Plasma HDTV

With Americans increasingly deciding to skip the long lines, high prices, and ringing cell phones inherent with the modern theater going experience in favor of home theater systems, they now have many choices to make. For example, a home theater system begs for a big screen television. But in the past few decades, several types of these televisions have gone on the market. Is a plasma HDTV or a LCD television right for your home theater system? What’s the difference? This article explains the advantages and disadvantages of investing in a plasma HDTV for your home theater system.

Plasma HDTVs are typically televisions with screens larger than 32 inches, and the way they work is quite fascinating. The plasma HDTV screen consists of two panels of glass. Between those panels are many tiny cells which hold an inert mixture of noble gases. When the gas in the cells are electrically turned into plasma, phosphors are excited, and those emit light, making the display. While it is tempting to confuse plasma HDTVs with LCD televisions due to their marketing and the fact that they seemed to gain popularity at roughly the same time, the technologies are dissimilar and should not be confused.

As with many of what we consider “today’s” technologies, plasma HDTV technology was invented long before it become a household name. In 1964, three researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne – Donald Bitzer, H. Gene Slottow, and Robert Wilson – invented plasma displays for the PLATO computer system. The panel was originally neon orange and not nearly as beautiful as the bright, rich colors we enjoy on today’s plasma HDTV’s. Nonetheless, this plasma technology was revolutionary for its time and soon became very popular among the era’s small circle of computer enthusiasts.

Plasma HDTV technology was brought closer to its form today when, in the 1970′s, the Burroughs Corporation began using a plasma display for their adding machines. These displays, still with their bright orange aesthetic, soon caught on. By the mid 1970′s, they were popular in cash registers, calculators and pinball machines, among many other technologies.

Plasma displays stayed bright orange until 1992 when electronics manufacturer Fujitsu introduced the world’s first full color plasma display, a precursor to the plasma HDTVs we know today. It was a 23 inch display and based on the technology created so long ago at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. For awhile in the early 1990s, it seemed as if plasma HDTV would lose out to LCD HDTVs in the war for the eyes, hearts, and pocketbooks for American consumers, but one of plasma display’s original researchers, Larry Weber, started a company called Plasmaco and, in partnership with electronics giant Panasonic, brought the technology back to life.

So how do plasma HDTVs fare against their competitor, the LCD HDTV? Plasma HDTV proponents agree that, at least until the early 21st century when LCD HDTV began to catch up, that plasma HDTV had superior brightness, faster response time, a greater color spectrum, and a wider viewing angle than color LCD HDTV displays. They are known for having darker black levels than LCD TV, which, because of the technology they are built on, have a real weakness producing true black images. On the down side, the long term display of an object, such as a menu bar, can cause screen burn in on plasma HDTVs. Also, after about ten years, plasma HDTVs screen quality can deteriorate, giving them a dim, muddy look. Further, LCD HDTV technology has been advancing at an accelerated rate, meaning that LCD TVs have corrected more of the problems that once made them inferior to plasma HDTVs.

This Plasma HDTV Review is Written/Updated on Aug 4th, 2009 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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