen displays.

Modern plasma TVs are capable of very high contrast ratios – the degree of difference between the darkest black they can display, and the lightest white. And many experts still believe that the sharpness and depth of the black colours which can be rendered by a plasma screen are superior to those which an LCD screen can manage. This is measured by the contrast ratio – the degree of difference between the extremes of white and black which a screen can display. Many modern plasma screens have a contrast ratio as high as 40,000:1, and while LCD monitors are catching up in this regard, their performance is still not up with the best plasma TVs available.

Plasma TV is still ahead of LCD TV in another important consideration – its ability to be viewed clearly from angles of as much as 180 degrees. Because each pixel produces its own light, rather than being lit from a single central source, as is the case with an LCD TV, the light is more evenly spread across the whole screen, which results in a much richer display of blacks. And because of this, the image on a plasma screen is far more consistent no matter what angle it is being viewed from.

One of the main areas in which LCD scores a clear victory over plasma TVs is power consumption, with the LCD displays generally using about two-thirds of the electricity of a same-sized plasma equivalent. But ultimately, there are strong points in each technology’s favour. A buying decision comes down to personal choice, with the available budget being an important factor. But either way, the battle is far from clear-cut.

Specifications and prices for plasma TVs can be compared online, with many resources available for the purpose. It is wise to read through some of these before deciding to buy a Samsung plasma TV.