Plasma or LED?

Plasma or LED?

I posed that very question on twitter yesterday. We are getting ready to buy a new tv for our house. It’s been a long time…we have never been very tech-saavy with all the latest gadgets. We don’t even have cable, so a super-nice souped-up tv has never been on the agenda. But now it’s time to step up our tv experience, if for no other reason than to amp up on mad mariokart wii skillz, and give them the glory they deserve. 🙂

My friends on twitter wanted to know the results of the unofficial poll I took yesterday. So here they are:

LED fans – 41

Plasma fans – 18

I actually thought it was much closer than that before I counted.

When I walked in to Best Buy to check out the lay of the tv land (before I posed the question on twitter), I was immediately drawn to the LED’s. Much brighter, more crisp, eye-catching. But then when I posed the question of which is better to the guy working in the tv department, he replied with a smug, “Oh, PLASMA. Without a doubt. No question.” And he had quite a flair that seemed to suggest, ‘and if you believe otherwise, it’ll be ok, but you’re an idiot.’

He then began to explain to me the plasma tv’s have color that is much truer to real life. Not over-exaggerated, like the LED. And he told us his close and personal friends Lucas, Spielberg and Bay would tell me the same thing.

“But I like that one,” my wife said, as she pointed to the gargantuan LED in front of us.

“That’s fine. Some people do,” he replied, with the slightest hint of ‘oh brother’ in his tone. And by ‘slightest hint’ I mean ‘overwhelming suggestion.’

I’ve since heard from many folks I trust about the positives of each. Plasma seems to have a truer, less affected color about them. Better motion. Much more realistic in every way. But some folks still worry about burn occurring on the screen. Others said their plasma got too hot. And some said plasmas don’t look bright enough in rooms with a lot of sunlight. Still others say side angles can be troublesome on plasmas.

People who love plasmas seem to think LED’s look computer-generated, they are so bright. Almost too vivid. And motion can be tricky with LED’s. When the motion rate is too high, it gets blocky, jerky, broken up.

I had 3 or 4 of my very close friends – friends I trust immensely – text me and say, “Without a doubt, get a _______. Trust me.” Only they were divided in their answer.

Am I over-thinking this decision? Of course I am. I promise I’m not going to write a book when this big decision is finished. But I did want to give my report to my twitter friends. And thank them (you) for your input. I’ll let you know what we decide.

So, one more time: what do you think? Plasma or LED? 🙂



  1. CyndaP on November 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    LED. We’ve had ours for a little over a year. I’m not a big TV watcher, but I really can tell a difference.

  2. Nancy Jensen on November 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I missed the Twitter vote yesterday, but I would have stepped up for LED.

  3. Noah Sidhom on November 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    LED. It will have a longer life and I personally think it looks better!

  4. John Griffin on November 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Oh the days of tv consoles. Ha. LED for me.

  5. Tanya Dudley on November 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Interestingly enough, when we walked in to Best Buy to buy our new tv a year ago, the sales guy told us just the opposite. He said to go LED or even LCD before plasma. He gave several of the reasons you mentioned…one of the main ones being the plasma screen is harder to see at side angles. I think it is mostly about personal preferences…kind of like worship style. 😉 …and I happen to love the way you and your team lead worship and the style of music you use. 🙂

  6. Jenn on November 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Go LED 🙂 The bestbuy guy wants you to go plasma because then you will be back sooner to buy a new tv when the plasma has lost life. 😉

  7. Jenn on November 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm
  8. Patrick on November 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    LED. You’ll save money in the long run.

  9. rebecca jones on November 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    we have a visio led lcd. best tv out there.

  10. Robin Jones on November 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I stick with my vote for LED. The life expectancy is alot longer.

  11. Tammy Pate on November 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I wanted an LCD forever, but every time we went to look at TVs, I was always attracted to one, then my darling hubby would say “that’s a plasma” and I was like, “What?!” We have had our 50inch for 3 years now and not a moment’s dissatisfaction. The plasma is the screen that you can see from any angle – believe me, we have had several football parties this year and the angles I have been able to watch Alabama have been varied yet still amazingly clear. Even I could see that we needed a field goal kicker! We learned our lesson about burning with our old tv, so we take care not to leave the Xbox running (unattended) for a long time. We also have it facing straight towards the window and again, have no trouble seeing with incoming sunlight. So if you were looking for a pro-plasma vote, here it is! From a former LCD lover 😉

  12. Sandy on November 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Suggestion: Get the one you’re leaning towards now. Then by the time you’re in the market for another, you’ll know which kind you want. Unless of course, and most likely, there will be another new technology to choose fromby then. Sorry, not much help. We have LED and like it, especially the HD channels. Never had a plasma to compare to though.

    Good Luck!

  13. Joseph Calvert on November 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Hey Uncle T!

    I suggest you go with a LED Sharp Aquos Quattron, they have an amazing response rate, and a beautiful crisp picture. Plasmas tie up pretty much with LCD and LED in picture quality, however LCD and LED screens display at higher resolutions than Plasmas and at a reasonable price. With an LED HDTV You will also have a less power hungry/bulky TV as well.

  14. Daniel Semsen on November 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Whatever you do, don’t get the one that looks like you’re staring at your computer screen when you’re watching TV. It looks gross.

    We have a Sony Bravia, 55″. It’s awesome.

  15. Steadfast and Faithful on November 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Ok, Mr. Cottrell, here it is: Go LED.

    Because as you said in your first paragraph, it’s been a long time and you are not very tech savvy. LED has a greater life expectancy and fewer potential issues over time.

    Update us with your eventual choice. And hey, if you’ve ever listened to Dave Ramsey, you absolutely should take your business to another Best Buy. What that guy lacked in finesse, he made up for in “know-it-all-ism”!

  16. Bradley Powers on November 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    This sounds very much like the vinyl vs digital music discussion. Audiophiles swear by vinyl; it has a richer sound, where digital music sounds generated and has no warmth. The majority of people listening to their ipods don’t care. Likewise with plasma vs LED. Plasma may have a “truer/warmer” picture, where LEDs tend to look more digitally generated. In the end, we listen to our iPods because the sound doesn’t degrade and, we don’t hear sizzling bacon after playing the song 10 times. LEDs will last longer, use less energy, and generate less heat, all with have a crisper, brighter picture. That is my 2 cents, free of charge.


  17. Stephanie on November 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    We bought an 52″ LED TV back in 2008 and love it. I do wish now that we had gotten a higher refresh rate (ours is 720; I think a refresh rate of 1080 would make our sports watching a bit better), but other than that, very happy! We were told at the time we buy that LED would be better than plasma for a room where the TV faces the windows. Good luck!

  18. George Hall on November 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm


    Go to Comsumer Digest online and see what they recommend. That way you would get a fair and IMPARTIAL apprasial.
    (You ARE inviting the choir over to watch the tv aren’t you?

  19. Melissa on November 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    My 65 inch plasma not only has a breathtaking HD picture, it also serves as a great space heater for my 24×18 den. With the close of the hall door, it keeps the room a toasty 70 degrees all winter long.
    a few seconds ago

  20. Michelle on November 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I missed the Twitter debate yesterday – I would have been in the LED camp. I just bought a new TV and love the LED, although realize I got rid of a TV from, like, 1980 🙂

  21. Caroline on November 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    We have had and LCD for last eight years, we bought it instead of plasma because of the burn effect issue and was told they don’t last as long. We have been happy with LCD but have now noticed the LED’s whoa the picture is crazy…feels like the folks are in the room with you. Here is my advice. We bought LCD when it first came out and paid 1500 for what we could now get for 600., soooo get a huge plasma cheap and in 5 years upgrade to LED and you will save money, LOL. If money isn’t the issue I would go with the LED:) (That is if you can handle the folks coming out of the TV, haha;)

  22. Sue H on November 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    LED:)! We’re getting a Sony 46″ LED HDTV for Christmas, but we have to act surprised-lol!
    Just get a higher Hz (refresh rate…although Sony uses another form) and you’ll solve the pixely problem. Have fun!!

  23. Omar Hamada on November 18, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Depends what you want to watch. If you like action, sports, and fast moving scenes – get a plasma. Truer color and no “smudging”.

    If you like soaps, comedy, slower moving scenes, LED lasts longer.

    The glass screen on a plasma does reflect light so doesn’t do well in a room with a lot of sunlight. The plastic screen on an LED doesn’t reflect as much.

    We’ve got both. I LOVE my plasmas, I like my LED.

  24. Chris Gambill on November 18, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I’ve got an LED, and have been pleased with it.

    But, ultimately, choose what you like. Look at lots of different ones, even at different stores if you can. Lighting does play a role. But remember that you guys are the ones who will be watching it the most.

    And if you’re the type of shopper who second guesses the purchase while you are walking out the door, be sure to ask about the return policy. If you get it home and it doesn’t work, you can always exchange it for something else.

    Have fun!

  25. Curt Parish on November 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Plasma has been out for 10 years or more but LED (really LCD back lit with LED’s) has only been available for a little over three years. In the past t LCD’s have been limited in size so if you wanted a really large TV a few years ago it would be Plasma. So I wonder how many of the people that voted plasma purchased theirs in the last three years when LED was a choice. Your informal poll of LED leading Plasma 2 to 1 shows how quickly LED has been adopted. Buying a higher quality brand name LED TV with high refresh rates will take care of most of the motion concerns. Plasma tends to use a lot more electricity.

    I have a 47″ LED at home and use a 37″ LED at work as a monitor. Very happy with both.

  26. Jim DeGoey on November 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Travis – As with anything new – go with what you believe looks the best. We bought a 42″ Samsung LED TV last year and have been perfectly pleased with it. Hint: The lower the refresh rate in ms (milli-seconds) the better the quality of the picture during “fast action” scenes. Another approach – if the store is willing – bring in one of your favorite fast-action DVD’s or Blue Ray’s and let them put it up on the screen and watch the movie during the fast action scenes and look for how well the screen presents it. Remember – the lower the refresh rate timing (in milli-seconds) the BETTER! A DVD title that I would recommend would be Disney’s “Tangled”. God be with you.

  27. Kai on November 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Plasma, they look better. the higher 600 Mhz refresh means you won’t get the pixelization of and LED. Unless you watch TV in full sun w/ all the windows, I still say plasma. LED’s are too bright. Most (working)people only watch tv after work after the sun goes down.

  28. neil on December 3, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Wat did you end up owning now?

  29. Tom on December 13, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Watch a movie with fast action, especially cgi stuff like Transformers or the newer Star Wars movies. LED/LCD will pixelate, blur and show odd artifacts- makes me want to stab myself in the eyes. So I sticking with Plasma until there is another affordable technology that does not do that. But a lot of people don’t notice it so go to the store and have them put on a blu ray of Transformers on the LED/LCD you like, watch a few of the fast moving battle scenes – if you don’t notice the blurs, dropouts, pixelation and artifacts then buy it.

    BTW – longer life is not a consideration – plasmas last 30 years on 5-8 hours a day. I don’t know about you, but I’m not keeping any TV for 30 years.

  30. Brannon Hancock on December 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Whatever you choose, don’t base it on what the goober from Best Buy told you.

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