Plasma vs LED vs LCD TV: Which is better?

Plasma vs LED vs LCD
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If you’re on the internet or in an electronics store for a new  HDTV, you’ll have to choose between plasma vs. LCD vs. LED. In this world of televisions, which one is best? The better question would be, “Which one would be best for you?” Each TV has its merit points and what’s important for you in a TV may not be a concern for somebody else. One person will want the thinnest TV possible while another will be looking for extreme picture quality. This is important to keep in mind when you’re looking through the information presented below.

So, what do you really want to see on your TV?

Learning the basics

There are three different technologies for HDTVs today:

  • Plasma
  • LED
  • LCD:

Plasma and LED TVs are quickly lighting the way towards a new future, while the older LCD TVs that are lit with a CCFL bulb are being left behind in the dust. A CCFL bulb is similar to a fluorescent light that you’d see in a light fixture or lamp. A charged gas lights up these bulbs, which then projects the light onto the screen.

An LED TV uses LED lights to backlight the display. Newer technology has also been introduced that sets the LED lights along the edges of the screen instead of using them in the back of the TV. With edge-lighting, a slimmer and trimmer TV can be produced, but in most cases, the picture quality will
suffer as a result. Plasma TVs use phosphorus to create lighting on the screen, so no backlighting is required. This means that thin plasma TVs can be manufactured as well.

Image Quality

The quality of the picture is usually the most important feature to look for when comparing plasma vs. LCD vs. LED TVs. Most of the image quality will be determined by the levels of black-and-white on the screen. If a TV has a white level that isn’t bright, the picture comes up washed out, especially in
brighter scenes. When the black isn’t dark enough, parts of the image will appear as shadows in darker scenes. The white and black levels will also determine how well fine details are presented.

For many years plasma TVs were a winner in this department since they were able to produce the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. LED TVs have made progress in recent years, and now it’s difficult to tell the difference between the picture quality on an LED TV and a plasma. In most cases, it comes down to personal preference that can range from person to person.


When you’re looking for the best contrast between blacks and whites, you’ll either be looking for an LED model that has local dimming or a plasma TV. Local dimming uses special technology to brighten or dim some of the LED lights behind the screen to bring out a darker black color. This technology is not available for edge-lit LED TVs, and that’s why the picture quality suffers in them. Plasma TVs always offer an excellent contrast ratio. If you are looking for the most vibrant and colorful picture available on an HDTV, you’ll be looking for plasma or an LED TV with local dimming.


When it comes to brightness, LED TV is the best you can get. In technical terms, LED TVs can put out 100 foot-lamberts while you’d only get five in a movie cinema. Plasmas cannot be considered dull by any stretch of the imagination, but they simply aren’t as bright as the LEDs. When it comes to
comparing plasma vs. LCD vs. LED TVs, the LEDs win in this department.

As an addition to your home, you may prefer this brightness, or it may be something that you’d like to stay away from. In a dark room, it may hurt your eyes if you are sensitive to light and appear too bright. In a room that’s already full of sunshine, a plasma TV may be painful to see.
As well, different TVs have different antiglare and anti-reflective coatings put on the screen. A good coating may make a plasma TV easier to see, while an inferior antiglare coating may take away a lot of the LED brightness.

Black level

Plasma offers better black levels, but LEDs are quickly catching up. If you’re planning on watching a In the movie, you can expect a darker picture with a plasma TV.

Uniform Picture

When it comes to a consistent level of brightness, the plasma TV is better than LED TV. For most people, this won’t be an issue, but for some, a uniform level of brightness is essential. The worse TVs for uniformity are edge-lit TVs. If you’re the type of person that gets bothered when a picture is
bright and then becomes slightly dimmer, you’d be better off with a plasma TV.

Viewing Angle

This will be a consideration if you are planning on purchasing a large TV for your living room or family room. In this case, you will want a TV that offers a broader viewing angle. If you are looking for a smaller TV for a bedroom, however, this won’t be an essential feature to consider when comparing TVs.

Plasma TVs offer the best viewing angle over LCDs and LEDs. An LED TV will lose some of its picture quality, usually around the 30° angle. If you’re not expecting a lot of guests, and you have your couch positioned right in front of the TV, the viewing angle won’t be a significant issue in a larger room. It all depends on the placing of the TV, how many people are going to be watching it and the placement of the furniture.


There has been a lot of talk about burn-in found on plasma TVs. The reality is that this burn-in does not last for long on plasma and usually dissipates after 100 hours of TV viewing. This is not a permanent problem to be found on the plasma TV and should not sway your decision when you are comparing plasma vs. LCD vs. LED TV sets.


LED TVs are made by just about every TV company and range in size from a few inches up to 80 inches. Plasma TVs are made by LG, Samsung and Panasonic, and range from 42 inches up to 65 inches. There are also a few models that are 150 inches.
As for screen thickness, the thinnest models are the LED TVs with edge-lighting. The thinnest models available right now are the 8000 series HDTVs put out by Samsung. They are only .9 inches wide and use edge-lighting. The plasma models by Samsung in the 8000 series are 1.4 inches thick, and their LCD 750 models are 3.2 inches thick. Plasma TVs and LED TVs with backlighting cannot be made as thin as the edge-lit models.

The thickness of the screen will make a difference when you are thinking of hanging up the TV on the wall or displaying it on a stand. Some people love the look of a thin TV and will be looking for the thinnest when shopping. An LED TV is more accessible to hang than a plasma since it is much lighter. These ultra-thin TVs can be very striking, to say the least, and can add a lot to any room’s decor. The question is whether you want to give up some of the picture quality to get a thinner TV.


Energy efficiency seems to be on everybody’s minds these days and for a good reason. With the cost of utility bills soaring, you may be looking for the most energy-efficient unit available when comparing plasma vs. LCD vs. LED. In general, LED TVs are more efficient than plasma and LCD TVs. On
average, an LED TV consumes about 100 Watts while the plasma uses 2x – 3x this amount. If going green has a concern for you, you’ll want to be shopping for an LED TV.


An LCD TV will cost a lot less than a plasma or an LED set. Plasmas are often priced cheaper than LEDs, but this can change rapidly as technology improves and manufacturers keep pace with consumer demands.


The one thing that can be said with certainty is that an LCD TV cannot compare with its plasma or LED counterparts. If you’re looking for superior picture quality, you’ll want to stick with the newer technology.

As for the points mentioned in the guide above, it will be a personal preference that lights your way towards a final decision. While some people are looking for a bright contrast in their picture others prefer a more subdued picture that’s easier on the eyes. When everything is said and done, you need to realize that any of the LED or plasma TVs that are manufactured by a name brand company are going to have an excellent picture quality. When compared to TVs that were offered just a few short years ago, these new flat-screen TVs are cheaper, bigger and brighter than ever and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.