Plasma HDTV: Better Than LED or LCD?Today’s HDTV market is fairly limited to three distinct types of HDTVs: plasma, CCFL-backlit LCD, and LED-backlit LCD. I have had the opportunity to view all three of these HDTV types and, from my personal experience, have developed an opinion on which technology is the best.

The main differences in each of the HDTV technologies that are currently being offered is how the systems function. With a plasma HDTV, the phosphors light up the screen itself and do not require a separate source to produce the backlighting. For the LCD HDTVs, a separate light source is needed behind the screen, which uses one of two different light sources. The first is CCFL, which is basically like a fluorescent light that can be seen in light fixtures. The second and the newest technology uses LED to supply the background lighting.

There are several advantages of the LED-backlit LCD HDTV that the other two technologies cannot match. This is because the LED-backlit LCD HDTVs are thinner, brighter, blacker, and more expensive than the other two technologies. In addition, CCFL-backlit LCD and LED-backlit LCD are usually the most energy-efficient HDTVs currently available; LED-backlit LCD is currently the most expensive option.

I have read many articles from various publications and online reviewers that have determined one technology to be superior over the others. The thrust of many of these articles rate the LED-backlit LCD as the overall best in picture quality. LED-backlit LCD, according to many reviewers, offers superior picture quality, thin design, and power savings compared to the traditional plasma HDTVs. The only downside, according to the reviews, is that the LED-backlit LCD HDTV is normally more expensive. In one recent review at, the reviewer stated that he recommended the LED-backlit LCD when price wasn’t a consideration and plasma for the price-conscious.

I understand the reviewer’s thinking and, for the most part, agree with his assessment of the HDTV market and which televisions to purchase. However, there is one other aspect of the HDTV controversy that hasn’t really been covered by previous reviews. While specifications, prices, resolutions, thinness, power consumption, and other things like pricing are important to consider, user preference — in my opinion — is paramount to all of these.

We have friends, family, and neighbors who have a variety of makes, models, and sizes of HDTVs. These people use a variety of different providers from companies such as Dish, DirecTV, AT&T, and other cable providers. There is even a smattering of a few who have given up a provider and opted to go over-the-air via an antenna. All of these different providers will offer various qualities of transmission and service. We also face stations like the Game Show Network, as well as others, that still broadcast in SD. All of this will affect the quality of the picture, no matter what HDTV you purchase.

Case in point: the difference in picture quality I observed between Dish and DirecTV was noticeable. From the same HDTV, when I switched providers and went with DirecTV, the HD quality of the picture was improved. In addition to the picture quality provided by your specific provider, there is also personal preference to consider. I would suggest going to a retailer such as Best Buy, Walmart, Sears, or other retailer that offers a large selection of brands for comparison.

The bottom line is this: only you — and your unique circumstances — can decide which HDTV is best for you.

Comments, as always, are welcome.


CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by shawnblog