What About Brightness? There’s no question that, when push comes to shove, LCD TVs can throw out a lot more light than plasmas can. Even so, there’s a practical limit to how much light output you really need or can use (unless you plan on watching TV at high noon in a greenhouse…). Nonetheless, an LCD TV would arguably be the better choice if you plan to do a lot of viewing in a very brightly illuminated environment.
But interestingly, brightness is one area where plasma technology is making strides to narrow (though not to fully close) the “illumination gap” with respect to LCD TVs. At CES, several plasma makers announced two-pronged thrusts to increase light output while reducing power consumption. The kinds of equations being talked about (in comparing 2008 models with next-gen 2009 plasma models) went something like this: “…you can have the same light output as before but at half the power consumption, or you can have considerably higher light output at the same power consumption levels as before; take your pick…” Panasonic’s Neo-PDP plasma TV lineup makes a good example, as new models are said to provide “…a brighter panel (with) double luminance efficiency…” (Italics are mine).
New Screen Coatings Extend Plasma’s Advantages: Some people argue that plasma sets sacrifice performance because their typically glossy screen surfaces too easily pick up room reflections, but not anymore. Today’s best plasma sets have exotic new screen coatings that not only help enhance black level performance and color fidelity, but that have an uncanny ability to reject room reflections (even though the screen surfaces appear to be glass-smooth—not matte finished).
Look at the photo of the 55-inch Samsung plasma set shown above and you’ll see that, even though the TV is displayed on a brightly illuminated pedestal and even though the photo was taken with a flash, there are few (if any) reflections visible in the screen surface. Note, too, that even though we are viewing the set from far off-axis, on-screen images remain clear and “watchable.”