LCD Vs. LED Vs. Plasma

By Dennis Hartman

As television technology continues to evolve, it can be difficult to make sense of the different types of sets on the market. LCD, LED and plasma televisions are among the most common types of flat-screen displays. While each technology has its advantages, there are also reasons that a particular television might not be right for certain buyers.


Each type of high-definition television uses different technology to produce a high-quality picture. LCD, or liquid crystal display, TVs use liquid crystals organized in an array of individual pixels that change color to produce the image when the TV sends an electric charge to the pixels. LED, or light-emitting diode, TVs are actually LCD televisions that add LED backlighting, providing a brighter picture. Plasma televisions use electricity and a combination of gasses to illuminate individual cells and produce an image.


Each type of television has its own specific advantages. LCD screens are lightweight, energy efficient and provide good performance in every category, including contrast ratio and brightness. Plasma televisions have even better color and contrast, producing the truest blacks of any type of HDTV. For LED televisions, the primary advantage is very low power power consumption (even lowed than standard LCDs).


Each type of HDTV also has its own drawbacks. Plasma displays suffer from picture burn-in, which can occur when a single image is displayed for too long, ruining the screen. They also use more power and are heavier than an LCD TV of the same size. LCD and LED televisions lack the picture quality of plasma sets, especially in terms of reproducing blacks or displaying high-definition film images and rapid motion.


LCD televisions, with and without LED backlighting, still dominate the market for home TV sets. They are significantly less expensive than plasma TVs of the same size, making them ideal for schools, offices and households with an entertainment budget. LED sets cost more than non-LED LCD displays, though the difference is not as pronounced as it is between LCD and plasma televisions.

Sizes and Availability

Another important difference between LCD, LED and plasma televisions is the typical size of each type of television. Plasma televisions are not typically produced with less than a 42-inch screen size. If space is an issue, LCD or LED televisions may be the only option. LCD screens smaller than 32 inches seldom include LED backlighting, limiting LED to the middle 32-inch to 60-inch range. LCD screens without LED backlighting may be as large as 70 inches, while plasma displays usually top out around 65 inches, depending on the manufacturer.