Plasma vs. OLED: 9 Key Differences and Full Comparison

plasma tv vs OLED tv

Plasma vs. OLED: 9 Key Differences and Full Comparison

Plasma and OLED display technologies are among the most prevalently used in modern TVs and computer monitors, both offering outstanding image quality while featuring distinctive working principles which drastically alter performance, lifespan, and each type of TV’s suitability for different applications.

Plasma displays were once the standard technology in high-end TVs, but OLED has since eclipsed them as the preferred display choice. These displays use a gas mixture to produce light, creating bright and vibrant colors with deep blacks. However, their use results in image retention or burn-in issues, reducing their lifespan or making them unsuitable for certain applications.

OLED displays use organic compounds that emit light when an electric current is applied, creating stunningly vivid and lifelike colors with true blacks. Further, OLEDs are thin and flexible, making them perfect for rollable or curved displays without image retention issues or burn-in issues. However, OLEDs may be more expensive and have shorter lifespans than plasma displays.

Plasma vs. OLED: Side by Side Comparison

StructureGas-filled cells between two glass panelsOrganic compounds emitting light when excited
Image QualityDeep blacks, excellent color accuracyPerfect blacks, vibrant colors, high contrast
Viewing AngleWide viewing angle without color distortionWide viewing angle without color distortion
BrightnessLower brightness compared to OLEDHigh brightness, especially in HDR content
Response TimeFast response time, minimal motion blurVery fast response time, minimal motion blur
Burn-in RiskProne to image retention and burn-inVulnerable to image retention and burn-in
LifespanDecreased lifespan compared to OLEDLonger lifespan, especially for red and blue pixels
Energy EfficiencyLess energy-efficient compared to OLEDHighly energy-efficient, individual pixel lighting
CostLower cost compared to OLEDHigher cost compared to Plasma
AvailabilityDiscontinued, no longer in productionWidely available in various devices
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11/30/2023 05:43 am GMT

Plasma vs. OLED: What’s the Difference?

Plasma and OLED displays are two technologies used in modern televisions that produce excellent picture quality. However, there are several differences between them. Here are some key distinctions between plasma and OLED displays.

plasma tv vs OLED tv

Display Technology

Plasma display technology employs small cells containing an assortment of noble gasses to generate images. Each cell consists of phosphors which emit ultraviolet light when electrically charged. This light then interacts with its coating to produce visible light that creates colors in an image. Plasma displays utilize glass panels with thousands of cells for optimal control over each pixel’s luminance and color. This enables deep blacks and vivid hues for excellent picture quality.

An innovative principle powers OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) displays; OLED panels consist of organic compounds which emit light when an electric current flows through them. These compounds are sandwiched between two conductive layers and when current is applied, they emit light directly into the environment, eliminating the need for backlighting. This unique characteristic enables individual pixel control for perfect black levels and high contrast ratios. Further, OLED displays offer wide viewing angles and fast response times, making them suitable for various applications.

transparent oled
The basic OLED cell structure consists of a stack of 8 thin organic layers.


Contrast Ratio and Black Levels

Plasma displays are widely admired for their impressive contrast ratio and deep black levels. A plasma display can individually control each plasma cell for precise brightness adjustments. This enables plasma TVs to achieve deep blacks by switching off certain cells entirely, resulting in no light emission at all. Further, plasma displays excel at reproducing scenes with wide ranges of brightness, showing excellent detail in both shadows and highlights. Their infinite contrast ratio makes the reproduction of scenes of various brightnesses possible. Thus, offering excellent details in both shadows and highlights.

We widely revere OLED technology for its ability to achieve perfect black levels. Due to the self-emissive properties of OLED pixels, they can shut off black areas on screens completely, leading to no light emission at all. Hence, providing true black levels similar to plasma displays and creating an infinite contrast ratio similar to plasma displays. OLED panels feature this characteristic to improve picture quality by enabling individual pixels to emit light independently, producing deep blacks alongside vibrant, vivid colors. Thus, providing breathtaking visual experiences, especially when viewing content with high dynamic range (HDR).

Lifespan and Burn-in Risk

Plasma displays differ substantially from OLEDs in their lifespan and susceptibility to burn-in. Plasma panels consist of phosphors, which degrade with time, leading to a gradual brightness loss and color accuracy loss over time. A Plasma display’s typical lifespan falls somewhere between 100,000-150,000 hours of usage compared to other technologies such as OLED.

Plasma displays can also be susceptible to burn-in, which occurs when static images are displayed for extended periods, leading to image retention and permanent damage to their phosphor coating. This issue is especially evident in commercial settings where static signage or logos are often displayed.

OLED displays also have a limited lifespan, but advancements have been made to address this concern. The organic compounds within OLED panels may degrade over time, leading to reduced brightness and color accuracy. Manufacturers have implemented techniques like pixel shifting and luminance adjustment to decrease burn-in risk, periodically moving images slightly to distribute wear across individual pixels evenly.

Automatic brightness adjustments are another helpful way to maintain uniform aging across an OLED panel. Modern OLED displays boast longer lifespans compared to earlier models, typically lasting 50,000-100,000 hours before reaching around 50% of their initial brightness level.

Energy Efficiency

Plasma displays typically consume more power than OLED displays due to their backlighting technology. Its cells require constant electrical current to create color hues, resulting in higher energy costs and consumption. Plasma displays also produce more heat, requiring additional cooling systems in order to maintain an ideal viewing temperature. As a result, they are typically less energy efficient than other display technologies.

Due to their self-emissive technology, OLED displays require significantly less power consumption than plasma displays. Each pixel can produce its own light source, enabling OLED panels to turn off individual pixels when not required, leading to energy savings. OLED displays also don’t need backlighting, further cutting energy consumption and making OLED more cost-efficient than other display technologies.

Size and Flexibility

Plasma displays are typically larger and heavier than other display technologies, making them less suitable for smaller spaces. Manufacturing plasma cells is a complex process which results in larger displays. In addition, plasma panels offer less flexibility compared to other display technologies, making them less suitable for creating screens with curved or irregular shapes.

In contrast, OLED technology boasts unique flexibility due to its composition. These panels contain organic compounds which can be printed onto flexible substrates for customized designs with curves or unconventional shapes. OLED panels’ unique flexibility enables them to be formed into various shapes and sizes, making them suitable for curved displays, rollable screens, as well as foldable devices. Further, OLED displays are lightweight and thin, making them more portable than ever.

Response Time

Plasma displays offer faster response times than other display technologies, making them suitable for fast-moving content such as movies. Plasma cells can switch on and off quickly, so images appear without blurriness or ghosting. In short, these displays don’t need the same signal processing requirements as LCDs, resulting in shorter input lag and faster response time.

OLED displays offer similar response times to plasma displays. These panels utilize self-emitting pixels that enable rapidly switching on and off. OLED displays feature the unique capability to present fast-moving content without motion blur or ghosting, with minimal input lag and fast response time, making them ideal for gaming and fast-paced content such as movies.

Color Accuracy

Plasma displays boast outstanding color accuracy, making them suitable for applications requiring precise reproduction of color. Each plasma cell can produce a broad array of hues that enable an accurate yet vibrant reproduction. Plus, plasma displays don’t suffer the same color degradation experienced with LCDs, allowing them to maintain color accuracy even after extended usage.

OLED displays have earned widespread praise for their outstanding color accuracy. OLED pixels contain organic compounds which emit pure colors for more accurate and vibrant displays. These displays offer an expansive color gamut, covering more of the visible spectrum than traditional display technologies. This characteristic makes OLEDs suitable for applications requiring accurate colors, such as professional photo and video editing.

Image Retention

Plasma TVs in a Store
Plasma TVs have been discontinued and are no longer being manufactured.

©ORION PRODUCTION/Shutterstock.com

Plasma displays can suffer from image retention when static images are displayed for extended periods, leading to the temporary storage of an image on the screen. We can mitigate burn-in by turning off or displaying moving content for some period. It remains a concern with plasma displays.

OLED displays can also suffer from image retention, though not as severely. OLED panels utilize pixel-shifting techniques which spread wear on individual pixels evenly, reducing the risk of image retention. Automatic brightness adjustments help maintain even aging across the panel, while modern OLED displays offer longer lifespans and reduced image retention than early models.

Environmental Impact

Plasma displays have greater environmental implications compared to OLED displays due to their higher power consumption and production processes, which require additional cooling systems in order to keep temperatures under control. In addition, plasma panels contain heavy metals that make recycling difficult and pose environmental risks.

OLED displays have lower environmental impacts compared to plasma displays due to their energy efficiency and manufacturing processes. These panels require much less power to run and don’t need backlighting, saving energy and emissions associated with backlighting displays. In addition, OLED displays are constructed using organic materials that are more easily recyclable and less damaging to the environment than their alternatives.

Plasma vs. OLED: Must-Know Facts

  • Plasma displays use charged gas particles to form images, while OLED displays use organic compounds which emit light when electrically stimulated.
  • OLED displays boast higher contrast ratios than plasma displays, providing deeper blacks and brighter whites.
  • Plasma displays may experience image retention or “burn-in” if static images remain displayed for too long, while OLED displays are less vulnerable.
  • OLED displays offer faster response times than plasma displays, leading to less motion blur during fast-paced scenes.
  • Plasma displays typically last much longer than OLED displays, with some models lasting over 100,000 hours of usage.
  • OLED displays feature wider viewing angles than plasma displays, providing greater visibility from off-center positions.
  • Plasma displays may consume three times more power than OLED displays, making them significantly less energy efficient.
  • OLED displays are thinner and lighter than plasma displays, making them better suited to portable devices.
  • Plasma displays come in larger sizes than their OLED counterparts, reaching up to 152 inches diagonally in some models.
  • OLED displays feature a wider color gamut than plasma displays, producing more vivid and accurate colors.
  • Plasma displays offer more of a traditional “TV-like” appearance, whereas OLED displays boast sleeker, more contemporary aesthetics.
  • Due to their higher production costs for organic compounds, OLED displays typically cost more than plasma displays.

Plasma vs. OLED: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

OLED technology clearly stands out as the superior choice when choosing between Plasma and OLED TVs, offering brighter colors, deeper blacks and wider viewing angles than its Plasma counterparts. Further, OLED screens boast much thinner profiles, making them easier to place and style within your living room or outdoor patio area.

OLED technology has seen significant advances over time, addressing many user concerns. These TVs now are more durable, longer-lived, and less susceptible to burn-in issues. Thus, making them a reliable option for home entertainment. OLED technology also boasts superior power efficiency. Due to their lack of backlighting, OLED screens consume far less electricity, making them cost-effective and eco-friendly options in your household.

We once considered plasma TVs the go-to option for home entertainment. However, due to technological advancements, OLED has become the preferred choice. Although plasmas still offer good viewing experiences, OLED televisions offer superior picture quality and power efficiency for viewers seeking home entertainment solutions, making OLED the current top choice. Offering superior performance, durability, and energy efficiency, OLED technology provides an unrivaled viewing experience that is sure to wow viewers of all kinds – movie buffs, gamers, or just looking for high-quality television viewing – OLED is definitely an impressive choice that stands the test of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which has better picture quality, Plasma or OLED?

OLED screens are widely considered to offer superior picture quality over Plasma displays due to their ability to produce deeper blacks and brighter colors than plasma models. Further, OLED screens boast better viewing angles, ensuring consistent picture quality even when viewed from off-center angles.

Is Plasma or OLED more energy efficient?

OLED screens are typically more energy efficient than plasma displays due to using electricity only to light the pixels needed. In contrast, Plasma screens illuminate all pixels regardless of which image is being shown, using more power and producing more heat.

Are Plasma screens still available for purchase?

Plasma screens are no longer manufactured, making it more challenging to find them for sale. OLED screens have become more prevalent due to their superior picture quality and energy efficiency. However, some retailers may still carry plasma displays or they may be available through secondhand markets.

Which is more expensive, Plasma or OLED?

When Plasma screens were still being produced, they tended to be less expensive than OLED screens. However, with their production now concluded, OLED TVs have become the new norm in high-end televisions.

What are the lifespan differences between Plasma and OLED screens?

Plasma screens typically have longer lifespans than OLED displays due to using charged gas particles that eventually degrade over time, leading them to dim and lose color accuracy. On the other hand, OLED screens use organic compounds which also degrade over time yet have shorter lives than their Plasma counterparts.

Can Plasma screens suffer from screen burn-in?

Yes, plasma screens can experience screen burn-in when static images remain displayed for extended periods. This causes them to “burn in,” leaving behind permanent ghost images on the screen. OLED screens may also experience burn-in but may be less vulnerable due to being able to switch off individual pixels more easily.

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