One of the greatest confusions in the television market today comes from the two major types of newer television display technologies competing against each other, plasma and LCD. While, on the surface, it may not look like there is much of a difference between plasma and LCD, looks can be deceiving. Each has its own technology and its own pros and cons.
The main difference between plasma and LCD monitors and televisions is how the pixels are lighted up. In plasma screens, plasma gas is used to excite visible light photons, which produce color on the screen through the lighting of the pixels into different colors. Thus, it is actually a gas that is responsible for the images one sees on a plasma televisions.
The technology for LCD screens is somewhat different. Each pixel has three colors: red, green and blue. LCD televisions require a backlight. However, the liquid crystals, when energized, block certain colors in the pixels from showing, or at least showing as much. This produces the desired color. The main difference with LCD televisions is the backlight is always on.
The decision between plasma and LCD comes down to a matter of personal preference. LCD, which was never meant for video displays, has a slower refresh rate than plasma. Thus, the criticism is that fast-moving images can sometimes show what are referred to as ghosts, images that have not cleared themselves completely from vision. However, the technology has improved over the years to refresh rates that are very comparable to plasma.
Some prefer LCD televisions because they weigh less and use less energy than do plasma screens. However, both types of display technologies weigh less than conventional televisions, so there is always a net gain when going from traditional to the newer technology. However, for wall mounting, LCDs are usually much simpler.
Plasma televisions, because there is no competing backlight for distorting any of the colors, produce much truer colors. For those who are truly interested in getting the most lifelike colors possible, the plasma technology is nearly comparable to the old CRT technology. Plus, there is an additional benefit of having a sharp, clean picture to view, much more so than a traditional television display can deliver.
For those living at higher altitudes, there are also considerations when considering plasma and LCD. The gas in a plasma set acts somewhat differently at higher altitudes and could produce a distorted view. The LCD television does not have this problem. Therefore, LCD sets may be preferred in mountainous areas.
In the end, for most viewers, the differences between plasma and LCD are a matter of academic debate. Most will find the difference between traditional displays and these newer displays to be so much greater that the differences between plasma and LCD pale in comparison. However, doing a little research before buying will help ensure the consumer gets the best product they can afford, and one especially suited to their purposes.