If you are looking to buy a new television, there is more choice than ever before. Take a look at What Hi-Fi and Widescreen Television magazine and you will probably be confused by the amount of choice, from widescreen, to front projection, to rear projection to LCD and plasma and now HDTV (High Definition!).
If you have made your way though this and decided that you do want a Plasma screen, we have some hints and tips for you.
For the past 75 years, the vast majority of televisions have been built around the same technology: the cathode ray tube (CRT). In a CRT television, a gun fires a beam of electrons (negatively-charged particles) inside a large glass tube. The electrons excite phosphor atoms along the wide end of the tube (the screen), which causes the phosphor atoms to light up. The television image is produced by lighting up different areas of the phosphor coating with different colours at different intensities.
Cathode ray tubes produce crisp, vibrant images, but they do have a serious drawback: They are bulky. In order to increase the screen width in a CRT set, you also have to increase the length of the tube (to give the scanning electron gun room to reach all parts of the screen). Consequently, any big-screen CRT television is going to weigh a ton and take up a sizable chunk of a room.
Recently, a new alternative has popped up on store shelves: the plasma flat panel display. These televisions have wide screens, comparable to the largest CRT sets, but they are only about 6 inches (15 cm) thick.
The basic idea of a plasma display is to illuminate tiny coloured fluorescent lights to form an image. Each pixel is made up of three fluorescent lights, a red light, a green light and a blue light. Just like a CRT television, the plasma display varies the intensities of the different lights to produce a full range of colours.
The main advantages of Plasma TV's are that the displays are flat, thin, light enough to hang on the wall and can be significantly larger than conventional television screens. The disadvantages are that features such as speakers and tuners tend to be available as optional extras rather than integral parts of the TV unit.
Tell someone you are thinking of buying a plasma and normally you get the "it only will last five years" or "the screen will burn". We thought we would give some insight into those myths to help you make an informed choice.
Plasma Screens only last about 5 years. OK true of some of the very first models, but nowadays you should expect them to last at least as long as conventional TVs.
The gas in a Plasma TV display needs replacing every 2 years. Not true. Plasma screens should not need any additional work to extend the screen’s lifetime.
Plasma Screens are particularly susceptible to screen burn – this is partially true. If you leave a screen running with the same image for an extended period of time there is a possibility that the image will remain. Lots of Plasma screens do however come with features designed to reduce the likelihood of screen burn. That said, if you always switch your plasma off overnight and never leave the same image on the screen for an extended period of time, you should be fine!
What's the competition?
CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) - Television as we currently know it, however these bulky boxes are physically massive and difficult to make much larger than 36 inches.
Rear Projection - A self-contained projector and screen. They commonly range between 40 - 60 inches however suffers the same problem as CRT - they are HUGE!
Front Projection - Projectors work in a similar way to real cinema. You will need a white wall or a screen on which to project the picture and you may need to black out the room if you want to see what’s going on. Great for movies and playstation!
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) - The main rival for Plasma TV, these displays are based upon the technology in flat panel computer screens. Like Plasma they are flat, however are limited in size and more expensive, however some people perceive the picture quality and contrast to be better than Plasma. At the time of writing, they are much more expensive.
BB-Shopping will stock a range of Plasma televisions at discount prices. Drop us a line if you would like more information.