Thoughts on Plasma, LCD, DLP and which way to go

I am looking to purchase a Flat screen tv and wanted to get some thoughts on whcih way to go? I have looked at all 3 types. I would like to find out people's experience's with the different technologies?
I use LCD because I got a good deal and don't watch much TV. LCD still doesn't do black well and will pixelate with a bad signal. DLP is good for cheaper big screen where space is not as big of an issue. Plasma is great small screen and great big screen (EDTV for smaller, HDTV for bigger); however, still typically pricey.
LCD technology is taking over along DLP technology. Also, DLPs have new TI chips out this year. These sell more because you get a lot for your money as prices have dropped significantly. However, if you plan on viewing from extreme angles you still need a CRT or plasma set. I think the newer LCDs have a wider viewing angle than the DLPs. There is also new technology coming--LED light sources for Samsung LCDs and new LCD technology which will bring some units past plasma prices and into new resolution and color territory at huge prices. I believe new silicon wafer technology sets from JVC and now Sony are available. For 50 inch plasmas the fijitsu and pioneer pro lines are the best I've seen in their price range. For DLP's I like the upper range Mitsubishi sets and the new 56 inch Samsung pedestal set. Sansung makes a terrific new 60 inch LCD which is displayed at their flagship store at the Time Warner Center in NYC. The new sony silicon based units have gotten some good reviews but I have not seen them. The 60 inch I-DLA JVC is nice for the price but ultimately the picture will depend more on your source as many sets have greater resolution than the signal they will be receiving. Like computers, whatever you get will be out of date in a couple of years so don't look back....
Plasma. Prices have dropped considerably to the point you can buy a quality 50" set (Panasonic, Samsung, Philips) for under $4000. Rear LCD and DLP projo's are great, but you'll be replacing the bulb every one to two years at about $250-$300 each. It won't take long to make up the difference in price with the savings in no bulb replacement. Newer plasmas won't burn in like the older models and should last 10-15 years before they reach their "half-life".
If you need flat, I'd look at LCD or Plasma. If you want a "flatter big-screen", old CRT still beat up on LCD/DLP for pic quality...and they're WAY CHEAPER!
You don't do computer or video games on CRT though,ideally, and they're a bit heavier.
Still, what are your requirements?
I live in Tokyo, the land of doodadegadgetry, and have recently undertaken The Quest For The Appropriate Large Flat Panel Display. I chose a 50" plasma (Pioneer 535) because while the HDTV picture on the Sharp 45" LCD is good for high-definition video of snails crawling up a leaf, for sports events it does not cut it. For those who want a 50" screen and can afford to wait another several months AND afford to get products when they come out, I would wait for the Pioneer and Panasonic full-HDTV-capable 50" and 50+" plasmas coming out at or near year-end.

My personal decision was based on the expectation that at some point a few years from now, I would probably need a second one so would go for LCD then when they get the latency issues sorted out.

I did not even consider DLP because the picture always seemed a bit bland to me.
I've been following these technologies and wouldn't spend big money (for me, 3-5K) on anything but 1080p DLP with HDMI input (on-board HD tuner and cable-card ready a definite plus).
For 3 to 4k a nice, true HD, Sony plasma can be had with HDMI input and the usual inputs/outputs. The resolution is advertised as 1024 x 1024.

For less than half that a 42" rear projection DLP HDTV is a damn good buy; have seen a Sony Wega for something like 1500 at one store locally.

Rear projection has periodic bulb replacement ongoing cost; plasma is a finite product that, one day, will simply be tossed when it is worn out. An expensive consumable. For high quality sources a HD plasma is at the top of my list.

When 42" LCD (not rear projection) TVs become more price competitive that would move to the top despite the much better contrast ratio of plasma TVs overall. LCD units are much lighter so easier to move and mount on a wall; they use less power, and the picture is fabulous (except for the lack of total blackness) on my Sony 23" LCD HDTV Wega model.
After looking at HD sets for a while, I bought a Sony 42" plasma. (and of course, Sony has now dropped all plasma display TV... 8^(
The reason was it had the best picture, to me.
If I had to do it again, I would have been more careful about the functions the TV I would buy can do.
Altogether I am very happy with the picture quality, but the commands for picture size suck.
I do not know if any widescreen TVs allow custom picture sizing, but i would want it in my next screen. And expect much better picture quality in a resized picture.
The Sony's resizing is VERY limited, and really reduces the picture quality way too much.
The TV still weighs over 125lb and cannot be moved easily.
I would look at the new rear projection designs a LOT MORE deeply if I were getting one now.
My Sony has really great color, and grain free pic's (when not resizing the picture) and the HDMI from either the cable box, or my Denon 2910 look excellent.
The over the air reception via a $18 RadioShack HD antenna is fabulous. And the extra channels in some of the stations HD channels are exciting.
$4K for a TV it is a lot. And that was way off the $5.5 K list price at a local retail high end dealer. but I guess it is the future... now if the godd*#m broadcasters would just get off thier collective a$$ and broadcast everything in 16:9 I would be happier. Including the cable channels.
Hmm. Ok. A very general question;

1. If smaller, then 37 inch screen-- LCD definetly.
2. If 42 inch or larger Plasma definetly.
3. At 37 inch, its a toss up.
4. If DVDs in the dark or minimum light- Panasonic 42 ED Plasma.
5. IF HD content is primary- them a wide selection of plasma brands including Pioneer, Pansonic, Fujitsu, and Hitachi; this assumes ambient light and size 50 inch or greater.
6. DLP is a substandard video technology, and there are already interesting new alternative technologies just now coming out. Rainbow effect is a problem. The foot print is too large as well. Used to be called a "Poor Man's plasma"- but with authorized online plasma reseller pricing at 1500 now for 42 inch, even this isn't true anymore.
7. LCD pics these days are razor sharp and good color too. COntrast ratio still not great- I want a set with good black levels so I can see the shadow detail in darker scenes, in movies like Sin City for example. Cost isn't competitive at larger sizes due to sheet glass size production cost issues.
8. The comment about plasma lives and throw-aways is misleading. Panels these days are 60,000 hour to half-brightness; and thats with the picture setting at max. Most of us have that setting way down. But calculate how many hours a year you spend on viewing and do the math. The result may surprise you.
All of the above is pretty close to what I have heard. The Plasma's I was going to wait until next yr because they are still pricey. I just saw one of the new Hitachi Plasma's 42 inch it looked pretty nice. Here is question, has anyone noticed in the TV's, are you seeing better set's in the 42 inch, 50 inch or other?
How about LCOS and SXRD?
Dont bother with regular TVs and RPTVs. Go and buy a HDTV (no, not HDTV Ready, or EDTV). I recently bought a Pioneer Elite 50" PRO-1130HD Model. In my opinion, there are only three plasmas worth getting. On the top of my list was the Pioneer 6G (6th generation plasma), followed by Fujitsu and then a less expensive Panasonic. The best blacks that I have seen were on the Panny. But the Pioneer Elites and Fujitsus offered a better, detailed picture and superior color rendition so I was willing to live with the trade-offs. The Pioneer also came with a tuner and removable speakers. The theoretical life of most plasmas today is between 30,000 to 60,000 hours. This is comparable to the theoretical tubelife of the regular CRT tvs. This is theoretical life but the technology is so new that there isn't enough statistical data to back it up. As far absolute quality goes CRT is still king, followed by LCD flat screen, then Plasma. CRTs are huge, LCD is more delicate though and limited in size. LCDs also require bulb replacement which can be expensive. I investigated plasmas for years before taking the plunge and am very happy with the purchase. IMHO
My $0.02 worth.

There are pros and cons to each technology- no universal best choice.

Front projection is best, but its not for everyone; e.g., need to control ambient lighting.

For flat screen, you should weigh screen size, viewing distance, and cost to decide between flat panel and rear projection.

For rear projection, which is what I own, microdisplay sets are much better than CRT based sets IMHO, YMMV. For microdisplay, I would consider DLP or LCOS/SXRD over LCD RP. I would opt for the new generation of 1080p native resolution sets- picture quality is better independent of the resolution of the source material.

One observation from my own personal experience: I sit about 10' from the TV in my HT and I have a 61" screen. I do not consider this too large. I would not want a smaller screen size. I would like to upgrade to a 65" - 70" 1080p set!

Hope this helps,
I really don't have the setup although I suppose I could do it for LCD screen projection. I am just looking for the best picture size dollar value that won't be a maintenance nightmare. Some TV's have more problems than others. So, I was looking into the 42-50 inch range which I think would probably for me be the best fit.
Sony 50 inch KDS-R50XBR1 (SXRD)

Bob Wood
Bruceomega said it well. Movies were first made to be projected and a really nice front projector is my slam-dunk favorite. There are many analog units out there on the used market that can handle HD quite well for pennies-on-the dollar.
Yes a FP provides the most cinematic experience. JohnMcfarland poster- just go to and consider a Panasonic plasma. Best prices for what you get in the Flat screen world from the best online reseller and no state income tax. I would Strongly urge the 42 ED or the 50 HD. The 42 HD has a noticable black levels changing issue beyond the scope of this discussion.

AS far as better plasmas, Fujitsu really was the best lo those years ago ( 2003 and onward) but the gap has closed and Fujitsu is expensive and no longer makes their own glass. $$$/value ratio isn't so good. Pio 6th generation is a big step up for them no doubt. Black levels still a bit better on a Panny, but in a room with ambient light a Pio 6th Genration is a good choice. My only comment is that the company is highly restrictive on dead pixel return policies relative to Panasonic, so you would want to get a Pio set from a brick and mortar store with a safe return policy just in case. is worth a look.
When you say flat screen, do you mean thin-profile sets?
Most of the DLP sets are rear-projection sets that have considerable depth to the cabinet (InFocus makes 50-60" DLP sets for themselves and for the RCA brand that is only 7" deep, but this is generally the exception).

As a rule, Plasmas and the thin (backlit, not rear projection) LCD sets have the advantage of being brighter than any of the rear projection sets). Plasmas also have reasonably good color. The principle objects I have to Plasmas are that: (1) they cannot be viewed at close distances (somewhat reducing the big screen experience) because the pixel structure is clearly visible and because other artifacts (e.g., mosquito noise) are particularly bothersome with plasmas; (2) they are prone to burn-in problems (should not be viewed with a border around the picture for great lengths of time meaning that non-widescreen material will have to be blown up into a picture that is slightly distorted in shape); and they can produce a lot of heat (particularly 50"+ sets). I like Panasonic plasmas, particularly considering the price, but, to me, the Fujitsus are still the best because their processing creates a picture with less visible noise and other artifacts.

Backlit LCD sets are bright and punchy looking, have a less obvious pixel structure than plasmas and are not subject to burn-in problems. But, the inability to respond quickly to changing scenes creates all sorts of weird motion artifacts. I also don't like the cartoon-like homogeneity of images that should have subtle differences in color and texture (plasma is better in this respect). Also, some of the larger LCDs with more than one light source develop uneven lighting problems as the sets age.

The thin DLP sets I've seen were surprisingly good, considering that I expected problems with edge focus from having to somehow project at an extreme angle. The sets looked like regular rear projection DLP sets. That means they also had problems typical to rear projection DLPs. First, the picture does not look as punchy and vibrant as a plasma or backlit LCD set, particularly if there is a lot of ambient light in the room. Some viewers (like myself) see rainbows (color separation) and some even suffer from eye strain when viewing DLPs (I don't). In large patches of color or white areas, the screen will exhibit tiny sparkling grains (caused by the interaction of the fixed pixel structure with the lenticular projection screen). The big pluses for DLP is that it does not suffer as much from motion artifacts, does not suffer from burn-in, and the picture should not significantly degrade over time (the bulb can be replaces, one cannot reverse the aging of pixels in a plasma).

Currently, some pretty good LCOS/SXRD sets are coming on the market. These sets use reflective chips, like the DLP sets, but typically use three chips so they do not cause eye strain or have any problems with visible rainbows. The downside is primarily cost and the fact that thin-profile sets are not available. I own a Sony Qualia set. I think it delivers the best rear-projection picture currently available, but, it is very costly. Sony is now delivering a much lower cost "Wega" version, using its SXRD chips, that seems to have just about all of the features of the Qualia set (except, slightly small screen size and lower power bulb). I bet this is a real winner.

The latest technology that is expected to be available starting late next year is SED. This type of set is like a plasma and uses phosphors to emit light, like a plasma, so burn-in might be an issue. But, the word is that this technology is capable of delivering black levels like only old CRT television sets are currently capable of delivering, and has a quick response like old time sets. In short, this technology promises to bring the superior picture quality of old-time CRT televisions to a much larger screen size, and, with a profile at least as thin as plasma sets.
One last question for the panel, I know why I am seeing LG in HT stores but, has anyone actually bought one and what was your experience?
PLASMA - especially if you need to do any off axis viewing.
CNET offers some good advice ont he subject also:

I am surprised noone mentioned the new JVC D-ILA sets. three chip, native 1920x1080, and available in 56"-70". One of my partners just got the 61" for $2400. 18" deep, and really an impressive TV.

Did your partner get a 1080p JVC set, or a 720p set? I didn't think the 1080p sets were shipping yet, and didn't think they could be had for only $2400.

I meant to include JVC in my earlier post but forgot to add DILA to LCOS/SXRD as a recommended RP microdisplay technology.

Yep, I second the JVC recommendation - my buddy just got a 62" JVC (for approx. $2500) and the picture is fantastic. Hard to beat that bang-for-the-buck.

Also consider getting a set with a built-in HD receiver. Set up an antenna and you will get a lot more HD stations than with cable or satellite.
Does anyone out of curiousity, have any thoughts on the LG line?
For Plasma take a hard look at the 50 inch Panasonic Panel at Visual Apex for 3K.

I personally am looking forward to viewing the new Sony SXRD 50 inch KDS-R50XBR1. True full high resolution HD, no burn in concerns, inputs galore. The general concensus among reviewers thus far seems to indicate that this is the best set out there. $3,500 or so if purchased online.

Available in 60 inch as well. HMMMMMMMMMMMM
Have the problems with plasma and high altitude been fixed as yet? Just curious. One of the reasons I didn't go for a plasma screen - besides the price - was that they didn't do well with high altitude. This was about a year ago, so I am sure things have changed by now.

A few thoughts...

1. JohnMcF- I didn't respond to your first inquiry about LG because you asked for owners and I don't own one. LG as a plasma brand isn't very good. There is a chain in Florida that runs colorful ads and sells them, as well as larger distribution channels. I don't know who sources their glass ( maybe they do inhouse) but their electronic processing doesn't provide clarity of imaging in the way that other mentioned brands do.

2. Burn in- The great urban myth. No residential owner of a plasma I know has burn in. None. I have seen burn in ( uneven phosphor wear) in plasmas used for 24/7 static displays- like bus station/airport schedules. And then not too frequently and only plasmas that have been on for years. Usually older ones like NECs from three or more years ago. Despite reports to the contrary, including the latest edition of consumer reports--it just isn't all that much of a risk.

3. Altitude- well-- all I can say is mine flew on an airplane from Seattle to Houston. It was perfect and remains so- over 2.5 years later ( no burn in BTW).

4. Yes that 50 inch from VA is a good bet. Most of the other newer options mentioned aren't price competitive and have almost no track record as far as repairs etc-- yet still lots of promise there for sure.
I've seem burn-in in residential sets from extended use in 4:3 aspect (albeit, the burn-in was relatively minor). I think it can be an issue in the long run if one plans to keep the set for a very long time.

The altitude issue is one of noise. At higher altitude, the thinner air makes it harder to cool the set so the fan has to run at a higher speed -- hence more noise. This is often the case with RPTVs because they require a fan to cool the bulb. Plasma makers are getting much better at handling the noise issue. I saw a JVC plasma with a completely perforated back that has no cooling fan at all.

I like plasma sets, and in particular, if one requires a thin set to hang on the wall and a large screen size, there really are not many good alternatives. However, some of the LCOS/SXRD/DILA sets now coming on the market are pretty nice looking, provided one does not need a thin set.
My plasma has no fans and a perforated back on the top and bottom. It gets warm, but not hot.

AS far as burn in, we would have to separete burn in from after image retwntion--two different things. So if the bars remain lightly in the background after very prolonged 4:3 use and then disappear after the set is off and then used for other purposes that would be after image retention.

if on the other hand it was true burn in, you use the reverso inside out function on a 4:3 screen to even the phosphor wear and elimanate theuneveness; the picture setting would then be adjusted to DVE or AAVIA or calibration standards.
The other interesting thought I have is; " Why would anyone buy a plasma and watch 4;3 stuff on it? At least I might consider a zoom mode to maintain the aspect ratio yet minimize the bar area; it is after all a widescreen display- however, I have no doubt that you could get burn in if left in 4:3 viewing mode for days and days on end.
Thanks for the info about altitude & plasma sets - the noise problem is what I was thinking about - and using the set at high altitude, not how it reacts to being shipped by jet. :-) I live in Colorado so the altitude question is important to me. It is good to know that the plasma screen makers are making improvements. Here is a link to some info about high altitude and plasma screens: Note that this was written in mid-2004.

With modern plasma sets, I don't think you would have problems with high altitude/noise. Just one proviso, be sure to provide plenty of ventilation space around the set. The people that seem to have problems with premature death of their sets, that I've seen, have compromised cooling of their sets -- placed set in an a cabinet, built into a wall without forced air ventilation, installed a curtain to hide the set that covered the sides even when open.
Holly. Thanks for the link. originally there were far greater concerns about plasma and altitude. And in fact some folks report buzzing plasmas even today, although I havent seen it connected to altitude in those posts on ( just plug in buzzing plasmas into a search).

What I would say is that when these type of threads come up ( meaning this one) all kinds of stuff like the altitude thing, burn in, high power consumption, and other pseudo-myths are mentioned regarding plasmas, but in reality none of them actually occur for like 99.9% of in home residential users
Rysa4 is right about these plasma myths...

I have a neighbor that refused to buy a Plasma because "they only last a year and you have to recharge them with gas every few months". When I told him that was absolutely untrue, he said he believed otherwise becuase 2 home theater salemen had told him the "truth".

So these bozos sell him this giant ass CRT rear projection set, which he brings home and raves about. I go over to check it out and the upconversion is for shit and the guy has no plans for Hi-Def Satellite because he's "a cable guy- cables better". I inform him he can get hi-def through his cheesy cable provider and he responds "why do that? Look at that picture man".

I gave up. Drank a beer, went home.
I don't think that the high altitude/noise thing was a myth, but I am glad that manufacturers have been able to correct the problem. Now if only they would lower the price of plasma TVs a bit, I might be able to afford one, and get rid of my *@#$* CRT rear projection set. :-)

Hi. On altitude, thats why I said " Pseudo-myth". The issue does exist, like burn in for instance. These are factually correct possibilities, but with little practical impact in reality, as almost no one has problems with plasma and altitude, burn in, plasma lifespan etc.

You just get these huge emphasis in periodicals as these being some type of major negatives about Plasma, followed by the ole " Plasma is obsolete" and Plasma is dying" type comments.

On pricing, with decent 42 inch plasmas at 1500 and 50 inchers at 3000, they are becoming more in reach for more and more folks than a few years back.

My guess is the next step up will be to 55 inch true 1080P displays. I see 55 inch as the next standard.
Interestingly, if you go to, the lead article, clickable on the upper left of the screen, is Top Ten HDTV myths or something similar, and covers some of the exact stuff we are talking about here. Its a reprint from the just released PC World Reviews
First of all if you can afford it the best picture is HD plasma hands down. The LCD is not as crisp and life like. The DLP are still projection and can't hold the tolerance at the edges of the screen. You can buy a monitor only. Forget all the TV crap unless you are hooking it up to an outside antenna. You don't need a tuner if you are using a sat. or cable box anyhow. HDMI is a plus, but most of the HD plasmas come with multiple connections. It all depends on your budget, the location of the set - can you fit a larger DLP projection set etc. If you want a great set on a budget and have the room go DLP projection. If you have space contraints the flat panel is more money, but space saving. I started with one 61" plasma monitor and now I have three in my house. No, not 61"'s, plasmas.
Anyone have any opinions on Fujitsu Plasma's?
Fujitsu plasmas are more expensive than other brands, but I personally like the picture of their premium models. I think their processors do a very good job of avoiding motion artifacts, minimizing mosquito noise, and minimizing other picture anomalies. They are also right near the top when it comes to black level/shadow detail. Color accuracy is not bad (I prefer the Panasonic), when using just the basic controls, and becomes very good when professionally adjusted.

To me, they are worth the premium over other brands, but others might not think the difference is worth the price.
I visited the B&O store in Portland, OR - that has to be the best plasma I've seen in terms of both hi-def and DVD. I think it was $20K for 55" and $10K for 42". The HT and music system was pretty mediocre for $20K.
It really depends on screen size: 40 inc or larger still Plasma better than LCD. Below 40 inch, LCD better.
Anyone have any thoughts on the Sony 60 inch 1080p SRXD tv. It sure looked nice from every angle.
I have the Pioneer Elite Pro-1130HD, and have had it for about 4 years. I never watch tv. Rarely watch movies. Have shown a slideshow from my computer three times, which lasted no longer than 30 minutes each time.
As of a month ago, I have 2 stripes of DEAD PIXELS, each about 3" wide, and starting in the middle going down to the end of the screen, with the other about 6" to the right of it.

I have two other plasmas, both Pioneer, both about 4 years old as well, and one of them is starting to show a white cloud like area at the top center. The other is still fine... *knock on wood*
I've been through this excercise and when it came down to laying down my hard earned cash I went with a 55" Hitachi Plasma. For me there was NO question whatsoever on which television technology produced the best quality image and that was plasma. For the money, it was a no brainer in selecting Hitatchi. Five extra inches over the Panasonic and about $1,500 less than a Pioneer... easy decision.
I am still in love with my 50" Fujitsu.I just added a Belkin RazorView video DVI-HDMI cable-it really works.Blacks are blacker,whites are whiter.You can select 3 different levels and even split the screen to compare.