Monday, January 4, 2010

Electronics: Plasma vs. LCD

It seems as if the nation has fallen out of love with plasma televisions, and I can’t figure out why.  Generally speaking plasma’s have better color, higher refresh rates, and deeper blacks than LCD TVs.  Typically the counter argument is that plasma’s use more electricity and their screens are more reflective, which can be a problem in rooms with windows.  Recently I purchased a 42” 720p Panasonic TC-P42X1 plasma to replace my 3 year old 720p 42” Sony Wega LCD projection TV. 

The picture quality of the plasma is outstanding.  One of my biggest complaints with my old Sony was the black levels. This was the main reason I wanted to get a plasma over an LCD, and the Panasonic does not disappoint.  Furthermore it has a 600hz refresh rate so I never notice any ghosting in action movies.  I bought this TV for under $600.  Comparable LCD’s will run you $600-$1000, but at $600 for an LCD you’ll be getting an off-brand with mediocre picture quality.  My friend recently spent $1500 on a 50” 1080p 120hz LCD TV, and I’d take mine over his any day.  Motion images on his 120hz set are so unrealistic that it’s distracting.  Also the color was overly bright, but that was probably more a result of his choice of settings.

The power consumption of TC-P42X1 is also very good.  According to tests done by televisioninfo.com it used between 80 and 200 watts depending on how much white was on the screen at once.  That’s probably the same amount of energy you are using to light your room if you’re not using CFL bulbs.  A similar sized LCD set consumed 137 watts, so I’d actually call the power usage a wash.

Although Panasonic has done work to create anti-glare screens on their plasma’s, I definitely can’t watch the TV with the windows uncovered.  However we do have window blinds in our living room so its a non-issue for me.

Also this television is not 1080p, but I personally think 1080p is overrated.  Right now the only content in 1080p is blu-ray disks, which are expensive, and I don’t have a blu-ray player anyway.  I’ve never watched 720p content and wished for a higher resolution.  I’ll take a 720p TV with great colors and blacks over a poor 1080p TV any day.

So the rest of the world can enjoy spending extra money on LCD and LED sets, I just hope cheap, great plasma’s are still around the next time I need to purchase a TV.