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Are Plasma TVs the Next BetaMax? 514

Lev13than writes "An article in the Toronto Star questions whether the battle between LCD and Plasma is the next VHS vs. Beta: "LCD is now in plasma country, and this means war — a war some say plasma can't hope to win". Rationale for LCD's victory include plasma's burn-in vs. LCD's ruggedness, improved images and falling prices. While the Beta analogy isn't particularly helpful (since both technologies play the same content), the article does raise interesting points."
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Are Plasma TVs the Next BetaMax?

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  • by non-sequitur ( 179054 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:05PM (#15944229)
    And when they do, they're prohibitively expensive to replace.
    Since so many of these are new, they won't fade for about two years - if Plasma is still around, you may see the tide change....
    • by dnoyeb ( 547705 )
      So your going with a "grass is greener" theory? Since there are more LCD owners you will have more going from LCD to plasma due to issues with LCD aging than from plasma to LCD due to issues with plasma aging?
      • by non-sequitur ( 179054 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:31PM (#15944319)
        I suppose I don't like to see judgement until all the evidence is in, and I think it's very difficult to get a balanced view on anything noawadays - including things that seem very straightfroward.

        I have a Sony CRT-based HDTV, and I really would love a flat-panel big screen. I think right now I'd favor LCD, but that preference is partly based on hearsay about Plasma (supposedly high power and supposedly short life), not direct experience.

        I have had direct experience with LCD, and I love it - except for the uneven fading of the CCFL backlights (maybe LED would improve this?), and the poor image quality when viewing non-native resolutions (which is improving with newer technology, and is mainly a problem only with PCs or SDTV).

        I haven't really warmed up to DLP - poor off-angle viewing and relatively dim image - but I can see the economy in it.

        So, I'm torn - each have strengths and weaknesses, but I'd hate to see one drop out simply because some information wasn't brought up.

        I imagine if people knew that Betamax was capable of better image quality without breaking backward-compatibiltiy, it might have trumped VHS (okay, there was also the closed-source problem, and the legendary porn industry influence).
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ThePhilips ( 752041 )

          I'm torn - each have strengths and weaknesses

          In situations like that I go to shop and buy first thing I like.

          It's pointless to worry about future problems. Solve problems when they come: burned out plasma or dimmed back light both are not lethal to human life ;-)

          I sort'a can relate to your problems. I'm going to buy TV that autumn. And most likely it would LCD: prices are now start at €800 for 32". Since I haven't found decent review I would just buy cheapest one of my preferred brands - Phili

          • by doti ( 966971 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @02:43PM (#15944789) Homepage
            In situations like that I go to shop and buy first thing I like.

            I exactly the opposite: I don't buy until things clear up.

            I would love to buy, even if it was expensive, a nice solution for viewing movies from my computer, but there seems to be no clear choice right now. Until then, I'll stick to my (ultra high definition, if compared to any TV) 19"CRT monitor, which is not bad since I view from a close distance, on a comfortable coach.

            Which other system would allow me to play 1920 pixels wide movies, like this? http://orange.blender.org/download [blender.org]
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by nsayer ( 86181 ) *
              I view from a close distance, on a comfortable coach.

              Our coach wasn't very comfortable - especially when yelling at us for doing our laps too slowly or making us do push-ups.

        • An alternative technology, optical interference dislays (OIDs) [economist.com], promises superior contrast, superior brightness, and lower power.

          Iridigm Technology, a small company in San Francisco, developed the technology. Unfortunately, Qualcomm purchased the company in 2004. Since Qualcomm tends to charge high fees on its patents, televisions based on OIDs may not materialize any time soon.

        • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:09PM (#15945493) Homepage Journal
          FWIW, the half-life for plasma screens is now around 60,000, which is comparable to conventional CRT sets.

          LCD backlights prohibitively expensive to replace? The fact is, they CAN be replaced, and aside from a few manufacturers who INSIST on gluing or epoxying the cases together, they are relatively easy to replace, and the tubes themselves cost anywhere from $2.00 to $30.00. Compare that to plasma, where to replace the screen you may as well just buy a whole new set (it's the equivalent of replacing a picture tube on a conventional television or monitor).

          Buy a set based on:
            - Response time
            - color purity
            - contrast ratio and black level
            - Image burn-in possibility (a potential issue for static displays and console gaming)

          Until OLED sets become available, Plasma will win color purity and contrast ratio hands down. LCD will win for weight/ease of installation and possibly versatility.
        • by Afrosheen ( 42464 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:04AM (#15946933)
          I'll tell you from firsthand experience that LCD is far superior. I bought a 32" Sharp Aquos this year and it rules.

            I looked at a ton of different makes and models for months before settling on this one. Let's see the pros and cons laid out for plasma vs. lcd.

            Plasma: Pros
          1. Relatively cheap at large sizes
          2. Good contrast
          3. Nearly perfect refresh, just like a CRT, so fast moving imagery doesn't ghost
          4. Bright and viewable from all angles

            Plasma: Cons
          1. Eats alot of power and generates a ton of heat. Put your face next to one and it's like standing under a hair dryer.
          2. Image burn-in is *still* a concern
          3. Glass covering screen doubles as a mirror. Very distracting.
          4. Looks really bad close up due to CRT-style pixel gates, can count the columns
          5. Low native resolutions regardless of size. Most 42" and below only do 1024x768 native, which is a 4:3 resolution, so displaying a pc on one guarantees a stupid looking stretched desktop since the screen is actually 16:9 sized.
          6. Fragile and delicate
          7. Supposedly short life

            Now for my friend the LCD.

            LCD: Pros
          1. Proven technology used for computers and other devices for years.
          2. Light and durable, easily moved at nearly any size.
          3. Contrast and black levels have improved dramatically over the last 3 years.
          4. High native resolutions; most screens give you a true 16:9 ratio out of the box with 1366x768 being the standard.
          5. Anti-reflective coated screens ensure that you're watching the movie instead of watching yourself eat popcorn. Similar to laptop and other LCD screens in that respect.
          6. Some models feature user-replaceable backlights (mine does)
          7. Latest screens have very fast (8ms or less) refresh times, no more ghosting or problems watching sports
          8. Save quite a bit of power when compared to CRT or plasma screens

            LCD: Cons
          1. Expensive when you get into 42"+ territory
          2. Can exhibit dead or stuck pixels eventually, sometimes this is user-repairable, sometimes not
          3. Still not 100% 'contrasty' like plasma or CRTs, this is changing though

            So the way I see it, an LCD is the clear winner. All of my clients bought LCD instead of plasma, even though they all tend to be thrifty and save money wherever they can. A trip to a very good home theater store, and you'll see why they (and I) chose LCD over plasma. It really is worth a few extra bucks.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BiggyP ( 466507 )
          The one thing i find truly unbearable about LCD is its inability to run at any resolution besides the actual pixel count of the screen, watching enormous LCD screens take a low res and heavily compressed Sky TV stream and scale it up to fill the available space produces one of the worst television experiences i've ever encountered. Is this kind of problem purely an issue with older LCD flatscreens or would the same issue plague a brand new HDTV ready LCD until all content is available in HD format?

          This is a
      • by innosent ( 618233 ) <jmdority.gmail@com> on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:21PM (#15944490)
        Or you could do what I did, avoid the whole issue completely and use a DLP projector. You have to replace the bulb every 3000 hours or so, but even after several bulb changes, I couldn't find a comparable LCD or plasma for less, since my 10' diagonal screen still isn't available with flat panels. I spent about $800 for the projector, and the cost of the bulbs ends up being around $0.05/hr to use it, a number which is perfectly acceptable to me.
        • by Reapman ( 740286 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:48PM (#15944611)
          I run a projecter as well, nice to have screen sizes that are impossible without spending $50k. Projectors are of course still not perfect, you need to have it semi dark in the room (it's MUCH better then before, but still difficult in bright rooms) but other then that they can't be beat. I find the image to be quite good and you can't get more portable then that! If you have a media room then you probably also dont have massive bay windows letting in daylight. Mine's lasted me for a couple of years already, and I managed to flash it's firmware to apparently get an other 1000 hours of bulb life left.
          • by Rande ( 255599 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @03:35PM (#15944948) Homepage
            I've got a Sanyo DLP projector, which has an auto bulb kill at 2500 hours. However, once I did the reset sequence to tell it that I'd put in a new bulb (even though I hadn't), it came back and is still running 3500+ hours later.
            I suspect that I'll just buy a new projector than replace the bulb - an equivalent new projector would only cost 50% more than the bulb itself.
            • by lowe0 ( 136140 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @04:55PM (#15945221) Homepage
              Hope you're counting on that. When those bulbs fail, they can potentially explode - you'll be picking shards of glass out of your projector.
              • Why not LED's (Score:4, Interesting)

                by phorm ( 591458 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:34AM (#15946726) Journal
                I've always wondered why devices can't use ultra-bright LED's? I'm not sure what the maximum lumens of output an LED can output is, but I've got a multi-LED flashlight that was cheaper, lasts longer on smaller batteries, and shines a whole lot brighter than most of the competing bulb-lights at the same size.

                The LED's themselves are supposed to have a very long life-expentency compared to standard bulbs, likely due to the fact that they don't use a burning filiment or other hot method of producing light.

                Anyone know of good LED-backlit projection units?
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by WaterDamage ( 719017 )
                  A flash light is a bad comparison since flash light bulbs don't produce much luminence to begin with. Look up the amount of LUMENS a projector bulb will produce vs led and you'll quickly realize why. The day that LEDs will match a 1,000,000 candle power spot light is the day that projectors will change their light source.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by sootman ( 158191 )
                "When those bulbs fail, they can potentially explode - you'll be picking shards of glass out of your projector"

                So, the bulb can potentially explode, but he will be picking shards of glass out of his projector? You're mixing up your words to bolster your weak point.

                Projector bulbs are every bit as durable as regular light bulbs--blow outs rarely lead to explosions. I own a projector, used as a TV, and have already had its bulb die once. A little pop, a little darkness, and I let it cool down and replaced it,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Linker3000 ( 626634 )
      ...and if backlight fading becomes a problem, expect manufacturers to make it an easily replaceable option - just like changing a fluorescent tube (which it generally is) - more opportunity for the manufacturers to push 'spares' that the videophiles will replace every month or so.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I wouldn't hold my breath - manufacturers always prefer that you replace the whole appliance, unless they can reap both higher gross and higher margins from replacements.

        Replacing the CCFL backlight is not cheap for a laptop - how can it be cheap enough for a 42' or bigger screen?

        Even if it was easy to swap out, the margin must be high for the manufacturer to benefit, so the savings would not be passed on to the customer.

        let's hope I'm mistaken....
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bsane ( 148894 )
          the margin must be high for the manufacturer to benefit, so the savings would not be passed on to the customer.

          I have no idea whether or not swapping out the backlight is feasable, but your wrong about the economics.

          If it can be done someone will probably offer it. If its seen as a benifit then it will be sought after by the consumer, and non-replacable LCDs sales will fall.

          There is plenty of competition in the TV market and there is no mega-corp making decisions about whats available and whats not (other t
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            You may be right - we won't know for a while.

            I agree it CAN be done, but don't forget that to replace it will not require both a manufacturer (of the backlight), a cooperative TV manufacturer, and most likely a competant installer.

            #1 - The backlight manufacturer wants to profit from the market. The backlight manufacturer may be the most motivated in this scenario. It's possible that the TV manufacturer may be the middleman, but that's going to drive the price up even more.

            #2 - The TV manufacturer will nee
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by bsane ( 148894 )
              The point though is that there are multiple #1s and #2s competing for business. If a replacable backlight gives them an edge they will do it.

              No one has anything even approaching a monopoly on TVs, there is pretty fierce compition.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeremi ( 14640 )
      And when they do, they're prohibitively expensive to replace.

      True... I wonder why some manufacturer doesn't make an LCD display with an easily replaceable backlight(*). I'd pay extra for a display if I knew I wouldn't have to throw it away in a few years.

      (*) Actually, I have some ideas as to why, but they are too cynical to be worth repeating here

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I don't think it's overly cynical though. If it's Sony,or LG, or Proton, or anybody - the company must do what's best for the bottom line (it's a legal obligation to the shareholders of publicly held companies, and the main objective for privately held companies).
        And what's best for the bottom line, is often not what the educated consumer would prefer. But it does tend to keep the economy rolling. It keeps the money in the air - where more of it can be snatched up by the powerful (and idustrious) few.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hazem ( 472289 )
          Best for the bottom line... but over what time-period?

          Monthly book closing? Quarterly reporting? Annual reporting? Reign of the current CEO? Life of the company?

          Too often, managers make the decision to make short-term measurements look good at the sacrifice of the long-term viability and profitablity of the company.

          Taken to the absurd extreme, anyone can make a company profitable for a short period of time: fire the employees, sell all the IP, and liquidate all inventory and assets. You'll be incredib
    • That's a good thing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:44PM (#15944362)
      for the TV industry, sell a product that needs replacing every few years. Worked for bike racks. Yakima and Thule used to sell racks so durable they were only replaced when someone bought a new car and you couldn't buy compatible roof clips. Nowadays critical components are made of cheap plastic that'll wear out in a few years (and good luck buying just the components). I gather it works well for cars too. What's annoying is all the landfills full of busted consumer goods. I mean, would it really be that hard to design these things to be repairable? Probably no more so than making a refillable ink cartridge.
      • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:25PM (#15944513) Homepage Journal
        What we need is a different model. Like sell expensive high quality products, but offer service options and payment plans. You pay off your TV after a couple years and you can hang onto it for a while. the company produces fewer TVs reducing their overhead but charges more for them.

        Now the trick would be how to get such a model to compete with the existing model of disposable devices. It hasn't worked for printers even though everyone is aware that desktop inkjets and laserjets are a rip off. You can pick up a 8-10 year old office laser printer for only about double the price of a new cheapo laser printer, and the old "beast" might take up more space in your home but it will probably last another 10 years and be servicable. and you can usually put around four times more paper in it, so you don't have to fill it up as often or find a place to store your half-used reams of paper.

        I don't know anyone who actually went out and bought an old laser printer in preference to one of the new junk ones. so I'm guessing this isn't working out either.

        Cars are higher quality now then they were in the late 70s to mid 80s, at least American cars. car makers realized that you don't have to make a cheap car that falls apart. you just make a car that completely collapses on any impact as a safety feature. most cars eventually succumb to a collision. then you can sell those people a new car. This new model seems better than the Ford Pinto model of cars.
        • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:15AM (#15948748)
          you just make a car that completely collapses on any impact as a safety feature.

          That's not a "planned obsolescence" device, it's a legitimate safety feature.

          When your car is involved in a collision, it's going to be subjected to a large amount of kinetic energy. Would you rather that the energy be absorbed by the frame of the car -- resulting in crumpling and irreparable body damage -- or would you rather that the frame transfers that energy on to the passengers, resulting in a more serious kind of irreparable body damage?

          Yes, car manufacturers know that people who survive car accidents are more likely to make another car purchase than those who don't. But that's not greed, it's common sense. Rule number zero of business: don't kill your customers*.

          (* rule does not apply to tobacco companies)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eivind ( 15695 )
        I don't know about american cars, but what you're claiming is certainly not true for Japanese/European cars.

        On the contrary, they are orders of magnitude more reliable, require less service, and go more years/miles before being worn out.

        When I was young normal cars required an oil-change and basic service every 5000 miles, it was perfectly normal for the clutch to be worn out at 20000 miles, same for the register. A car that had 75000 miles on it after say 8 years was considered as near-scrap, many cars

    • I have used laptops considerably older than 2 years and they look OK to me.
    • Fade? (Score:2, Informative)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *

      LCD backlights will fade unevenly...And when they do, they're prohibitively expensive to replace. Since so many of these are new, they won't fade for about two years - if Plasma is still around, you may see the tide change.

      Mine is going on 4 years and no fade at all.

      One thing I never liked about plasma was the power consumption. Do they still suck 300+ watts and emit a lot of heat?

      • Re:Fade? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:39PM (#15944567) Homepage Journal
        Mine is going on 4 years and no fade at all.

        Several LCD panels I have programmed claimed 2.5 years of interruptible function w/o degradation of quality. Since the panels were insanely cheap I presume that better panels live even longer.

        Presuming one watches TV on average 6 hours a day - with 2.5 years guaranty - that would make 10 years of lifetime. 10 years later I'm sure it would be possible to replace cheaply the panel with new one - just like it is happening now with CRTs.

        CRTs are also prone to degradation - just like plasma and LCD. It's just the quality of CRT sucks (HD LCD/Plasma really provide better viewing experience) so nobody watches them too much. (After coming to IT, I barely can look at CRT TV at all: 50Hz just hurt my eyes too much.)

        P.S. And with new developments like LED (light emitting diodes) back light - that would move the problem even further.

  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:09PM (#15944243) Homepage Journal
    Then my CRT must be a wax cylinder :(

    Strangely enough, it doesn't suffer from uneven fade or blurring and has survived years with the kids knocking against it and still looks damn good.

    I must really be behind the times if I want to pay more money for something with less quality and features...

    • I have 7 letters to add.

      JVC LCoS

      Granted, its not as thin as plasma, but no picture is better.

    • Yea, and if it's even a moderate sized LCD it probably takes a forklift to move.
    • My 1992 Sony Trinitron TV still looks great.

      With 90% of the content I watch still plain old 4:3 NTSC, I see no reason to upgrade to a widescreen Plasma or LCD.
    • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @02:16PM (#15944726)
      No, your CRT is like having eyes...

      There's a reason CNET use Sony's 34XBR960 was selected by them to use as the reference to judge all other HDTVs (plasma, LCD, DLP, etc.) against.

      Sure, it's the size of a typical european car and weighs about the same but, for picture quality, there's a reason why most stores quietly moved it away from the much higher markup flat pannels they'd rather still be able to sell.

      Granted, the follow on model (34XBR970) actually dropped picture quality (from 1440 horizontal scan lines to something like 1100) to get set reliability up. The point still remains: For reference picture quality, people still seem to be picking CRT after a decade of promises about the latest flat pannel having the greatest ever picture.

      It's true the average consumer doesn't see that. Then again, they're remembering their $199 CRT of yesteryear and comparing it to a $1,999 flat pannel. Compare the budget end of any line, even an overall superior one, to a line that barely has a budget line and typical models cost ten times as much as the other's budget end and, sure, it'll give you a skewed result.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 )
    Of the currently commercial available technologies, I'd predict that DLP will be the long-term winner.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jbreckman ( 917963 )

      DLPs require fans to keep the bulb cool. This can produce unreasonable noise while trying to watch something.

      I had a Toshiba 46" DLP a couple months ago with two sets of fans in it. One was on when the TV was on, which was very loud. You had to run the TV way up just to make sure you could understand everything.

      The other was on whenever the TV was plugged in, even when it was "off". You could really hear it across the room. (They claimed it was to "keep the bulb cool". To which I asked "Can I unplug

      • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @04:12PM (#15945066)
        Anyway, my LCD is actually "silent", and I love it. Unless DLPs become fan-less I'll never buy one again.

        Funny you should say that... Samsung finally shipped their LED-based DLP a few weeks ago.

        http://www.engadget.com/2006/01/06/samsung-hl-s567 9w-dlp-with-led-backlight/ [engadget.com]

        I don't know if they have removed the fan altogether, but they have removed the color wheel (one less thing spinning at 10k+ RPM...) and the LEDs generate a LOT less heat than the traditional bulb, so I'd imagine it's effectively silent.

        Going a bit off topic (well, not really, we're talking TVs!) Sony was showing off a prototype SXRD (ie LCoS) TV at CES 2006 that was about a foot deep (they had it hanging on a wall). Combine these innovations in projection TVs (true 1080p DMD/LCoS chips, LED lamps, thin cabinets, etc) and amazingly they may start taking some of the plasma/LCD market segment, ie low footprint HDTVs - especially in the 50"+ range, where there is a huge price advantage for projection TVs.
  • It costs less than a plasma or LCD, has no Burn in, needs less electricity and works great. I've choosen the Sony KDF-E50A11, and i've never looked back. The only downside is that every 6000 hours i have to change the lamp, which costs about 180,00$.

    (This is not a commercial, i'm just a happy customer :))
    • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:55PM (#15944398)
      I have a plasma TV, which I chose over rear projection, DLP, and LCD.


      1. Rear projection CRT may look the best, but they are way too bulky for the space. I wanted a sleeker TV, not a bigger one than my old standard CRT.

      2. My wife sees the rainbows on DLPs. It's less obvious with higher-priced models (where the color wheel spins faster), but it renders them unwatchable for fast content (like sports or action movies) for her.

      3. Plasma versus LCD came down not to their performance with hi-def content, but with their performance with standard content. I've had my plasma TV for more than a year, and most stations I watch are still standard def. In my opinion, standard def TV looks better with plasma than with LCD. I looked at lots and lots of TVs, and I switched them in the stores to standard def broadcasts instead of leaving them on the hi-def channel the retailer wanted to show. Of course standard def content looks worse on a big-screen TV than on a small TV, but the static and artifact pixels were far more visible with LCD than with plasma.

      This whole discussion is silly, anyway. Both types of TVs can play the same content, as can rear-projection TVs, DLPs, and even those polymer TVs in the Slashdot article yesterday. There's no reason they cannot all co-exist in the marketplace. As long as there are people like me who dislike LCDs, there will be a market for them. (I don't even use LCD computer monitors - CRTs still look so much better it's unbearable.)
  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:11PM (#15944252)
    An article in the Toronto Star [CC] questions whether the battle between LCD and Plasma is the next VHS vs. Beta

    VHS vs. Beta was a battle in which a consumer who made the wrong choice was left with hardware that increasingly ceased to be useful, because it wasn't supported. Choosing a plasma or an LCD screen isn't remotely comparable because both will continue to function regardless of who "wins". This is a silly article.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I just got a new Samsung 50" Plasma. I've used almost nothing but my 360. There are always little health bars in the corner. I was very worried about burn in, but I think burn-in has been completely debunked arround here. There is no such problem in modern plasma screens. My model isn't even the latest and greatest with the "dedicated game mode". It just works.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Osty ( 16825 )

        I just got a new Samsung 50" Plasma. I've used almost nothing but my 360. There are always little health bars in the corner. I was very worried about burn in, but I think burn-in has been completely debunked arround here. There is no such problem in modern plasma screens. My model isn't even the latest and greatest with the "dedicated game mode". It just works.

        Burn-in is a potential problem in CRTs and Plasma displays because they ultimately use the same technology to represent colors -- phosphors. The

  • Awful Quality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:15PM (#15944267)
    I've seen many Plasma TVs, and even LCD ones, in many electronic stores and the picture quality of all of them is absolutely shocking compared to an ordinary CRT. Colour, in particular, is a problem.

    Yes, they're slightly cool looking, they save space and they're lighter, but I've seen more than one person shake their head sceptically when they've seen the picture quality and then looked at those 'HD Ready' logos slapped all over them. Quite frankly, I think both of them are Betamax, but I think a Betamax versus VHS comparison is wrong. They're both crap.
    • Not only is the color wonky, but with both plasmas and LCD's (I write this on a laptop), there's a tiny window in which you can look at the picture and see it correctly. Ever have a few people try to look over your shoulder at something on a laptop? It's nearly impossible, unless everybody gets down at the same height, and you adjust the monitor. Right now I'm watching a regular CRT TV from almost sideways, across the room, and I can see it just fine.

      I agree with you. I think they both suck, and CRT's a
      • Re:Awful Quality (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AnyoneEB ( 574727 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:42PM (#15944581) Homepage
        My LCDs have 178 degree (claimed) viewing angle range. I think past that, the frame starts blocking a significant portion of the screen. Even my laptop's screen has a large horizontal viewing angle range, although the vertical is much smaller. One of my friends has a plasma TV and I have never noticed any difference in the picture from different angles. I'm sure there is one, I just have never been in a position to notice it even at wide angles. Maybe viewing angle was a problem in the past, but I do not think it is a serious problem on modern screens.
    • This probably has more to do with the fact that most retailers have zero staff who know how to properly operate their products or adjust settings. I've seen some terribly misaligned projection TVs at big-name electronics retailers, and it takes all of 5 minutes to run through the convergence procedure. All you need to fix these problems most of the time is the remote control and a few minutes of time from someone with half a clue. Sadly, the lack of a clued-in individual is an expense they're not willing
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ilgaz ( 86384 )
      I own a Samsung 19" CRT monitor which works perfect and because of same reason as yours I really hope CRT doesn't become unavailable when it dies. I have even thought about a secondary (or primary) 21" CRT additionally. It is really hard to figure why would one buy a LCD display while he/she has lots of space to spare at home. LCD display/monitor just became fashion, it was intended for offices where space matters. A bank accountant can live without "pure white" of course.

      However there is an easy way to fig
    • Re:Awful Quality (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RonnyJ ( 651856 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:55PM (#15944406)
      I've seen more than one person shake their head sceptically when they've seen the picture quality and then looked at those 'HD Ready' logos slapped all over them.

      In my experience, this is mostly down to the TVs not displaying HD resolution material. A good 'HD Ready' set will easily highlight the relative lack of resolution in DVDs, let alone on standard broadcast television. A normal TV set can easily look a lot better on these type of broadcasts, simply because the display isn't as sharp.

  • Video Games (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArizonaKid ( 893047 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:16PM (#15944275)
    There is one plasma at my condo; however, it belongs to my roommate and the rules are no video games. CNET had an article which stated the first hundred hours are the most critical to prevent burn in, and after that time it's ok to play video games. However, the majority of manufacturers still recommend in their operators manual for plasmas not to play video games. The article's mention of burn-in is a constant worry, especially with news stations that leave thier logo up all day. For my XBOX 360, I still don't know what to get. I really don't want the size of a DLP; however the LDCs I have played on still leave some "trails" and are quite expensive. Does anyone have any recommendations for gaming? I have to be ready for Madden 07 this Tuesday.
    • by Dogers ( 446369 )
      Try the samsung r7 range. MS uses them in the X360 demo booths here in the UK. They look great! :)

      I'm planning on getting one soonish, once I get paid for all the recent overtime. The only downside to them is they only have 1 HDMI port, but meh!
      • I run my 360 through a Samsung 26" and it is fine. The newer Samsung (the r7 range) has a dedicated gaming mode to further improve this. To get technical, the demo pods (at least all the ones I have seen) use the 23" LE23R51 which has no HDMI socket, just component, though the 26" version does have one. Great set though and fine for gaming and media centre duties.
        • This is why I stick with CRT. Most people can't afford a nice size LCD, so they end with a 23 inch LCD. When, for the same price, they could have a 32 inch CRT.
  • by Vince ( 4999 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:16PM (#15944277) Homepage
    There's a big difference here - if you bought a BetaMax deck, you couldn't get new movies, but if you get a Plasma, you'll be able to use it through its whole lifespan. The availability of plasma displays in the future shouldn't affect your purchasing decision now.
  • I don't get this comparison at all. To me, the big deal with something like Beta vs VHS is that once you make a purchase, you're committed to a format. That isn't the case here. The manufactures, I suppose, could see it this way because they have to commit quite a bit of their resources to produce one type or the other, but to the consumer it doesn't matter. If, rich bastard that you are, you invest in a whopping big plasma TV now, and find that it doesn't suit your needs in a few years, you're not going t
    • by thsths ( 31372 )
      > I don't get this comparison at all. To me, the big deal with something like Beta vs VHS is that once you make a purchase, you're committed to a format.

      Exactly. Betamax vs VHS was a question of compatibility. LCD vs Plasma is only a matter of technology. And consumers care about compatibility, but they couldn't care less about technology. So there is no comparison :-).

      I think it is becoming popular to cite Betamax whenever you run out of something to say.
  • by G-Man ( 79561 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:24PM (#15944300)
    I've always thought of Plasma as the ISDN of TV technology -- it's an 'in-between' solution that is less than ideal and expensive, but provides a level of capability that early adopters and the rich are willing to pay for. Eventually it will pass from the scene, but for a limited number of people for a limited amount of time, it will do the job.
  • by EulerX07 ( 314098 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:27PM (#15944308)
    Personally, I expect SED to win over the high-end because it shares the strenght of CRT televisions with the large screen size and small form factor of LCD/Plasma. The middle-end should be split between LCD and the better DLP projections, while the low-end will be the cheap DLP projections and whoever can put out the smaller tvs for the best price (read: who gets the walmart account).

    Anyways, they should have at least mentioned it to make their story complete from a 2006/2007 point of view.

  • .. when I started my hunt for a HDTV. But TVs in my budget had a huge difference in PQ between LCDs and Plasmas (With Plasmas being the clear winners). So I ended up buying a plasma. I think that for now (And for near future), plasmas are still going to have the best PQ. And don't forget the status symbol that plasmas are. If Joe has heard about HDTVs, he'd want to buy a plasma because (a) For a lot of people, an HDTV means plasma (Others are look-alikes), and (b) PQ in a plasma makes him see the difference
  • by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:29PM (#15944315)
    Most of that information is dated (screen sizes especially since 65" LCD's can be found from several companies).

    And a lot more is PR crap/scare-monger to try and sway the consumers to their line of products. As stated Sony doesn't make plasmas anymore, so of course they will be advocating LCDs since that is ALL they make!

    There are "good" plasmas and "poor" plasmas, just like there are "good" LCDs and "poor" LCDs. Giving pure PR crap like this trying to compair your top of the line LCDs against mid to poor quality plasmas is as I said, pure crap. Hell, even Sony plasmas (you know the ones that Sony hasn't made for 18 months which are now at least 2 generations of technology old), Sony THEMSELVES rated them for 60,000+ hours! So how the hell are they now spouting this crap of 40,000 hours when compairing their brand new LCD's against "supposedly" brand new plasmas? Yes, that is correct, they shopped around for their numbers probably finding the cheapest plasma in existance and compaired its technical features against a name branded LCD.

    Again, most of this article is about trying to get consumers to purchase their own products. You don't see Panasonic, Philips, or Pioneer putting this kind of crap out there because all three of them produce both LCDs AND plasmas. They will give you more straight up answers as to which one to use for your situation. Not this kind of PR sh--- err --- stuff that Sony is spitting out because they ONLY have LCDs and need to try and drive as many people as they can to purchase them otherwise Sony is left out of the market...
    • by dfghjk ( 711126 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:43PM (#15944360)
      "As stated Sony doesn't make plasmas anymore, so of course they will be advocating LCDs since that is ALL they make!"

      That argument would make sense if Sony never made or couldn't make plasmas. It makes much more sense to say that Sony doesn't make plasmas because they don't believe in them.

      "You don't see Panasonic, Philips, or Pioneer putting this kind of crap out there because all three of them produce both LCDs AND plasmas."

      Of course not. You wouldn't trash your own products even if they were trash.

      "They will give you more straight up answers as to which one to use for your situation. Not this kind of PR sh---..."

      No they won't. It's all "PR sh---".

      It doesn't matter how a set is made. It only matters how it performs.
  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:31PM (#15944321) Journal
    The plasma makers say it doesn't happen any more, but they still warn against watching too much 4:3 unstretched content, and those channel bugs still end up burned in to the display. As LCD goes up in size and quality and down in price, it will push plasma out of the running. Sure, the LCD backlight will fade, but it won't burn in and it doesn't matter what you display (thus no reason to watch distorted content).

    DLP, LCD projection and CRT (projection or direct) aren't really competing for the same niche because they aren't thin panels. CRT also has the 4:3 burn-in issue.
    • It is possible to create thing panel DLP. Here's an example of a thin panel DLP [woot.com]. They quit making them because DLP is too expensive to compete in that market.
  • by Bertie ( 87778 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:40PM (#15944348)
    Neither plasma nor LCD are good enough to persuade me to part with my cash. Why should I pay about twice as much as I would for a CRT when the quality's not as good? Plasma's got the burn-in problem, and the power consumption's colossal. LCD screens can't do proper black. Neither cope well with anything but their native resolution, and both completely fall to pieces when there's any kind of fast action on the screen.

    The way I see it, they're both stopgap technologies that are persuading impatient people to part with their cash until they can iron the creases out of SED or OLED technology and get them production-ready.
  • Not true HDTV... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:41PM (#15944353) Journal
    All I know is a lot of what I see being called "HDTV" can't do 1080i or 1080p. The units come with a resolution of 1366 x 768 and I consider that "crippled, almost HDTV".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tokki ( 604363 )
      There are new LCDs (I haven't seen any plasma) that are true 1920x1080, which will do 1080p. The 1366x768 can do 720p and 1080i. 1080i is interlaced, and interlacing (why we still use it is beyond me) reduces the observed resolution by about 30%, so 720p is roughly the same as 1080i. At Bestbuy at least now, you can see demonstrations of 1080p (only Blu-ray does 1080p I believe, HD-DVD only does 1080i) on a 1080p LCD screen. Holy shit, it looks nice.
      • Re:Not true HDTV... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:27PM (#15944520) Homepage Journal

        720p and 1080i at the same frame rate are about the same amount of information / s. 720p is actually a bit more than 1080i even though 1080i results in a higher resolution (although half the image is displayed per pass). The argument is 720p is better for fast stuff (sports) while 1080i is better for other stuff.

        With the right processing, you can interpolate the 1080i to 1080p nicely, I think.

        I personally like high res stuff, so I am holding out for 1080p capable display. There are some nice LCDs for less than $2k right now, but plasma is very spendy in 1080p.

        I have a 2650x1600 LDC by Dell at work. Now that is a sweet machine. No 1600p video out there that I know of...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by crabbz ( 986605 )
      720p is a valid HD mode and many people would argue better than 1080i. I wish they had dropped interlaced video modes for HD and went with 1080p30 instead of 1080i60. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/720p [wikipedia.org]
  • For the consumer market, probably Plasma is dead. LCD TVs are coming down a lot in price and DLP is getting better with the viewing angle issue.
  • by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:04PM (#15944432)
    That article wasn't very informative or insightful. I'd give it a 2 if it were a comment on /., and that's only on the strength of mentioning the 40,000 hour plasma lifespan vs. 60,000 for LCD.

    What I'd really want to know is, specifically, what's the verdict with respect to plasma burn-in? Sony says it's problematic. (And if that's true, why were they selling plasma screens for so long?) Panasonic says, "You get what you pay for." Is that supposed to mean burn-in's not a problem on high-end sets?

    With respect to LCDs, okay, so ghosting's less of a problem. Can we be more specific? Just how much has the response time improved? And what about contrast ratio? Viewing angle? Sunlight? Jaggies?

    Regarding both formats, what happens at end-of-life? Do they just get dimmer and dimmer? Is there some kind of hard failure in the mechanism that renders the set completely inoperable after a certain amount of time? (E.g.I had a desktop LCD monitor which started to balk at coming out of powersaver mode, until one day, it just refused to come back on at all.) Are product lifespans going up, and to what extent? Either lifespan is fairly impressive, we're talking about 4.5 to 7 years of continuous round the clock usage, and probably twice that given typical usage patterns.

    And other than a brief mention in the sidebar, there's nothing about future display technologies that might eclipse both plasma and LCD.

    Point being, this article might be helpful to a lay person who reads the Star, but it isn't really suited for a tech audience. Why is it on Slashdot?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:05PM (#15944437)

    As a writer of an article, one should do more than research the televisions of one company and base all aspects of technology on it. That company, would be Sony as indicated by the author of this article as it is the only manufacturer that is being represented.

    This article is filled with entrenched ideas of plasma technology from about half a decade ago, when LCD televisions were prohibitively expensive and small.

    It does not need to be restated that this article has no resemblence to the Beta vs. VHS wars as all televisions will continue to be able to display a standard picture, but here are the wrong ideas being perpetrated by this author.

    Plasma's burn-in has been eliminated due to algorithms developed by both Samsung and Panasonic to essentially shift on-screen images ever so slightly to avoid a single image to stay in one place. In fact, even if you blasted a pure white image on the screen to purpose for a day (a standard accident, perhaps?) then the technology can even cure that over a day period of standard use.

    Black bars will not cause burn-in on today's plasma televisions. Television station logos that sit non-stop in the bottom-right corner are the only culprits. Even most stations have figured out to shift the logo a bit or make it transparent enough that the older plasma television crowd will not have burn-ins.

    Sony abandoned its plasma television technology because it just couldn't win. Sony was using glass from another manufacturer, which is a very expensive part. Consumer Reports and CNet routinely choose Panasonic plasmas as the very best because they manufacture the key plasma television components. Likewise, the article states that Sony abandoned it in favor of LCD technology. Sony also abandoned the tube television technology which was a cornerstone of the company's name. One would imagine a specialist, nay a leader, in tube television technology would have been most adept at establishing plasma technology.

    Plasma televisions are not hot. Hovering one's hand above the vents of plasma televisions today reveal no more heat than a standard television, except suspiciously on brands such as Sony or Akai. Go through a Best Buy and feel the lack of heat emanating from a Pioneer, LG, Samsung, or Panasonic. In fact, Samsung did use to have fans to cool its plasma, but over time it has been eliminated.

    Now for some editorializing... I pass by three plasma televisions every day in a work environment. A Samsung plasma hangs suspended from a ceiling displaying a static computer display giving graphical and textual read-outs. The display never changes interface except a screensaver comes up every thirty minutes. It does not have burn-in when somebody gets caught surfing the web on it by accident (I always find that one funny). A Sony plasma hangs in the boardroom, it is hardly on except for a teleconference, and it works day in and day out with just a face on it most of the time. A Panasonic plasma plays video non-stop in the breakroom and is only turned off at night. That display is smaller than the rest at 42 inches, but it is phenomenal color-wise and it hasn't failed either. Plasma technology is not terrible. It's very good. LCDs do not offer lighter weight or thinner enclosures than plasma (so far). LCD panel televisions will defeat plasma in the situation where it becomes thinner, lighter, larger, and more beautiful displaying images (this encompasses the entire image quality and motion playback attributes) in a fast enough time with a matching price to plasma on size. The problem is that plasma if you look online is far cheaper than an equivalent LCD panel television. Retail chains are making a load of money off of plasma units in-store. LCD television technology is priced exactly as it is worth in both on and off-line venues.

    I'm just glad the author of the article didn't compare this to the Wii vs. Playstation 3 war or the Zune vs. iPod war.

  • Are Plasma TVs the Next BetaMax?
    No, they are not. LCD is the better technology, whereas in the VHS vs. BetaMax wars the lesser technology won on price and the better tech dissapeared. (or, more acurately, was relegated to the pro arena)
  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:07PM (#15944446) Journal
    Sure, CRT's are cheap and great, but have you ever tried to move a large CRT? You need a crane! or 4 beefy guys from the gym.

    Being a scrawny nerd with no muscle tone makes moving CRT's a problem. It's primary reason I dumped my nice 19 inch CRT monitor for an LCD.
    • by courtarro ( 786894 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @02:28PM (#15944756) Homepage

      You can pry my CRT out of my cold, dead hands. If I have to lift weights to maintain the ability to move my 21" Sony tube, then I'll gladly do it. I'll continue hoping that companies will invest a lot in SED [wikipedia.org], since it has the potential to show the best of both worlds. Until then, I lament that Sony has discontinued their Trinitron tubes and hope that my current one will last until SED is viable.

      I work for the newspaper for my uni where we have an office full of Dell LCD screens, except for the photo editor. He uses two large Dell CRTs (which have Sony tubes in them) for his photo editing because the LCDs just can't approach the color representation. This whole Plasma v. LCD v. DLP battle bores me as someone who values the color and contrast of a CRT, and worries me that people have forgotten what is so great about CRTs. Who cares if my 32" TV weighs 100 lbs? It's worth it in a home theater.

      I'm primarily afraid that any pro-CRT views will soon be relegated to the same class of people who insist that LPs have better quality than CDs. The other /.ers who love CRTs will be the ones sitting in the back of the room when we're well into our years, saying "Back in my day, TVs weighed 500lbs, and they looked better too! Whippersnapper!". That, and I'm only 23.

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) * on Sunday August 20, 2006 @03:15PM (#15944887) Homepage Journal
    And the screen have not detoriated neither in image quality, luminance, color clarity and strength, in contrast or anything.

    Its crt tube has not been replaced never since 1980, and it has NEVER seen any repair or needed any.

    It has been in CONSTANT use for the time duration at hand, on average 4-6 hours a day.

    Still no sign of weakness or anything. Its a phillips. was made in europe.

    Considering that, and considering also i still have a crt monitor i bought with my 486-dx33 back in 1993, and considering it still works despite being not precise in display, i can say that it would be utter stupid to immediately jump on to the train of new plasma or lcd technology.

    Id wait for the standard to settle, and only then jump in.
  • by vandelais ( 164490 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @04:25PM (#15945118)
    This http://www.digitimes.com/displays/a20060818A6025.h tml [digitimes.com] article better explains how and when plasma is getting pushed up the consumer chain.
  • by dreamlax ( 981973 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @04:33PM (#15945150)

    I wouldn't touch LCDs over 40". I work in retail and I hear both sides of the story. Sharp and other brands like Sony push LCDs through like mad, while Panasonic is primarily a plasma brand.

    Power consumption
    Plasmas and LCDs use a comparable amount of power. A 42" Panasonic plasma uses at most 350W (TH42PA60). An LCD of the same size would use about 300W at most. The difference is that the plasma only consumes 350W when it is displaying a full white picture. If it is a dark scene, it consumes less power (since the pixels are not arcing as often). LCDs consume a rather fixed rate of power since the backlight is always illuminated.

    Plasmas work by emitting light, whereas LCDs work by blocking light. Since LCDs block light, it is difficult to stop light from leaking around blocked areas. Philips' latest LCD is capable of dimming certain areas of the backlight, but the leaking is still there. Plasmas on the other hand won't get leaking. In fact, in darker scenes the detail will always prevail over an LCD.

    Panasonic now boast that their plasmas will last 60,000 hours, which is now comparable to LCDs. Like LCDs, plasmas lose brightness over time. Panasonic's 60,000 hour figure is the length of time it takes to become half as bright. Philips, Sony, Sharp and Toshiba all boast similar figures for their LCDs and plasmas.

    Well, here it becomes weird. Panasonic invested a huge amount of serious dollars into a new factory which aims to pump out hundreds of thousands of plasmas each year. A 42" plasma is generally cheaper than a 42" LCD. The difference is that it is immensely expensive to create large LCDs that will not have poor constrast and brightness and remain responsive (i.e. 10ms or less). Plasmas on the other hand "prefer" to be big. It is impossible to create small plasmas because of the size of the pixel. So if the TV screen size gets bigger, the price increase from plasma to LCD will too.

    My biased opinion
    I work for a company which exclusively sells Fisher & Paykel, New Zealand's largest whiteware manufacturer. Until recently, F&P were Panasonic's importers in NZ, until they were big enough here to take care of themselves. They still work closely together (one of F&P's double ovens has a built in Panasonic microwave) but because of their reputation together and because of where I work, I sell more Panasonic appliances than any other brand. Panasonic's primary interest in terms of TVs is plasma, and from all the evidence that I was given from all brands saying that x was better than y, Panasonic's was the only evidence that remained consistent over the course of 3 or 4 years. It concluded for anything big (say, 42" or larger), go plasma, for anything small, go LCD.

    I cannot see Plasma TVs failing. Over the last year, Panasonic's TH42PA50 plasma was the top-selling TV of any classification throughout Australia, and the top-selling 42" TV in New Zealand. The PA60 model boasts even more features for the same price.

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