Plasma TV Buyer’s Guide
Plasma screen TVs have two plates of glass between which thousands of tiny gas-filled cells are held. Behind each cell are a series of red, blue and green phosphors. Through the use of electricity, this gas is turned into plasma which stimulates the phosphors to emit light and create the screen image.
Some say that the image clarity is superior to LCD TVs and we feel this was once true, but the development of the LCD technology in recent years have changed this somewhat. But plasma TVs do have very wide viewing angles, while LCD TVs cope better with brightness and glare. In this expert guide the different types of Plasma TVs and the specifications to consider when reviewing them are explained. It will also highlight the differences you can expect within the various price ranges.
Available types of Plasma TVs
There are three main types of Plasma TVs available on the market. Before starting your search, it is best to determine which type fits your criteria.
- Standard Definition
Some plasma TVs on the market still use the old standard definition. Unless otherwise stated, these televisions are not able to receive the High Definition formatted signals.
- High Definition
There are two types of Plasma high definition TVs:
720p – which isn’t a true high definition TV as it converts the resolution into its native 720p resolution.
1080i – the true high definition resolution as it will display the full 1080i resolution without scaling the pixels.
The following specifications are important to consider during the Plasma TV review and selection process.
- Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio refers to the shape of the screen, depicted as “width:height”. Most widescreen Plasma TVs have an aspect ratio of around 16:9, while smaller TVs may have an aspect ratio of 4:3.
The Plasma TV specification will display the resolution as a figure like 1,920 x 1,080. This indicates the physical number of horizontal and vertical pixels within the Plasma screen display matrix.
- Connection Points
A Plasma TV must have at least one SCART socket, while most also offer S-Video as well. Some may even come with USB hubs so that you can connect peripherals like digital cameras or even a PC. High definition Plasma TV’s will also have a HDMI connection.
- Contrast ratio
A high contrast ratio means that blacks will appear deeper and whites will appear brighter on the screen. Again the contrast ratio will vary between the different makes and types of Plasma TV due to the different light technology used behind the panels.
- Additional features
Some MP3 players offer additional features such as an FM tuner, the ability to be connected to external travel speakers, as well as the ability to download video clips and photographs. Determine whether you need any of these features before buying an MP3 player as the more features it has, the more expensive it is going to be.
Entry level budget
Plasma TVs are very expensive and even the entry level Plasma TV is more expensive than LCD TVs. The lowest you can expect to spend on a Plasma TV is around $700.
The LG 32PC5RV is one of the smallest Plasma TVs around at only 32 inches. It is a truly entry level TV at around $700. It has a resolution of 852 x 480 and a contrast ratio of 1,800:1. Connecting to DVD players and other components is easy and it is said to have good performance. Read what the experts have to say about this small Plasma TV at www.testseek.com.
The options for those on a tight budget are limited and if you want to get a decent sized Plasma TV then it is best to look at those within the $1,000 to $1,500 range.
There is more of a variety in the medium budget range. A lot of these Plasma TVs will come with additional features as well as better picture quality.
The Panasonic TH-46PZ85U is 46 inches and offers a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It has an aspect ratio of 16:9 and image contrast ratio of 30,000:1. This widescreen TV supports high definition and has good performance as it uses the progressive scanning technique for picture display. It has received a very good average score of 78% from expert reviews, refer to www.testseek.com.
Be prepared to spend in excess of $1,500 for the top of the range, best high definition picture Plasma TV. Those willing to fork out $1,000’s can also expect to have the widest variety of options.
The award winning Pioneer PDP-LX5090 is highly recommended by experts. It has received an overall expert score of 96%; refer to www.testseek.com for further details. This 50 inch TV is a true high definition Plasma TV. It has one of the best contrast ratios around, superb colors and outstanding image clarity. Included in its variety of features is the ability to connect this Plasma TV to a PC and even directly to a digital camera via the USB port.
The wide variety of Plasma TVs available can make shopping around for one a confusing task. You should take a look around to see what offers are available for the time being and then use testseek.com to compare the different models and see which have received the best marks in expert reviews from all over the world.
Disclaimer: This guide was written in late 2008 and the specific product recommendations may be outdated. However the basic discussions in this buyer's guide may still be of great value.
Written by; TestSeek staff