You know, thinking about it, I suppose it’s the TV manufacturers that need to take the blame for this one. Yeah, maybe better nomenclature is called for. I should write someone in Japan about it, but since the only thing I know how to say in Japanese is “Full Impulse Mr. Sulu!”, I guess I’ll go ahead and rant to you instead (your lucky day )
Anyhow, here’s the deal. You don’t have an LCD Plasma TV.
You really don’t.
Just the other day, I was talking to a friend who was super-excited about his new TV. With a blissfully ignorant twinkle in his eye, he exclaimed that he just purchased a 48″ LCD Plasma HD TV!
I couldn’t resist, so I asked, “Well, which was it? LCD or Plasma”
“It’s an LCD Plasma!”
Ahh, here we go again. Why can’t people get this right – it’s one or the other, never both. So, after some help from my good friend and technical adviser (he’s got a funny name, Google something or other) we discovered that what he actually had was a nice Plasma TV. I made some comment suggesting he avoid outsourcing his mind to the boys over at Best Buy in future and checked out the new set.
To help you, dear reader, avoid a similarly embarrassing situation with your tech friends, I thought I’d help set the record straight. After all, telling a tech person you have an LCD Plasma TV is like telling a motorhead you have a nice new Corvette-Pickup Truck in your garage (there’s a sad image).
First off, let’s talk about the 3 major formats. All are HD to varying degrees (that’s another article), and they include Plasma, LCD, and DLP. Sorry, LED is NOT a format, it’s a backlight used in the new super-thin LCD TVs. Samsung introduced the name seemingly to get a good laugh from confusing people even more.
So what’s the diff?
Frankly, not much anymore. Plasma & LCD like to hang on your wall and dangle the rat’s nest of wires normally reserved for the back of the TV under the set for everyone to enjoy. DLPs want a traditional TV stand and for you to sit directly in front of them. They are all Hi Def, and (when hooked up properly) all look great.
Sure, in the past there were significant differences. For instance, plasma TVs had the nasty habit of letting images get “burnt” into them. Hope you like that CNN news ticker, cuz you’re gonna get to live with it next time you watch Survivor. Of course on the other hand, LCD sets had a painfully slow response time – you could watch a player go for the hoop and see where he was, where he is, and where he was about to be – all at the same time. It was like having a TV from the 4th dimension!
At any rate, all these little, we’ll call them “deficiencies”, have been weeded out for the most part. So, bottom line is unless you’re really anal about it, you can’t go wrong no matter what you get.
Oh, and then there’s the forgotten format – DLP. This technology is still a projection style TV (it’s the one with the mirrors, if you remember those commercials from a few years back), but offers HD that’s easily on the level of plasma & LCD TVs – but for less money.
Sure, you can’t hang it on your wall (not sure that’s actually a bad thing), you do occasionally have to replace bulbs, and if you’re too far off to the side the picture it isn’t the best, but hey, other than that it rocks. I actually have a DLP in my basement that cost about 1/2 the price of a similar LCD or Plasma, and the picture looks more natural and less digital to me. Still sharp as anything else, just the movements of the folks on the screen look more “life like” to my eyes.
Oh yeah, LED TVs. If you see one of those super-thin LED TVs, they are actually an LCD TV that uses LEDs for a backlight source instead of the traditional cold cathode fluorescent lamps used up to this point. Tricky tricky.
Oh it gets better…
Since it’s still an LCD set, you end up with – ready for this – an LED LCD HD TV.
Say that 3 times really fast.
What’s the lesson here? Several things I think:
1. LCD & Plasma TVs, while they both look cool hanging off your wall, are NOT the same. Referring to your new set as an LCD Plasma TV is a “nails on a chalkboard” experience to a technical kind of guy. Use that information as you will.
2. DLP TVs are cool, you gotta give them a chance.
3. There are too many abbreviations to memorize when buying a TV
4. Never tell a geek you got a new TV unless you have the label handy as a cheat sheet
5. I apparently have too much spare time on my hands.