16 October, 2021       LISBON - MAX. Times of clouds and sunº, MIN. 04º

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Folders  |  What to choose, LCD or Plasma? (upgraded article)
What to choose, LCD or Plasma? (upgraded article)
Luís Matos
What to choose, LCD or Plasma? (upgraded article)
When we think of retiring our old TV set (CRT), an immediate question arises, what to buy, LCD or plasma? With this article, we don´t want to influence readers to either side, we only want to inform him of the advantages of each of these technologies.

In the first place, we should calculate the size of the screen most suitable for the place where we are going to put the TV. As a rule, we should never watch TV from a distance of less than 3 times the screen diagonal, that is to say, if our sofa is 2,5 metres away from the TV then this should have a diagonal of 32 inches (250cm/3; if it´s 3 metres away, then the room can take a 40 inch TV. This is a golden rule, but because of the big promotion campaigns, we are often tempted to buy a TV larger than what we really need, but we shouldn´t forget that watching from too close is very harmful to our health, the picture quality worsens due to proximity, everything should be in moderation.

Both LCD and Plasma are technologies with some years already, and so quite advanced, and because of large scale fabrication the production costs have come down. ´We have seen LCD´s for quite a few years in laptops, cellphones, portable game consoles, calculators, digital cameras, but only recently has one developed a bigger LCD at a lower cost, thus managing to compete pricewise with Plasma technology, these already used in televisions and big screens for quite some time now.

In today’s world, one cannot ignore DTT (digital terrestrial television), which refers to the hertzien transmission of high definition television images (captured by using an aerial). Very important for people who cannot obtain cable (satellite or Internet Protocol Televsion, called IPTV), however having a set that is compatible with DTT is not enough: you also need to make sure that it meets the norms used in most European Union countries (including Portugal), i.e. DT MPEG4. To have a television with an integrated digital demodulator is a major advantage, as this means you avoid having to buy a separate box (similar to the boxes used here for TV Cabo, IPTV, etc,) which as well as being costly and not pleasing to look at, also require two remote controls.

What is LCD?

LCD screens are formed by a liquid crystal, the molecules of which are placed between 2 transparent sheets, extremely thin and polarized. That polarization is oriented in a different way between the 2 sheets so that they form perpendicular axes , in other words, it´s as if one sheet were oriented vertically and the other horizontally. The molecules are capable or orientating light, when an image is transmitted, electric elements in the sheets generate fields that induce the liquid crystal to orientate the incoming light, to form an image.

The light of the panels can be fluorescent bulbs (the most common) or from leds. That is why that they have a limited duration, it not being possible to replace these bulbs.

Types of LCD :
- TN (twisted nematic): this is the cheapest technology, used in low-range computer screens;
- STN (super twisted nematic): an evolution of TN, it can transmit faster images (games, for example) and has visual angles of up to 160º;
- GH (Guest Host): GH is a kind of pixel contained in the liquid crystal which absorbs light. This process varies according to the electric field. So, this system allows various colors;
- TFT monitors (thin film transistor) or active matrix

This is the most common technology used in portable PC´s. Its main characteristic is the application of transistors in each pixel and is used largely with liquid crystal, often being called TFT-LCD (active matrix LCD) to differentiate the technologies.

What is plasma?

The main difference between plasma and LCD is that each point (pixel) creates its own light source, and so the plasma image is much clearer and has no distortion problems at the edges of the screen.

To create a light in each point, charged electrodes are used between the panels, which originate tiny gas explosions that react to ultraviolet light, making the red, green or blue phosphorus glow. Just like LCD´s, the lifespan of a Plasma is limited, even more so than LCD´s.

What to choose, LCD or Plasma?

For screens smaller than 37 inches, LCD technology is better, seeing that we have better quality at a lower price; for the same reason, above 40 inches, plasma is better. It is normal sales talk to hear LCD is better because of longer durability, bla bla…but actually the durability isn´t that much. To have an idea, an LCD lasts on average between 30,000 and 50,000 hours while a plasma will last between 15,000 and 30,000 hours, so if we have the TV on for say 3 hours every day, we will have, in a worst case scenario, a lifespan of 13 years, which is more than enough for today´s consumer society and the speed at which new technologies appear.

Regardless of technology and because we are entering the high definition era, it is important to buy a TV prepared for such, to choose one that is FULL HD (1090p) and not only HD READY, and while we´re at it, one that has at least 2 HDMI entrances (replacing the present SCART pattern or euroconnector).
But let us not forget the main thing, our own personal taste; if we are going to buy a TV, we are bound to look at it very often (even switched off), so it is important that it also has a design that pleases us.

Philips 32PFL9603D
Sony BRAVIA KDL-32W5500

Philips 42PFL9603H
LG 42LH7020

More informations? :

Economic range :
- 32" : LG 32 LC41
- 37" : LG 37 LC41
- 40"/42" : Panasonic TH-42PV70

Average range  :
- 32" : Panasonic TX-32LX70 F
- 37" : Philips 37PFL7662D
- 40"/42" : Sony KDL-40X3500

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