Once considered for their picture quality, plasma televisions no longer have a place in the market. But what led to the demise of this TV technology? And if you’re looking for a plasma TV replacement, what should you get?
How did a plasma TV work?
Before we talk about why plasma TVs fell out of favor with manufacturers, here’s a quick rundown of how they worked.
Plasma TVs had little pockets of gas that gave off light when charged with electricity. Most of this light was ultraviolet, which is invisible. But when it hit the phosphor cells, it became visible and was used to produce the image you saw on the screen. Each pixel in a plasma television had three phosphor cells: red, green, and blue, and these primary colors combined to form the color that the television required.
Basically, plasma TVs were self-emissive and didn’t need a backlight. This helped them to have a superior contrast ratio as they could turn off individual pixels when they needed to produce deep blacks, resulting in excellent image quality.
Furthermore, plasma TVs also had fast response time, very high refresh rate, and great viewing angles. All of these features helped plasma televisions win over consumers.
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What went wrong?
Although plasma televisions had several positive aspects, they were far from perfect. For example, they could not be very bright and were more suitable for viewing in a dark room. Even the best plasma TVs could only achieve a little over 100 nits of peak brightness in a 10% window test. By comparison, the best modern LED-backlit TVs can deliver more than 1,000 nits of peak brightness.
Plasma televisions were also susceptible to temporary and permanent image retention or burn-in. But it became less of an issue as plasma technology matured.
Another drawback of plasma televisions was their power consumption and heat generation. They required a lot of power to run and would need multiple internal fans to keep them cool. And lastly, while these TVs were lighter and thinner than CRT TVs, they were still heavy and thick.
Despite these drawbacks, plasma TVs continued to find buyers because competing LCD TVs with CCFL backlights shared some of plasma’s drawbacks, such as high power consumption and thick chassis, while having poorer picture quality. .
But with the advent of LED backlighting, everything changed. LED-backlit LCD TVs (LED TVs) were thinner and required much less power to run. Sure, early LED TVs lagged behind plasma in terms of picture quality and viewing angles, but compared to LED TVs, plasma TVs’ disadvantages outweighed their advantages.
The final nails in the coffin for plasma TVs were the arrival of OLED and 4K TVs on the market. Plasma TV makers realized that it would take a hefty investment to try and make 4K plasma TVs, and it wasn’t just worth the effort. Additionally, OLED TVs offered most of the picture quality advantages of plasma TVs without many of the drawbacks.
By 2014, TV manufacturers had all but abandoned plasma TVs and were focusing on LED-backlit LCD and OLED TVs, which are the top TV display technologies on the market at the time of writing in 2022.
The best alternative to plasma TVs
OLED TVs are the spiritual successors of Plasma TVs and its best alternative as both share many features. For example, OLED TVs have self-emissive pixels like plasma TVs. So they can achieve an almost infinite contrast ratio, something that isn’t even possible with plasma TVs. While plasma TVs can produce deep blacks due to their ability to turn off individual pixels, there is always some charge on the plasma, leading to residual glow. As a result, a plasma TV cannot produce perfect blacks.
Like plasma TVs, OLEDs also offer great viewing angles and fast response time. Also, they can become much brighter and are significantly thinner.
Unfortunately, burn-in is also a problem for OLED TVs. However, thanks to advances in OLED technology and the various protections built into the TV, burn-in is no longer a big issue for people who watch a variety of content.
All in all, if you want to upgrade from a plasma TV, OLED TVs are your best option. However, they are typically more expensive than their LED-backlit LCD counterparts. So if you are limited by the budget, you can also go for an LCD TV. Unlike the LCD TVs of the plasma era, many modern LCD TVs provide an excellent contrast ratio, thanks to Mini-LED backlighting and full-array local dimming, and have a fast response time.
An excellent alternative to plasma television
LG C1 65-inch OLED TV
LG C1 is one of the best OLED TVs on the market. It is offered in sizes ranging from 48 inches to 83 inches.
RIP Plasma TVs
Plasma televisions were the undisputed kings of television imaging technology at the turn of the century. But unfortunately, as competing TV technologies emerged, plasma TVs had too many drawbacks to survive. Fortunately, OLED TVs stepped up and successfully took the throne and continue to excel, thanks to exciting improvements like OLED Evo and QD-OLED.