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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

TV wise what are the real differences in an LCD, LED, and plasma TV?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26879points) May 26th, 2011

I was with my best bud he was looking over the big screens and home theater sound while I shopped for ink and such at the electronic store. He said he loved the TV he was looking at because it was LCD. Looking at the picture I could not tell the difference from the LCD or the LED; he liked the LCD because they were cheaper. The plasma TVs were no that sharp (picture wise) to me. I asked him to explain what the difference was between LCD, LED, and plasma. I know LED the screen is light admitting diodes, LCD is _light crystal display, I have no ideal what a plasma screen is made of, but anyone know what seperates them and can put it in a nutshell?

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9 Answers

dabbler's avatar

LCD – Liquid Crystal Display
LED – Light Emitting Diode
An LCD screen uses tiny liquid crystal ‘light valves’ to let light through from behind, or not.
The light behind is typically a cold-cathode flourescent tube that’s always on behind the LCD layer.
Most “LED” tvs are LCD TVs that use LED backlight instead of flourescent and those consume less power than flourescent but they are always on too.
There are some OLED (organic light emitting diode) tvs that actually emit light from tiny colored LEDs and have no backlight. They not only consume way less power because there is no backlight but can achieve much blacker blacks for higher contrast. OLED are also Very Expensive at this time.
A plasma screen operates like the old picture tubes (CRT cathode ray tube) but has a few million electron emitters at the back of the screen instead of one big one. Plasma screens can be brighter than the other two flat screen technologies but they also consume a lot more power than they do.
@jerv gave a great description recently of why counter-intuitively LCD/LED TVs consume the least power when displaying an all-white screen. While traditional CRT tube TVs, and the newest OLED consume the least with a black screen

_zen_'s avatar

I have a 29 inch crt – my g/f has a 40 inch LCD. I still prefer mine. As some may know here, my eyesight isn’t great – but besides that – there’s something a little more human, warm, deep and realistic in a crt’s picture – especially when it’s a bout people (as opposed to nature, say). I prefer the sound of my LP’s to cds, too.

Scooby's avatar

My 32” CRT has been on it’s way out for a little while now.. I’ve opted to replace it with a 37” LCD, it’s in the post ….. The reason I opted for the LCD over plasma was a consumption issue, the amount of energy it uses. The LCD uses far less power than a plasma. The reason I never went for a LED was purely about price, the LCD is more or less the same TV as an LED but cheaper on price :-/ that’s me anyway……
I do prefer the CRT picture though, but we have to move with the times eventually I guess

_zen_'s avatar

@Scooby I do prefer the CRT picture though, but we have to move with the times eventually I guess. If you prefer the CRT’s picture, and price is an issue – and CRT’s are fathoms cheaper than an LCD – why is this “moving with the times?”

I think LP’s will come back too, just as I predict an end to this stupid 3d phase. It’s technologically advanced, for sure, but is it really better?

Lightlyseared's avatar

With LCD (irregardless of backlight) TV’s there is massive difference in picture quality depending on the type of LCD panel and the TV’s internal gubbins that produces the picture. A cheap LCD produces an awful picture but a high end model with an IPS panel can look absolutely fantastic.

Axemusica's avatar

Here’s an opinion from a gamers POV. Usually when shopping for a TV, majority of normal electronic store goers don’t exactly know what they want when they shop for a TV. They know, they don’t want something that requires signing over a limb, but they also don’t want something that looks like a spirograph when they try and watch it. For gamers in this day and age they want 2 things over all when looking for a gaming display. Quality of picture and response time.

(Response Time: The time it takes the pixel to respond to the incoming signal.)

TV’s of today are far Superior than yesterday’s CRT in the quality department. Although most don’t understand that even though today’s TV’s look 200 times better, their response time is quite the opposite case. You see CRTs don’t have “response time”, but a nearly active time display. Let’s put it in perspective, have you ever played a relatively fast moving game on an LCD screen and noticed something like when the Flash moves? Those are the little itty bitty crystals trying to rotate fast enough to display the color that’s supposed to be there at that time. CRT’s just shoot electrons into the reactive florescent screen and is nearly instant. Refresh rate is also a factor in how quick the image is displayed on screen.

Now plasma TV’s are quite different from the above too. Instead of a rotating crystal or an electron gun firing at florescent gases, you’ve got literally a little science experiment going on in your TV. Plasma’s work by having little tiny cells throughout the screen. These cells are then filled with with a mixture of gases and tiny bit of mercury. As an electron passes over the cell it affects the mercury causing it to “shed” ultraviolet protons (UV), then this reacts with phosphor that’s painted on the inside of the cell….. blah blah blah, see what I mean? Science experiment, lol. Lets just say that’s plasma TVs are quite fast, and due to not having a backlight (like LCD screens) they have much deeper blacks. So contrast is unmatched, giving you that super creepy feeling when you’re playing a horror oriented FPS (First Person Shooter) and you’re searching around in the dark. The only real problem with plasma is reliability.

It really depends on what you want to do with the overall use of your TV. If there’s a CRT that displays 1080p, I don’t know about it. Otherwise that would be the best for gaming, but since I highly doubt there is Plasma would be the best bet. Then again Plasma has on screen burns which is usually from long gaming, due to many, if not all games having a HUD (Heads Up Display). So then it leaves LCD, LED LCD and OLED LCD. Regular LCD’s quality isn’t as good as LED in my opinion and OLED is by far one of the best color displays I’ve ever seen, but unless one of these has a refresh rate compiled with a response time to be unnoticeable by the human eye I wouldn’t recommend it for gaming.

On top of all this I didn’t even factor in size, lol. Size also effects the performance of the type of TV too. So…. Still want to go shopping for a TV?

Scooby's avatar


When you take into account all the added extra benefits you get with TV’s these days, Windows 7 certified. DLNA technology allows you to wirelessly connect your TV (via an optional USB dongle) to your compatible Windows 7 laptop over your home network and stream multimedia content including music, video and images.
With DLNA support via the optional USB dongle, USB connectivity provides an easy way to playback your compatible videos, music and photos directly onto your TV.
Built-in Freeview HD is the easiest way to enjoy free-to-air terrestrial HD broadcast for free. You can also access up to 50 standard definition Freeview digital TV channels and 24 radio stations. No subscription, no contract, no fuss. Also includes built-in 8 day electronic programme guide.
Multiple HDMI connectivity makes it easy to connect to Blu-ray players, HD games consoles and other devices simultaneously without having to manually switch cables.
It’s all good, not something any conventional CRT TV that I know of comes with…. Besides, it only weighs in at ten point six kilos :-/ easy on my back…….

dabbler's avatar

@zen CRT do have a wider dynamic range than the LCD/LED sets and can present a more genuine black – and yours is probably one of the few that are correctly adjusted.
One of the things folks like about the OLED screens is the genuine black and better precision of color. So pricey though, for now.
As for 3-D, I’ve only seen one contemporary 3-D movie, Werner Herzog “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” and I was very surprised to like it and feel it was used effectively and not gratuitously. The 3-d genuinely augmented the presence of stalagmites and stalactites, the sense of their size at a distance was different experience than the usual interpretation in the mind from a 2-D image based on what’s apparently covering something else. The information is there on a sensory level that is usually not available in a 2-D film. Some extra experience flows through those more natural perception channels instead of the movie experience channels.
The presence of contours of the painted walls, and the confining space were more apparent . One particularly effective side use of 3-D in “Cave..” was name/bio/titling info text could be right in the person’s lap instead of on a flat graphics plane in front of everything else.

_zen_'s avatar

@Scooby @dabbler Thanks. Interesting.

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