We Know: All About Buying a Plasma TV

What Is A Plasma TV?

Plasma displays were invented back in the 1960s. It is a flat-screen display in which phosphors, or substances that will glow, are sandwiched between two panes of glass. Ionized gas is passed through the phosphors, causing them to glow.

Plasma TVs have very bright displays and can be produced in sizes up to about 80 inches diagonally. They're especially known for producing a "perfect black," which means that the picture looks extremely realistic. They don't have quite the best resolution (that's probably a high-end LCD), but they are very good indeed.

What Makes A Good Plasma TV?

Look for a plasma TV that has at least over 700d resolution -- the best are over a thousand. Don't buy a monitor, buy an integrated set.

Ignore contrast ratio claims. This is a non-standardized measurement and can be measured in hundreds of ways, which means advertisers can say whatever they want. Instead, look at the set yourself, in a dark room if possible, and judge for yourself.

Should I Buy A Plasma TV?

If you like HDTV and can afford a good display, a plasma television is one of the best on the market -- if you get a good brand and are aware of what you're buying. Because of the limited life-span of a plasma, never buy a floor model or used plasma TV, only one new in the box.

Plasma television is probably not the best choice for any television that's on most of the day. It is, however, great for that tiny space where you want a television you can basically hang on the wall; the total thickness of most plasma televisions is no more than four inches.

What Else Should I Know About Plasma TVs?

There's a lot of special terminology that has risen to describe features of plasma TVs, some very confusing indeed. Here are the basics you should know.

  1. Plasma televisions come in HDTV and EDTV versions. HDTV is always better, as the resolution is sharper. Always ask which you're getting.
  2. The average plasma display lasts about 60,000 hours before dimming. Make certain you always turn your plasma display off when it's not in use to lengthen its life. If you have children who watch a lot of TV, it might be a good idea to use a second less-expensive television for their daily viewing.
  3. EDTV has a resolution of about 480p, a little better than a regular television and about the maximum quality of a regular DVD player. HDTV has a minimum of 720p resolution, and the best sets on the market as of 2006 have 1080p. You should not waste money on EDTV.
  4. A television referred to as a "monitor" will need extra equipment; "HDTV Ready" really means it needs a separate HDTV tuner, which costs around $100. Integrated HDTV, however, is one that has the digital tuner built into the set.

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