High Definition Television: Plasma, LCD, Rear Projection – What’s Your Flavor?

The boom and new age of TV technology. What kind of HDTV should you get? There are three flavors: Plasma, LCD, and Rear Projection. Who knows, the average person may not even know this by now, only knowing what that guy in the blue shirt told you at Best Buy. With the move of bigger and flatter screens and demand of higher definition of TV, came about these breed of televisions. They all have their good and bad sides, but really, which TV will suit you? It all depends on these factors: size, price, and other pet peeves. Here’s my general idea to differentiate upon the selection that may help the common folk out there that aren’t very tech savvy.

Plasma

Based upon my own memory, these were around first generally but it could’ve been the rear projection. It’s the latter. Any who, plasma TV’s will look the best out of the bunch. One, it’s display screen is glass. It’s able to show and support more pixels on screen than the other two TV types, LCD and Rear Projection. Sounds neat with that little extra eye candy right? Maybe. The drawback to that is, to show and support those extra pixels; the plasma TV consumes the most power. If you don’t mind the power bill then this may be for you. Another good thing is, the plasma TV does not suffer from motion blur and ghosting like the LCD. Beyond that it’s flat. That’s probably something everyone wants. However, there’s an additional problem that MAY still be a problem but I’m not definitely sure but it was a problem for older plasmas. This is often referred to as ‘burn in’ or something synonymous of that nature. Here’s an example of burn in: say, you watch CNN a lot or ESPN and they show those scrolling bars at the bottom of the screen that show scores from previous games or news breaking stories.

If you were to watch those type of channels for a super long time, that bar will eventually be ‘burnt in’ to the TV and so whatever other channel you’re watching will have that burnt in, which could be a nuisance. That’s the more major problem that associates with plasma television sets. Now with price, I consider the plasma the middle ground, as in it’s not too expensive to put a hole in your wallet or that cheap to make you feel happy inside. The price per screen inch is pretty middle and balanced to say so the least. So if you like having a glass display, a flat screen, and those extra pixels then this may be the winner. Also, to note I think the plasma may be the heavier tv of the bunch so don’t break your back lugging it. Though I’m not ENTIRELY sure on this bit of information so don’t let this be a deal breaker.

LCD

LCD, or Liquid Crystal Displays are notably the newer sets of TV. You probably mostly know them from computer use but it made its way to television some odd years ago. The LCD TV is widely more popular as it consumes less power than the plasma, is a lot brighter and crisp in terms of image and shares the same quality of being flat. The notable differences are price for size, it doesn’t use a glass screen and its blacks aren’t as ‘full’ or entirely black. A kind of major problem that this type of set suffered from was motion blur. As in, when you see something moving super fast, you can see a kind of blurring or a ‘doubling’ effect. This has been cured for the most part in today’s LCD’s but will probably always exist in LCD sets, it’s just a matter of how the developers disguise it. Beyond that it is a really good set and is most used for gaming. However, the price just skyrockets when the size goes up. An LCD TV around 52+ inches or more could go up to 8000$, depending on model and quality. Example is the Samsung LNT5271F. It retails for about $3-4,000 while the Samsung LNT5281F is double when they are practically identical in terms of size and technology. Silly isn’t it? But if you don’t plan to go big then this set could be very ideal. Also, in terms of TV life LCD’s are supposed to last the longest according to how much the average person watches.

Rear Projection

Rear Projection TV’s are among the older types of technology in televisions. From what I recall when talking to someone who knew his stuff, he said that rear projections were the CRT monitor’s upgraded brother. It was to produce the same vivid and great colors the CRT produced while reducing the size. In case you don’t know what a CRT monitor is, it’s those big, bulky, ugly monitors that are like 13 inches deep and hurts your eyes(60hz flicker). So, the rear projection is just as ugly and big(in the back) like the CRT in comparison to LCD and plasma. However, the rear projection televisions do not suffer from burn in image and motion blur. What does it have instead? I’ve heard stories of ‘Rainbow Effect’ and ‘Green Blob Effect’. These are basically, I suppose you can call them artifacts, in the image of the TV.

Why? It’s plagued by this because of it’s technology. Rather than having a cold cathode light or plasma, it uses a color wheel and a lamp to produce light and image. The color wheel has more moving parts and is therefore will be more prone to have something go wrong. Beyond that, unlike the plasma and LCD, the lamp that I mentioned has to be replaced every 3 years or so and can cost up to $150. The lamp is needed to work with the color wheel to produce image so you will have no choice on that. The other thing is, this type of set has a very poor viewing angle. What that means is, when you’re in the kitchen and want to watch the TV from the living room you won’t see a thing. However, you can with the LCD. I’m not sure about the plasma. Want some good news? The rear projection TV is the cheapest price per inch type of set. Example? My brother purchased a 60 inch rear projection for $1800. For $1800, that won’t really get you anything substantial in plasma sets but especially in LCD sets. Replacing the lamp was meant to be an easy DIY and it won’t eat as much power as an LCD or especially a plasma set. So if you want size for a really, really good price and don’t care about replacing the lamp ever 3 or so years or care about the viewing angle, this could be it.

Wrap Up

That is the general summary of all three types of technology. It’s really up to you to do the research on what suits you best for your home and what size it is and how much you want to spend. Just never, EVER buy something this expensive like this at an impulse. Or is it pulse? Either way, you do not want to get buyer’s remorse for something like this. Do plenty of research on brands and models that fit your budget. Also remember that brighter isn’t always better. That general misconception may haunt you post-purchase because that isn’t always the case. The other thing is, consider buying it online. You can save thousands of dollars compared to buying it in store but this may not be peace of mind to some. If you do, please take time and do research of the website and their reputation and customer service. Take precautions on things like the price and the design of the website. If it’s too good to be true then it probably is. If the price seems really cheap and the website looks like it was designed by a 15 year old, then that could be a problem. So it’s your decision. Buy online or at a retail store; i.e: red pill or blue pill. :) (edit: more info on next page.)

Should I Wait For a Better TV?

That’s you’re call, but some day soon if you plan on purchasing a HDTV you will have to pull the trigger on something. However right now, a new set will come in: Laser TV. That’s right. It’s a TV that uses a Laser LED and supposedly it will be incredibly cheap, have crazy picture quality, and the fact that it looks just as flat as a pancake. If you want to wait for that to come in, then sure but god knows when it will actually come out. Either way, I recommend that you probably should not buy it when it comes out, especially since it’s first generation where there are probably bugs and problems in it that the developers didn’t catch or didn’t bother to catch. Just look at the Samsung DLP LED tv set. HLS6187 is the model I believe. It’s the first rear projection TV to use a ‘twinkie’ lasting LED light rather than a regular ‘ol lamp. Good idea, but it was first generation and has some major problems.