Plasma vs. LCD


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I'm having a few issues deciding on which tv to purchase.  I've narrowed down my options to the LG 42" PC3D (plasma) and the 40" Sony Bravia (LCD).  I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with either tv or even with either brand and if they could offer some advice to help make my decision a little easier.  This tv will also be used a fair bit for gaming since i've read that can cause some problems with the plasma screens.  Thanks and i appreciate any advice you can offer.

Lefty
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LG 42PC3D Sony VXBR1
LG 42PC3D Sony KDL-V40XBR1

Alright, both of these tvs are excellent choices, so you really can't go wrong either way, but it also makes the decision that much harder.  This battle kind of embodies the whole Plasma vs LCD debate, which also extends to DLPs, and beyond, but we don't have to deal with those here, so let's just keep the discussion focused.  Both of these display technologies have been around for a while now, so they're mature with most of the problems in manufacturing processes figured out, meaning: you're not going to see any major problems with either of these sets.  You're not going to see burn-in on the Plasma, and you're not going to have to stand directly infront of the LCD to appreciate it.

Looking at the specifications, the Plasma has the edge, as it's 2 inches bigger (negligible though), sports two HDMI inputs instead of one, has a much better contrast ratio, which is true of all plasmas compared to LCDs, and Plasmas also have a better response time.  What does that mean?  Good LCDs usually have a response time of less than 10ms, however even at that level some sensitive people can still see some weird images which is known as Ghosting.  For fast moving objects they leave a ghostly trail because the tv isn't able to update the image quickly enough.  This effect is really evident on old cell phones when playing games like Snake, but for modern tvs still isn't much of an issue. Still, if you're sensitive enough to be able to detect this phenomenon it can ruin your appreciation of the tv.  And really, when you're spending this much money on something the slightest problem can really hurt.

Now plasmas aren't immune from these types of problems.  Where LCDs have ghosting, Plasmas can be known to show an effect known as the Rainbow Effect.  Again, this only matters to a very small portion of the population whose eyes are sensitive to these kinds of things.  As an explanation, the rainbow effect causes a rainbow of colours to appear when there's fast motion on the screen.  And just like LCDs this can totally ruin the television watching experience.  A good way to test if you're susceptible to this effect is to put a white image on the tv screen and then wave your hand in front of your face, if you see rainbows then tough luck. 

Fortunately, if you don't see any rainbows (or ghosting with LCDs) then you never will.  It's not something that you can be trained to see, or will see over time, you're either born with it or you're not.  So it's definitely worth taking some time to take a look at these tvs to determine if you run into any of these problems, because if so then that tv will be out of the question.

The other big questions that need to be answered are the matter of how the televisions scale their source imagery.  Some technical information follows, just a warning for people reading.  Both of these televisions have a different resolution than the standard NTSC broadcasting.  The LG displays in 1024x768, and the Sony displays at 1366x768.  Now, the Sony does have a better resolution, but they're so close that's not really a deciding factor, really it just negates the small size increase the LG has.  Ok, so what do these numbers mean?  Well, tv shows and movies come in a variety of formats, these are 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and some exotic stuff like Blu-Ray movies come in 1080p.  So these numbers are different than the numbers that the tvs display right?  So what that means the televisions have to do some scaling to the source information to make the images display properly on the screen.  This matters because bad scaling can make the picture look really really bad.  You're going to have to look at these televisions displaying content from all kinds of sources, from standard definition tv, to digital tv, to high-def tv, to video games and high-def video games.  Now, that's only if you're actually watching and using these things.  Maybe you only watch high-def tv/movies, and only play your 360, in that case you only have to test out those things.  Any video store worth its salt will be happy to run various tests for you so you can appreciate the qualities of the scalers of these sets.  Because a lot of the time, these things are the most important factor that determines how good of a picture you really get when watching stuff.

Now, like I said before, both of these tvs are running off of pretty mature technology, as a result I'd imagine the internal scalers contained within them both are pretty darn good, and should provide you with an excellent picture.

Alright, at first I was pretty set on recommending the LG Plasma for a variety of reasons, especially when you look at the difference in price ($1000 in our data).  However, if the price is close to each other, such as within a few hundred dollars then I'd recommend getting the LCD.  The quality of both sets is pretty much the same, but there are just a lot less nagging issues with the LCD.  LCDs are more durable, you don't have to worry about burn in at all, and LCDs work at high altitude whereas most plasmas don't (ya, I know that's pretty random, I just found that out now so wanted to share).
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Thanks so much for such an extensive review of both sets, i really appreciate it and it will definitely help me with my future decision.

I still welcome others to comment on past experience with either brand or specific set

thanks guys

Lefty
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Hey Lefty, did you decide which one you're going to go for?
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after careful deliberation i've decided to disregard omar's advice (just something about guys wearing rings on their pinkys that i just don't trust...) and go with the LG.  Thanks again for the indepth research though and i will be sure to write back again with a review on my personal experience with the set.

Till then,

Lefty
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The entire point of wearing the pinky-ring wearing is to encourage trust.  It's those big shiny rings on a random finger that have Ivey on them that should be treated with scorn and suspicion.  Either way I'm coming to your place and playing 360 on your sweet sweet plasma.
anonymous
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I hope you have better luck with your LG plasma than I have had. I bought a 42 inch in November of 2004, and have had a recurring problem with a vertical line running on the left side of my screen. I only have a few months left to get LG to honor their warranty and fix this problem once and  for all. Wish me luck !
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Oh man, that sucks. When did the line start showing up? Have you contacted LG yet?
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I had the first line about 8 months from date of purchace, and then took it in to the repair place. They kept it a month, and basically just took the back off and cleaned some contacts. We now see the line back again after 1 month of it being fine. LG says it has to go back to the  authorized repair center again even though the guy there doesn't know much about plasmas. I would never buy LG again !
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Man, 8 months after you bought it a line starts coming up, that really is quite strange.  I heard that problems with tvs are such that they usually occur right away, or after a really long time (years and years).  I've had a monitor crap out on me after less than a month, and another tv last for over 15 years, so my own personal experience mirrors that saying.   8 months is pretty annoying though, long enough that the thing has become a part of your life.

I think that in the past LG, and a lot of korean companies, weren't so good on quality.  But in recent times the koreans have really taken off in both quality and sales, just look at Samsung now, and I believe LG has improved their quality as well.  And if not, then I'm sure our good friend Lefty will let us know.

Sorry you had to go through that, guess it's no jamboree at your house.

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