If you haven’t yet jumped into the high-def TV market you can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by the options. Instead of focusing on the massive number of brands and features, you should start your shopping by deciding between LCD and Plasma technology. Let’s take a closer look at how these two types of HDTVs differ:

Plasma TVs

A plasma TV is constructed of a thin pixel layer sealed between two thin sheets of glass. Each pixel can be broken down into three sub-pixels, or gas-filled cells, that represent the primary colors red, blue, and green. To create an image on the screen, a controlled electrical current flows to each of the sub-pixels causing the enclosed gas, or plasma, to glow. This process results in sharp, accurate images with exceptionally-wide viewing angles. Most people find that plasma TVs are clearer with darker blacks and warmer colors than LCD TVs.


The LCD TV uses liquid crystals instead of gas or plasma to create images on the display panel. The display itself is composed of two polarizing panels with a layer of liquid crystal solution in the middle. When electrical current is applied to the liquid crystals, they rearrange themselves to bend light and prevent it from shining through, much like the shutter of a camera. A light source located behind the display panel is directed toward the crystals; the combination of dark and clear crystals creates the image on the screen.

Which is Better?

Review this list of differences to determine which product would better meet your needs and viewing habits:

  • Weight – A Plasma TV is almost always heavier than an LCD TV of the same size.
  • Energy Usage – LCD TVs use about 60% less electricity than a traditional TV. Plasma TVs use more power than an LCD and have a higher operating temperature.
  • Transportation – Although care must be taken when moving any TV, LCDs are more forgiving than Plasma TVs. A Plasma display must be kept upright at all times, and special care should be taken to protect the flat glass panels.
  • Burn-In Potential – LCD TVs have virtually no burn-in potential, but this problem can occur with Plasma. It’s an important consideration if the TV is left on all the time or is used regularly for video games.
  • Deep Blacks and Warm Colors – Plasma TVs are known for their ability to produce the blackest blacks and warmest colors for a realistic picture. LCDs are improving in this category, but still lag behind Plasma technology.
  • Viewing Angle – LCD TVs look best when viewed from the front while Plasma TV images look crisp and clear from any viewing angle.
  • Lighting – Choose LCD for brighter rooms and Plasma for darker ones.
  • Screen Size – For TVs over 42 inches, Plasma is considered the better choice by most viewers.

Further reading…CNET also has a handy chart comparing the two technologies. And if you are considering LCD then you might also take a look a the latest LED TVs, which are even lighter and more power efficient.


  1. James Cooper says:

    You are forgetting the main thing about selecting an LCD vs Plasma – Personal Preference and Comfort. Many people (including myself) can easily detect the rapid visual “flicker” that plasma TVs emit. This is irritating at best, and unwatchable, headache-inducing at worst. Many people do not notice this, but it pays to try it out before buying. LCD TVs do not suffer from this effect.

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