TV Buying Guide: LED or Plasma?

TV Buying Guide: LED or Plasma?

It’s time to consider which is better, LED or plasma televisions> At the dawn of the HD TV era, consumers had a plethora of choices when it came to what kind of TV they wanted: LED, traditional non-backlit LCD, Plasma and even the short-lived DLP TV were all options.

Doing research about which television to purchase often left consumers overwhelmed. However, as the years passed, LCD and DLP technologies were phased out, leaving just two options for modern buyers to consider.

Which is better: LED or Plasma?

As you’ll see, it all depends on what you’re looking for.

Picture Quality

Though LED and Plasma TVs both provide high-defintion pictures, there are some key differences between the two when it comes to picture quality. One of the benefits of Plasma TVs is that they are better able to display dark colors. However, if you will be viewing TV from a room that has a lot of ambient light or windows, this can actually be a disadvantage because the dark colors create a glare that can be distracting. LEDs on the other hand thrive in brighter areas, as they themselves are much brighter than plasma screens.

However, if you have a large living room, plasma screens may still be a better option, as they have a much wider viewing angle than LEDs. This means that the picture can be viewed without dramatic color or brightness changes. LEDs, on the other hand, have a narrow viewing angle, and produce the best picture when they are viewed directly from the front.

Another picture quality issue that can arise is “burn-in.” While LEDs are unaffected by this phenomenon, many plasma screens suffer from this issue where images that are kept on the screen (such as a paused frame or a television network logo) will be “burned” into the screen and appear as a “ghost” image, even after the original has long since disappeared. Though plasma screens have gotten better about burn-in, it has yet to be eradicated completely, so it is important to keep that in mind if you are thinking about plasma.

LED or Plasma TV
LED TVs tend to be thinner and easier to hang, but plasma TVs are usually a little cheaper these days. Photo Credit:


Plasma TVs might be plentiful at 60 inches and under, but if you want a jumbo-sized TV, LED will probably be your best bet. Because of the technology used inside plasma screens, it becomes cost-ineffective for manufacturers to produce screens that are much bigger. However, LEDs are much easier to find at the 70- and even 80-inch level, and are perfect if you just have to have the biggest TV on the block.

On the whole, LED TVs are also much thinner than plasma TVs, which is great if you are looking to mount your TV on the wall, or just want a little extra space.

Energy Efficiency

Plasma TVs consume much more power than their LED counterparts, and also generate considerably more heat when left on, according to Crutchfield. Though you won’t save a ton of money per year by purchasing an LED over a plasma TV (you’ll probably only save a few dollars), if energy efficiency is important to you, then LED is definitely the way you’ll want to go.


If you are a consumer on a budget, plasma wins hands down. Plasma sets, when compared to LED sets of the same size generally cost about 10- to 15-percent less. However, it’s important to factor in extraneous features, like 3D options and Smart TV capabilities when shopping around to get the best price on a new TV. If cost is your biggest driving factor, looking for TVs that don’t have extra features will go a long way towards saving you some money.


Fortunately, the longevity of both plasma and LED TVs has been extended quite a bit in the past few years, with most modern sets from major brands having a brightness rated lifespan of about 100,000 hours. To put that in perspective, if your TV is on for six hours a day, it would take almost 50 years before the screen’s brightness began to fade. Unfortunately, other components inside the TV might fail before then, but the biggest component of the TV is built to last.

Ultimately, deciding whether LED or plasma is best for you will depend largely on your home theater setup. If you have a large, dark living room, and aren’t looking to spend a lot of money, then Plasma will probably be your best bet. However, if you have a bright living room and want a TV that is thinner and more energy efficient (and don’t mind spending a little extra money) then an LED TV will definitely be what you want to look for.

Photo Credit: m1.m1.