- Plasma TVs offer superior response times and deeper blacks than LCDs, but suffer from temporary image retention, image burn-in, weight, thickness, heat, noise, and lower resolution.
- Despite production ending in 2014, plasma TVs are still available in the used and refurbished market at great prices.
- The 5 best reasons to buy a plasma TV today are their fast response times, darker blacks than LCDs, solid viewing angle, ability to double as a space heater, and affordability.
- Alternatives to plasma TVs include LED, LCD, OLED, and QLED, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.
- Due to their age and inferior technology compared to newer options, plasma TVs are not recommended for purchase.
The plasma TV manufacturing run ended around 2013/2014. There isn’t a good reason to buy a new plasma TV today. You won’t find a plasma TV on Amazon, nor will you find a plasma TV hiding in Best Buy’s “open box” section.
If you’re in the market for a plasma TV, you’ll be looking at the refurbished, used TV market. Having shared that juicy technology information nugget with you, let’s look at the history of plasma TVs and the best reasons why you may want to buy a plasma TV today.
History of the Plasma TV
Fujitsu announced the mass production of 42″ plasma TVs in 1997. Plasma TVs weren’t new technology in 1997, but they were new for home consumer purchases. Researchers spent decades trying to develop the Plasma Display Panel (PDP) technology.
Fujitsu’s introduction of a $17,500 42″ plasma TV in 1997 didn’t exactly set the consumer market on fire. Still, it brought about consumer awareness that a TV-viewing revolution was coming. Plasma TVs were on the way in, and cathode ray TVs (CRT) were on the way out. By the middle of 2005, the price of plasma TVs had dropped to $4,500, and CRTs were gone.
Ten years later, plasma TVs had gone the way of Apple’s iPod Nano. Liquid Crystal Display TVs were cheaper, weighed less, and were available in much larger sizes than plasma TVs. The last plasma TVs were manufactured and sold in 2014.
Reasons to Avoid a Plasma TV
A plasma TV is a good option if you seek a superior response time, particularly for sports and video games. Plasma TVs have no motion blur because each pixel can respond quickly. There are a few primary causes of the short life cycle of consumer plasma TVs, however. Let’s talk about them below.
- Temporary image retention: Images will continue to be temporarily displayed after you change the channel. For example, if you’re watching a news channel with a white “band” at the bottom of the screen that scrolled news updates, a faint outline of the white band would still be present when you switched to a different channel.
- Image Burn-In: Temporary image retention display images become permanently “stuck” on the display screen. To correct this issue, you need to replace the plasma.
- Weight: Plasma TVs easily weigh 40 lbs. Have fun hanging this big brick on the wall!
- Thickness: Plasma TVs are at least eight inches thick. While this is a significant improvement from a CRT, it’s still quite thick compared to an LCD.
- Heat: WHOA! Plasma TVs run hot and gobble up the power.
- What’s that noise?!?: Consumers at higher elevations complain that plasma TVs make a buzzing noise. The change in air pressure at higher altitudes impacted the plasma properties and created a buzzing noise. Who knew?
- Resolution: LCDs’ push toward 4K resolution far surpassed the 1080p resolution available with a plasma TV.
The 5 Best Reasons to Buy a Plasma TV Today
If you find a plasma TV at a garage sale, the odds are high that it will be cheap. (The odds are also high that it has burn-in, so plug it in and check it out before you purchase it.)
Plasma TVs aren’t made anymore, so you’ll be looking to the used and refurbished markets anyway, which are inherently cheaper.
Fast Response Times
Plasma TVs have crazy fast response times, so image blur isn’t an issue. Even though LCDs are much cheaper and you can buy one off the shelf at your favorite retailer, plasma TVs outperform less expensive LCDs.
Darker Blacks Than LCDs
This one is especially important no matter what you’re watching. If you love clarity and the rich depth of colors, you’ll want to get the blackest blacks available on the screen. Having this level of contrast is much more lifelike and immersive, whether you’re watching a movie or sports or playing a video game.
Solid Viewing Angle
A television image that’s easily watchable from different viewing angles and locations in the room is heavily underrated. Having to find that perfect spot right in front of the TV can be annoying, especially if you have people over or you’re moving around to do something while watching your favorite show. It’s pretty important that everyone and anyone can view the image well no matter where they’re sitting (or standing).
It Doubles as a Space Heater!
Okay, this one is mostly a joke. But when those winter nights get extra cold, you’ll thank your nifty plasma TV for its ability to keep you warm.
Bonus: While we’re not recommending that you run out and buy a plasma TV, they are a good option for a TV console with an older gaming system.
Alternatives to Plasma TVs
Luckily, we do have recommendations for a TV that isn’t plasma. Let’s talk about them!
A Light Emitting Diode (LED) TV uses LEDs to display the image. LED TVs have longer lifespans than LCDs.
An LED TV is a good choice for you if…
- You want a television that consumes less power and releases less heat than other television models.
- You’re accepting of the slower refresh rates (typically 60Hz) compared to other types of TVs (this isn’t always the case, but it usually is).
- You’re not a gamer who needs (demands!) super-fast speeds. A little motion blur on Red Dead won’t ruin your day.
- Screen: 7 inches
- Battery: 4hrs playtime, 12V car charger included
- Included remote control
- Compatible with HDMI, USB, 3.5mm audio jack...
A Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) TV uses LCDs to display the image. LCDs consume very little power, are light and thin, and often hang on the wall. You’ll notice in the chart below that the LCD is the cheapest and lightest television.
An LCD television is a good choice for you if…
- Budget is a crucial consideration. LCDs are cheaper than other types of televisions, but larger display sizes are difficult to locate. Over time, just like plasma TVs, LCDs are becoming less popular with consumers.
- Weight (generally hanging on the wall) is important. You can use a few drywall wall anchors and not worry about finding a stud. That’s not the case with heavier televisions.
- If the mere mention of burn-in or temporary image retention causes you distress (or if you’re prone to leaving the Xbox on the home page overnight), an LCD is your best buddy. LCDs do not have image burn-in issues.
- LG's fifth generation α9 Processor automatically adjusts your TV's settings depending on what you're watching.
- Filmmaker Mode shows movies the way the movie director originally intended.
- Game Optimizer from LG ensures that that you have your most exciting gaming experience ever
- Wall mountable (VESA 300 x 200) - sold separately
An Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) is one of the newer display technologies. OLEDs create their light instead of using a separate backlight that is always on like an LED. OLEDs provide a thinner viewing display screen than LEDs or LCDs.
OLEDs offer better viewing angles, contrast, and refresh rates than LEDs or LCDs. (However, they do cost more!)
An OLED is a good choice if…
- You want to have a good viewing experience from anywhere in the room. If you’re like us, we run out of “good” seats on movie nights, and someone is watching from a less-than-ideal location. OLEDs provide a great view of the action from nearly any location in the room.
- You are a gamer or you have someone in your household that’s a gamer. OLED televisions generally (not always!) have additional HDMI ports, higher (120Hz versus 60Hz) refresh rates, and HDMI 2.1. You’ll need the higher HDMI capability for 120Hz gameplay.
- You have your TV located in a dark room. Dark backgrounds will “pop.” (A bright room isn’t your best friend when it comes to television viewing.)
- Exclusive ULED technologies
- Quantum dot wide color gamut
- Up to 1500 nits peak brightness
- Dolby Vision HDR picture and Dolby Atmos sound
- Native 120Hz refresh rate
The newest kid on the block, the Quantum Dot LED (QLED), has a light filter resting between the backlight and the display screen. The QLED displays far more colors than an OLED TV. The QLED has approximately one billion color variations versus roughly seventeen million color variations on an OLED.
A QLED is a good choice for you if…
- You plan to watch the television in a bright room. The display intensity is luminous enough to overcome ambient lighting from windows and doors.
- Budget is a concern. QLED televisions are significantly more affordable than OLED televisions.
When it’s time to look at the best reason to buy a plasma TV today, the list is short. Please don’t do it unless you have a particular use scenario (game room, in the basement, on a TV console, with an older Xbox, Playstation, or Nintendo) in mind.
Lacking a specific use scenario, we recommend something (almost anything) other than purchasing a plasma TV. Manufacturing companies ceased production of plasma televisions around 2013/2014.
If you can find a plasma TV, it won’t be a “new” TV. Careful viewing on Amazon may show you cheap plasma TVs, but check out the shipping fees. We saw a $150 plasma TV with a $500 shipping fee. Ouch!
Should (insert your very old relative’s name here) kick the bucket and leave a plasma TV behind for you in their will, there’s no reason not to accept it unless it needs to be shipped to you.
We recommend choosing an OLED or QLED for the biggest bang for your buck.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.com.