How Do New LCD TVs Compare with My Beloved Plasma

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Q I’m considering buying either an 82-inch Samsung LCD or a 65-inch LG OLED and am wrestling with the issue of TV picture quality versus size. Having happily owned a 50-inch plasma TV for the past 11 years, I’m wondering how the new LCDs stack up against plasma models when it comes to picture quality? — Gregorio Lopez / via e-mail

A Since plasma TV production ended in the high-definition era, a key difference between old plasmas and new LCDs is that LCD TVs now offer both Ultra HD resolution and an ability to display HDR content. Both of those factors could bring a quality boost over your old plasma TV, especially when viewing on an 82-inch screen. Plasma, on the other hand, offered the advantage of an extremely wide viewing angle — a feature you don’t get with many current LCD models but one that OLED does provide.

Since you’re a plasma fan, I expect you’ll find OLED TVs more to your liking since that technology delivers the same rich, deep blacks and subtle highlight rendition plasma was known for. LCD TVs, in contrast, offer a better bang for your buck than OLED models when you make price comparisons based on screen size. For example, LG’s 65-inch E7 series OLED UHDTV costs around $3,500 — the same price you’ll pay for an 82-inch Samsung LCD UHDTV.

mikem's picture

I have a 6 year old 55" panny plasma and I'm still impressed at the black level and stunning color fidelity. That said, if I were looking at a new tv it would be an OLED one.

jimf42's picture

I concur...I have a 58" Samsung plasma from 2010...I would only replace it with an OLED. The plasma still looks great and black levels are much better than even modern LCD sets.

utopianemo's picture

I gotta say, it depends on what plasma he had before. I had to replace my 64" Samsung plasma when my oldest boy cracked it with a marble(I'm still not completely sure how it happened). I loved my Samsung, but it wasn't top of the line, and as such its black level was significantly higher than the Vizio P65 that replaced it.

Having lived with my new 'display' for over a year, there isn't a thing my old plasma did better, except for off-axis viewing and heating my family room. While off-axis viewing is a fairly big deal for anyone not in the money seat, I no longer have to pretend that plasma orange is in fact red, there's never any burn-in, HDR makes standard 1080p SDR look dull, my black levels are superior, and there are no phosphor trails, which was particularly annoying when watching black & white movies.

Plasma was good, but life has only gotten better in its wake.

hk2000's picture

All the negatives you list are missing from my Panasonic Plasma. I got a top of the line 2015 Sony XBR for a different room which looks really great, but always find myself drawn to the Panasonic in the other room. And HDR is only good if every link in the chain is HDR enabled, including the camera capturing the video, it will look over saturated and fake.

gnagus's picture

I own a 2008 Panasonic TH50PZ80U and was recently given a Vizio 55" XVT553SV which is a 2010 LCD model with local dimming. Sitting right in front of the LCD the black levels appear to be better, and in a dark room I prefer it (thanks to the local dimming), but the viewing angle isn't as impressive, and certainly nowhere near the unlimited viewing angle of my Plasma. To answer your question, I believe a good-- and new-- LCD with local-dimming LEDs can be just as good as your old plasma, but I would hold on to it until you need to replace it (and consider an OLED

Picture quality aside, the Vizio LCD does have a light sensor which adjusts the picture brightness based on light conditions, and it remote is a universal Bluetooth remote.

Tommy Lee's picture

...P-Series Vizio 55" has 126 local dimming zones. Where the display is supposed to be black, it is BLACK. None more black, as Spinal Tap would say. Viewing angle is also more than acceptable, we're really happy with it for the $899 we paid.

65Cobra427SC's picture

I currently have a Panasonic Plasma and wouldn't think of switching to an LCD display. OLED is without a doubt in my future, but as long as my Plasma makes me smile, I'll wait for the 75" and larger OLED's to come down in price.

Seriously, anyone who can afford an OLED display needs to sit down and watch the "proper material", especially once the OLED display has a proper calibration. Yeah, the cartoons they show in the store sure are colorful and bright on an LCD, but otherwise you don't know what your missing.

Slardybardfast's picture

There is an elephant in the room which no one is talking about: latency. The OLED is a very poor performer in this area: plasma are about as good as you can get. So if you had a plasma and you plan to replace it with an OLED, you will be disappointed in fast changing images, like hockey, baseball or football. Good luck.

bakker_be's picture

To me this doesn't really address the question asked. I still have my 50" last generation Kuro, content in Belgium is still 1080P for a great majority of sources, even getting 4K Netflix to the TV isn't all that easy if you don't have. How do newer LCD's compare in that regard? Obviously we "the consumer" can't easily compare side by side, which is where you guys really have added value :-)

Slardybardfast's picture

Don't replace the KURO until absolutely necessary.In a few more years, the OLEDs may improve to the point that you will not disappointed. 4K is unnecessary unless you sit within 4 feet of the 50" screen. Otherwise, you can not see the added resolution. Search for more info on optimum screen viewing distance. And the issue of bandwidth necessary for streaming 4K and the need for a new BR player are significant issues. The real improvement is in the color rendition, so make sure that any new monitor that you purchase has complete compatibility with the new color standards. Some companies say there monitors are only partially compatible. Be careful here.

bakker_be's picture

That's exactly my point :-) The response given to the OP doesn't cover all this and is just spouting some commercial BS instead of really addressing the issue.

KYLE49ers's picture

The 82" Samsung that is referenced is a middle of the road model that has so-so black levels and mediocre picture quality. I returned mine for a better quality, smaller screen LCD and am much happier. I do owe a 65" LG OLED in my bedroom and am still amazed by the luminance and vibrancy of the picture quality, however I only ever watch it in the dark.

boulderskies's picture

I have a six year old Panasonic TC-P55VT60 Plasma which was second to top of the line when new. I returned a Samsung upper tier LCD because of the viewing angle which drove me nuts. The Panasonic was godsend. As I understand it, viewing angle and black level are still a challenges with LCD and therefore will be going with an OLED when the time comes. Simple decision, really.