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Plasma display

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A modern plasma screen television. These televisions are light-weight and save a lot of space

Televisions with plasma display are much thinner than cathode ray tubes and are usually higher definition.

Plasma screens are made of 2 sheets of glass with 2 gases stored between the sheets. The gases are xenon and neon and they fill thousands of tiny chambers, or spaces. Behind each space are a series of red, blue and green phosphors (substances that give off light when struck by light). When electricity connects to the plasma chambers the colored phosphors produce the right color on your screen. They work in a very similar way to fluorescent tubes used for lighting.

Plasma screens may seem to be a new technology but actually they have been around since 1964 but only 2 colors could be produced then. Now we have high definition Plasma screens up to 150 inches in size. Japanese engineers are currently working on a 270 inch model.


Plasma TV's have more pixels (tiny dots that when put together can create an image on a picture) per inch than the old fashioned cathode ray tube (CRT) screens so they can produce a much sharper image. In the old style of CRT screens the pictures were made up of lines. If you look closely at a Plasma screen you will not see any lines. You will find out that most Plasma screens have a wide screen option so you can see movies in the way they were intended for movie theaters. They are also ideal for the latest digital broadcasting methods.

One of the big advantages is the space saving. The problem with old cathode ray tubes is that they needed a lot of space so that the rays can fire upon all areas of the screen. The wider the screen, the larger the volume of the television would be. The average Plasma television is around 6 to 8 inches deep. Moving your Plasma onto the wall can really increase the amount of floor space and they can be looked at from any point in the room (usually 180 degrees)

Plasma screens are also very light especially when compared to a rear projection TV. A 40 inch Plasma TV will weigh from 50 to 80 pounds and provided you purchase a suitable bracket (that can hold the TV up to the wall) they can be hung very easily to a suitable wall. When fixing to the wall you need to make sure you choose a bracket which tells you the highest weight it can carry. Most brackets can be tilted if you want to view from a different angle.

Plasma TV's can display up to 16 million colors so not only are they great for watching TV programs, they also make a good screen for the latest computer games consoles. Most Plasma TV's have inputs for HDMI and laptop computers connections making them ideal to use to display products and sales messages in offices and shops.

You will also find out that they are very easy to watch even on a sunny day or a very bright room. Unlike the old CRT screens they are not hard to see in bright areas.


Because of the phosphor technology in Plasma TVs (see How Plasma TVs Work), it is possible for traces of an image to be 'burned-in' to the display, meaning you might see little traces of it even while watching other images. This is really only a concern in commercial uses, where images are shown for long-periods of time. Burn-in can generally be avoided by making sure that you do not keep a constant image on the screen for a long time (sometimes as little as 20 minutes), either by turning the television off, or changing the channel.

Although still much brighter than rear-projection TVs, direct view and LCD TVs often are able to provide a brighter picture. Latest generation Plasma TVs have improved on brightness, but a warning is do not view where it is too bright or sunny.

Although Plasma TVs are much lighter and thinner than direct view and rear projection TVs, an LCD TV is lighter and slimmer. LCD TVs use the same technology as used in most laptop computers. You should know that LCD TVs are not really available in the same sizes as Plasma TVs, and if they are, they usually cost much more.

Plasma screen TVs cost much more than CRTs and a little more than LCDs.

Compared to other television technologies, Plasma TVs have a shorter life span. Most Plasma TVs have a life span of 20,000-30,000 hours based on maker's estimates. This life span is commonly referred to as the Plasma TV half-life, as it is the number of hours over which the Plasma TV will lose approximately half of its brightness.

Plasma TVs break easily and it is possible to break them if you are not careful, and the parts are quite easy to damage. You must take a lot of care when moving them.

How Long Do They Last?

As technology has been made better, Plasma screens have a much longer life and you should expect 30,000 hours of use. In other words your television would need to be on for 16 hours a day, every day for the next 5 years. By the time your TV needs replacing higher definition models will have become available. Most of us should not be worried as it will give years of enjoyment

Is it Worth Spending Money On?

When the first Plasma televisions were designed for home use you did not get much change from $5000 dollars for a basic small model. As the technology has improved and production has increased, prices have been smaller. You can now get a 37 inch model for as little as $1000 or even less so they are great value. Soon buying a CRT television will be a thing of the past as the new digital age is upon us.