Q.  What?s the difference between a Plasma screen, Plasma monitor and Plasma TV?


When referred to as a Plasma screen this usually infers there is no built-in TV tuner / TV receiver. A plasma screen is also referred to as a Plasma monitor. A picture is obtainable by simply connecting an external TV tuner, satellite receiver or DVD player using the appropriate cables. A Plasma TV usually refers to an integrated product that incorporates a tuner to receive television broadcasts.


Q.  Do I have to change the gas or re-fill?


No. This is a myth. When the Plasma glass configuration is manufactured the inert gas is sealed into the glass unit. The gas does not need to be changed or recharged as it is inert, and a good Plasma product should last as long as any other quality CRT / conventional TV.


Q.  How long do Plasma screens/TVs last? Do they ever wear out?


This could be answered with another question; how long do conventional / CRT screens last? A similar answer could apply to the current quality Plasma screen/TV. The brightness of any Plasma screen will diminish gradually over time. This is measured in terms of "time to half-brightness", for which many quality Plasma products are rated at 30,000 hours, which equates to around 33 years (UK adult TV/video viewing = 17 hours a week, Office of National Statistics April 2002).

In 2005 Panasonic, Pioneer, Hitachi, Fujitsu and others now claim their Plasma TVs have a projected life of 60,000 hours or 20+ years at 7 hours per day.

This does mean care should be taken when choosing a Plasma product and you should ensure the brightness level is high to begin with as one of a lower specification will diminish quicker. Imagine purchasing a 42 inch with a brightness of 1000cd/m² rather than one with a specification of 500cd/m² - after many years of enjoyment your purchase will eventually reach the highest quality of the product with the lower specification.


Q.  Are all Plasma screens/TVs the same?


There are some who say that ALL Plasma screens/TVs are equal and you only pay more because of the name, let us dispel that myth. Each manufacturer's Plasma screens/TVs are different though they may use some of the same components.

There are two main components that differentiate each screen/TV apart.

One is the Plasma glass technology as this can incorporate the latest developments of the all important ‘sandwich’ configuration, hence representing approximately 80% of the total product cost.

Secondly is the video processing chipset, which does all the work to convert the video signal into the picture.

The stunning effect of picture depends on the purchase of recent generation products or previous/older generation Plasma screens/TVs. The wide level of cost between, say one 42 inch and another usually determines the most latest technology.


Q.  Should I look for a better Contrast Ratio even though I don't understand what it is?


Quite simply don't worry about the technical side - it's easy to remember that in the majority of specifications the higher the ratio number [3,000:1 is better than 2,000:1], the better the picture quality and detail. The Contrast Ratio determines picture quality and the higher the better providing quality and detail especially in the darkened areas of programmes and films.


Q.  What is "screen burn"? Can it be avoided? Fact or Fallacy?


Screen burn is nothing new as it has been most apparent on conventional CRT screens/TVs for many years should an image be static for many hours. Airports and Railway Stations using CRT were the main areas to view a 'screen burn' situation on a CRT.

Screen burn is caused as the phosphor used in all Plasma screens has what is describe as a memory effect. If an image has been displayed for an extremely long period of time long time, it can sometimes remain as a faint 'after-image’, visible when the screen is blank. This is normal and the ‘after-image’ will usually disappear after a short while. Unfortunately, this type of scaremongering and so called apparent 'problem', was highlighted mainly by some manufacturers of LCD and non Plasma products - be assured this is an extremely remote occurrence on very early Plasma TV models back in the 1990's. On the most recent quality Plasma screens/TVs from reputable brands as Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung and LG, their products use
a recovery process or pixel refreshing technology.

Whilst ‘screen burn’ is allayed by some who lack knowledge or try and discredit the high performance that Plasma has over LCD, it must be placed in perspective that only if screens/TVs are not allowed to recover, and if an image is displayed for an exceptionally long period of time, it may burn in permanently. As previously mentioned, this is sometimes apparent in airports, railway stations and the like with older generation screen equipment.

Fact or Fallacy? With excellent overall performance superior to an equivelant LCD TV, Plasma TVs clearly out perform and produce superior 'blacks' and faster picture response avoiding blurring on fast images such as sport and movies - no wonder companies only producing LCD sets dug deep to try and find a negative, no matter how small, to discredit Plasma TV.


Q.  Can I use a polish or glass cleaner on the screen/TV?


Unavoidably, the screen/TV will attract dust and fingerprints. To ensure your screen looks and functions at its best, you need to ensure it is clean. To clean the glass use a micro-fibre cloth to remove fingerprints and dust, and use a small amount of a non-smearing window-cleaning fluid to break down accumulated dirt and fingerprints. Avoid using any form of furniture polish to clean the screen/TV, as this will damage it. Regularly clean the rear air-vents (at least four times a year) to ensure smooth airflow. Please note, if the vents become blocked, the temperature of the screen will increase and reduce the overall life of the product.


Q.  Do I need a TV Licence for my Plasma set or each other sets I may have?


You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a Plasma or LCD TV set, set-top boxes, video or DVD recorders, computers or mobile phones to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV. Currently the UK requirement only stipulates one licence per household irrespective of the number of TV sets. TV sets away from the registered residence of the Licence are subject to a separate Licence.

If you use a set-top box with a hi-fi system or another device that can only be used to produce sounds and can't display TV programmes, and you don't install or use any other TV receiving equipment, you don't need a TV Licence.


Several leading manufacturers also provide useful information relating to the Benefits of Plasma TV - try this link to Panasonic's guide to choosing between Plasma and LCD - http://www.panasonic.flipdevnet.com/main.html