LCD v Plasma v CRT ......again

pinkhelmets

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Most reviews published seem to be biased purely for sales benefit, ie. a plasma company will 'prove' their screens come out best on test while lcd manufacturers will have proof that customers prefer their products. If you read comments from consumers then a plasma owner will favour plasma, an lcd owner will favour lcd, a crt owner will favour the old format, and projection owners are just laughed at. So whats the truth?

I have tried to use as many facts as possible and write this purely with an unbiased view. Hope it helps, even though I know plasma owners will still say theirs is the best and lcd owners will still say theirs is best, CRT owners will say they have best pictures :), in reality its all about what you can get for your money.
Eg. Plasmas have slightly less resolution than an equivelent LCD, which tends to be reported as a 'softer' look, or you could argue its a less-defined look. It may just be better for S-Def pictures but worse for a PC display, its a controversial subject and I dont intend to condem anyones choice.

Physical Size
Size is the all important factor for sales at the moment. CRT just takes up far too much room for the size of displayed picture. Typically an average widescreen crt will need 2ft depth or more, compared with a couple of inches average depth for modern solutions. Plasmas are generally around 3 inches depth, Large LCD can be around 2 inches depth.

Screen size
CRT comes last since the glass tube has a physical manufacture size limit, so typically the maximum widescreen will be 32". LCD has the best range of screen size, covering 1" to about 45" although the latest LG screen has been produced at a size of 100". Plasma currently comes out top for screen size since they suit the current most popular tv range of 32" to 63" and have a lower 'price per inch'. The latest Pioneer has been manufactured at 103" so does beat the LG... just, however the questions is- how long will plasma win on screen size? Plasma screens will be limited to a maximum size due to difficulties manufacturing glass tubes that hold the plasma, whereas LCD seems to have less limitation and is catching up fast, with prices per inch falling.

Price
This is difficult to judge as we are in the middle of price wars. LCD has already cheaper for 'very small' screens and also mid-size screens, perhaps 27" ~ 37" whereas Plasma remains cheaper for the larger 42" ~ 63" range. The original CRT comes out best on price for the small screen size, 14" ~ 27" but for how long? The crt prices are heavily reduced to clear old stock and due to a lack of sales, so LCD will undoubtedly win on price of the small range too.

Resolution
CRT comes out last for resolution due to various limitations. Plasma resolution is always less than the equivelent LCD, simply because the pixels in a plasma are rectangular. LCD comes out top for pure resolution posibilities, since the pixels are square shaped the screen will be made up of more dots.
Resolution is THE biggest arguement, since having more resolution does not always mean the best final picture. Generally a standard definition screen will look best with standard definition pictures; a 'HD-ready' or mid-definition screen will be best suited to mid-definition or pc images; a True High-Definition screen will look best with High-definition pictures.

Viewing Angle
Plasma typically has a viewing angle limited to about 160 degrees. LCD did have a poor name for viewing angles since old screens were designed as computer monitors, but they have now surpassed Plasma... just. Mostly an LCD viewing angle will now be 175 degrees. CRT wins here because there isnt really a viewing angle limit.

Refresh Rates
As LCD was designed for data and not video it has always been slightly slower to refresh, but recent improvements mean rates have rapidly reduced to typically less than 8ms, and we are seeing 5ms in affordable screens. Plamsa and CRT are about the same so both win on the refresh speed. The arguement of interlaced vs progressive is a different subject but a crt uses interlaced which runs half the speed of progressive, so the arguement can be that plasma comes out on top. Really this is a non-issue now, all 3 are considered equal to the eye.

Brightness/Contrast
Under ideal conditions (no ambient light) and perhaps on paper the advantage goes to plasma technology. The reported brightness/contrast specs will be higher for a plasma because LCD TVs are backlit and therefore light must be blocked to create blacks. Plasmas have individual pixels that are either on or off, creating deeper blacks and better contrast. With ambient light in 'real-world' situations LCD TVs can often look better/brighter because the special glass surface of a plasma is made to reflect light, which dulls brightness and contrast. An LCD reflects very little light, so contrast levels are maintained even in a highly-lit room. CRT levels compare more initially with plasma but with non-reflective benefits more similar to LCD. Officially CRT has a higher contrast ratio but less brightness than both lcd & plasma. With that said modern differences result in no clear winner to a human eye, blacks are black, whites are white.

Life-span
A surprising fact to many- A crt is now considered as the worst of the 3 for actual screen life. An average CRT will have a 20,000 hour half-life, which means it will be 20,000 hours before the light measures half of its original brightness. A plasma typical half-life is 30,000 hours, with an LCD typical lamp life of 30,000 hours. The life-span of the screen itself is no longer an issue as under normal use the figures for all are beyond 15 years.

Repairs
Plasma comes last, mostly its hugely expensive to repair a plasma and since they run at high temperatures they may offer the least reliablity. LCD repairs are also costly, lamps can usually be changed but costs of repair may mean its still cheaper to buy a new unit. CRT comes out best with more repairers available and possible least repair costs.

Screen burn / dead pixels / bleeding
Plasma is known to suffer screen-burn, although most modern units have solutions to reduce the possibility. LCD can have stuck or dead pixels. CRT can be damadged from magnetism, ie. speakers, they can develope clouded areas, bluring and bleeding of colours. So all 3 are considered about equal for possible pixel fault.

Power-consumption
CRT comes out last and is the least energy efficient. Plasma produces a lot of heat but is relatively more energy efficient. LCD is the most efficient and uses less energy than the other two.

Shipping/Installation/Durability
CRT are bulky and the heaviest, so cost more to ship. They are also fairly fragile when shipping, and wall installation is not really sensible. Plasma are heavy and cost more than LCD to ship, and they are considered very fragile. Delivery &/or installation can be tricky for plasmas. LCD comes out top, it is cheapest to ship due to lower weight and a much higher durability. Sturdy walls are not as important as for plasma so LCD can usually be installed easier.
 

johnbhoy

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Thanks for this imformative post. A few things there i was suprised about . Mainly that Crt was more power hungry than the lcd and plasma. Eitherway i am hopefully buyin a new hd tv next month and have had it in my head that i will be buying an lcd tv and not a plasma.... dont know why. This has given me some things to go on. Mainly will be using it for xbox360 and pc so think the lcd tv is my best bet
 

digidude

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ive got a 22" lcd that i use through RF only for satellite, xbox, dvds and Wii

ive got a 37" HD lcd on the way so will also be upgrading the feeds to the telly to RGB scart (xbox and dvd) and component HD (Wii) so ill notice a huge difference even with just a scart lead on it :)
 

biffo1

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i have both plasma and tft screen , me personally would prefer plasma , i have kids so with it being a hard screen apposed to the tft its better , also better picture
 

Romero

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Hi Speaking of kids is there any product out there you can buy that will protect the screens? I want to buy a new plasma (possibly the new Panasonic 7 series) but I notice they have plastic screens. Now my two kids have actually scraped a v sign into my Panasonic 32" CRT and I would hate to pay out a load of monies on a new screen to come home with a big x cut into the screen. Anyone any ideas?

Thanks

Romero ;)
 

shaun127

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Hi Speaking of kids is there any product out there you can buy that will protect the screens? I want to buy a new plasma (possibly the new Panasonic 7 series) but I notice they have plastic screens. Now my two kids have actually scraped a v sign into my Panasonic 32" CRT and I would hate to pay out a load of monies on a new screen to come home with a big x cut into the screen. Anyone any ideas?

Thanks

Romero ;)

I was worried about this too mate before i bought my plasma, I had the same thing happen to a Sony yeras ago by my nephew.

I phoned house insurance to check whether it would be covered if that happened and it is. Thought about covering the screen with some sort of protector for my two year old but think it wouldnt be any good because of the anti glare protection the screen is coated in. so never bothered and touch wood he aint went near it yet:FRIGHT:
 

Romero

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Hey Shaun, I was thinking about taking the accidental damage coverage out if I got one, I would be just worried that whoever the insurance company sent out to check it and saw the scratches wouldn't approve the claim and say the TV was still working fine. But dunno if your like me but everytime I look at my crt I can see the scratchs and it distorts the picture. Anyway I suppose we could make the damage worse before they came to check :)

Romero ;)
 

Romero

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Another thing that wrecks my head on LCD is dead or stuck pixels, why should you pay top money for a TV only to find a dead or stuck pixel on the screen? Last year I bought a 32" Toshiba LCD from Dixons and I took out the Mastercare policy, when I got the set home I spotted a dead pixel in the top left hand corner, I went back with it the next store manager saw it and said no problem he then rang head office for a right off code for the set but they wouldn't give it to him as 1 dead pixel was within manufacturers tolerance, they argued it out but no joy in the end he was a decent block and gave me another set we checked it before I took it and he said he'd put the other set on display.
But why should we settle for what I see is a manufacturing flaw? I would pay a bit extra if I could get a assurances that the set would not have any dead or stuck pixels. Its like buying a new car and u notice a dent in the bonnet and the sales rep tells you tough thats within manufacturing tolerences! I don't think so!

Romero ;)

P.S. I got my money back on the Masterplan as its a waste of money!!!
 

dodger

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Hey Shaun, I was thinking about taking the accidental damage coverage out if I got one, I would be just worried that whoever the insurance company sent out to check it and saw the scratches wouldn't approve the claim and say the TV was still working fine. But dunno if your like me but everytime I look at my crt I can see the scratchs and it distorts the picture. Anyway I suppose we could make the damage worse before they came to check :)

Romero ;)

Your house insurance probably covers accidental damage to your home entertainment equipment automatically - just check your policy. I work in this field of the insurance game.
 

mastichick

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I`ve been thinking of buying a 42" tv but I as a bit confused whether to go for a plasma or lcd, now thanks to pinkhelmets excellent writeup its given me an insight and a better understanding of which type to buy.

Thanks
 
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