Plasma, LCD and DLP -- What's the difference?

Plasma, LCD and DLP Explained

The Benefits and Drawbacks to Plasma, LCD and DLP display options.

We see all types of displays in the world today, whether it be your computer monitor, a television, or even a projector. But what most people don't see is the technology used in these display units. There are three different types of display technology: Plasma, LCD and DLP. Each technology has its benefits for displays but each also has a few drawbacks. Soon you will know which technology you need depending on your viewing circumstances.

Plasma Displays
The Good

  • Plasmas are 4 to 5 times brighter than the average television.
  • Plasmas have great contrast ratios, enabling more shadow detail.
  • Plasmas have great field of vision. Plasmas have almost a full 180 degrees of viewing without loss of picture quality.
  • Plasmas are generally cheaper than LCDs
  • Quality Plasmas from top name brands have a long life expectancy. They can last up to about 20 years at a six-hour-per-day rate.
  • Don't take up much room and can be wall mounted.

    The Bad
  • Plasmas are not available in dimensions less than 37".
  • Plasmas have the possible risk of 'burning'. If you were to leave the Plasma on for extended periods of time with an unchanging image, you run the risk of having that image permanently burned into the screen.
  • Plasmas do not make good computer monitors
  • Plasmas have glass screens and in turn will reflect light.

    LCD - Liquid Crystal Display

    The Good

  • Quality LCDs have excellent levels of brightness.
  • Quality LCDs have a good life expectancy, approximately 13-15 years at a six-hour-per-day rate.
  • LCDs are good for still images and in turn make great computer monitors and TV screens.
  • LCD flat panels don't take up a whole lot of room, are light weight and can be mounted on the wall.

    The Bad
  • Since LCDs work best for still images, they don't work so great for fast-moving images. When an object moves across the screen quickly, the picture leaves a trail of pixilation because the screen can't keep up. It is best to use LCDs that are smaller than 37" for this reason, because the trail is less noticeable.
  • LCDs over 35" are expensive.
  • LCD images look nice when staring directly at it. The quality of the image diminishes when viewing from an angle or slant.
  • LCDs have difficulty with black levels.
  • More uncommonly, LCDs sometimes have pixel failure where a pixel or two dies, leaving a black dot where the pixel was. These dead pixels are hardly noticeable unless you are standing directly in front of the screen. This is less likely to occur in higher quality LCDs.

    In any case, it is best to stick with top name brands when choosing an LCD. Sharp is generally credited for making the best quality LCDs.

    DLP - Digital Light Processing
    The Good

  • DLP have excellent brightness and color. DLP can illuminate a larger screen more cost-effectively than Plasma or LCDs.
  • DLP screens are larger and cheaper (in the short-term) than LCD or Plasma.

    The Bad
  • DLPs are not well known for having great picture quality
  • DLPs take up more space than Plasma and LCD and are not wall mountable.
  • DLPs, like LCDs, don't have a great field of view. When viewing from a slant or angle, the quality of the image is diminished.
  • DLPs have a higher maintenance cost. You must replace the light bulb, which has limited durability.
  • Objects that move across the screen quickly may cause a trail of colors.

    For more information about display technology visit A Monitor Blog

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