LCD displays hold all the technological cards

Flat screen technology has evolved in leaps and bounds over the last few years.

Not too long ago, any screen needed for presentations measuring over 30 inches had to be a plasma display, while 30 inches and under had to be an LCD.

"Newer technology has turned these markets on their heads," says Mark Campbell, GM of Tarsus Technologies Ltd. "Samsung (Electronics Co.), for example, has already shipped a 40-inch LCD, and we can see signs of LCDs starting to eat into the large display market. The question that buyers need to ask is, 'Which type of display will meet our needs, budgetary and otherwise.'"

Campbell recommends that customers consider four aspects when making an LCD versus plasma decision.

Firstly, plasma displays consume much more power than LCDs, requiring 295 watts, while LCDs are comfortable with 220 watts. This not only raises the electricity bill, but also the room temperature, as most of the excess power seems to be translated as heat. Add a fan into the equation for some models, and there is a noise factor to consider as well, making plasma unsuitable for quiet offices or reception areas.

The second consideration is the technology itself; plasma like CRT uses phosphors as fluorescent materials, which eventually lose their original optical characteristic. In contrast LCD, is a transmissive device, which makes use of a replaceable backlight that extends the life cycle of the product. Thus plasma monitors are more susceptible to burn-in than LCDs, which have an extended product life of 60,000 hours as opposed to 30,000 hours, Campbell claims.

Campbell notes that for moving pictures though, a plasma monitor currently produces better quality, because of its faster response time.

"Even the best LCDs have some blurring, due to limitations on the speed of lighting a liquid crystal pixel," he adds.

However, LCD screens display a higher resolution of 1 280 x 768 than the plasma screens, which come in at a resolution of 853 x 480. "A 30-inch plasma display cannot deliver the same resolution as a similar-sized LCD, and LCDs are likely to improve over time," says Campbell. Despite this, he adds, plasma monitors still have a clear advantage when it comes to a higher contrast ratio, even distribution of color and brightness, for now.

Thirdly, and most definitely not last on anyone's list, is cost. LCD displays use small transistors to produce their displays. The technology industry has a consistent track record of reducing transistor size and cost over time and this will apply in the monitor market as well, he says.

"We can expect LCD prices to fall faster than plasma over the next few years because of improvements in transistor size," Campbell notes. "We should even see larger LCDs coming to market at a lower cost than similar plasma devices."

The fourth advantage of LCD screens is their ergonomic value. Apart from being quieter than plasma screens, they are also less bulky and weigh a lot less. This promotes mobility, safety and versatility, as these monitors can be mounted on any wall to meet the requirements of its user, Campbell adds.

"When selecting a display solution that fits the pocket as well as the display requirements of a company, LCDs are becoming more popular and delivering more with each new generation. Most importantly, LCD prices have been and are dropping steadily," concludes Campbell.

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