re: plasma vs. LCD
by Matthias99 - 11/14/07 9:10 PM
In Reply to: Plasma vs. LCD by taustin2
"If we are going to talk about HDTV, let's talk about all the formats, LCD, plasma, Lcos and OLED."
You actually left out quite a few -- first off, there are also LCD projectors, and DLP projectors. And then you have front vs. rear projection for both of those. Plus you could differentiate between conventional and LED-backlit LCD panels. CRT is also still kicking around, and is a viable option in the 30-34" range if you don't mind a set that weighs 150+ pounds.
LCOS is only for front/rear projection, and is still a bit unproven. OLED still seems to be a few years out -- and they were saying that five years ago.
There's one other major technology on the horizon -- SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display). Canon bought the rights to it, and is currently in the middle of having the crap sued out of them by a Japanese firm that claims they violated their licensing agreements. I saw the demo units at CES a couple years ago and they looked fantastic. But it could easily be several years after the lawsuit gets settled by the time they hit store shelves, and I have no idea what they'll cost.
"And for my two cents worth, why buy any of them now. The switch to digital does not happen until February, 2009."
Regular (non-HD) over-the-air broadcasting is switching to digital (not HD, just digital!) next February -- unless they push the deadline out again (it's already been bumped back twice.) Current HD content (via antenna, satellite, digital cable, or HD-DVD/Blu-Ray) is already as digital and HD as it's going to get.
"In 16 months the current technology will improve even more"
Yep. Although the rate of improvement has been slowing lately.
"prices will come down"
Yep. Although further price drops probably won't be as dramatic.
"and new HDTV technologies will emerge that will probably blow away what's out there right now."
Maybe in 3-5 years (maybe), but not in 16 months.
"What's the rush? If we've waited this long for HDTV, what's a few more months? Go ahead and buy that 60 inch whatever now for four or five grand, I'll wait until 2009 or later and buy it for under a grand. A 19 inch LCD computer monitor used to sell for over $2000 three years ago. They can be purchased for under $200 today. Response time is down from 26 ms to 6 ms too. So tell me why I should buy any HDTV today!!!"
Well, presumably you want to watch HD content *today* and not in 2009. And of course in 2009 there will also be some new unbelievable technology on the horizon -- there will never be a "perfect" time to buy.
I also think you're overstating how much the prices will decline. I doubt you'll be able to get a 60" plasma for $1000 in 2009 (IMO, more like $2000-3000.) And you're *really* overstating how fast LCD panel prices fell; I bought a 19" LCD computer monitor two years ago for about $500, and it was one of the more expensive ones. In 2001 (six years ago) you could get a 20" LCD computer monitor for somewhere around $1000.
I'd say you could probably expect prices to be roughly halved every three to four years. Whether having an HDTV now versus three or four years down the line is worth saving a thousand dollars or more is something that needs to be taken into account when making a purchasing (or non-purchasing) decision.
re: actual "Plasma vs. LCD":
Both look pretty damn good these days.
One key factor, which many people completely neglected to mention, is resolution (the number of discrete pixels in the display). A lot of older plasmas and LCD panels were either 720p (1280x720 pixels) or "768p" (1367x768 pixels) -- which they often still call "720p". "768p" panels tend to look slightly blurry, whether LCD or plasma0, because both 720p and 1080i/1080p content have to be scaled to fit the panel properly. Some TVs let you not scale 720p content, which makes it a lot sharper but also gives black bars on all sides of the image.
IMO, you want a 1080p display these days; 1080i/1080p content (where most things are headed) looks amazing on them, and 720p being scaled up to 1080p looks very good as well. 1080p LCDs are (relatively) cheap these days, at least up to 42" or so. 1080p plasmas are still pretty expensive, especially in very large sizes.
Beyond that, general observations about them:
Plasmas (generally) have better black levels and contrast. Emissive displays (plasma, CRT, OLED/SED) tend to have better black levels -- with an LCD the backlight is always on, whereas when a plasma displays 'black' it is emitting no light whatsoever. Well, almost; usually the pixels are still left slightly charged to improve response time, but it's a LOT darker than 'black' on an LCD panel.
In a well-lit room, a plasma TV will (generally) provide better results when viewing dark scenes, and will maintain better brightness and contrast. In a very dark room, the not-quite-blackness of an LCD panel can stand out more when you're watching something dark. LED-backlit LCDs (which are VERY expensive, and just starting to become available) have great color reproduction, and somewhat better black levels. All that said, a high-quality 1080p LCD that is calibrated right still looks *very* good.
LCDs are cheaper, at least in ~40" sizes. LCD manufacturing doesn't scale up well, while plasma display manufacturing doesn't really scale down that well. That's why you don't see many 60"+ LCDs (yet) and why there aren't any plasmas much smaller than 40". 1080p LCDs are (except at big sizes) much cheaper than 1080p plasmas right now.
Plasmas are (generally) more susceptible to burn-in -- but LCDs are not completely immune. Newer sets of either type are (generally) better at resisting it. Not running it at 100% brightness/contrast helps. You don't want to run it like that anyway; it makes the colors look like crap, regardless of how much "pop" (as one previous poster put it) it gives the image.
LCDs have a slower (higher) "response time" than plasmas. This means that moving images on an LCD TV get blurrier than they do on a plasma or CRT. Newer LCDs are much better than older ones. A response time of under 10 milliseconds (ms) is very good; over 25ms is not as good; over 40-50 is dreadful.
Plasmas (usually) have a significantly better viewing angle than LCDs. Both are generally better than a rear-projection TV of any type. Newer LCDs are better, but if you plan on watching at a sharp angle regularly, a plasma TV is a better choice. This also varies considerably between different TVs, so check it out in a store if this is a concern.
Both have long-term longevity issues. Plasma displays can lose phosphor brightness over time (like a CRT), and LCD backlights will eventually dim and/or burn out. However, with new sets you're talking at least 5 years before you should have any real problem, and even that assumes fairly heavy (4+ hours per day) use. LCD lamps can be replaced; there isn't a whole lot you can do with a dim plasma display (they cannot be "recharged"; I have no idea who comes up with these things.) Of course, if your LCD HDTV needs a new lamp 10 years from now, it likely will not be worth replacing -- assuming you can even *find* a replacement!
Both can suffer from dead or stuck pixels. Most manufacturers or stores will replace a set with such pixels under warranty; sometimes there has to be a certain minimum number of them to qualify.
LCDs are lighter for the same screen size, and also use less power (and generate less heat). This makes LCDs somewhat easier to wall-mount. Big plasma TVs get quite warm.
You want a 1080p television. It costs more, but looks way better when you watch 1080i/1080p content.
Plasmas generally look a little better (especially in a brightly lit room, or at an angle) but usually cost more and generate a lot of heat. Burn-in can be a problem if you play a lot of video games or leave it on the same channel all day every day.
LCDs are lighter, cheaper, and more resistant to burn-in. But black levels are worse, and so are viewing angles.
Rear-projection systems are a LOT cheaper for very big (60"+) screen sizes. But generally the image quality is not as good, and the viewing angle is definitely not as good. Front-projection makes for a truly 'cinematic' experience, but a really good setup costs a lot.
HD CRTs look fantastic and are cheap, but only go up to about 30-34" and weigh 100-150+ pounds.
If you're willing to wait a few years everything will get cheaper and some new display technologies may be available. But this is always going to be the case, so don't hold out just because it sounds like some awesome new technology is about to come out. It's always overpriced at first, and doesn't always turn out to be so awesome. If you think the current prices are too high, waiting will help.