LCD Or Plasma - What's Your Pleasure? Understanding Modern Flat-Panel TV Technologies

But They Have Problems Too

Unfortunately, though, viewing angles are clearly not yet able to match those of plasma displays, not to mention CRTs. That's because the light emitted at the back of the panel has to pass through two polarizers before it reaches the surface of the monitor. However, manufacturers have made real progress in this area, and currently are coming close to achieving viewing angles that are acceptable for living-room use.

Contrast performance remains below that of CRT and plasma, but that's not really a problem. The real problem has to do with the depth of the blacks. As we've seen, the pixels of an LCD panel are actually light switches, and they're not perfect ones - they leak light. So even when the switch is completely off - corresponding to a subpixel that should be black - an appreciable amount of light gets through. This is naturally an area where plasma and CRT have a big advantage over LCD: with those technologies, black really means no light at all.

Latency is also still a problem with LCD panels. The technology is fundamentally slow, making LCD panels less suitable for displaying animated images than plasma TVs. Constant progress in this area has made LCDs more responsive, but they still can't match CRTs. Still, acceptable response times have now been reached to allow video and TV use; on the most recent panels, remanence is no longer a real problem.

Finally, since the native resolution of LCDs is high, pixel interpolation has to be used with TV and video images, at least until HD has been adopted. LCD TVs do a more or less poor job of this, obviously with increasing difficulty as display size increases. All the manufacturers are working on this problem, and some are getting acceptable results with 26" screens. But so far, we haven't seen an interpolated image that's really convinced us. However, with the arrival of High Definition, this problem will no longer exist, as the images will be the same resolution as the screens.