However, there are some key differences between LCD and plasma TVs that might influence your decision about which type to buy.
Advantages of LCD and plasma TVs
Crisp and clear
LCD and plasma screens have more pixels per square inch than a CRT (or normal) TV, meaning you get a sharper image (it's worth remembering that, as with all TVs, some screens have better clarity than others)
They look good - even when turned off
Okay, so this might not be your first concern. But LCD and plasma TVs are sleek and slim, easily mounted on a wall or fitted snug against the side of your living room.
Wide viewing angle
Because LCD and plasma TVs are totally flat you can watch them from a wide angle
Save space, look sharp
LCD and plasma TVs are so compact that a 15 flat panel screen gives you the same amount of viewable screen as a traditional 17 CRT display.
Films, as they were meant to be seen
Plasma and LCD screens often come with a widescreen aspect ratio. Put simply, this means that you can watch movies and DVDs the way they were intended, and not boxed in to fit a CRT screen - perfect for a home cinema set-up.
No scan lines
Look closely at your traditional CRT television and you can see thin lines. LCD and plasma TVs do not have these.
The differences between LCD and plasma TVs
Although both offer similar advantages over traditional TVs, there are some key differences between LCD and plasma screens:
How does an LCD TV work?
LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. A network of hundreds of thousands of tiny LCD pixels sits behind the TV screen. Behind these pixels is a fluorescent white backlight. When the light hits the pixels, an electric current determines what colour appears on the screen, and the millions of tiny light variations make up the image that you see on your TV.
How does a plasma TV work?
Plasma screens are made of two sheets of glass, between which plasma (xenon and neon gas) fills thousands of tiny chambers. Behind each chamber are a series of red, blue and green phosphors. When electricity hits the plasma chambers, they emit invisible UV light, which then hits one of the coloured phosphors. This creates a visible image on the screen.
LCD vs. Plasma: which TV is right for you?
Take a look at our table to find out how plasma and LCD TVs compare when measured up against each other in different categories. Remember - technology changes all the time, with both plasma and LCD TVs improving in quality, so use this table as a guideline only:
|Size and weight||Generally larger than LCDs, with screens up to 71 inches. Plasma TVs are usually around 10% heavier than LCD screens (meaning great care should be taken when mounting on a wall)||Usually no larger than 46 inches, though larger TVs are in development. LCDs are often slightly thinner than plasma TVs.|
|Quality of Picture||Usually plasma screens have better contrast. Both have excellent quality and sharpness.||LCD usually has a slightly clearer picture in smaller models and a higher resolution.|
|Image Burn||Nowhere near as much of a problem now as a few years ago, there is still a slight concern that images left still for a long time could be etched into the screen.||This is not a problem with LCD screens.|
|Viewing angle||Plasma tends to have slightly better viewing angles than LCD.||Some models have a restricted viewing angle, but many allow up to 160-degree|
|Brightness and glare||In a fully dark room, plasma TVs have better contrast and brightness than LCD screens.||LCD TVs generally reflect less light and glare, so fare better in normal light conditions|
|Lifespan||Usually, plasma screens last for up to 60,000 hours before they dim by half.||LCD TVs usually last 60,000 hours or more before they dim by a half.|
|Energy usage||Plasma uses slightly more power than LCD screens.||LCD TVs often use less power than plasma screens. They can consume 60% less power than a CRT television|
Plasma vs. LCD...
Now that you have read about the main differences between plasma and LCD TVs you may have decided which one is right for you. They both have stunning, clear pictures and most models offer amazing widescreen viewing - so you can't go far wrong with either! However, it's worth considering where you are going to watch your TV and for what main purpose you will use it. If you are looking for a smaller screen to put in a TV, bedroom or small living room - LCD is probably your best bet. If you're looking for a home cinema screen, then a larger plasma model may be the one for you.