|The Pros and Cons of Plasma TVs|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Video Related Articles|
|Written by Mike Levy|
|Thursday, 01 July 2004|
Page 2 of 3
The Pros of Plasma Televisions
Plasma’s greatest strength is flexibility of use. You can put them almost anywhere as proven by the now-famous Philips ad where a young couple installs a plasma on the ceiling above their bed after a long battle to figure out which wall was best for their slick new TV. Other install tricks commonly used include hiding the connections for power and signal inside the wall, which make the plasma seem like it just floats in space.
If you can put a picture or painting on a specific wall in your home, you can usually put a plasma there. If you want to hide the screen away, there are slick new mechanisms from companies like Tech Art that will cover it with high-end artistic reproductions that roll away when you want to watch TV. Another company, Vantage Point, has created hardware called the UFO that allows you to creatively position the thin sets in ways that also allow you to move the set out of the way in a number of innovative configurations.
Plasmas work in a variety of lighting, and with a variety of sources. Most will accept everything from standard NTSC television to HDTV signals as resolute as 720p and 1080i. Many have DVI inputs for digital transmission of HDTV. The newest sets even have HDMI digital video connections, which is the MPAA-approved standard for digitally transmitting encrypted HDTV. Almost every plasma set has a battery of analog connections, including S-video, component and RGB.
Almost all plasmas, especially the larger sizes, are true 16x9 HDTV-capable sets that can reproduce a movie in the correct shape (also known as aspect ratio). Many plasmas now include video processors (known as “line doublers” years ago) in the form of chips from the likes of video manufacturers like Faroudja or Silicon Graphics, who aspire to be the Intel of the TV world. These video processors basically allow a user to take a lower resolution signal from a 480i TV show, recorded on your TiVo, for example, and upconvert it to a better-looking picture.
The Cons of Plasma Televisions
Plasma is not a perfect technology, and its weaknesses should be taken into account when deciding on a display. Plasma screens are fragile. They must be shipped standing up, and as they are mostly glass, they must be handled with extreme care. They are heavy, and the wall mounts must be properly set. They should never be installed where they could be knocked over or bumped into.
Plasma sets are power hungry because of the high voltages necessary to activate the actual plasma elements. The picture quality degrades with time due to phosphor wear, much as a traditional CRT TV set does. Also, the glass face reflects light in the room, somewhat degrading the image, as compared to the other flat panel technology, LCD.