Plasma Television

Figuring out what HDTV to buy is not an easy process even for a somewhat tech-savvy home theater customer. There are so many issues to deal with such as size, installation, technology, features and more. Furthermore, the days of professional audio-video salesman are nearing an end when it comes to flat HDTVs as the Asian video companies that dominate the market prefer to sell HDTVs as a commodity in warehouse stores like Costco, Wal-Mart and Target or they focus on big-box retailers such as Best Buy, Sears or even Radio Shack. Amazon is another popular place to buy an HDTV but like the warehouse and big-box stores – good luck getting any real support from them beyond "white glove" service meaning they take the box away for you.

So what are you supposed to do when you are ready to buy a new HDTV? Norman Herr Ph.D. from CSUN suggest that by the time the average American is 65 years old he or she has spent a total of over nine years watching television. Why in the world would someone want less than an excellent HDTV when they spend this much time in front of the tube? We don't get it either but here are some tips on how to make the right decision on what HDTV to buy…

Plasma Versus LED Versus OLED

This has been a long running argument between videophiles and to this day plasma is the pick. Yes, LEDs are brighter thus better in a bright room with lots of ambient light. Yes, LEDs are more thin thus fit more flush up against the wall. LEDs often use less power thus they are somewhat less expensive to run in terms of overall operational cost. But forget all of that – plasma HDTVs have the best black levels and these "inky" black levels are what makes for the foundation for that film-like, smooth, high contrast pictures that you love at the movies or from a D-ILA video projector. OLED (organic light emitting diode) is a somewhat new technology that makes for an even brighter, lighter and easier to power LED HDTV but these are still very pricey and they still don't have the black levels of a plasma. Here's an in-depth look at all three technologies from Adrienne Maxwell, the editor of

How Much Longer Will Plasmas Be Around?

In 2012, the word came out that Panasonic – the leader in Plasma HDTVs today – was going to stop making the videophile's favorite set. The Wall Street Journal reported on them closing plants in China but that turned out to be a little premature in that at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2013 from Las Vegas, Panasonic introduced new ST (entry level), VT (formerly their highest end series) and a new UBER-high-end plasma HDTV called the ZT Series.

Panasonic ZT Plasma

Here are reviews of all of the Panasonic Plasma HDTV sets:

• Read a review of the Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 ZT Series Plasma here
• Read a review of the Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 VT Series Plasma here
• Read a review of the Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 ST Series Plasma here

How much longer will plasma HDTVs roam the Earth? Only Samsung, LG and Panasonic can tell for sure. OLED is getting better and bright HDTVs sell television sets in retail venues run by clerks – not salespeople.

Why Are People Still Stuck on Pioneer KURO HDTVs?

Some videophiles are still hung up on the Pioneer KURO brand of plasma HDTVs from the early to mid-2000s and respectfully Pioneer KUROthey need to get over themselves. These now old HDTVs have only one advantage over today's top plasmas from Panasonic, LG and Samsung which is they have bigger power supplies than today's Energy Star Rated HDTVs. Other than that – they aren't better. Any THX or ISF calibrator can not only tell you that but they can measure the difference. Today's plasma HDTVs are better and they also don't have 3,000 hours on them, burn-in issues and so on?

Do Plasma HDTVs Still Burn In?

Burn-in was a big problem with early HDTVs. For example, if someone watched CNN all day every day on their old-school plasma they might get the CNN logo actually burned into the screen. Its not pretty when this happens but with today's sets – there are new technologies that make it so that you don't have these issues. Today's TVs have pixel shift modes that make the set move a little to keep from getting burn in for certain installations. Also sleep timers have helped with this issue. Here's a full article from on the topic of burn-in that you might find helpful.

What About UltraHD?

Samsung 85 Ultra HDUltraHD is the next frontier in high definition HDTV but be warned – its early in the game. UltraHD has FOUR TIMES the resolution of 1080p HDTV like you can buy in every store in the world today. That's a big issue for large screens (65 inches and above) but not for smaller screens unless you stick your face right on top of the screen. The big draw with UltraHD is its color which promises (but isn't currently) 10 to 12 bit resolution. You say – 8 to 10 bit color… that's only two bits? Yes, but its billions and billions more colors and it will floor you when you see it. Its amazing. Its just not here yet and its pretty far away.

Learn More About UltraHD From These Resources

• UltraHD sets coming well before content –
• A full explanation of UltraHD –
Wikipedia's Take on UltraHD
Can UltraHD "4K" Really Help the HDTV industry

Be warned, half of the way through 2013 and there is a) no Blu-ray disc standard for this new UltraHD format and b) there is no broadcast standard for UltraHD. This means you can spend $10,000, $20,000 and upwards of $45,000 on an UltraHD set without a hope of getting any content into it at its native resolution or color fidelity. Yes, that's not a good deal right now. Will there be UltraHD content for consumers? Absolutely so. Sony has a server for under $1,000 coming to market in the fall of 2013 that can stream UHD content to ONLY-Sony sets. Camera maker, Red, has "Red-Ray" reportedly coming to market but this server has been vastly delayed and still remains so today. Satellite and cable providers will be last to adopt UHD because the higher resolution and bit rate limits how many channels they can offer to consumers and these providers could care less about quality over quantity.

Wanna Read Up On Some Early UHD HDTV Reviews?

• Here is a review of the $45,000 Samsung 85 inch UltraHD UN85S9 HDTV
• Here is a review of the $7,000 Sony 55 inch XBR-55X900A UltraHD HDTV set

Additional HDTV and Plasma HDTV Resources
Big Picture Big Sound
Imaging Science Foundation HDTV Review Page

For more information, visit this Ultra HDTV Buyer's Guide.