Monday, April 7, 2008

The Plasma Set Television- How it Works and Why It's a Good Reason to Buy a New TV

Long before plasma set televisions made their appearance, people bought TVs for their size. The bulkier, the better and whoever got the biggest, meanest television screen won the game of one-upmanship with his neighbors.

And then picture quality came along. The game quickly shifted into whose TV made the grass look greener and Halle Berry better looking than she already is. These days, the gold medal probably belongs to plasma television sets.

Why plasma television set looks so good

If you have your old CRT (cathode ray tube) TV, you've probably been amazed at the technology that made pictures come alive through the screen. CRTs also use pixels or dots that when grouped together, form a bigger image. CRTs basically use a vacuum tube that fires electrons against phosphors. Three phosphors make up one pixel, which is made of red, blue and green colors.

The CRT technology has a measure of control on which phosphor group to hit and depending on the strength and length of the hit, the picture tube shows us an image with color and light contrast.

Now CRTs perform well and are in fact still popular in many parts of the world. The only drawback is that they are heavier, fragile and eat up a lot of living room space. You've probably noticed the same issues with your older computer monitors.

With a plasma television set, the technology is different. Gas inside a fluorescent light is excited to a degree and transforms into a plasma state. Pixels are still made with the same three basic colors, but since plasma can be aimed more precisely, more pixels can be hit to form an image. The result? A clearer, prettier picture on the television screen.

Not only is high resolution a feature that plasma television sets boast of, there are also the colors ? all 16 million and more of them. Imagine watching the TV and knowing there are millions of different colors dancing right in front of your eyes even if you can only name a few. There's dragon red, leaf green, ocean blue or maybe canary yellow and egg white, but that's just a drop in the bucket of all the color possibilities that plasma television sets can offer.

The view from the other side

Another reason why plasma television sets win a lot of admirers is that it gives the concept of 'sitting in front of the television' a whole new meaning. Remember when kids used to fight for the 'best seats' right smack in the middle for TV viewing? This is no longer true with plasma TV.

With rear projection TVs, the viewing angle is about 45 degrees to the sides. A plasma television set can give you perfect images even at 160 degrees! You can walk from one side of the room to the other and you will still have the same picture quality, so don't worry too much about Aunt or Grandma sitting to the sides of the plasma television set. They are enjoying themselves just fine.

The flatness is also there for a reason other than giving the excellent viewing angles; it also reduces glare. With a plasma television set, you don't even have to dim the lights for better viewing. It works just as well even with ambient light turned to the max.

Issues and myths

No, you cannot refill your plasma television set's plasma content or that it's too radiation-heavy. Those are urban legends that are too silly to be even given a second look. Plasma television sets are a product of the latest technology and as such, still have a few issues here and there.

One of the most common is the burn-in issue, where a plasma television set develops a burned-in image when it's tuned in for too long to a static picture. There is also the half-life expectancy where plasma televisions are expected to burn a little dimmer after a few thousand hours.

These issues are quite true, but the real threat to the life and quality of a plasma television set is really a matter of wise and careful use. If you keep it on hours and hours on one channel with a static image, then a burn-in issue might emerge, but this will only happen after hours of day-in and day-out use. The half-life has also improved from the 30,000 hours (allowing you 9 years of plasma TV use for 8 hours of viewing a day) to 60,000 hours.

The Holy Grail of television sets?

For now, plasma television sets offer a lot to drool about but many would-be fans are put off by its price. Imagine paying about $2,500 for a 42-inch plasma TV. However, plasma televisions are priced that way for good reason ? they offer tops in picture quality and contrast and even with the monstrous size some models are available in, you won't want a lot in the resolution department.

Getting a plasma television set instead of an LCD or some other high-def TV is really a matter of personal choice and budget. Shop for the unit that's perfect for you and enjoy all the other benefits you won't otherwise get had you made a different choice.

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