Thursday, November 04, 2004

Plasma Televisions: A Buyer's Guide

Plasma Televisions Brief History

In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enacted legislation compelling the nation's 1600+ television stations to change the way they broadcast their programming-i.e., to start transmitting it digitally. Thus began the rise of digital television (DTV) in America. For now, the FCC has allocated an additional channel spectrum to the media. This has allowed the media to offer digital broadcasts in parallel with their existing analog ones, giving consumers the opportunity to watch regular TV while they make the switch to DTV.

Once the transition to digital is complete-by the year 2006 or by the time 85% of US households get digital feeds, whichever occurs later-the federal government will auction off the original analog channel spectrum. And DTV will be the new standard in broadcasting. Sure, you'll still be able to watch your favorite shows in analog like always, but you'll need to "update" your existing TV with a device that converts digital signals into analog ones. All of which begs the question: Why not just go with the digital flow?

What exactly is plasma TV?

Most people know plasma TVs as those unbelievably thin display monitors that can be hung on your wall just like pieces of video art. (To give you an idea of the space-saving advantages of plasma technology, consider this: A 40-inch TV may be two feet deep and weigh upwards of 150 pounds, while the same size plasma display might have a depth of, say, 6 inches and weigh half as much.) But this isn't your average slimmed-down television set. The display itself consists of thousands of "cells," which are individual glass compartments injected with neon-xenon gas suspended in plasma-hence the "plasma" appellation. These cells are the basic elements comprising the picture you see on your TV screen. When the gases are electrically charged, they strike red, green, and blue phosphors. Just like that, an image (which is nothing more than the sum of the aforementioned colored elements, commonly known as "pixels") is born.

What are the advantages of having a plasma TV?

The picture is smooth, colorful, and (best of all) wide. Plasma TVs have none of those annoying scan lines that conventional sets do. This owes to the fact that each pixel cell has its own transistor electrode, which creates smooth, evenly lit images across the entire surface of the display. Many of the newer plasma displays also have built-in line doubling to improve the image quality of even low-resolution video signals. And they are saturated with color; some high-end plasma TVs are capable of displaying 16.77 million colors! Plasma sets offer super color realism and exceptional gradations among colors. In fact, these color-saturated images are what give plasma displays an edge over other types of video displays in the eyes of many consumers.

Plasma displays have a 16:9 aspect ratio (i.e., 16 units wide to 9 units high), the proper one for viewing HDTV and for watching DVDs. But most television shows are still broadcast in the more traditional 4:3 aspect ratio, the one that more closely approximates the dimensions of conventional TV sets. Does this mean that you'll have to watch some shows where the image is distorted or stretched unnaturally? No. When displaying a "normal" or 4:3 picture image from satellite, VCR, or cable TV, the image can be viewed in a number of ways-in its original format (with black or gray bars on the sides of the screen), or in "full" mode (where the image is converted or "stretched" using specially designed algorithms to reduce the visible stretch marks as much as possible). This is only a temporary dilemma, of course: Since HDTV is shown in widescreen, this is the format of the future for broadcast television.

The display is multi-functional and long-lived. A plasma display is a television monitor, capable of displaying HDTV, regular TV, and home video. It's also a computer monitor. In fact, it can accept any video format. Plasma displays typically include inputs for (a) composite video, (b) S-video and component video, and (c) one or more RGB inputs from a computer. You can expect to use you plasma display in many capacities and for many years: The average lifespan of one of these displays is 30,000 hours. That's about 3.5 years of 24/7 usage! If watching TV was your full-time job, and you did it for 8 hours a day, it would take you more than a decade to wear out your plasma display.

A plasma TV will perform exceedingly well under most ambient light conditions. A very bright light does not "wash out" its picture, nor does backlighting cause a glare on your TV screen. The beauty of these flat screens is that, unlike front view projections screens, you don't have to turn out the lights to see the image clearly and easily. Moreover, you can watch TV from almost anywhere in a room, since flat screens have a 160° viewing angle.


At 8:52 PM, Blogger Jillian said...

Man yeah...

I was thinking about getting a Plasma.

The only problem is that they don't know how to fix it if it breaks. Hmmmmmmmmm...

Boredom on a Stick

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At 2:30 AM, Blogger Plasma TElevision Center said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a Plasma Television site/blog. It pretty much covers Plasma Television related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

At 10:50 PM, Blogger plasma_tester said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:53 PM, Blogger plasma_tester said...


I know the webmaster of digibuyguide. He is planning to add some information on Plasma and LCD TVs as well.

At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Televisions said...

I have had e-mails asking me about how it works ?

Please vist

Here are a few parts of our Q&A.

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Q3. What process is involved to make a winning bid?

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Members may bid as often as they wish on available items. Each valid bid will be documented in the My Account part of our website.

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Bid fees for each item are displayed with each auctioned item on the Best Bids Auction website. Each auction has a limited quantity of valid bids allowed.

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The successful Bidder will receive a notification email directing them to confirm their order within five business days. The auctioned item will be processed and shipped to the address on record for the successful Bidder.

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$25.00 = 3 Bid Fees
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At 2:57 AM, Blogger John Mike said...

Which is better, LCD TV or Plasma? This is a much debated topic and a fun one. When choosing between plasma and LCD TVs, you're actually selecting between two competing technologies.
More review at LCD TV or Plasma


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