LCD vs LED vs Plasma HDTVs

LED, LCD and Plasma are the three most common types of HDTVs. To help you decide which HDTV to buy we will discuss the certain advantages and disadvantages of each type.


The oldest technology of the three. Plasma TV screens work sort of like a halogen headlight. The advantages are that there is almost no motion blur, no matter how fast objects on the screen are moving. Plus, they display black extremely well and can be viewed clearly even for those not in front of the screen. Unfortunately, they can have burn-in, a condition where images leave a permanent mark on-screen. Most plasma TVs, however, now have pixel shifting technology that virtually eliminate the possibility of burn-in or image retention. Although plasma TVs have been energy hogs in the past, the most recent generation are very energy efficient and many even are energy star compliant. Plasma TVs are also one of the best displays to watch 3D content. The high speed refresh rate eliminates any crosstalk or "ghosting" which can be found on some LED and LCD 3D TVs. Although most manufacturers place an anti-glare filter to reduce reflection, glare is still possible in very bright rooms. With over 100,000 hours life expectancy on the panel, plasma TVs are also one of the longest lasting TV technologies available.


Liquid crystal display is the most common of the three. They use the same technology as on laptops, using a silicon chip to create images. The LCD panel is lit from behind using cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) backlighting. Although used for years, this type of backlighting is not as bright as LED and has a harder time reproducing deep black levels because the backlighting is always on. LCD TVs tend to be thicker due to the room required for the CCFL lighting behind the screen. Compared with Plasma technology, LCD have less trouble with burn in, reflection, and will use less power. Unfortunately, they don’t display black colors as well as plasma TVs and they best for those directly in front of the screen. Most TVs larger than 42" are now either Plasma or LED.


Light-emitting diode – this is the newest, most expensive, and most power efficient technology. Although they use the same liquid crystal display screens as LCD TVs, it uses LED backlighting rather than CCFL technology to illuminate the panel. For cost and size reasons, the majority of newer sets are edge-lit while others may be back-lit. Edge-lit sets have the advantage of being very thin and sleek, but can sometimes suffer from uneven brightness. The latest generation of edge-lit sets tend to be very accurate, however, and some even have local dimming to improve black levels. LED TVs basically have all the benefits of plasma and LCD, with the only real disadvantage of an LCD-like viewing angle. The image is still clear from other angles, but it is optimized for viewers directly in front of the screen. Newer 4K Ultra HDTVs also use the LED technology and look fantastic with nearly 4x the resolution.