Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do all plasma TVs have tuners?

    Almost all plasma TVs include internal tuners. In addition, some plasma TVs also come with a QAM tuner to receive unscrambled HD cable signals (usually cable feeds of local HD TV stations).

    However, some plasma TVs that are actually classified as "monitors" require external tuners to receive broadcast, satellite, or cable TV signals. When shopping for a plasma TV, make sure you ask your dealer what's required for the TVs you are considering to receive broadcast TV signals.

  • Do plasma TVs generate heat?

    Yes. One of the major components of plasma TVs is electrically charged gas, so the set will be warm to the touch after being on for several minutes. Since most plasma TVs are wall- or stand-mounted with adequate air circulation, heat is usually not an issue. When installing your plasma TV, remember to give it enough ventilation space to remove the heat that it generates.

  • How long can a plasma TV last?

    It depends. Plasma TVs' durability is measured in "lifespan hours." A lifespan rating is determined from the number of hours it takes for the TV's brightness to decrease by half. A set rated at 100,000 hours that's used about 8 hours a day should have a useful life of more than 30 years.

    Modern plasma TVs have lifespans ranging from 60,000 to 100,000 hours, although several factors such as heat, humidity, dust, and vibration can decrease that significantly.

    Keep in mind that an old-style CRT (tube) TV loses about 30% of its brightness after only about 20,000 hours. Since this happens gradually, viewers are often unaware of the decrease, except for periodically adjusting the brightness and contrast controls to compensate. Although the performance of individual plasma TVs can vary, plasma TVs can generally deliver many years of enjoyable viewing.

  • Can you repair bad pixels in a plasma TV?

    No. Each pixel element includes its own charging plates and a sealed chamber of plasma gas, and can stop working due to many causes. If a large number of pixels fail (for whatever reason), the entire panel needs to be replaced.

  • Will a plasma TV work with my VCR?

    Yes. plasma TVs work with any video source that has standard RCA-style AV jacks, S-Video, or component video outputs. Some plasma TVs have DVI-HDCP inputs, and most modern sets have HDMI ports for use with high-definition sources. Also, because of their thin, flat-panel design, many plasma TVs have AV ports on the side, which makes it easy to connect other video sources to the TV.

    Keep in mind that the image from a VCR may not look as good on a large-screen TV as on a small screen, because the low-resolution image is being magnified on the larger screen. To get the most out of your plasma TV, consider using a Blu-ray Disc player or upconverting DVD player as a video source.

  • Can plasma TVs work at high altitudes?

    It depends. Most plasma TVs are calibrated for optimum performance at or near sea-level conditions. As altitude increases and the air thins, the plasma TV needs to work harder to maintain plasma gas pressure inside the pixel elements. As a result, the set generates more heat and its cooling fans (if any) work harder, possibly causing a "buzzing" sound. In addition, the set's lifespan will decrease somewhat.

    If you live in an area over 2,500 ft in altitude, ask your retailer if altitude is a problem. You can also examine plasma TVs at your retailer for signs of excessive heat or a buzzing sound, which could indicate high-altitude stress on the system.

    It's becoming more common for plasma TVs to be designed for high-altitude use; some plasma TVs are robust enough to work well at altitudes of up to 5,000 feet or more.

  • What is a plasma TV?

    In plasma TVs, an electrically charged gas illuminates the pixels. This technology enables a very large TV to be relatively lightweight and easy to mount on a wall or TV stand. The largest TVs made for consumer use are plasma TVs (although LCD TVs are becoming available in larger sizes).

  • What accessories should I get for my plasma TV?

    To use your plasma TV to its full potential, consider buying these accessories:

    • Wall mount bracket or TV stand.
    • High-resolution video sources such as a Blu-ray Disc player or an upconverting DVD - player. Many TVs can also receive video from a VCR, game console, satellite or cable box, and your computer
    • External sound system. Although some plasma TVs have internal speakers, it's best to connect it to a home theater receiver and external speakers for the ideal home theater experience.
    • Surge protector (important for any component in your system).
    • Cables to connect your TV to your other home theater components. For the best performance, we recommend using digital connections where possible (optical or coaxial digital audio, and HDMI or DVI for digital video).
  • What are the pros and cons of LCD TVs vs. plasma TVs?

    LCD TVs:

    1. Don’t experience image burn-in.
    2. Have a cooler running temperature.
    3. Have no high-altitude usage issues.
    4. Are brighter.
    5. Are lighter weight (as compared to a plasma of equivalent size).
    6. Have a lifespan of 60,000 hours or longer.
    7. Have a lower contrast ratio (not as good at rendering deep blacks).
    8. Are not as good at tracking motion (fast-moving objects may show some lag artifacts). However, this is becoming less of a problem with the new 120Hz screen refresh rates and 240Hz processing in higher-end LCD TVs.
    9. Are not as common in large screen sizes (above 42 inches) as plasma. However, the availability of larger sizes is growing.
    10. Can have individual pixels burn out, causing small black or white dots to appear on the screen.
    11. Are typically more expensive than similar-sized plasma TVs (although this is changing), especially when comparing EDTV plasmas (sets that display only 852x480 or 1024x768) to HDTV-LCD TVs.

    Plasma TVs:

    1. Have more availability in large screen sizes.
    2. Have better contrast ratio to render deeper blacks.
    3. Have better color accuracy and saturation.
    4. Have better motion tracking (little or no motion lag in fast-moving images).
    5. Are more susceptible to image burn-in.
    6. Generate more heat than LCD TVs.
    7. Don’t perform as well at higher altitudes.
    8. Have a potentially shorter display lifespan, although technology improvements have made this less of an issue.
  • How Come Plasma Televisions are shaped differently than Regular Televisions?

    Plasma televisions are made in the 16x9 screen aspect ratio in order to accommodate widescreen sources, such as Blu-ray, HD-DVD, Bu-ray, and HDTV broadcasts. However, standard definition 4x3 image sources are shown with black or gray bars on the left and right sides of the 4x3 image. Some units may have a 4x3 to 16x9 image expansion circuit, but this may introduce a slight shape distortion to a 4x3 image when expanded all the way to the sides of the 16x9 Plasma display.

  • Are plasma TVs better than other types of TVs?

    It depends on which features are most important to you. Plasma TVs have light weight, an extremely wide viewing angle, and the ability to provide a focused image, accurate color, and perfect picture proportions no matter where you look on the screen.

    On the other hand, full 1080p high-resolution plasma TVs can be expensive, and plasma TVs can be susceptible to static image burn-in.

  • Are all plasma TVs HDTVs?

    No. Most newer plasma TVs are HDTVs, but many older plasma TVs are not.

    For a TV to be classified as an HDTV, or HDTV-ready, it must be able to display at least 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall ("1280x720"). Sets that display only 852x480 or 1024x768 are called “EDTVs” (extended- or enhanced-definition TVs). Although images on these lower-resolution TVs may look great, they are not true HDTVs.

    Because some manufacturers may not label their low-resolution TVs accurately when they call them "HDTVs," when shopping for HDTVs always check the pixel resolution and make sure it's 1280x720 or higher.