Blogs & Comment

LCD, plasma and LED: What it all means

If youve still got your receipt for a recently purchased LCD or LED-lit TV, load up your car and return it you’ve been duped, suggests David Berman, director of training and public relations at Home Technology Specialists of America.
For example, Best Buy is currently selling an LG 47 LCD for $1,000, while Best Buys LG 50 plasma TV is for sale at the price of $850.
The colour on plasma TVs is more accurate, the screen is bigger and the motion tracking is significantly faster, Berman says.
So why would a 50 plasma TV be cheaper than a 47 LCD TV?
Plasma TVs built before 2004 were not built with the screen-saving technology of todays plasmas. If an image on the screen of a plasma from before 2004 remained static for a long period of time, the screen risked “burning in” part of the image. But plasmas built after 2004 have all been built with screen-saving technology.
The early plasmas got really bad reputations, Berman says. LCD manufacturers spread myths into the market that all plasma TVs are going to burn in, he adds, but if you have a plasma TV thats from before 2004, it will be fine as long as you dont plug in devices like video games and DVD players that were made before 2004.
Torontos Bay Bloor Radiois an independent electronics store that sells a wide variety of TVs both plasma and LCD. Director of sales Richard Bowden, who has worked in the electronics industry for about 30 years, says, Manufacturers who dont make plasmas are always thinking of ways to dissuade people at a retail level from buying plasmas almost like a scare tactic.
When asked if the plasmas bad reputation has anything to do with the fact that its cheaper than the LCD, Bowden says, You need to compare apples to apples. Plasma TVs arent using newer technology even if theyre newly released. Theyre using 2- or 3-year-old technology, he says.
The older a type of technology is, Bowden says, the easier it is to reproduce. Manufacturers learn how to be more efficient and minimize production costs. Thats why the price of plasmas has dropped, he says.
While some manufacturers produce both LCDs and plasmas, companies like Toshiba, Sony and Sharp only produce LCDs and LED-lit LCDs.
Sharp Canadas Bill Friend, assistant VP, consumer products division, says If you would have asked me two years ago if plasma TVs would be obsolete by now, I wouldve said yes. I think plasma TVs are here to stay, but I think the consumer has overwhelmingly chosen LCD as the screen of choice.
A report by Forrester Research Inc.forecasts that by 2014, 80% of high-definition TVs sold in the US will be LCDs.
In 2009, more than 83 million HDTVs (including both plasma and LCD) were in use in the US, with more than half of households 57.8 million owning two or more, Forrester reports.
This analysis predicts that annual unit sales for all HDTVs will grow from 21 million in 2009 to a high of nearly 30 million in 2014.
Friend says, that tells me that theres still more penetration to be done.
Terms you need to know

Terms such as SD, ED, HD, LED, LCD and plasma can get confusing. Heres a basic breakdown of some terms youll see in ads today:
SD and SDTV:These terms are interchangeable, both short for the resolution on standard television sets.
ED and EDTV:Both terms refer to enhanced or extended-definition resolution. ED is better than SD but not as good as HD.
HD and HDTV:Both refer to resolution that is about five times better than that of standard TV sets. Most TV sets on todays market have HD resolution.
Quattron:Term for technology that adds yellow to the traditionally three-palette colour filter (red, green and blue), improving brightness and colour accuracy. Currently Sharps LCD TVs are the only ones with Quattron technology.
Type of TV
CRT and CCTV:Both refer to standard box-shaped TV sets. CCTV is short for closed-circuit television.
Plasma: Technology is similar to that of a fluorescent light bulb. Gas is sealed in plasma and electrically charged to create pixels on the screen. The resolution is usually HD.
LCD:Short for liquid crystal display, electricity passes through crystals and crystals pass or block light to create images. The resolution is usually HD.
LED:An updated version of the LCD TV, this TV uses light-emitting diodes technology for backlighting. This TV can be up to 70% thinner than a regular LCD, but the picture is the same as the LCD TV. These TVs generate less electricity during usage and less pollution during manufacture. The resolution is usually HD.
3-D TVs
AI:Short for alternate image or alternate-frame sequencing, the technology used by 3-D TVs that were released in early 2010. Viewers must wear shutter glasses to see three-dimensional images.
AS 3-D: Short for autostereoscopic three-dimensional TVs. Technologists have already made this type of 3-D TV, but there are still too many bumps and bruises to release it to the market. Viewers will not need to wear glasses to see 3-D images on this TV. Expect it to hit the market in 2015.
Read more about the 3-D TVs place in the market in my blog post dedicated specifically to 3-D technology.
The following chart compares several key differences between LCDs and plasmas, the two most popular TVs on the market today:

LCD Plasma
Brightness Market leader


Colour accuracy Market leader
Motion tracking Market leader
Dimension Available 2-D and 3-D 2-D and 3-D
Price Though HD LCDs tend to be more expensive than HD plasmas, you may find an ED LCD that is cheaper than an HD plasma of the same size. Generally less expensive when comparing TVs of the same size
Lifespan About 100,000 viewing hours (6 hrs. / day for 46 yrs.) Shorter: Between 60,000 and 100,000 viewing hours (Minimum: 6 hrs. / day for 27 yrs. Maximum: 6 hrs. / day for 46 yrs.)
Electricity Uses less power Generates more heat
Size Screens larger than 42 less common Larger-sized screens commonly available
Shape Flat and thin Flat and thin
Weight Lighter when comparing TVs of same size, making wall installation easier