There is definitely a difference in look between Plasma and LCD. Plasma TVs of recent years seem to be set up to produce very dark shadow detail. I can remember seeing this in showrooms a few years ago with the famed Pioneer Kuro models. For me, with a lot of video input all this does is to make darker parts of the video so dark that little or no detail can be seen. I will explain that further.
Perhaps as a carry over from years ago when screen contrast was limited, it is commonplace for video that is broadcast or video that is encoded to Blu-ray, to contain expanses of video black even for scenes filmed in broad daylight. And a lot of the video in a frame is encoded just above video black.
At the other end of the scale, twilight scenes are often broadcast, or encoded to Blu-ray with full video white.
This continual use of the full contrast capability may be appealing to many viewers. It does little for me. You can calibrate a TV set all you like for accuracy of grey scale and colour, but to a large extent you remain at the mercy of what directors and producers have done.
I find that I can see more shadow detail with the average LCD display than the average Plasma display. Having said that, there are times (perhaps because of the high contrast, or the darker picture) that a plasma screen offers a more detailed and even a more natural look.
There is another issue with Plasma: the very complex duty cycles for controlling the apparent brightness of subpixels. Plasma sets have always looked "busy" to my eyes. They lack the calmness of LCD, particularly in the darker areas of the picture. Plasma subpixels are either on or off: they need to be pulsed to simulate an intermediate brightness level.
The manufacturers of Plasma sets, wanting to prove an even clearer advantage over older model LCDs in relation to smear, decided to use phosphors with rapid decay times, and faster subpixel refresh cycles. In 2010, Panasonic took rapid phosphor decay even further with their 3D capable Plasma TVs, in order to minimise ghosting with shutter glasses. Watching my Panasonic VT-20 with a desktop refresh of 60Hz, I see flicker reminiscent of a 100Hz CRT television, though not quite as bad. I hasten to add that many people are barely conscious of this flicker, or cannot see it even if asked to look for it
. It depends on the individual.
In terms of producing stereoscopic 3D, plasma sets are currently stuck at a maximum alternation rate of 120Hz. This is produced by a very complex set of pulses at a much higher refresh rate that has pushed plasma technology to a limit. Unfortunately, 120Hz falls below the alternation rate of 144Hz used at public cinemas for the latest 3D movies. For people like me, very sensitive to Left Right timing mismatch, it is distracting for 24fps 3D movies.
Some LCD sets (e.g. LG cinema 3D models) are able to provide a calm, simultaneous Left and Right view by using a fixed polarisation for odd screen lines, and a fixed opposite sense polarisation for even lines. There is a distracting venetian blind look at close viewing distances with this method, but the 3D is calm with no phase discrepancy between Left and Right. With the prospect late this year of a 3D movie being released at the cinema at 48fps, there are question marks over how shutter glasses screens are going to be able to deliver a full improvement in motion fluidity with a future Blu-ray or other home video media standard.
My own preferred solution currently for 3D viewing is to use a very cheap passive LCD screen TV. It provides plenty of brightness even with passive glasses, with calm, simultaneous, Left and Right views.
Five years ago I used to find the colour of both LCD and Plasma sets unsatisfying: it looked too much like cartoon colour to me rather than real life colour. I find current models much better in relation to colour. I find that Plasma sets, perhaps because they tend to produce a picture with darker, less distinct, tones can look more natural. LCD sets tend to provide a brighter picture which can look a little artificial in its colour.
However neither technology can currently create a completely natural (to the human eye) red colour. This is confirmed when you look at detailed tests by the review magazines plotting actual performance against the current colour standard. That current colour standard or “palette” offers only a subset of the colours human eyes are capable of perceiving. (This relates to the phosphors that were available when the original colour television standard was developed.)
I've only mentioned a few aspects in this post. There are many others to consider.
However, at the end of the day, it really is a matter of personal preference whether to choose a Plasma or LCD panel, or a projector technology.
Edited by MLXXX, 15 April 2012 - 07:43 PM.