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Plasma vs. LED - My Personal Guide

RCSAVPros
07-13-2011, 02:58 PM
In the past few weeks, I have been tediously investigating the different technologies that are offered for HDTV’s in 2011. Currently, at my local Best Buy, I found the following types of TV’s.

LED-LCD
LED
Plasma

To start off, when the store references “LED”, they mean that the display is an LED-LCD. Further explaining this, an LED-LCD screen is a T.V that uses LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) to light up the screen. Within LED-LCD, you will find 2 different kinds, Edge Lit, and Back Lit LED. *Note - LED-LCD uses LED's for lighting, and your LCD part is referencing the Liquid Crystal Display, LED Backlit T.V's are STILL LCD's, and use the same method of twisting the crystals to produce different colors. The only difference is the way they are backlit.

I will begin with reviewing every aspect of the LED-LCD sets, and then proceed with Plasma, so if you are looking for a Plasma run-down, you might want to scroll down to the Plasma section.

Edge Lit LED sets, the more affordable models of LED T.V’s, utilize LED’s around the screen to emit light, and produce the image. The back lit LED T.V’s, have an array of LED’s in the back of the set, behind the glass and other electronic layers to directly produce an image. So what are the main differences? Color Accuracy, Brightness, and Black/White levels. On an edge lit LED, color reproduction, and black levels will be slightly decreased than an LED Back Lit screen due to the decreased lighting control. With a back lit LED, the set has the ability to directly turn on/off certain sectors (areas) of the LED array to better produce an image with deeper black’s, brighter whites, and better color reproduction.

With all this being said, I recommend an LED back lit set over an Edge Lit set for viewers who are very concerned about color accuracy and black levels.

Now, let’s discuss the actual performance levels of an LED T.V. When you walk into your local Best Buy store, or electronics store, we can guarantee you that you will be quickly drawn to the LED sets. They are bright, vivid, and very exciting to view. I ask you however to compare the LED to the picture of a Plasma set. The LED set will produce green grass that looks spray painted green, pores on bodies will be enlarged, and over detailed, and skin tones will look very white/washed out. These are all “side-effects” of an LED T.V, the LED’s simply produce too bright of an image, and color reproduction simply does not compete with that of a Plasma. With this being said however, there are *some* LED-LCD's that will NOT give you these effects, and actually produce very accurate colors. When it comes down to it, I personally recommend the Samsung 8000 & 9000 Series, as well a the Sony 929 Series. (As referenced by ImRizzo)

One last thing before I sum up the LED T.V section, I need to cover refresh rates.

When you look at sets, you will see either 60Hz, 120Hz, and 240Hz, possibly even 480Hz depending where you are. (600Hz for Plasma's - See info on this in Plasma section below)

To knock out the most important part of this, a refresh rate is simply how fast the display refreshes the image on the display for every second. So 60Hz = 60 Times, 120Hz = 120 Times, and 240Hz = 240Hz. Let's first eliminate 60Hz, as this technology is OLD and let's face it, NOT very good compared to 120 & 240. To narrow this further down, I did not find a NOTICEABLE difference while viewing 120 and 240, however it was evident during technical tests with monitoring.

So the bottom line is, if you can get the 240Hz for the same price or less compared to the 120Hz, GO FOR IT, if not, stay with the 120Hz. I have found that the "average" viewer did not notice a difference while watching high action movies. (Casino Royale, Bourne Supremacy)

If I have drawn you away from LED T.V, let’s talk about the good things about one.

Thinner – LED sets hold the record for the thinnest T.V depth
Less Power Consumption – About 35% less of that of a Plasma
Brighter – Screen brightness is much higher compared to Plasma
No Burn In or Image Retention worries
So for all of those readers who are still wanting an LED-LCD display, I can recommend to you a few that in our opinion were much better than the competitors.

The Samsung 8,000 & 9,000 series LED displays from our tests presented the highest color accuracy, and best black/white levels compared to other leading LED’s.

Please note that, in almost every situation we have seen, the LED-LCD sets are much higher priced than Plasma. So for your value, a Plasma probably would be the way to go.

On to Plasma, our highest recommend technology on the market today. Now with the release of 3D Plasma displays, the desire for Plasma just got stronger.

Let’s first explain how Plasma works. The T.V is made up of many phosphors that are controlled by providing energy to each of them. With Plasma, each phosphor is controlled individually, compared to the multiple LED’s used with Edge Lit and Back Lit sets. This allows for higher color accuracy, the deepest blacks, and brightest whites. Skin tones, shadows, and black/white levels will be the closest you can get to the way the producer wanted it to look. You might ask now why people even purchase LED T.V’s knowing that the best picture quality will come hands down from a Plasma, and most of the time it comes down to environment. Plasma set’s utilize a solid sheet of glass for the screen, allowing for light sources to easily reflect off the screen. In a dark home theater environment, this usually isn’t an issue, however, in most family rooms or living rooms, where light sources from windows are directly hitting the screen, colors will be washed out and the screen will reflect a great amount of light.

From our recommendations, if you are viewing the T.V during the day, and there are windows around or directly behind your set area, we do not recommend a Plasma, and would direct you to LED-LCD.

If you are placing your set in a dark room, with shaded windows, great! I encourage you to read on about Plasma’s.

I would first like to say that, if your local Best Buy has a Magnolia Home Theater demo area, I highly recommend going in to review the Plasma sets. Their viewing area is perfect for getting the full experience from a Plasma.

Performance Levels:

Plasma’s have always held the crown for best picture quality, and now, we can say that can produce the best 3D effect. With Plasma’s, you are purchasing a T.V with the FASTEST refresh rate in the industry. In almost every case, a Plasma refresh rate (represented in Hz’s) is 600. However, this 600Hz is not *actually* 600Hz. You see, in Plasma, the sets use either an 8-bit or 10-bit processor. The set takes a 60Hz image, and then refreshes that pixel upto 8 or 10 times / frame depending on the processor. So, you have a 60Hz image, flashed 10 times / frame, and you get a 600Hz refresh rate. With an 8-bit processor, the refresh rate will be 480Hz as the image is flashed 8 times / frame, 8 x 60 = 480Hz. Compared to that of an LED which is usually 120Hz or 240Hz, you will notice much better viewing during high action scenes.

During 3D viewing however, a Plasma breaks up the refresh rate to 120Hz per side (lens) to give a total of 240Hz. Compared to the LED 3D refresh rate during 3D which is usually 60Hz per side (lens), the 3D is noticeably worse than that of a Plasma set. Your 3D effects from a Plasma will feel like there is more depth, and the images will flow better across your screen during high action scenes.

With 3D out of the way, let’s get to Burn In and Image Retention. In the earlier years of Plasma, Burn In was a serious problem. Leave a static image on the screen for too long, and find out later that the image was burned in to the screen. Today however, you do not have to worry about Burn In at all. Viewing a static image for 3-4 hours will not permanently damage your set, and if anything, you will have “Image Retention” which will go away within a few minutes of viewing Cable T.V or a Movie. With most present day Plasma sets, a built in Screen Wipe or Scroll will remove any Image Retention on your screen within 15 minutes. In addition to that, a “Pixel Orbiter” is built in to dynamically move the image on the screen by 1 pixel every minute in a circular pattern to prevent any serious retention.

So to sum up everything about Plasma’s, the sets are generally the best for Picture Quality, Color Reproduction, and 3D Performance levels. For the average video viewer, you will never have any issues with Image Retention, or Burn In. For gamers, you might see some Image Retention after several hours, however remember that it is temporary and will be removed after several minutes of viewing Cable.

From my tests, I have found that Panasonic’s GT30 and VT30 Plasma series are the best on the market today followed up by Samsung. This isn't to mention that, the Pioneer series "Kuro" by far made some of the BEST sets I have every seen, however have stopped manufacturing them. (Very disappointing) You can still find them brand new off Amazon though. Something to surly keep in mind.

With a Panasonic Plasma you will find that the blacks will be extremely deep, disappearing within the room, and the 3D performance will be much better than the competition.

You can pick up a 55″ GT30 at Magnolia for around $1,799.99 or a 55″ VT30 for around $2,799.98.

3D Glasses for Panasonic will run you about $150, and for Samsung around $50 for the lowest model.

Glasses can be used for both LED and Plasma, so pricing will not differ.

Please feel free to post corrections to our post, and I will be open to review and make corrections as necessary.

~ Ben Corn

ImRizzo
07-13-2011, 03:05 PM
Hmmmm ? sounds like a prelude to SPAM....

RCSAVPros
07-13-2011, 03:08 PM
Hmmmm ? sounds like a prelude to SPAM....

Why is that? I wrote this review for my company, and thought it could be used here, sharing the knowledge.

I will remove my companies name from this post if that is the matter.

~ Ben C.

BrianO
07-13-2011, 04:07 PM
The actual screen refresh rate for plasmas is 60 Hz except for a few high end sets that can resync at 96 Hz in "Cinema mode" to show 24p content without using 3:2 pull-down.

The 600Hz that you refer to for plasmas is not the screen refresh rate: it is the "sub-field drive" which is a behind-the-scenes motion enhancement feature. The actual screen refresh rate is 60 Hz. This was explained by Pansonic on their web-site when they first introduced "sub-field drive". Prior to introducing the 600 Hz version they had 480 Hz sub-field drive which also had an actual screen refresh rate of 60 Hz.

Note that some earlier plasma TVs resynched at 48 Hz or 72 Hz for showing 24 frames per second content but these were judged to flicker too much. In normal usage these also had a screen refresh rate of 60 Hz.

OTOH, the 60 Hz, 120 Hz, etc. rates quoted for LCD TVs, regardless of the type of backlighting used, are actual screen refresh rates.

Of course the above applies to TVs sold in North America and in other countries that use 60 Hz AC power. For countries that use 50 Hz AC power the numbers are different, but the same concepts apply.

ImRizzo
07-13-2011, 04:45 PM
I might add that in your review of panels, you failed to make mention of the new Sony LED 929 series, which has been acclaimed as the BEST panels of the year, and you failed to mention several of the Panasonic fails with regard to falling blacks you review is kinda biased.

pappylap
07-13-2011, 04:51 PM
:2cents

LED's are still backlit LCDs with the same shortcomings of LCD technology...I realize that you point this out in your post but it still seems that you elude to LED technology as being different the LCD which it isn't... LED/LCD is still dependent on twisting liquid crystals to produce the images...another point to be made is that higher end LED/LCDs virtually all have glass screens with anti-glare coating just as plasmas do and therefore are of no advantage when it comes to glare.
One other large point to make especially with cost conscious consumers is that an LED/LCD of high quality will cost several hundred if not a thousand more $$$$ than a quality Plasma....I'm done
http://www.highdefforum.com/flat-panel-tvs/114509-led-lcds-sometimes-marketed-leds-still-lcds.html


P.S. hey Rizz does the 929 have a glass screen with anti-glare????

ImRizzo
07-13-2011, 05:04 PM
:2cents

LED's are still backlit LCDs with the same shortcomings of LCD technology...I realize that you point this out in your post but it still seems that you elude to LED technology as being different the LCD which it isn't... LED/LCD is still dependent on twisting liquid crystals to produce the images...another point to be made is that higher end LED/LCDs virtually all have glass screens with anti-glare coating just as plasmas do and therefore are of no advantage when it comes to glare.
One other large point to make especially with cost conscious consumers is that an LED/LCD of high quality will cost several hundred if not a thousand more $$$$ than a quality Plasma....I'm done
http://www.highdefforum.com/flat-panel-tvs/114509-led-lcds-sometimes-marketed-leds-still-lcds.html


P.S. hey Rizz does the 929 have a glass screen with anti-glare????

It is not glare-free, but it is reduced glare and surprisingly ( for some reason) the glare is not as bad as I had expected.

RCSAVPros
07-14-2011, 06:24 AM
Alright, I have updated the information in the post to better clarify the technology of LED-LCD, as well as refresh rates on Plasma's. :banana:

~ Ben