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Plasma vs. LCD

Discussion in 'Displays' started by hargrave, Jan 9, 2004.

  1. hargrave

    hargrave Auditioning

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    LCD vs. Plasma. What is the acceptance of one over the other? Pro and con... Is one on the way out and another on the way in?
     
  2. itai

    itai Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi
    I’m no expert, but seems to me that in the long run, lcd would prevail. it feels like a simpler (no pressurized gas...) technology.
    but that’s just speculating over what i read...lcd, right now, excides hd resolution, and hit the 40" size, with room to grow.
    also, plasma has the fading brightness effect (defect), which lcd doesn’t (?).
    Personally, im waiting for lcd to mature, skipping the plasma thing. (Waiting to get richer also!...)
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Plasmas, in my experience, suffer a couple of dreadful flaws.

    1. Screen burn. Don't believe anyone who says, 'ours don't burn,' or, 'we've fixed that problem.' Not yet, and maybe never.

    2. Screen latency. Looks like burn, but it does fade. We've got a Samsung 68" on display, and if you select any of the picture adjust menus, they'll leave a ghost. If you're doing any serious adjustments - more than five minutes - it might take 45 minutes or so for it to fade.

    LCDs have their own problems.

    1. Screen latency. Most large panels take a distinctly visible amount of time to change a cell's state.

    2. Angle of acceptance. Often times worse than rear projectors.

    The technology fairies promise us, however, that OLEDs are going to solve all the world's ills. Personally, they've been saying that just a little too long for me to take them seriously any more. Regular LED screens can make some incredible displays, however - assuming that you don't mind a pixel pitch of, say, .25".

    Leo Kerr
    [email protected]
     
  4. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    "Plasmas, in my experience, suffer a couple of dreadful flaws."

    Hmmm...ok...let's see....

    "1. Screen burn. Don't believe anyone who says, 'ours don't burn,' or, 'we've fixed that problem.' Not yet, and maybe never."

    I don't think anyone *has* claimed to make a burn-free phosphor-based display. Do you consider all CRT-based displays (direct views + RPTVs included), which are also suceptable to burn-in, as "dreadfully flawed" as well?
    Sure you can burn-in all those devices by playing constant static images. But remember, these were made to be TVs, not game consoles.
    I have a Panasonic plasma which plays all manner of images - letter-boxed DVDs, some 4:3 images with black bars, tons of TV stations with hard logos. There isn't a hint of burn-in.

    "2. Screen latency. Looks like burn, but it does fade. "

    This is a virtual non-issue in practice with the vast majority of plasmas. It IS more of a problem for the giants of Plasma (such as the 68" Samsung you mention...which I hadn't heard of actually). But for 50" and below, which virtually everyone here would be looking at, latency is extremely low. Mine has virtually unoticeable latency and, aside from a particularly execrable Sony model, latency does not affect the image quality of any decent new plasma model.

    Basically, as a plasma owner my experience is the "dreadful flaws" you warn about have been non-issues. Had I been scared off by such exagerations, I wouldn't have bought a plasma...and it's been one of the most satisfying electronics purchases I've ever made.

    (BTW, LCDs still have, for me, unnaceptable black levels that, along with not being dark enough, tend to have a strong blue glow).
     
  5. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    TechTV article

    --------------

    1. Contrast and color saturation - Plasma [​IMG]

    Plasma TVs offer better contrast and color saturation than LCDs by design. Plasma pixels remain dark with no voltage while LCD pixels try to keep light from coming through. LCD pixels can't keep all the light from the LCD backlight from coming through. As a result, black isn't quite as black (contrast) as with a plasma TV and stray light tends to dilute color (color saturation).


    2. Burn-in - LCD [​IMG]

    When watching TV programs with bright logos in the bottom right corner, or when playing computer games that have a static image such as a dash board, the image can burn-in on the screen. When you watch something else, you can still see a faint image of the logo or game console. Sometimes this can be remedied by viewing video noise (snow) on a channel that does not have any programming, but it still can be a problem.

    If you're a big gamer, consider LCD instead of plasma TVs. On the other hand, LCD screens are not as fast at changing colors when the action is quick, so you might see some image drag with high-speed gaming action.



    3. Viewing angle - Plasma [​IMG]

    Image quality from a plasma TV pretty much remains the same when viewed off to the side. The image on an LCD changes dramatically, often losing contrast or brightness if you move off center. If your couch sits right in front of the TV, either type is fine. If a lot of your family members sit off to the side of the TV, select a plasma or rearrange the TV room.


    4. Altitude - LCD [​IMG]

    At high altitudes (5,000 feet), plasma TVs have to work harder as gasses in the pixel chambers increase in pressure in relation to the surrounding atmospheric pressure. As a result you'll hear a buzzing sound that drives some consumers crazy. Take the buzz factor into account if you live in an area like Denver or Santa Fe, N.M.


    5. Size and cost - Plasma [​IMG]

    Large plasmas arrived on the flat-panel TV scene before LCDs. The technology for the really big ones (60" diagonal) hasn't evolved as far for LCDs, explaining why you'll see LCD TVs max out at about 40" while plasma TVs at 63" appear in electronics showrooms. It also explains why LCDs cost more than plasma TVs of the same size. Hopefully, prices will come down in a year or so as more LCD TVs are sold and the maximum panel size increases.

    John E. Johnson Jr., Ph.D., is the editor of Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity.

    -----------------

    Excellent source! Had no idea about the altitude issue.
     
  6. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Rich, for reference, I'm giving my opinions based on where I work. We're in a museum environment, and abuse the crap out of our hardware. Anything that survives is remarkable. We put an average of 3500 hours/year on all of our hardware. Some of the displays are computer based; others are video loops. Some are interactive videos with somewhat static buttons for the touchscreen overlays.

    For the 'dreadful burnin', we're finding that in our environment, a computer driven plasma lasts 18-24 months, while a video-driven plasma may last 36-48 months before the picture is unacceptable.

    Considering the outlay, the plasmas are pretty expensive to operate.

    Much to my personal horror, the most robust displays we have in use are some of the old Sony CRT projectors. Some of those have been ticking along now for ten to fifteen years without major service. Second best are the now hard-to-find Sony PVM series direct view CRTs - especially the ones with the 'cube' chasis.

    We do have some 3-year old 18" LCD direct view industrial panels. The pictures haven't degraded, but to be honest, they were pretty sucky to begin with. We've got some really old 9" LCDs that really suck. But then we've got some new 20" displays that are pretty nice.

    The article directly above quoted by Scott L is pretty good. The one bone I'd pick with it is on the first entry. Plasmas are getting better on this, but still, plasmas have quite a lot of 'screen glow' even when they're showing black, and most plasmas get 'steppy' as you get close to black. But I have seen good plasmas in this respect, so that is a solvable issue.


    Thinking through this, I wonder, what happened to Sony? They used to make great industrial monitors and players... in our master control room, we've got a Sony LDV-2000 still in use. It's mechanical hour meter is long-since pegged. Best guess is that we've put something in excess of 80,000 hours on it.

    Leo Kerr
    [email protected]
     
  7. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    Thanks for the great feedback Leo. Very interesting stuff.

    It's hard to know exactly what to make of the hours/life-span issues you've had, not knowing how old the plasma models are, or what kind of quality. As you probably know estimates of plasma life-span (from the major manufacturers)has jumped upward considerably in the last couple years, with some estimates reaching up to 60,000 hours to half life. Of course, it will be a while before we can truly see how accurate those estimates are.

    Over at the AVS plasma forum hundreds of plasma owners have hashed out the life-span/burn-in issues for years now. Burn-in issues seems to occur almost exclusively in commercial use. Only one or two plasma owners have reported burn-in, and in each case it was due to extraordinary "abuse" - such as one fellow who bought the plasma strictly for his kids gaming.

    Plasma seems to have acreted quite a bit of exageration and misinformation (I'm not saying you are guilty), such as the "needs to be re-filled with gas" urban legend, or the "will wear out in a year or two" myth that almost everyone I've seen interested in plasma has swallowed. My point is simply that many people have been scared off by exaggerated and very often ludicrously innaccurate warnings.
    And that, in practice, almost all of us who own plasma (including people who've owned them for years) have not experienced those problems.

    Thanks again for the information. I will definitely add it to my mental data base on plasma/LCD etc.

    Cheers,
     
  8. Randy Schwandt

    Randy Schwandt Auditioning

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    I work for a certain company that has some pretty good prices on Plasmas ( and also sells computers )[​IMG] In my experience with the tv's we have, the plasmas have a much better picture.
    LCD's seem to have the ghosting problem with sports and video with lots of movement. Especially on non-HD broadcasts. The only thing that "seems" like an advantage is the half-life. Alot of them are rated at 50,000 hours and up, with plasma being about half that. One of my customers stated it pretty profoundly when he said "you basically have a poorer picture for twice as long right?"

    Unfortunately, the inherent abilities for both LCD and Plasma on blacks are not very good either way. Plasma's also have what some people have stated above where the bright logos may "keep" on the screen after they are gone. I notice this the most on the Direct TV demo channel when they have their logo on a black screen and then it goes to straight black and the logo is still there.

    Visibly, the plasma's are more appealing to my eyes. The picture looks more like a traditional CRT. LCD's look artificial to me.

    My input on the reliability of plasmas:
    We have 7 plasmas on display at my store, they are on 12 hours a day on various channels (mostly HD broadcast's) and I notice no yellowing when compared to a brand new TV of the same type. Point being, we've had plasma TV's on diplay for a year and a half and no visible performance degradation. I can't say the same for LCD's since we've only had them for 6 months.

    I am a complete newby when it comes to home theatre stuff. But I am trying to learn the ins and outs. I know specs and product. Just not all the interworkings. I am also here because I am now trying to build myself a nice HT without spending 10k so I am trying to educate myself on different TV's. I know jack about RPTV's
     
  9. Kevin*Ha

    Kevin*Ha Agent

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    Plasma half-life is pretty much an educated guess no matter who you hear it from. Manufacturers of the glass generally say 25-40k hours and competing manufacturers (like Sharp) will tell you 10k. Even if you take a conservative guess at 20,000 hours that means the plasma screen will be at half brightness after 15 years of watching at 4 hours a day. If the human eye can even see this I don't know.

    The best example I can think of that I have experience with is plasma TVs on displays in airports/subways. We've been using plasma screens on display now for almost 5 years at 20 hours a day / 7 days a week in some subway terminals without any noticable change in the brightness. That's ~35,000 hours. I'm pretty confident if you put one of those beside a brand new screen you wouldn't notice any brightness difference.
     
  10. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    Leo, have the plasmas at your workplace ever been calibrated, or the brightness turned down? If they are still in torch mode, it's no wonder you see issues on them.

    All the LCDs I've seen in-store @ CC, BB have sucky black levels (as do the suckier plasmas like the Sony model). The brightness is turned up way to high on all the in-store models. When I was looking at my much-wanted Panny 42" ED @ CC, I wanted to tinker with brightness and see how the stretch modes look, I hate stretching, but I know some will be necessary. I asked the guys for the remote - someone had stolen it. They did find the remote for the Panny 42" HD model, so I got to play with that a bit.

    Turning down the brightness a bit made it look better. Didn't have enough familiarity with the menus to find the contrast, etc.

    I always figure that manufacturer's #s are based off default torch mode, so I figure with it turned down/calibrated, maybe it'll last even longer.
     
  11. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Looking over what I've written earlier, I feel like I should say this:

    I do not hate plasma screens. Properly set up, and playing good material for the plasma screen, they're great. (Sorry about the qualifier; it had to be there.)

    They're also improving, dramatically, on an annual basis. For one thing, the horrible 68" plasma that we installed a couple months ago burns something like 700w of power. The first commercial plasma I ever saw was a 20" that with its 1200w consumption meant you could fry steak on it. Well, slowly. Definitly keep your pizza warm and toasty, though.

    But yes, we do try to calibrate our displays for 'best practices' for image quality and screen life. Sometimes, however, people stick us with horrible trash that should never be displayed on a plasma screen. (Bright static logos, computer driven, alternating between two static pages of graphics... bad news.)

    Now, something that I don't have an answer on, is, we all (should) know that Plasma screens are mechanically fragile. Fortunately, the one that we broke had just been dismounted to be replaced.

    Are the large format LCDs - the up to 40" panels - are they fragile, too? As fragile as plasmas? Or is there something funny about the differences that make the comparison non-existant?

    Actually, thinking back to that first 20" plasma I saw... seems to me that the top of the image was always distorted... from the heat distortion off the screen.

    Leo Kerr
    [email protected]
     
  12. Randy Schwandt

    Randy Schwandt Auditioning

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    I believe the LCD's are a bit more hardy than the Plasma's. You can not tilt a plasma due to the gas. People all the time want to lay them flat in their SUV or something to take them home and they get upset when I tell them that's a big no no.

    LCD's can be layed flat, turned upside down etc. without any ill effects.
     
  13. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    Actually, the reason they aren't supposed to be laid down is because the weight of the glass panels in it - they can crack under the strain.

    Someone noticed just the other day that the owner's manual for their Panasonic says that it's OK to lay the plasma flat for a little while in your home.

    It seems to be that the big no-no is shipping or transporting it that way. They aren't to be shipped or transported face down EVER - that's where the stress on the glass comes in. Laying it down face-down when it's not moving is OK though.
     

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