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LCD Or Plasma - Which Is Best For Your Digital Signage Display?

Apr 1, 2008
In the world of digital signage there is a debate about which display option is best - LCD or plasma.

There are many factors summarized here, including performance and cost, that will determine whether you choose LCD or plasma for your digital signage display.

The Mechanics

A January, 2007 article on selfserviceworld.com described the differences between LCD and plasma in layperson's terms. In summary:

* LCD consists of two sheets of transparent, polarized material, one of which is treated with a polymer containing liquid crystals. The crystals interpret the electric current and control the light that passes through. Fluorescent tubes behind the crystals produce the light that passes out to the viewer. The crystals do not emit light so LCD screens use less electricity than other displays.

* Plasma displays use glass coated with bubbles that contain ionized gas in red, blue, and green subcompartments. A phosphorescent coating is applied to the glass and when electricity passes through the plasma it emits ultraviolet rays that show the appropriate color.

Performance

An oft-cited concern with plasma screens is burn-in. Depending on what you read, burn-in is either a serious problem or a minor one that can be easily remedied.

Burn-in is a term used to describe static images that become permanently visible after being displayed for long periods of time. Burn-in is not an issue with LCD displays but can become a problem with plasma. Burn-in is becoming less of an issue as digital signage display firms employ some simple techniques for avoiding it: ensuring images are frequently rotated, using more motion, and lowering contrast and brightness levels.

Lifecycle is another concern. At one time LCD had a longer life, but the life expectancy of LCD and plasma are now roughly equivalent, lasting about 50,000 hours each.

LCD units are lighter and use less power, factors which may affect your decision.

Contrast ratios (the difference between black and white) are much higher on plasma, which results in a clearer and brighter image. Plasma displays video images and fast motion better than LCD and offers a wider viewing angle, which can be important in retail environments.

Cost and Size

The deciding factor between LCD and plasma has often been cost. With the prices of large-format LCD displays dropping, cost is becoming less of an issue.

Size is an issue that ties in with cost since it is your budget that may ultimately determine the size of screen you choose. Plasma is generally available in larger sizes, although this is changing as LCD displays get bigger. Plasma does still tend to win out for larger displays - digital signage display designers tend to prefer it for displays over 50 inches.

How Can You Decide on a Digital Signage Display Format?

Both LCD and plasma offer some benefits, depending on your needs. When making a decision about your digital signage display, you need to take a good look at your budget and factor in the size of the display required
About the Author
For more information on digital displays and electronic signs contact http://www.ek3.com
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