What Is A Plasma TV?

What Is A Plasma TV?

Last Updated on by Segun Ayo

Have you wondered what the importance of a plasma TV is? Plasma TVs have so much importance. In this guide, you’d find out what a plasma TV is. Read through this guide, and all the questions you have about plasma TVs would be answered.

In schools, they teach us that all substances come in three basic flavors or states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. But they’re wrong! There’s a fourth flavor called plasma (and a fifth one called a Bose-Einstein condensate too, that we won’t get into here, but which earned three scientists the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics). What exactly is plasma and how does it relate to solids, liquids, and gases?

Suppose you have a lump of freezing cold ice (a solid). Heat it up a bit and you’ll get a liquid (water). Heat it up a bit more and, pretty soon, you’ll have a gas (steam). The more heat you supply, the more energy you inject.

The more energetically the molecules (or atoms) have, the further apart they can push and the more they move about. In a solid like water, the molecules are bound tightly together; in liquid water, the molecules are free to move past one another (that’s why water can pour and flow); in steam (gaseous water), the molecules are completely free of one another and have so much energy that they spread out to fill all the space available.

But what happens if you don’t stop there? What if you keep on heating a gas? The molecules and atoms inside it break apart, releasing some of their electrons so they move freely in and around it. When atoms disintegrate like this, they form positively charged particles called ions.

The mixture of positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons in a plasma turns it into a kind of hot soup that will conduct electricity very easily. That’s what we mean by plasma. It’s a special type of gas in which some of the atoms have become ions (an ionized gas, in other words).

What is plasma TV anyway?

Plasma TV is a television display technology in which each pixel on the screen is illuminated by a tiny bit of plasma (charged gas). The plasma is encased between two thin sheets of glass.

Plasma displays are generally considered to offer better dark-room viewing and wider viewing angles than LCD. Plasma TVs are available in sizes from 37 inches to over 100 inches, measured diagonally. Plasma can be vulnerable to burn-in, a phenomenon in which faint, permanent “ghosts” appear on displays that have maintained a fixed image for long periods of time.

Examples of such images include the bars seen when watching a 4:3 video on a widescreen display or the constantly running ticker seen on some shows or channels. Most newer models have burn-in prevention features, but these may not always be 100% effective. However, some plasma TVs also have the ability to remove burn-in should it occur.

What’s the difference between plasma and LCD TV?

Plasma and LCD TVs look very similar but, as we’ve just seen, work in totally different ways. Plasma TVs tend to cost an awful lot more, so why not just buy an LCD?

The main difference is that the cells that make up the pixels in a plasma TV can switch on and off thousands of times faster than the pixels in an LCD screen, so you get clearer pictures with less blur, especially for moving images during action movies or sports games.

(The latest LCD screens switch on and off more quickly than older ones, but it’s generally true that plasma screens are faster.) Plasma TVs are also typically brighter and have higher contrast, which can be important if you watch a lot of TV in the daylight.

You can view plasma screens from a wider angle without seeing distortion of colors (like you get on an LCD computer screen), so they’re often better for larger audiences (projection TV is another option for showing pictures to a roomful of people).

But there are drawbacks with plasma too. They’re more power-hungry than LCDs, for one thing. Here’s a very rough comparison of the four main TV technologies to give you an idea. You can see that plasma really stands out from the pack:

  • Cathode-ray tube (CRT): 70–150 watts.
  • Liquid crystal display (LCD): 50–250 watts.
  • Plasma: 300–700 watts.
  • Organic LED (OLED): 15–60 watts.

Plasma screens are also heavier and more fragile, so you have to be very careful when you transport them.

Plasma TVs also have problems with “burn-in” (where images that are displayed for too long can permanently damage the screen) and they tend to “burn out” (stop working through too much use) more quickly than LCDs, though most people are likely to replace a TV for something newer before this happens.

Generally speaking, plasma TVs are much cheaper than they used to be, while LCD TVs are much faster than they used to be, and the two technologies are now very broadly comparable for ordinary household viewing.

Over the last few years, these two dependable technologies have been joined by OLED (organic LED) TVs, which are thinner, brighter, and give truer blacks than either plasma screens or LCDs. Many people are now switching to OLEDs because they give better, faster pictures than LCD screens without the bulk of the power consumption of plasmas.

Advantages of Plasma TV Display

Following are the advantages of Plasma TV Display:

  • It can display 16.77 million colors.
  • It offers high resolution.
  • It can display HDTV compliant signals.
  • It offers a widescreen 16:9 ratio display.
  • It offers perfect flat screens as it cuts down image distortion and glare.
  • It offers magnetic field immunity.
  • It is slim and light in weight.
  • It offers uniform brightness across the entire screen.
  • It is compatible to work with computers.
  • They can be mounted on the walls like LCD and LED TVs.
  • They have high viewing angles (about 178 degrees) compare to other display types.

What Are the Issues with Plasma TVs?

A plasma flat-screen TV used to be a good option when you were looking to buy a new television.

Unfortunately, this type of TV is no longer manufactured.

However, if you already own one, then this article might be useful if you are having problems with your plasma TV.

Even though the picture quality was always terrific on this type of television, what were some of the issues with this technology?

  • Screen Reflection

Plasma flat-panel TVs have a reputation for being prone to screen reflection. This means that you can see your room reflected on the screen.

This can be distracting and can also affect the quality of the picture you see – the contrast and color will be worse. This is one of the main plasma TV problems.

Therefore, in bright rooms with lots of daylight coming through windows, or if you have some lights on while you are watching TV, you may be bothered by this.

You will be more likely to notice this when there is a dark picture on the screen – with a bright picture you are unlikely to notice anything. Some people will get annoyed by this and see nothing else but the dim reflection on the image – others will see the same picture and hardly notice.

Manufacturers of plasma panels have tried in recent years to put anti-reflective coatings on the screen and this does make some difference, but you will have to decide if your room environment is suited to a plasma TV.

There are also ways to reduce this effect. You can close curtains/blinds during the daytime or reduce the lighting while you watch the TV in the evening.

This effect is always worse if there is a light or window directly behind you as you a sat watching the TV, so try to avoid this.

  • Greater Power Consumption

Plasma technology generally uses more power compared to other display types, so your electricity bill may be affected.

Now, it’s not going to make that much of a difference to your bills – you’re not going to double your charges overnight or anything like that – but if your household has the TV running for 18 hours a day then you may see an increase compared to an LCD or LED TV.

Also, a plasma flat panel works in a different way to an LCD flat panel. The power that a plasma TV actually uses will vary depending on the type of image on the screen – whereas with an LCD this is constant.

If you have a dark image on the screen then a plasma TV will use much less power than when there is a bright image.

Therefore, if you only watch documentaries about black cats living in dark caves (at night), you’ll save yourself some money!

However, in today’s green eco-friendly society you may feel uncomfortable with any increased power consumption.

  • Weight Problem?

No, not your increasing weight as you sit down in front of your new TV all day! Plasma TVs are generally heavier than other types of panels. This won’t be a problem in most cases, but be aware of this especially if you are planning to mount the panel on a wall.

Depending on your room, it may be a factor when you decide on your choice of the panel.

  • Short Life Span

A modern flat screen plasma TV will be rated with a lifespan of 60,000+ hours.

This is the time it takes to reach half the brightness of when they were new. Even then, they would still be watchable. At an average use of 5 hours a day, this would mean the TV would be good for about 32 years. That’s good enough for me, I think I’ll be ready for a new TV before then!

Oh, and that’s also about the same as an LCD TV. Case closed.


Plasma flat-screen TVs give a fantastic picture, and with a high-definition source, you will be stunned by the quality. However, there may be reasons why a plasma panel isn’t right for you.