Thursday, January 26, 2006

What's the buzz on high-altitude plasma TVs?

QUESTION: The commissary and some of the local stores have great prices on plasma TVs but a friend says we shouldn’t waste the money. He says we’ll be disappointed because the experts say plasma screens are a problem at the Colorado Springs altitude. Any truth in this at all?
- Bob W.

ANSWER: The Gazette’s television writer, Andy Wineke, says, “Plasma screens are gorgeous and they have a lot of positive qualities, but also some potential drawbacks that you have to consider before buying one.

“The top concern here in Colorado Springs should be buzzing. Plasma screens are assembled at a lower altitude and sealed and, when they’re brought up here to 6,000-plus feet, they can buzz. Not all do, and not all buzzing is equally annoying, but you have to listen to your new prospective set in a quiet room so you can tell.
“Secondly, many cheaper plasma screens are ‘EDTV’instead of ‘HDTV.’ ED, or extended definition, is a middle ground between standard definition and high definition. If what you want is a flat screen that you can hang on a wall, knock yourself out.
“On the other hand, if what you want is high definition, you need to find a real HD set — and they tend to cost far more.

“Finally — at least for a brief discussion — plasma screens can ‘burn in.’ Have you ever seen an old projection TV that somebody left a video game on too long?
“The image will be ‘ghosted’ into the picture and it will never go away. That can happen with plasmas, too, and it’s worth thinking about because most TV is still broadcast with a square picture, meaning there’ll be black or gray bars on either side of the picture on a rectangular HD screen.
“Newer TVs have technology to combat this problem, but, again, it’s worth asking about.

“So, although plasma screens are thin, super bright and super cool, don’t assume that just because it’s a plasma, it’s for you. Definitely look at LCD: The prices on LCD screens are coming down while the sets themselves are getting bigger. And the newer projection technologies — LCD projection, DLP, LCoS and SXRD — all offer extremely nice images for very reasonable (comparatively speaking) prices.”

One last thought: A lot of people still say that old-fashioned tube TVs offer the best all-around picture quality. They’re certainly the cheapest. You can find a smaller-tube HDTV for less than $500.

4 Comments:

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

We live in Arizona at an approximate elevation of 4,500 feet. We are shopping for a plazma or LCD tv but were told by an electronics sales person that the plazma may not be best because of our elevation? Is this really an issue?

7:10 PM, April 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nope

2:51 PM, January 12, 2010  

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