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Plasma TVs

A plasma display is an emissive flat panel display where light is created by phosphors excited by a plasma discharge between two flat panels of glass. The gas discharge contains no mercury (contrary to the backlights of an AMLCD); a mixture of noble gases (neon and xenon) is used instead. more...

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This gas mixture is inert and entirely harmless.


The Plasma display panel was invented at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by Donald L. Bitzer and H. Gene Slottow in 1964 for the PLATO Computer System. The original monochrome (usually orange or green) panels enjoyed a surge of popularity in the early 1970s because the displays were rugged and needed neither memory nor refresh circuitry. There followed a long period of sales decline in the late 1970s as semiconductor memory made CRT displays incredibly cheap. Nonetheless, plasma's relatively large screen size and thin profile made the displays attractive for high-profile placement such as lobbies and stock exchanges. In 1992, Fujitsu introduced the world's first 21-inch full color display. It was a hybrid based on the plasma display created at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and NHK STRL, achiving superior brightness.

In 1997, Pioneer started selling the first Plasma TV to the public.

Today the superior brightness, viewing angle, and the lower cost (compared to LCD) of color plasma panels have caused these displays to become one of the most popular form of HDTV.

General characteristics

Plasma displays are bright (1000 lx or higher for the module), have a wide color gamut, and can be produced in fairly large sizes, up to 200 cm (80 inches) diagonally. They have a very high "dark-room" contrast, creating the "perfect black" desirable for watching movies. The display panel is only 6 cm (2 1/2 inches) thick, while the total thickness, including electronics, is less than 10 cm (4 inches). Plasma displays use as much power per square meter as a CRT or a AMLCD television; in 2004 the cost has come down to US$1900 or less for the popular 42 inch (107 cm) diagonal size, making it very attractive for home-theatre use. Real life measurements of plasma power consumption find it to be much less than that normally quoted by manufacturers. Nominal measuments indicate 150 Watts for a 50" screen. The lifetime of the latest generation of PDPs is estimated at 60,000 hours to half life when displaying video. Half life is the point where the picture has degraded to half of its original brightness and intensity, which is considered the end of the functional life of the display. So if you use it at an average of 2-1/2 hours a day, the PDP will last approximately 65 years.

Competing displays include the Cathode ray tube, OLED, AMLCD, DLP, SED-tv and field emission flat panel displays. The main advantage of plasma display technology is that a very wide screen can be produced using extremely thin materials. Since each pixel is lit individually, the image is very bright and looks good from almost every angle. Because many plasma displays still have a lower resolution the image quality is often not quite up to the standards of good LCD displays or cathode ray tube sets, but it certainly meets most people's expectations. The biggest drawbacks of plasma technology are the high cost, often lower resolution, and relatively short lifespan. Also, most cheaper consumer displays appear to have an insufficient color depth - a moving dithering pattern may be easily noticible for a discerning viewer over flat areas or smooth gradients; expensive high-res panels are much better at managing the problem.


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See also...
42-49 Inch Plasma TVs, Plasma TVs, Televisions TV
50-59 Inch Plasma TVs, Plasma TVs, Televisions TV
Less Than 42 Inches, Plasma TVs, Televisions TV
Over 59 Inches, Plasma TVs, Televisions TV

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