Difference between HDTV and Plasma

A plasma television screen together with the emerging HDTV technology makes for a great combination that can enhance the viewing experience of any movie or television show. When compared with standard television, the difference is quite remarkable and well worth the additional expense that HDTV technology brings with it.

What may come as a surprise though, is the difference in price tags between what appears to be two identical looking plasma TVs. Indeed, that price discrepancy can be upwards of $1000 between a regular plasma television and an HDTV ready plasma television from the same manufacturer. A plasma television unit bearing the HDTV badge will cost about a thousand dollars more, but is this money well spent.

All plasma displays contain a set number of pixels or picture elements, with which they generate on screen images. The exact number of pixels depends on the size of the TV screen as well as its native resolution. The native resolution of a given plasma TV is the total number of pixels comprising its display element.

Everything viewed on a plasma television will be converted to its native resolution. In other words, the video content is forced to fit onto the screen, a process known up conversion or down conversion. All video content viewed on a plasma television, whether it is regular programming or high definition will have its own resolution.

Say for example that a plasma television has a native pixel resolution of 1024 x 768 and you are watching a DVD in progressive scan. The internal processing of the plasma is up converting the DVD video signal to match its own native pixel resolution. This naturally places a premium value on plasma displays that do the best job.

If the incoming video source has a higher resolution than the native pixel resolution of your display, there will be some degree of detail and sharpness loss in the conversion. There is approximately a 20% improvement in the picture quality when HD content is displayed on an HDTV plasma television when compared with lower resolution, non HDTV plasma televisions, when viewing two plasma televisions by the same manufacturer.

However, if the incoming video source, such as broadcast TV, has a lower resolution than your plasma screen native resolution, then the lower resolution plasma may perform better than the HDTV plasma.

In this scenario it is quite possible that a person could actually pay a higher price for a plasma with higher resolution and yet video quality is not as good as its less expensive counterpart. This occurs because the higher resolution plasma must do extreme up converting of the incoming signal to match its native pixel resolution.

There can also be a substantial difference between brands. For example, a regular Pioneer plasma screen may have a better picture with the same incoming DVD than an HDTV from Vizio because the Pioneer build quality is superior.

The lesson to be learned is that consumers need to be brand conscious when deciding which plasma television to purchase. Consumers need to educate themselves about high definition television and regular plasma television in order to purchase the correct product that will best meet their needs.

One of the deciding factors will be whether the extra cost of the HDTV is actually worth it when all features are taken into account.

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