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Led vs Plasma: Which Hdtv Type Is Best?

For years, the question of which type of HDTV (High Definition Television) to get was one of the most important to consider. You could get a plasma HDTV, a CCFL-backlit
30 Jan 2015 11:55
Led vs Plasma: Which Hdtv Type Is Best?

For years, the question of which type of HDTV (High Definition Television) to get was one of the most important to consider. You could get a plasma HDTV, a CCFL-backlit LCD, or if you had the money, you could buy an LED-backlit HDTV. Now that Panasonic is out of the plasma field and CCFL LCDs are nearly extinct, LED is the obvious choice. LEDs are available in any size and price range, and now approach the performance once only seen with plasmas. There is a new technology on the horizon that might give LED a run for its money, though: OLED has the potential to overwhelmingly exceed even plasma in picture quality.

The Present

Plasma is dying. Panasonic has left the plasma market, leaving only Samsung and LG producing plasma HDTVs. Some of the best HDTVs we’ve tested in the past have been plasmas, but they’re fewer and farther between with each year. The technology is still clinging to life as the choice for home theater enthusiasts, but we could see plasmas completely abandoned by HDTV makers by 2016. It’s a bit of a shame. Historically, plasma HDTVs have produced the best black levels, specifically the discontinued Pioneer Kuro HDTV brand. The Kuro’s screen got so satisfyingly dark that it remained a popular HDTV for enthusiasts long after Pioneer stopped making the sets.

The domination of plasma in this field, however, is over. While Panasonic’s 2013 high-end plasmas, the VT60 and the ZT60 series, have produced black levels of 0.005 cd/m2 in our tests, some LED HDTVs can produce comparable results. The Vizio E550i-B2 LED-backlit LCD HDTV, for example, produces an 0.01 cd/m2 black level and a contrast ratio of 11,997:1. There’s also the issue that the E550i-B2 is available, while the VT60 and ZT60 series have been discontinued and Panasonic won’t make any more plasmas.

LCD HDTVs used to literally pale in comparison to plasmas, but that’s just not necessarily the case anymore. Generally, a black level of 0.02 cd/m2 is considered excellent, and until a few years ago LCD HDTVs couldn’t come close. Now there are LED-backlit LCD screens that can get that dark, all while consuming less power and often having a lower price than comparable (and increasingly rare) plasma screens. This isn’t always the case, but the technology is capable of it. That doesn’t mean it

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