Originally Posted by j0nnyfive
After doing some reading in this thread, I feel inspired to write this post for newbies. I understand that there have been many newbie articles written before (too many), but this is my attempt to add something new to the discussion. Keep in mind that this is only my OPINION. Do not take what I say as gospel, and it would behoove you to take most people's opinions about plasma with a large, heavy, grain of salt. In other words, plasma TV, a high-performing TV, asks you to be a high-performing person and do your own thinking for yourself. When you read advice in these forums, take time and ask yourself "Does that make sense?"
I entitle this post "The Philosophy of Plasma TV." (I know this sounds goofy, just indulge me here.) Now, time to wax philosophical. I will start this speech by saying:
Television has changed. Back when the old big heavy boxy TVs (CRT) were the norm, life was simple. So many of the options we now take for granted simply were not there. VCR tape players didn't have elaborate menu systems (no static images). Movies were formatted to fit your square screen perfectly (no black bars). Al Gore had not yet given us the Internet to surf from our TVs (using TV as a computer monitor). XBox-360 wasn't around to lower the average person's IQ by about 40 points (Halo). Elder Scrolls video games did not exist (to sit on the screen for hours and hours and days and days). We live in a DIFFERENT time for television.
The line between "TV" and "computer monitor" has become very thin. As the Internet becomes increasingly ubiquitous, TVs have evolved to suit it's needs. Do you remember when you first started hearing about LCD TV? What was LCD popularly used for before it became TV? That's right! Computer monitors on laptop computers. Computer monitors are designed to withstand static images and long hours of use. The invention of LCD TV has allowed many of these computing activities to be spread (safely) to the TV. So, it has become "normal" to expose current day TVs to hours and hours of black bars, 100+ hour video games, lots of graphical menus, web surfing, and the like. In other words, modern day LCD tvs are built to be handled like a computer monitor, safely. Now...
Plasma TV hit the market during what I want to call a "transitional period" in television. Plasma was developed under the philosophy of the older TVs. Guess what? When I played video games on my old CRT, I KNEW that I shouldn't leave the game paused for very long (without turning the TV off)! This was NORMAL. We didn't think of this as a hassle. We thought of it as common sense. TVs were machines that got hot. It was "okay" that this was the case. People weren't paranoid with it (at least nobody I knew).
If image retention DID happen... ah well.. such was life! It lessened with time, and you weren't too picky about it.
Plasma TV was a teeny tiny little bit more prone to burn-in, but that was because it was a PERFORMANCE machine. Superior picture quality came at a price. Many people were willing to pay this price because the picture was incredibly beautiful. You can't get somethin' for nothin'. However, since LCD tvs have been invented, the public's opinion about TV has changed. It has now become normal to EXPECT a TV to handle anything you throw at it. And this is a feature of LCD. Want to play games for days at a time? Go ahead. Want to watch nothing but movies with black bars? Go ahead. (Can you get stuck images on LCD? Maybe, but it is ludicrously rare, I mean, absurdly rare.)
So, why are plasma TVs still sold today? Well, to the people who understand it's capabilities, they are sold for their awesome picture performance. But, plasma manufacturers want to sell to MANY people, so they market them as being "for everyone." It is truly debatable as to whether they ARE for everyone. I say no (because of the current day assumptions of TV use).
The philosophy of plasma TV is of the older TVs. A TV is NOT a computer monitor. A TV is NOT a dedicated gaming station. A TV requires a bit of thoughtful care and it will perform well for you. Everything has a cost. Plasma can produce superior picture quality to LCD and LED, but you have to keep these things in mind. Your kids and wife will expect it to be just like an LCD. Now, are there some LED tvs that can match the (subjective) picture quality of plasma? YES! But, again, everything has a cost (e.g. The Sharp Elite).
If you are thinking about owning a plasma TV, I ask that you keep these things in mind. If you don't expect perfection (absolutely no image retention, etc), and you are willing to keep an eye on it from time-to-time and break it in properly (keep contrast below 50%, no black bars for a period of time, etc), then plasma is for you. It can produce an amazingly film-like picture that will stun you again and again.
P.S. (Yeah, I know, this post was kinda inspired by Donnie Darko and maybe a little Fight Club. Oh well... lol)