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Choosing between LCD and Plasma flat panel television screens is usually the first decision made when shopping for a new flat screen TV. While LCD and Plasma TVs appear similar, both in terms of how the screen looks and its digital output, LCD and Plasma technologies process signals in different ways.

LCD and Plasma displays have their advantages and disadvantages and it is useful to understand them so you can make an informed decision on whether an LCD TV or a Plasma TV will give you the best value for money.
In this Projector Source Canada article we will explain the technology behind Plasma and LCD screens to help you answer the question "is Plasma or LCD right for me?"

How does LCD technology work?

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) televisions are primarily composed of a liquid crystal solution divided into individual pixels, which is sandwiched between two glass plates. A backlight is used to beam light through the first plate, and an electrical current is passed through the crystals. The amount of charge applied to each crystal causes it to allow a certain degree of light to pass through. The resulting crystal formation is what forms the displayed image.

How does Plasma technology work?

Like LCDs, Plasma screens are composed of two glass panels. The difference between the two technologies lies in the substance between these two panels. Instead of filtering light, the panels house thousands of gas chambers, each behind red, blue, and green phosphors. An electrical current is used to turn the gas into plasma, which generates an ultraviolet light that causes the phosphors to glow, creating the desired image.

What are the advantages of LCD?

Better resolution

LCDs generally have higher native resolutions in comparison to their Plasma alternatives. It is much more common to find an LCD TV outputting 1080p HDTV resolution than a Plasma TV.

Longer lifespan

LCD displays are generally regarded as longer-lasting than Plasmas, although both these time frames are quite large. For example, the 60,000 hour life span of an LCD TV would mean that even if you watched TV for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you would still get more than 6 years of usage.

Viewing distance

The pixel structure and panel measurements of LCDs allow these television to output a smoother picture than their Plasma equivalents. As a result, at closer distances the pixel structure of LCD screens is less visible.

What are the disadvantages of LCD?

Dead pixel susceptibility

Over their lifespan, individual pixels on an LCD television can burn out which stops them functioning correctly. As a result a small black or white dot can permanently appear on an LCD screen. While this is often unnoticeable, large clusters of dead pixels can become an annoyance.


Due to higher pixel response times, during high motion scenes such as in action films or sporting events LCD televisions can experience blurred images. However, newer LCD models have lowered the pixel response time, making blurring less of an issue during fast moving scenes.

Viewing angle

As LCDs were initially designed as single-user computer monitors there is a gradual degradation in picture quality as you view LCD televisions from wider angles.

What are the advantages of Plasma?

Greater contrast ratio

A television''s contrast ratio is a measure between the darkest and lightest colours outputted. Plasma televisions frequently boast far higher contrast ratios than LCDs and so are able to display deeper blacks.

Screen size

As Plasma technology is widely believed to more suitable for larger size televisions there is a wider range of large, 40 inch plus Plasma televisions available in comparison to LCD offerings.

Viewing angle

As the pixels on Plasma televisions produce their own individual light, Plasma televisions boast higher viewing angles. This is ideal if you will not always be viewing the television from directly in front of it.

What are the disadvantages of Plasma?

Burn in

Plasmas, unlike LCD screens, are susceptible to screen burn in. This occurs if the same image is displayed for a prolonged amount of time, causing an outline of the image to be permanently burnt into the screen.

Power consumption

Plasma televisions typically require much more electricity than an LCD television since instead of a using a fluorescent backlight like in an LCD, Plasma TVs require than each individual pixel is illuminated.

Resolution output

Plasma televisions tend to output in resolutions of 1024x728 and then use internal scalars to display high definition resolutions of 720p or 1080p. LCD televisions often use these HDTV resolutions natively.

Is LCD or Plasma technology right for you?

What type of display you invest in is dependent on what you will use it for, and what size of flat screen TV you require.  Those seeking a smaller television, perhaps for the bedroom, should be aware that 32 inches is the current minimum standard for Plasmas, whereas LCDs can be as small as 14 inches.  Likewise, those seeking the largest possible screen will often find only Plasmas available.

In terms of day to day use, if you plan to frequently watch sports, play videogames or use the television for any other purpose in which certain images remain on screen for prolonged periods of time then an LCD television may be preferable to avoid burn in. LCDs are also advantageous for prolonged usage due to their greater energy efficiency.
If you are seeking a large television for a home theatre, despite the greater resolutions LCDs offer, Plasma televisions still produce superior colour accuracy and contrast levels, meaning richer colours and deeper blacks.

While LCDs are less susceptible to glare, if you do not plan on viewing your television front-on then the wider viewing angles Plasma TVs provide could be worth considering in making a choice between the two technologies.

We hope you enjoyed this article by Projector Source Canada.  For more information, or to purchase a display and projector for your business or home, visit us online at or contact us at 1-800-821-3021.

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