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Conventional CRT TVs are almost a thing of the past – the future belongs firmly to flat screen TVs. The sizes and colours of flat screen TVs available today are many and varied, but so too is the quality.

In general, there are two major product categories: LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and Plasma TVs.

As there are only a few small plasma TVs the choice between LCD and plasma only really becomes relevant if you are looking at a 37 inch or larger TV screen. While both systems offer a high image quality, potential buyers should consider the following issues before purchasing.

As with many things in life the choice of the right television depends on the way it is used. Where should it be placed? Do I want to enjoy movies at cinema quality or to play console games instead?

What’s my type? LCD or plasma?

LCDs work with liquid crystals. These create an image by breaking the light in a certain way. To avoid reflections and other interferences most devices are featured with matt fronts. Compared to plasma TVs colours are more luminous and provide brilliant colours even in bright rooms. However, many TVs have problems displaying a deep black, which can sometimes appear faded. In addition, most will only deliver a high quality image if the viewer sits directly in front of it. If you’re watching from more than a 45 degree visual angle (i.e. outside the principal axis of the TV) the contrast is reduced and the image can appear grey. This is a result of the LCD backlight format.


Plasma devices were at the forefront of the flat screen movement. The technology is based upon ionised gas or plasma, which is illuminated through electronic impulses. The devices deliver true colours even outside the principal axis. As plasma has a very short response time it is perfectly suited for quick image changes such as sport broadcasts.

However, one problem with plasma TVs is the so-called burning-in or after image. Do you watch a lot of non-standard format videos (black bars) or play console games with static graphics? If this is the case, the overcharging of the light beams can sometimes burn a visible pattern into the TV screen. This can also occur through static TV station logos. This is much more unlikely with newer plasma models but the risk should still be taken into account.

Plasma TVs


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