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LCD vs. Plasma TVs


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#1 Kirsty Stark

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 09:40 AM

Hopefully this is in the right forum and hasn't been discussed before. I tried a search but couldn't find anything.

Just wondering if there is any consensus in cinematography circles about whether Plasma or LCD screens are better for watching films at home (will mostly be on DVD or TV).

I've been trying to research this but most reviewers seem to be biased depending on which type they own themselves.

From what I can gather, plasmas can display blacks more accurately and produce brighter colours, and are better for fast-moving images such as sports; while LCDs apparently have higher resolution and longer lifespans. However, I've now read so much that I'm starting to confuse myself with all of the specifications.

Does anyone here have opinions, considering you (ought to) have good eyes for detail?

(Any brand / model recommendations would be great too... we're looking at around 40 inches).
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#2 Walter Graff

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 11:47 AM

[b]Plasmas started out much better but nowadays LCDs have caught up considerably. But that is also qualified by how much you spend on an LCD in many cases. In general plasmas are more accurate in color and shade. As you said correctly plasmas can create richer blacks. This is because an LCD is a rear illuminated screen so it is harder to make black when you have a "light bulb" shining through a screen. Also Plasmas offer better viewing at off angles and can reproduce the gamut of colors more accurately. As for motion, your information is old. LCDs now produce motion just as well as plasmas. As for lifespan latest generation plasmas last just as long as LCDs. Burn in is no longer an issue. LCDs do have a brightness advantage which can be an advantage with some material and situations. But overall I'd still give the edge to plasma. Probably the single best entry level plasma is the Panasonic 42" TH-42PX75U which sells for just over $1000 US. I have three and there is no better TV for the money.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 12:05 PM

I think it depends on the brand and model, as well as taste. There are "good" and "crap" monitors in both plasma and LCD.

Personally I'm not a fan of plasma; there's something about the glowing "cells" that creates a diffusion of light across the screen like a mild pro-mist and keeps it from looking smooth and film-like (for watching film-originated material like movies on DVD). No matter how good the color or contrast, it always ends up looking like a video image. Plasmas often suffer from added picture noise as well.

Good LCD's can be exceptionally crisp, contrasty, and colorful, although you really have to shop around to find the brand/model that has the truest color reproduction. Too often you'll see reds that are way too saturated and shifted toward magenta (among other problems). I've had my eye on a larger Sony model.

I don't know that I'd agree that LCD's have a brightness advantage over plasmas though. Most plasmas have always "outshined" LCD's for a good long time, although LCD's do continue to improve.
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#4 Walter Graff

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 12:32 PM

Michael you said:

"I think it dependson ...taste."

and then you did just that saying

"Personally I'm not a fan of plasma; there's something about the glowing "cells" that creates a diffusion of light across the screen like a mild pro-mist and keeps it from looking smooth and film-like (for watching film-originated material like movies on DVD). No matter how good the color or contrast, it always ends up looking like a video image. Plasmas often suffer from added picture noise as well."

I don't find any of what you said to be true of my plasma viewing experience but then again like you said...

:)

As for brightness, I think I might change what I said because the brightness of a plasma is based in individual elements of a picture rather than the entire screen being backlit so your argument can be supported in a living room senario. Some find the appearent brightness of plasmas more soothing. The nature of a flourescent tube lighting up a screen as in LCD verses the richer blacks plasmas have is an advantage in that arena. But we have also found that in some installations in more brighter public areas, that LCDs punch thorugh better but at the sake of overall quality so we mostly do LCDs in public spaces as a result. It depends on whose unit you use and what coating they are using for their front screen.


What kind of Tv are you watching now, plasma or LCD and what model?
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 01:35 PM

I'd definitely pick a plasma, in fact I'm planning to get one this year or next. I find they look more organic than LCDs. The one drawback is that only recently Plasmas that can do 1080p have appeared on the market, most Plasmas only do 720p. I'd definitely get a 1080p one. You can't go wrong with Pioneer, but they are expensive. The newest Samsungs are also nice.
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#6 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 01:40 PM

When I was in the market for a new TV earlier this year my research led me to an LCD, and eventually a 42" 1080P Sharp Aquos. That doesn't mean my research was right of course, but I am very happy with my purchase. I've seen a lot of plasmas in the past and I like the picture on my LCD better, which is subjective of course. But the key word is PAST. I haven't looked at too many plasmas lately, and from reading the other posts in this thread it seems that they have gotten a lot better.
Go look for yourself and do side by side comparisons and decide which you like better, since that's what matters most in the end anyway.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 01:41 PM

Am I the only person who misses the old school CRTs?
We have a bunch of Sony plasmas here at my day job and I'd say that they produce very nice blacks and colors. Just don't leave them on the same screen unmoving for 3 days else they might burn in. But all in all, Plasma gets my vote only because there's less of an angle difference in viewing them as i've seen. I hate that on LCDs. It made watching films at my friends house absolutely unbearable (more 1/4" and it gets darker!)
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 06:00 PM

Am I the only person who misses the old school CRTs?

CRT's are a gonner. The CRT plants are getting shut down.

Sony has settled on LCD for the first generation of professional monitors to replace their CRT line. Their engineers were out here a few months ago showing a prototype, asking questions, and taking lots of notes. So, over the next few years, what you see on TV will be more likely to have been judged based on an LCD display than a plasma.

Personally, I'd take front projection DLP over either LCD or plasma. For now, we have a 34" CRT, which will remain in service for quite a while.





-- J.S.
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#9 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 06:24 PM

CRT's are a gonner. The CRT plants are getting shut down.

Sony has settled on LCD for the first generation of professional monitors to replace their CRT line. Their engineers were out here a few months ago showing a prototype, asking questions, and taking lots of notes. So, over the next few years, what you see on TV will be more likely to have been judged based on an LCD display than a plasma.



I know a few engineers at hi end facilities in NY who have been stockpiling crt monitors (D24's and D32's) most of the lcd's which have been evaluated by these guys are not acceptable, including the really expensive "this LCD does everything perfect' ones like the sony's or ecinemas. CRT still rules.

I was at a Filmlight show a while back and they had the Baselight hooked up to a nice 50" panasonic 1080p plasma I thought it looked great but I have a plasma at home and prefer the color and contrast to lcd.

my .02

-Rob-
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#10 Michael Nash

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 08:36 PM

Michael you said:

"I think it dependson ...taste."

and then you did just that saying

"Personally I'm not a fan of plasma;


Yes, that was my point. It's my own personal taste that doesn't care for the way plasmas tend to impart their own "look" upon the material. Much of the time it's very subtle (and negligible), but with film-originated material I feel that LCD's are generally more capable of displaying a film projection-like contrast and texture. Maybe it has something to do with the gamma as well.

As technologies continue to improve and prices continue to drop, I've held off on getting an HD set and I'm still watching my 32" JVC CRT. It looks great, but I'm leaning toward an LCD now that you can get them in larger sizes.
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 09:29 PM

I've seen good and crap plasmas and TFTs, but I have probably seen more crap plasmas. It's a far less mature technology, even though it doesn't really seem to be maturing. Yes plasmas can give better blacks, but many don't - I've seen some horrible noisy brownish blacks on plasmas, worse than the bluish-purple blacks on TFTs. Yes, in theory a plasma can achieve zero luminance, and a TFT never really can, but frequently it doesn't actually happen.

Plasmas, a point that hasn't been raised, generally have a fairly poor fill factor - that is, bigger-than-TFT black lines around the pixels. The pixels tend also to be unevenly illuminated, with the densest emissions around the electrode site itself. These circumstances conspire to create a display which is a field of dots to a much greater extent than a TFT. This is OK so long as you're far enough away from the display; I think some of the smallest plasmas are small enough that you're likely to be close enough to see the grid. They are also often much heavier than a similarly-specified TFT, which may not be a small issue if you're trying to hang it on a stud wall.

I think probably the best display currently available is DLP projection, but that's highly expensive (I can't stand single chip DLP) and probably has worse blacks than either TFT or plasma in most realistic circumstances.
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#12 Michel Hafner

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 09:50 AM

Have never seen a consumer LCD whose picture I did not find yuck with SD material. With HD it's more tolerable. Professional LCDs are something else, but so is the price.
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#13 Walter Graff

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 09:54 AM

The reason LCDs are the choice in control room situations is that monitors are left on 27/7 and LCDs do not suffer from burn in and have longer lifespans than plasmas.
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#14 Joe Taylor

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 03:12 PM

Am I the only person who misses the old school CRTs?
We have a bunch of Sony plasmas here at my day job and I'd say that they produce very nice blacks and colors. Just don't leave them on the same screen unmoving for 3 days else they might burn in. But all in all, Plasma gets my vote only because there's less of an angle difference in viewing them as i've seen. I hate that on LCDs. It made watching films at my friends house absolutely unbearable (more 1/4" and it gets darker!)



I have a big ol' Sony HD CRT that I went far out of my way to buy since the picture quality far surpasses PLASMA or LCD. The picture is more rich and vibrant than anything else. It weighs 300+ pounds but the image is so worth it. It's three years old and I'm not sure if they even make them any more
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#15 Kirsty Stark

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 08:52 PM

Thanks for all the responses. Have looked at quite a few options now and we're leaning towards a 42 inch 1080p Panasonic plasma... only problem is they've sold out of all but the display model, so we'll have to wait a while!
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#16 Michael Nash

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 09:09 PM

Thanks for all the responses. Have looked at quite a few options now and we're leaning towards a 42 inch 1080p Panasonic plasma... only problem is they've sold out of all but the display model, so we'll have to wait a while!


There's been one popular model Panasonic plasma that has absolutely attrocious compression and noise reduction, yet the salesmen (and customers, apparently) seem to think the picture is the best thing since sliced bread. The color and contrast are eye-catching from across the store, but up close you can see that all the detail within subjects is horrendously smoothed out to point of looking like cell animation. It's especially obvious when the monitor is next to another brand displaying the same image. I've seen it look the same way in different stores, so it's not just an isolated incident.

Shop around and do as much side-by-side comparison viewing as possible to see what detail is really there in the image, and what's being smooshed from high definition to NO definition. In the stores the monitors often have the color cranked up too high and the blacks crushed to create a "rich" image, but when you see another monitor (or tune it yourself) you might be surprised how much image detail is being thrown away or crushed. As a DP I'm always looking for an accurate image, not an artificially "improved" rendering.
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#17 Walter Graff

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 10:33 PM

CNET which has a very good an accurate review system listed the top ten flat screen TVs of 07. As most people would agree plasmas dominate the list with seven.

http://reviews.cnet.....html?tag=prmo1

Most reviewers agree that some Samsung and Sony models are best LCDs while some Samsung, Panasonic, and Pioneers the best plasmas.

I own the Panasonic at #10 and think it is one of the best deals out there. When you are in the store make sure to look at the TVs at a distance of 1.5-2.5 times the picture height so about 5-8 feet from a 40 inch TV to see how well it produces a picture. Know that not all the monitors might be set up perfectly, so don't judge a picture simply by looking at it. Most TVs contrast is pushed in stores (which is the number one ingredient for what you perceive as sharpness). They make TVs adjustable to suit taste so no single picture is going to represent what you may or may not like. Most all TVs have a reset button for adjustments so feel free to play. You want to see the TVs middle range of contrast brightness and color to accurately see how it really performs. Don't get caught up in the numbers game either. Marketing gimmicks now have them pushing 1080p as the ultimate in viewing experience but 90% of even the trained eye can't tell the difference. It's a numbers game more than anything else. So just because something says 1080p does NOT mean it is better. Resolution specs are actually at the bottom of the list in terms of what constitutes the most important part of perceived picture quality. See the articles on my site about that.

http://www.bluesky-w...mean-little.htm
http://www.bluesky-w...gh-and-why.html

I have been involved in tests where 1080HDCAM source material was played side by side in a number of sets that specs said had everything from 720p to 1080p specs and no one in the room could tell the difference in most all the sets unless their nose was touching the screen. And I was with some engineering heavyweights doing these tests. We recently did this over a two month period testing some 24 models of sets for a major public installation in eleven states all networked in properties of one of the largest mall companies in the country. So don't fall for the hype. Most of all, it's about taste. I know a number of reviewers who can't believe that sets they think suck are favorites when viewed by the public. But it's subjective and there is no right or wrong on a TV just what works for you.

Here is a good article by Dave Katzmaler that I always give to people when they start asking about differences in resolution numbers. Dave explains it best.

http://www.cnet.com/...-5137915-1.html
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#18 Kirsty Stark

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 04:32 AM

Thanks Michael... I'll definitely make sure to compare closely in store before buying rather than just going for one that looks nice from a distance. Like you, I'd much rather see an accurate image than an improved one.

Walter, I had a look at your link. It appears that the model numbers for Panasonic in Australia are different to the US ones, so I'm not entirely sure whether the one you own is the one I'm looking at, but the specs seem to be the same from what I can remember.

Thanks for the links as well... very helpful stuff.
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#19 Walter Graff

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 07:26 AM

Same TVs, different numbers. Manufaturers don't make ten differnt models normally, just the same insides, and a range of extras, so many times a $1000 Tv is the same as a more expensive model, it just has less in the way of extras but the core of the curcuitry is identical.
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#20 Robert Glenn

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 11:21 AM

I've have a 32" 720p and a 42" 1080p Philips flat LCD tv, and love them. They render colors better than I could ever get from the CRTs I've had. The whole contrast issue is not to big of a deal with LCDs either as my 32" has 800:1 while my 42" has 3000:1, and they look pretty close to one another with HD signal.

As for 1080p vs 720p, you can't really tell the difference from 10 feet out, but there IS a difference that you will be able to see if you look for it. Compare anything on CBS to anything on ABC from their OTA signal and you will see a difference in resolution.

If there is one thing I dont like with the new Tvs, it's the fact that they use more electricity than CRTs. Newer LCDs will probably be backlit with LEDs, but they will cost more than the currently backlit ones...

I dont know anything about the Plasmas, butI do know that plasmas weigh about 175% more than LCDs. According to wikipedia also, they lose their lighting intensity over time, which would suck.

I dont like DLPs too much -- they have a horrible viewing angle and require backlamp replacement.
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