Which is better? LCD, LED or Plasma TV?

We have all heard the stories, from years back about how Plasma TV’s suffer screen burn and that LCD TVs have problems with fast moving object and sure enough, at the time these point were in some cases true.

No, a few years later technology has caught up and those problems are a thing of the past, the unfortunate thing is that it leaves the consumer with more choice. Whilst this would normally be good news, it does cause a problem if you don’t fully understand the differences between the 3 competing technologies, then it is hard to make the best choice on your next purchase.

The quick and simple answer: LCD is the market leader, and it has, over the last few years enjoyed being the major winner, at least in sizes up to 37″ to 40″. (of course, plasma televisions  are perfectly good and in fact have some excellent reasons for purchase, which we explain a bit later.)

Now however, with the latest in TV technology to hit the arena, the LED TV, an extremely thin TV with bright and vivid colors, adds even more choice to the consumer and by the time you have spent 10 minutes reading this simple guide you will better understand the differences, pros and cons of all 3.

Reason for the simple Answer: The LCD TV is the market leader because in relation to screen size it is the cheapest technology; almost all manufacturers have 1080p LCD models in their line-up which helps keep prices down. The High Resolution, 1080p LCD  TV sets will cost more than 720p LCD TVs, or even a plasma of similar dimensions, but both however will be cheaper than the newer LED backlit TVs of a similar size.

So, what is the difference between the 3 types; LED, Plasma and LCD? Simply, it’s the method of producing the “light” emitted by the screen. With LCD TVs using compact fluorescent tubes, strip lights; very small ones  and the LED TV using high power Light Emitting Diodes, more energy efficient but more expensive.

Plasma TV work in a completely different way , lighting each pixel individually, with each then producing its own light, which we think gives not only much better contrast ratios but also a deeper perception of color. The slightly higher power usage that this type of TV uses has caused it to lose favour over the LCD TV, however, if you really want size, then the Plasma TV  is the best bet, especially on sizes over 42 inches.

If you must keep up with the neighbors then the LED is the number 1 in the newness stakes, with super thin TVs, in some cases well under an inch. Unfortunately, like everything else in the technology game it does come at a cost, with an increase in price over a similarly sized LCD or Plasma TV. About 30-40% more in fact.

Each have their own pros and cons, LCD vs Plasma vs LED:

Price, Picture Quality, and Energy Efficiency.

LED Technology Image

Price: Regardless of which point you look at it from the LCD TV wins on price on any Flat Screen TV up to 40″ in size and from that point its the bigger brother, the Plasma TV. LED being in its infancy comes with a higher price. Specifications are similar across the range.

Picture Quality: LCD TVs have improved a thousand fold in the last few years, with fast frame rates and great contrast ratios, the picture quality can be amazing. The LCD is only bettered by the sometimes lifelike pictures displayed by the better branded Plasma TVs, with Pioneer a particular top choice. The LED set uses almost exactly the same technology as its stablemate, the LCD and because of this, it produces much the same in the way of picture, with a slight improvement in black levels.

Contrast Ratio: This is the difference between the Lighter and Darker areas of any picture.  Plasma TVs have contrast ratios that easily surpass that of the LCD or LED TV, thanks to the individually lit cells but new  LCD TVs are beginning to catch up, with the newest LCD sets from LG, Sony and Samsung  almost equalling the Plasma in terms of contrast ratio. But not quite. LED TVs again, LCD TVs with a LEDs for back lights, come again a little bit closer to the depths of contrast you see in most plasma TVs and soon they will be the same. But, as of this moment the Plasma TV is still the leader.

How an LCD TV WorksResolution: What is 1080p? It’s High Definition, you will also hear other resolutions mentioned; 720p and 1080i, abut 1080p is the highest resolution you’ll see in stores or online. It is purely the number of lines of information used to construct the picture you see. The higher the number, the better the picture; Akin to digital camera resolutions.

Refresh Rate and Response Time: Remember the stories from 5 years ago, or just watching a football skip across the screen, that’s refresh rate; and the response time is the time taken for the TV to change from 1 frame to the next.

Most LCD TVs manage to output around 60fps, frames per second, this is the same as used for HDTV. however some manufacturers offer sets with  higher frame rates than this, 120Hz, 240Hz and even 600Hz, for fast moving game play or sports on the big screen TV this can be an excellent feature.

How a Plasma TV WorksImage Processor: The humble TV is really just a computer, a computer that has to decipher a watchable TV image from a signal containing sometimes hundreds of other TV signals, done by the tuner; and once it has done this the TV then has to construct the video stream and display it for you to watch, this is called image processing. So, on a 1080p TV the image processing is harder than on say a 720p set. All 3 sets utilise the same methods of video processing, with only the software and components changing, what we would say is that branded makes spend more on their processing hardware and software than the budget makers. For obvious reasons.

Price: Price is the biggest market fact, no beating about the bush, and we’ve said it twice already.

Up to 40 inches – LCD

Over 40 inches – Plasma

LED is 30-40% more expensive, inch for inch.

Power Consumption: The newest sets based on LED back lighting use the least energy when in use, saving on average 20% over LCD and up to 45% on a Plasma TV which somewhat outweighs the extra additional cost.

LED and LCD TechnologyScreen Burn: This is not an issue on any of the 3 different type sets..

In the End: Which is better,  LCD, LED or Plasma? Really that depends on you and what you need from your TV;

Up to 40″ is the LCD TV, on Price alone.

from 40″- 42″ it’s either a Plasma or LCD set.

Over 42″ is the Plasma TV, on Price.


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