Shopping for a new HDTV– plasma vs. LED LCD

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    My old 50 inch samsung DLP from 2005 started to act up several weeks ago, and its only a matter of time before the wife gives me the all clear to replace it. I’m planning to replace because I anticipate that repair will cost several hundred dollars at minimum, and likely more– its just not worth throwing that kind of money to keep this old beast of a TV working.

    Looking at new TVs, I’m torn between plasma and LCD (LED). I really like the panasonic st50 plasma line, and can probably splurge for the 60 inch model. After reading reviews and avsforums, I have some concerns about image retention with really any plasma, but especially the st50 line when using it as a display for an HTPC running SageTV. At avsforum its sometimes hard differentiate honest opinions from fanboys of either LCD or panasonic plasma. Some people have reported series image retention issues with the st50 line, more than the equivalent samsungs plasmas.

    In the context of running a HTPC as my primary engine for consuming TV, Bluray, music, etc.. should I forget about buying a plasma and focus on LCD panels instead? I’m not gaming, and I don’t have the desktop of my HTPC up for extended periods of time (*intentionally). Still I worry about what happens if the desktop or some other screen/application gets stuck on the screen for an extended period of time accidentally. Sure I can do things to mitigate this from happening, but its a concern– the question is, should I be worried about image retention/ burn in?

     FWIW, I’m trying to keep this purchase under $2000, ideally under or around $1500, which is the price of the P60ST50 that I’ve been oogling over the last two weeks.


    Aaron Ledger

    As an owner of two plasmas (Samsung C8000 and Panasonic UT50) both with HTPCs attached, I do not notice any serious flaws with image retention. It certainly exists to some degree on every plasma if you go looking for it, but it is temporary. I do not worry about it AT ALL. Of course, if you were to leave bright static images for days, you probably will have a difficult time removing persistence caused by that. If you go by what a some people write in AVSForums, you will likely never buy any product. You may even be able to convince yourself it is better to spend money to repair your DLP 😉

    I find plasma to still be a better technology at this point in time vs. LCD with respect to image quality. Each has their pros/cons.


    I also have a Panasonic UT50. The picture quality is AMAZING. The only reason I could see not going for a plasma would be if you had the possiblity of glare. Other than that, I can’t speak highly enough about my Panny. 😀


    While I love my Passive 3D LED LCD TV, I miss the deep blacks of my old plasma (With careful settings the LED TV gets close, but I still can tell the difference.)  The last plasma I owned had built in anti-burn-in protection.  It would do a pixel shift (well, more than 1 pixel as it was adjustable).  I had it set up to shift the image 4 pixels to the right, then 4 pixels down, then 4 to the left, back to starting position and repeat.  I played a lot of video games, and there was the concern in the back of my head about burn in from game HUDs, but between the anti-burn-in tech and just general improvements to how plasma displays work I never had any issues, even after long marthon gaming sessions.  I never actively noticed the pixel shift feature but if I walked up to the screen and looked closely I could see if working (some people might be more sensative to it, so it’s worth turning on in store just make sure it doesn’t bug you).


    Movement on a Plasma TV also just looks more natural than an LCD IMHO.  I have a 50″ Panasonic Plasma and I just love it.  When my neighbors got a 47″ LCD I had to resist asking “What’s wrong with the motion?” cause I knew that was an issue.

    Aaron Ledger

    It sounds like maybe you were seeing interpolated motion processing in your neighbor’s display? This is often turned on by default. Newer plasmas also have this feature. Originally, it was used in LCD to attempt to negate one of the technology’s weaknesses which is ability to refresh pixels quickly enough. Some people do like this feature.


    Thanks for the good advice. Once the wife gives the ok, I’ll get the 60 inch panasonic plasma (P60ST50).

    I’ve seen many people on avsforums talking about professional calibration. Is this worth the money? I’m not even sure how much it costs, but I think I’ve seen $250ish thrown around. I’m under the impression, that I could get my own meter for about that price and learn to do the calibration myself. Again, I’m not sure how much this is needed or not.

    Aaron Ledger

    Please refer to this guide for your calibration. While having a meter or having a pro calibration is great and can provide more accuracy, the majority of correction will occur just with these basic calibration techniques.

    You also will need to be prepared to invest a lot of time with the meter to understand exactly what you are doing and to perform the process. If you are up for that, by all means, get a meter. If you do, feel free to start up a thread here on that topic and we can discuss. If you just want to get it done and learn from a pro, hire someone and make sure they will explain to you what they are doing and why (if you want that).


    One more question. I purchased what I consider a sturdy TV stand capable of holding a 60 inch DLP back when I purchased my 50 inch DLP in 2005. I don’t know the name of it though. Its got three large pedestals in a triangular pattern that support a glass top. Since my DLP doesn’t have a stand and sits directly on the glass, the weight of my DLP (its not all that heavy to begin with) is distributed pretty evenly. Should I worry about the fact that this 60ST50 weighs a bit more, but since it uses a stand, the entire weight will be resting on a smaller portion of the glass surface of the stand and not anywhere near the support posts?

    If I owned the house, I would hang the TV, but since I have the stand and the rest of my home theater in place, I’d like to just swap in the new TV. If I need to worry about the glass top being able to support the TV, I can just buy some plywood or something like that to rest on top of the glass.


    I purchased the 60ST50 from Amazon yesterday. Hopefully, I’ll get it by mid week and be able to run some slides to age the display before the Olympics start next weekend. I’m very worried about static images from my HTPC damaging (either temporarily or permanently) my plasma with image retention. Does anyone have any tips for minimizing this?

    I imagine that I’ll have a screen saver with a short timeout (both within SageTV, and on the desktop).

    On a different note, I purchased an nvidia gt430 and ati 6570 to test out. I’ve got the gt430 in right now, and setup. My receiver in not HDMI 1.4 compatible, so I can’t use it to pass 3d. I need to decide how much I want hd audio. I believe I can run hdaudio as a separate output from the video using the 6570, but not with the 430. I’ll just have to play around with it I suppose.

    Aaron Ledger

    I have not bothered with running slides on my plasma nor do I recommend it in general. The only time I think there is some merit to running slides is if you need to rapidly overcome the initial aging process of the plasma cells so that a pro calibration can be performed allowing the results to be more accurate over time. Otherwise, the cells will age as you watch content. If plasma technology were as sensitive as you fear, manufacturers would have long ago stopped selling them due to all the returns they would suffer. I have run the desktop on a screen for 30 minutes to an hour with no consequence many times on my plasmas. 

    To have both HD audio and HDMI 1.4 in your case, you should be able to feed one output to your display and another output to your receiver. Your card may require a DVI to HDMI adapter if it only has a single HDMI output.


    Thanks Aaron.

    Looks like the GT430 is straightforward to setup audio via HDMI->AVR for HD audio and DVI->HDMI->TV for video (specifically for 3d). I found conflicting reports about the ati cards being able to do this. I’ll post how this turns out.


    — Bryan




    My Panasonic plasma (P60ST50) was delivered last Thursday, it is looks fantasic. I’ve been watching mostly Olympics, and running the slides to age the panel when its not it use. I’m not convinced it’s going to make any difference, but the worst it will do is run my electricity bill a bit higher and age my TV an extra 100 or so hours. I still need to attempt to properly calibrate it, but without changing hardly any setting it looks great.

    As for the nvidia gt430 vs amd(ati) 6750, I tried both, and now have the 6750 in my HTPC. Nvidia, stupidly got rid of ability to setup hotkey display changes within their control application. I have a secondary monitor that I like to use when the large panel is being used via cablebox. I like to have hotkeys mapped to remote to switch between the secondary monitor and my TV– single display at a time. I was able to set up the Nvidia card with hotkeys using Ultramon, but for reasons that aren’t clear to me, the computer or control software would get confused and stop switching displays and the resolution would gets screwed up. I didn’t spend too long trying to make this work, mostly because I knew the catalyst software had the hotkey features, and its worked well for my with my old 3850 for years, so I popped in the 6750. So far its worked well, but I haven’t spent much time adjusting settings. The ATI card didn’t allow me to pass audio through DVI, and I think I needed the HDMI out to go directly to the TV for 3d, so I am going back to optical digital out from my HTPC to my AVR, have given up on HD audio for the time being. Maybe if I get sick of 3d, I’ll think about HD audio– I don’t think I’ll notice a huge difference.

    I watched ~50% of avatar in 3d with cyberlink power DVD, which worked quite well, execpt that it crashed twice and got choppy at several other places (maybe chapter divisions). The 3d effect was beautiful, and very enjoyable. I also tried the same with arcsoft total media theater, but its very choppy all of the time– there must be some setting that is screwed up.

    Bottom line– the panasonic P60ST50 is great TV. I’m very impressed after a solid weekend of use.



    I have a 64″ Samsung D8000 plasma connected to an HTPC running Windows Media Center.  The only persistent screen burn I have is from the CNN logo.  My wife watches a lot of CNN… and that bright red logo never moves.  I’m sure it would eventually go away if we watched enough of other channels.  She’s Romanian.  Her parents visited a few months ago.  They speak no English.  I let them watch Romanian TV in a browser for a whole day.  I could not set the video to full screen because the player software on the website would try to play at full bitrate, which was not possible for some reason.  The frame around the video window got burned in after a whole day of viewing… and it went away after a week or two of normal TV viewing.


    A note to Aaron Ledger… I read your guide on display calibration.  I’m using display calibration settings that I got from CNET, but I’d be interested in doing a full calibration with a meter.  I can’t find a “Part II” of your display calibration guide.  Did you ever write it?

    Aaron Ledger

    I’m sorry, I never did get around to writing Part II. I would like to, but it is a big undertaking and unfortunately, my time is limited these days 🙁

    I recommend a visit to this guide. Most of what you need is there though it is a huge amount of info to swallow if you’re not familiar with some of the concepts already. If you have any questions, feel free to start up another thread and maybe I can help.

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