Tech Yourself: Take the time to learn your TV options

Shopping for a new flatscreen can be daunting. I’m going to break down the task and hopefully alleviate some of the concerns.

Shopping for a new flatscreen can be daunting. I’m going to break down the task and hopefully alleviate some of the concerns I hear quite frequently.

There are for the most part three main screen technologies you will see while out shopping. These are Plasma, LCD and LED. Each technology has its merits, so I would weigh each one out for your specific situation before just jumping in.

Plasma screens are usually the first technology I hear people dismiss or have very little understanding of. I’ll start by separating some of the myths and truths.

Plasmas burn the image into the screen: True to an extent, a long term static image like a statistics box for a hockey game or a persistent game menu  can leave a residual image behind for a short time. This problem has been drastically reduced from early generations of plasma TVs, and now requires a very long static image to cause ghosting. TVs also recover from ghosting very quickly; with the newer models, I have played with having settings to remove burned images.

Plasmas use more power the LED or LCD: True almost all the time if comparing same size screens from the same model year. The trade off for this is plasmas amazing colour reproduction. High end plasma screens continue to produce the best colours I have seen on a TV.

Plasma requires a dark room: Requires may be too strong a word here, they look their best in a dark environment for sure but can function well in pretty much any situation. Because plasmas use glass in their construction, they are more susceptible to reflecting light sources than a matte LCD or LED screen.

Plasmas can’t be used for video games: Totally not true. In fact, some of the key characteristics of these screens like the high refresh rates and low response times make them ideally suited to playing fast-paced games. And plasmas that excel at games can often be had for hundreds of dollars less than comparable LED and LCD screens!

My ideal use for a plasma screen would be if I had a dedicated theatre or gaming area where I could design a space that really caters to the strengths that plasma has.

Over the next couple of articles, I will be diving into the other major choices, as well as highlighting things like Smart TV and what source material you should be using to get the most out of your new TV.

Aaron Mackenzie is The Valley Echo’s technology columnist and the sales manager at The Source in Invermere. He can be reached at