#WhatIs: What is a Plasma TV

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Choosing an HD TV is a tricky business these days. Walk into your local TV shop and you’ll be bombarded with jargon of specifications, not to mention all the features including media playback, smart internet portals and, of course, 3D.

Purchasing a TV comes with many choices to make, whether you opt for an LED or plasma screen. 

BY DAVID ZVINA

A plasma display panel (PDP) is a type of flat panel display common to large TV displays 30 inches (76 cm) or larger. They are called “plasma” displays because they use small cells containing electrically charged ionized gases, which are plasmas.

Unlike LCD TVs, whose pixels are lit by LEDs shining through filters, plasma TVs has a three individually lit plasma chambers for each pixel (one each for red, green and blue). When current is applied, the gases inside the cells form a plasma and glow.

Plasma is a relatively old technology and as the current used to form the plasma is mostly given off as infrared heat, they use a lot more electricity than LED TVs.

The biggest advantage of plasma in most people eyes especially those who love their football, is the excellent black levels. Since each cell is lit individually, a plasma TV can produce a black image by applying no current to those cells. By contrast – no pun intended – LED TVs look much greyer. Even direct-lit LED TVs aren’t lit per-pixel, so cannot match a plasma TV for black levels.

Again, plasma TVs inherently produce more even brightness levels across the screen, and since there’s no need for dynamic contrast, there are no distracting shifts in brightness when scenes change especially that favourite movie of yours.

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Similarly, because each cell is self-lit, viewing angles tend to be much better than the vast majority of LED TVs. You can sit 45- or even 80-degrees off centre and still see the same rich colours as you would if you were sitting directly in front of the set.

Plasma TVs have a fast response time compared to LCD TVs where the liquid crystals have to physically move. It means fast-moving objects look sharper, and also means reduced ghosting (cross-talk or double-imaging) when watching 3D content.

Cons of Plasma TVs

Because of the way an image is generated, some people are susceptible to plasma flicker. This is especially noticeable on brighter images, where the screen appears to shimmer or

High power consumption is another problem. Although modern plasma TVs are more efficient, they still use several times more power than an equivalent-size LED TV. This can be a problem especially with a good friend ZESA.you might have to recharge your electricity regularly when you have one of these babies.

Image retention used to be a big problem with plasma panels, but it’s not such an issue today. When there’s a static image or panel (such as a channel logo or HUD in a game you play regularly) the image ‘burns in’ and is displayed even when the logo or block of colour has gone from the video source. Subtly moving the entire image is a trick manufacturers use to try to avoid the problem, but the effects are worst on a brand new panel, so it’s worth being careful to avoid watching channels (BBC News, say) for long periods in the first month or so.

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