Q&A: Plasma TV’s

Q: Hey guys, need your 2 cents. Do you think this is a reasonable TV?
Let me know, cheers

A: Reasonability is always a function of cost, so how much is this thing going for? If it’s $50, then it’s a great deal! If it’s $10000, then it’s not! (I’m guessing it’s somewhere in between) Here are some thoughts:

– 1024×768 is not High Definition, but better than most EDTV sets. It has Composite inputs, so it will likely convert 1080i or 720p signals, but it will not show every pixel in either a 720p or 1080i broadcast. A good primer on HD vs ED and resolutions: CNet

– Specs are good. Contrast, Viewing angle, Brightness are all quite good, as is typical for Plasma’s (vs. LCD)

– It has Audio, although I’d suspect you wouldn’t use it.

– Probably the biggest thing to look at, I can’t judge by the specs, and that is how it converts any Standard Definition (or DVD) 4:3 image onto its 16:9 screen. Many sets, just stretch it to fit, making everything look “fat”. The good ones apply algorithms to do an intelligent stretch, maintaining the feel of a familiar image. Best way to see this is go to a news channel, like CBCNW or CNN and watch the scroll across the bottom of the screen. On the good ones, the letters and words will appear to compress and expand as they go across the screen.

– I’m also not familiar with Tatung, so I don’t know what the quality is like. You know my NEC (a name I think we all trust) had issues, but it was a first-generation model, and over 5 years old. Still, I’d expect a TV like this to last 10 years or more, so the name matters.

Again, it’s all really a matter of value. If it’s a good price, I can’t say don’t go for it, but you should know what the tradeoffs are.