Plasma Televisions

So, you've decided to take the plunge and get yourself a sparkling new bigclear screen, and plasmas, one of two types of HDTV along with LCD TVs, will get you the best HD picture money can buy. Plus, now that they've come down in price, you won't have to shell out too much green at all.

Basic Terminology

There are a handful of terms that you'll run into many times in your search of plasma perfection. Here are the major ones and what they mean: * '''Screen Depth and Size''': The term "flatfour pixels across for every three vertically. * '''Contrast''': Contrast is the amount of difference between the light and dark elements of the picture. The contrast ratio is the statistic that represents a TV's ability to adjust this quality. The higher the number in the ratio, the more difference between light and dark images displayed on the screen. With a high contrast ratio, the TV will produce a clearer, sharper, and more accurate viewing experience. Therefore, a TV with a 100,000:1 contrast ratio, if correctly adjusted, will produce a much better picture than one with a 25,000:1 contrast ratio. LCDs use variable backlighting to enhance their contrast. For dark scenes, the LCD will turn down the backlight to achieve a darker shade of color, and for bright scenes, the backlight will become higher intensity to make the image brighter. * '''R&R''': Sadly, we're not talking about rest and relaxation. The first R of televisions is '''resolution'''. Resolution refers to the number of pixels on the screen and is given in vertical pixel measurements. For example, "1080" represents the resolution 1920x1080, which means that the screen has 1,920 horizontal pixels and 1,080 vertical pixels. More pixels means more detail and sharper images. Some common signals that TVs can display are 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. We'll talk about these more a little later, but note that not all TVs can display all of these signals. You may also notice that there are letters after all the numbers. Those letters refer to the signal's '''scanning''' type. There are two types of scanning: interlaced (i) and progressive (p). Interlaced scanning has been around for a long time and is a sytem where alternate lines of the image are renumbered. Progressive scanning is smoother because all lines of the image are constantly refreshed. The second R is '''refresh rate''', which is a measure of how frequently the television updates the image. This depends on the signal that you are receiving, but TVs usually refresh at either 60 times per second (60Hz) or 120 times per second (120Hz), though some very classy models have higher refresh rates still. Combined with your knowledge of scanning, it should make sense to you that interlaced signals are, in a way, half the refresh rate of progressive signals. 60Hz on an interlaced signals means that each line will only refresh 30 times per second, since the lines are only updated alternately. On a progressive signal, 60Hz means that the whole image updates 60 times per second. * '''Picking up on the signals''': Alright. We promised that we would talk about those five TV signals we mentioned earlier. 480i is the classic signal that your nonRay movies.

How to Hook Up

Okay. You've become an expert on the screen jargon. Let's move on to connections. Don't worry, you've learned almost all you need to know! * '''Composite''' cables should be very familiar to you: they have three connectors, red, white and yellow, which provide sound and picture in 480i. * '''HDMI''', the acronym for the High Definition Multimedia Interface, is the absolute best connector available. Not only is it a single cable that connects audio and video, but it is the highest quality cable for both. High definition sound will be clearest with this cable, and the picture quality of sources up to and including 1080p are unmatched using this cable. The more HDMI ports your TV has, the more devices you can connect with the best signal. Having many HDMI ports is a luxury feature that might cost you extra, but for the experience it provides you, it's worthwhile to have as many of your electronic devices as possible hooked up with HDMI. * '''DVI''', short for Digital Visual Interface, is similar to VGA in that it carries video from a computer to a TV to be used as a monitor. DVI, however, is higher quality than VGA. * '''Antenna/Cable''', or Radio Frequency (RF), is the familiar coaxial cable that can be used to plug in certain types of cable boxes, antennas, and satellite dishes. * '''digital camera or camcorder. Memory card readers read different types of cards, so check to see what type of memory cards you own and what the TV's reader is compatible with. * '''Bluetooth''' is a wireless technology common in portable devices like cell phones. Models with bluetooth can access file, like photos or videos, on one of these devices. * '''digital storage devices. *MP3 players. * '''Ethernet''' jacks and wireless networking cards allow some TVs to connect to the internet for widgets or media streaming from sites like YouTube. You can also connect to a home network to play files from your computers.

Advantages of Plasma TVs

Plasma has some distinct advantages over LCD: * '''Screen Size''': You can get a bigger plasma screen than LCD TV. All but extremely expensive LCDs top out at around 50 inches, while plasmas continue upwards past 60 inches and can be placed in larger rooms. You should, however, expect to pay a hefty price for these huge screens. * '''Black Level Performance''': Plasma TVs produce the deepest blacks, and dark objects will look appropriately shaded versus light ones. Plasmas also have superior contrast. Black level performance affects picture quality whether you're playing a video game or watching TV, but is extremely important if you plan to use your TV as part of a home theater, where deep black production will really make the picture pop. * '''Viewing Angle''': On plasmas, the image can effectively be viewed from any angle up until you are horizontal with the TV, so every seat is the best seat in the house. Keep in mind, however, that the viewing angle is still limited to the screendon't expect to see much if you're sitting behind the TV! If you're unsure about which type of TV to buy or have more questions in general, check out the guides to HDTV and LCD TVs.

Picking the Perfect Plasma

There are several features that set plasmas apart from one another. Read up to find the right one for you. * '''Antiglare coatings to their screens to lessen this problem and preserve your picture quality. * '''Burnin can eliminate this flaw. * '''Movie Mode''': Some televisions feature a special mode for movies that changes the TV's refresh rate and color settings to more accurately reflect cinematic scenes. If you plan to watch a lot of DVDs or Blu-Ray movies, look for a TV with a film mode setting. * '''Picturepicture (PBP) both allow you to display two separate sources or channels at the same time on the same screen. PIP will display one image full size on the screen with the second image in a smaller box in one of the corners, while PBP will display the two images equal size, side by side. Check with your TV service provider to make sure that they support PIP or PBP if you expect to use it. * '''Speakers''': An oftensystems'>home theater system.

Powerful Plasmas

Popular HDTV Brands

* Hitachi * JVC * LG * Mitsubishi * Panasonic * Pioneer * Samsung * Sanyo * Sharp * Sony * Toshiba

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