I've debated a long time over what type of TV to get. As I said in an earlier post about my which HDTV I want to get, I've gone back and forth. For a long time, I was sold on a Sony SXRD television. It has great picture quality and is more affordable than the flat panels at the very large screen sizes. As I never plan on hanging my TV, it was a logical choice.
But because Sony decided to move away from that technology I looked elsewhere. The obvious choice was LCD. LCDs are much more popular than Plasma TVs. I'll be the first to say the probably look better in the store because they are much brighter than your general plasmas and thus a person's eye is drawn to them. They also tend to be lighter (and thus easier to hang) and use less energy. But I tend to think those are secondary considerations for most people. For a long time, they were the only choice under 42". Most people would buy those as most people are not in the market for a TV bigger than that.
For me, it came down to a few things. The most important thing by far was how good the picture looked to me. Like most, I was drawn to those big bright screens at my local Best Buy. But after watching a few LCDs in dark rooms, I realized there is such a thing as too bright. So I went back to try and understand what makes a good picture. I like deep saturated colors and great detail. In my opinion, LCDs win in the sharpness department, but Plasmas win in the color and detail department. In the end it came down to two things for me.
- Black Levels - By the very nature of LCD technology, they can't get as deep a black as Plasmas. This is by far the most important thing when it comes to picture quality. Think of it as the canvas by which all other colors must be painted. You want to have as clean of a canvas as you possibly can get. Most LCDs are a dark gray when the screen is completely black and it really bothers me. New LCDs are getting very close, and it is one reason I have seriously considered getting one, but they still don't beat the best of the plasmas.
- Motion - This one too is getting close, but its not quite close enough. The main thing I watch is sports and I can see the motion blur that is inherent in LCD technology. Not everyone is sensitive to it, but I am, and it distracts me when I'm trying to watch the Lakers.
There were some other things that favored one over the other. Price was somewhat of a consideration, but only a small one. LCDs are slightly more expensive at this size. But I'm considering two TVs, the Panasonic 50PZ800U I discussed before and the Samsung LN52A650. The price is a wash between the two TVs so it doesn't really factor.
I still haven't bought the TV yet, so it isn't certain that I will go with the plasma. However, I did finally see the Panasonic 50PZ800U first hand in the store today. More on that later ...