Test Bench: LCD vs. Plasma Face-Off

Pioneer PRO-110FD Elite KURO Plasma HDTV

Color temperature (Movie Mode/Low Color Temperature/Color Space Mode 2 before calibration; Movie Mode/Manual Color Temperature/Color Space Mode 2 after calibration): 20-IRE: 6,831 K/6,450 K 30-IRE: 6,936 K/6,573 K 40-IRE: 6,864 K/6,515 K 50-IRE: 6,811 K/6,557 K 60-IRE: 6,791 K/6,557 K 70-IRE: 6,844 K/6,529 K 80-IRE: 6,801 K/6,590 K 90-IRE: 6,810 K/6,634 K 100-IRE: 8,099 K/6,774 K Brightness (100-IRE window): 36/35 ftL

Primary Color Point Accuracy vs. SMPTE HD Standard

Color Target X Measured X Target Y Measured Y
Red 0.64 0.64 0.33 0.34
Green 0.30 0.28 0.60 0.60
Blue 0.15 0.15 0.06 0.06

Samsung LN-T5281F LCD HDTV

Color temperature (Movie Mode/Warm 2 Color Temperature/Auto Color Space Mode before/after calibration): 20-IRE: 7,495 K/5,968 K 30-IRE: 7,252 K/6,608 K 40-IRE: 7,146 K/6,500 K 50-IRE: 6,888 K/6,305 K 60-IRE: 6,930 K/6,390 K 70-IRE: 7,059 K/6,566 K 80-IRE: 6,998 K/6,602 K 90-IRE: 7,042 K/6,619 K 100-IRE: 7,153 K/6,723 K Brightness (100-IRE window): 36/35 ftL

Primary Color Point Accuracy vs. SMPTE HD Standard

Color Target X Measured X Target Y Measured Y
Red 0.64 0.64 0.33 0.33
Green 0.30 0.30 0.60 0.60
Blue 0.15 0.15 0.06 0.05

Even after seeking the most accurate preset for each HDTV in this face-off, neither initially tracked terribly close to the industry standard 6500 K spec for color temperature. In its Movie mode with Low color temp/Color Space Mode 2 settings, the Pioneer plasma ran as high as +1,599 K on the brightest 100 IRE window (that is, quite blue), and +436 K from 20 to 90 IRE. The Samsung, in its Movie mode with Warm 2 color temp/Auto Color Space settings, tracked up to +995 K from 20 to 100 IRE, and +752 K from 30 to 100 IRE. Calibration in the advanced user menus by technical editor Al Griffin brought both to within about ±220 K at 100 IRE and within 150 K from 30 to 90 IRE, though in typical LCD fashion the Samsung had more ups and downs and fell further off in the darkest 20 IRE window.

For purpose of our comparision, instrumentation was used to match both panels to a post-calibration brightness of 35 ftL, a comfortable setting for dark-room viewing. It's worth noting that the LCD had the edge here in its inherent ability to pump out a bright image, though Al kept it in reign to make things fair.

Color primaries for both sets measured essentially perfect across the board against the SMPTE HD spec - a rarity for one TV, much less two. And color decoders were accurate as well, with both sets showing only a minor +2.5% error for red.

Although it didn't come into play in our face-off rankings, we noted that in its "bit-for-bit" Just Scan aspect ratio mode, the Samsung showed a slight geometry abberation with 1080i/p signals, with about 1 to 2% overscan evident on the right side of its screen only; the Pioneer measured the expected 0% all around.

Also unrelated to the face-off, we ran the Silicon Optix Benchmark tests on Blu-ray and standard definition DVD, and found the Pioneer's processing superior for deinterlacing both 1080i and 480i signals via HDMI. It passed all the film and video resolution tests in high def as well as in standard def, though, like the Samsung, it couldn't lock up on the fast motion "racetrack" clip on the regular DVD. The Samsung failed all the jaggies tests on the standard-definition DVD presented as 480i, and displayed noticeable aliasing in the letters of menu titles; it also exhibited some image instability on the 3:2 pulldown test.

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