Matsushita Electric said it will launch four new models of high-definition plasma TVs, including the world’s largest with a 103-inch panel, challenging LCD TVs’ lead in offering higher resolution images.
Why is this news? Simple – plasmas offer the following advantages:
Plasma display devices have higher resolution than most conventional TV sets, and are capable of displaying full HDTV and DTV signals as well as XGA, SVGA and VGA signals from a computer. For example, a plasma display with a 1366 x 768 native resolution can display images from 1080i and 720p HDTV resolution, as well as 480i and 480p DVD video signals.
No Scan Lines
Conventional CRTs use an electron beam to scan the picture tube from top to bottom at regular intervals, lighting the phosphors to create the image. With standard (NTSC) TV, visible scan lines can be seen. Plasma screens have no scan lines due to the fact that each and every pixel cell has its own transistor electrode. This creates a smooth, evenly lit image across the entire surface of the display. Most current plasma displays also include built-in line doubling to improve image quality from low resolution analog video signals.
Exceptional Color Accuracy
Due to advances in both plasma panel technology and digital video processing, today’s top-of-the-line plasma televisions can display billions of colors, resulting in smooth gradations between even very subtle shades, and an overall picture quality that is extremely lifelike and realistic. Plasma TVs in general boast the best color reproduction of any flat panel TV technology, and advances are made with each new model year in plasma production. For color accuracy, Plasma televisions are simply without compare.
Wide Screen Aspect Ratio
Plasma televisions have a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, which was originally designed to match the natural field of view of the human eye. Of course you’re familiar with the wide screen aspect from watching movies in the theater—and a widescreen plasma TV allows you to watch movies in the format the director intended. The 16:9 aspect ratio is also the chosen format for HDTV content, whether it’s broadcast over the air or through digital cable or satellite TV.
But what happens when you watch a standard (4:3) TV program or a computer image? Choosing a plasma TV that scales images appropriately will give you the most enjoyment from your plasma, as well as extending its life. There are several algorithms used to scale incoming video signals to match the plasma’s native 16:9 aspect ratio. All plasma screens can show the image in its original 4:3 format with bars (either black or gray) on the sides of the image, but there can be some variation among plasma screens in how well they convert a 4:3 image to the widescreen monitor. Manufacturing engineers accomplish a “best of both worlds” approach by limiting the stretching in the center of the screen, or by enlarging the entire image to larger than the screen size, and “cropping” the edges. This scaling technique allows the most stretching to be located on the edges of the image, thus reducing visible distortion.
Perfectly Flat Screen
Plasma display monitors have screens that are perfectly flat, with no curvature whatsoever. This eliminates the edge distortion that can occur in CRT displays and also assists in allowing the wide viewing angles that are a trademark of plasma displays. The glass-encased plasma display element is most often protected by a Plexiglas layer; some of the better plasma TVs incorporate anti-glare coatings and special color filters to further enhance the picture quality and viewability of the flat screen.
Uniform Screen Brightness
Unlike some rear and front projection televisions that suffer from uneven screen brightness—seen as “hot spots” in the middle of the screen or a darkening near the corners of the image—plasma displays illuminate all pixels evenly across the screen. This gives plasma displays their “smooth” appearance, and ultimately a more accurate picture.
Slim, Space-saving Design
Plasma display monitors are only a few inches in depth, providing installation options never before possible. Depth is usually measured at around 3.5 inches on 42″ displays and 4″ for 50″ screens. In addition to table stand mounting, they can be hung on a wall or from a ceiling, allowing you to enjoy big-screen impact from a component that doesn’t dominate floor space. Conventional CRT’s, DLP TVs, and rear projection TVs take up far more space and are much more limited in placement flexibility.
Plasma monitors are constructed with a bezel that’s not much wider than the actual display screen, giving the monitors an elegant, understated “picture frame” appearance that blends inconspicuously with any décor.
Because they eliminate the need for a front projection unit and a projection screen, plasma display monitors are also ideal for use in a wide variety of business and commercial applications where the use of a front projector would not be feasible.
Wide Viewing Angle
Today’s plasma screen TVs offer viewing angles approaching—sometimes even exceeding—170°, much better than rear-projection TVs and LCD displays. Coupled with the perfectly flat plasma screen, a good plasma TV even rivals a CRT TV in viewing angles. This allows a bright, clear picture for anyone in the room—no matter where they’re sitting.
Universal Input Capability
Nearly all plasma monitors will accept standard video signals via composite video and s-video inputs, as well as higher-quality component video terminals. An important consideration in choosing the right screen for you, however, lies in what other inputs you may need. Many of the newer plasma TVs on the market include digital inputs such as HDMI or DVI, which can accept HDTV signals from your cable box or satellite—even some DVD players—in an all-digital format. Some plasmas also include a VGA or DVI PC input, allowing your plasma television to pull double-duty as a PC monitor.
And don’t overlook some of the excellent plasma displays aimed at commercial broadcast installations, such as the Panasonics and Pioneers. Many of these models are equipped with interchangeable input boards, allowing you to configure your plasma display to meet your needs exactly.
Thanks to our friends at the Plasma TV Buying Guide for their great tips.