One of the greatest bridges between man and sports is his television. This is why nothing tugs at the heartstrings like the latest and greatest big screen TV. Everyone wants the next big thing, and lately it seems LCD is the technology with the most buzz. I’m going to put this debate to rest, and show you why plasma is still the king for watching sports.

1) Size Does Matter- Although the gap is closing, plasma is still more readily available in larger sized screens. Most 1080p plasma panels start at 50” and even at 65” they are reliable and reasonably priced.

2) Picture Quality- 1080p is now standard for any decent television so the amount of pixels and detail are not an issue. Plasma technology has always achieved high contrast rates (measure of the darkest blacks compared to the brightest whites). Blacks are inky and defined, more then making up for the brighter LCD screens. Those same black levels are something LCD’s particularly struggle with, leaving darker features of an image washed out and lacking clarity.

3) Keeping Up With the Action- A fast moving image is what sports is all about, this is also where plasma televisions excel. How quickly a panel refreshes has a direct impact on how well a television can handle these images. Plasma manufacturers now list 600Hz refresh rates, but it’s really just for comparison. There is no motion lag, drag, or blur with plasma. On the other hand, it’s an inherent problem with LCD technology, where a 120Hz refresh rate is considered very good.

4) Location, Location, Location- If you think viewing angles are not important, try having a bunch of the fellas over to watch the big game on your LCD. Hope you like cuddling up on the couch to get a good view. With an LCD you will start to lose black levels, contrast, and intensity from about 45 degrees and out. In fact, the best LCDs will only get you 120* of decent viewing. By comparison plasma will give you a near 180* view so you won’t miss that game changing interception while grabbing a beer from the fridge.

5) $$$ Cost- Plasmas enjoy a generally lower price point. What was once only for the rich, now represents excellent value. Florescent back lit LDCs share a close price point in smaller sizes, but when you compare top tier plasmas to top tier LCDs there’s a significant difference. As the screen size increases, so does the discount with plasma; coming in at up to 40% less. To put it simply, with plasma you can spend the same amount and get a bigger screen with more features.

Three Plasma Myths

1) Burn-In

A few other factors widely thought of as deal breakers in a plasma television are now non-factors with advances in technology. “Burn-in” (a still image burned permanently into the screen) would be the most prominent myth. The use of green phosphors, oscillating pixels, and scrolling bars has virtually eliminated burn-in.  You would have to do it on purpose by pausing a bright image on your screen for a long period of time for burn-in to occur on a decent plasma TV.

2) Short Life Span

Longevity is another factor LCD makers like to push on consumers. While yes, an LED/LCD television has the longest expected lifespan, at a certain point it just becomes overkill. Most plasmas currently rate between 60,000 and 100,000 hour half life. Hmm, my math is not the greatest but at 4 hours a day, 100,000 hr life, move the decimal and……Yeah, after 68 years I’m pretty sure I wont be upset when my TV craps out.

3) Plasma Sucks Electricity

Power consumption has been gaining traction as a purchasing factor for televisions. LED/LCDs are currently best in this category, but at 4 hours a day of television watching I’m spending roughly $1.38 more a month on my electric bill for a plasma TV. Deal breaker? Not for me. Especially not with the advantages plasma brings to watching sports.


LCDs seem to be getting all the hype, but if you want a big screen TV with high quality picture perfect for watching sports…the choice is easy. Spend less and get more with plasma. Then take all that money and get out to a sporting event for some real live action for crying out loud!

Here are my favorite Plasma TV’s:

Samsung PN51D8000 51-inch 1080p 3D plasma HDTV

Samsung PN51D8000 51-inch 1080p 3D Ready Plasma HDTV

You want the best? You got it…with the Samsung 8000 series. Unmatched picture quality, excellent contrast, all the cutting edge features out there in an aesthetically amazing package. 3D?… Comes standard.  The latest picture managing and enhancing technology?… Check. Fully loaded WiFi smart-TV package?… It’s all in there. You can even use your TV remote to set up a Skype conference call right from the couch. Although not cheap, this bad-boy should be doable, and here’s how… Show the wifey one of those fancy LED’s and give a big sigh, then explain how your trying to be responsible by not blow the kids college fund. Now walk her over to this stunning beauty with the exact same features and mutter, “Ok, ok I guess we can compromise and get this one, it’s only HALF the price.” She’s happy, you’re happy, and the kids still get a quality education.


Panasonic VIERA TC-P50S30 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

Panasonic VIERA TC-P50S30 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

Unbeatable value! 3D is the newest fad and it’s being marketed heavily. Dramatic discounts can be found for sets without this feature and this 50” Panasonic is my favorite in that class. Full 1080p, great picture, and nice entry level smart-TV features such as Pandora, Netflix and Facebook. The sacrifice is no 3D (which has very limited content and requires special glasses), and below average speakers (which would not be a problem if your using a home theatre sound system).


Samsung Series 5 PN51D550 51-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV

Samsung PN51D550 51-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Plasma HDTV (Black)

Good midrange 3D unit with quality features at a great price point. Samsung’s are known for their slick appearance, and this one’s no different. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles some of the top tier units do, but it does include a lot of the most popular ones. After this, you start paying a lot of money for features that in my opinion are not critical.




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  • TheCommish

    Solid article Juice…makes me wanna trade in my 40″ LCD for a BIG BOY 50+ Plasma. I’ve persoanlly had issues with a jumpy picture at times watching a game. Thanks for the list of your favs as well…very helpful.

  • Josh A

    I picked up the 50″ Panasonic listed above. Im loving the built in wi-fi connection to netflix and pandora. Also found an app on my Iphone to serve music library and videos straight to the tv and control playback with your remote. (Then pipes through my home theater) In my opinion 3D is a gimmick and just gives me a headache so it def wasn’t a deal breaker to not have it. I don’t think you will find a TV with the same excellent picture quality, screen size and features at a comparable price. It can be had for around $800… Not bad at all.

  • mambler2002

    Josh, I agree with your assessment regarding Plasmas and considering I have photovoltaics on the house I really don’t care about energy consumption. However, I just want to throw out some energy data for the other readers looking to blanket their living room walls with mutiple screens.

    A recent CNET study puts the average power consumption of Plasmas at 301 watts compared to 111 watts for LCD and 101 watts for LED. Approx. 200 watts of power savings, 4 hours a day, for a month would save 24 kWh.

    It really depends on where you live, but in my home state of Hawaii where energy rates are currently $0.29/kWh (Energy Information Administration), the savings are closer to $7/month. This really only comes into play if you own a bar with 50 TVs or a livingroom with one TV for each Sunday game (my dream).

    My thoughts would be to pay the piper and get the better TV. Even if you own a bar, people are going to be willing to pay the extra $0.25/beer to get their sports watching pleasures satisfied. Great article Josh… looking forward to more.

  • Josh A

    Thanks for reading Mambler. Im not sure when that CNET study was from but those numbers seem a little inflated. For example, the Panasonic P50S30 listed above (that I also own) has a government energy guide estimate of $21 a year to operate (5hrs per day @ 11 cents a KWh.

    Plasma technology has come a long way and as you can see 195W is a lot less then the 300 that CNET estimated. This is a prime example of misinformation floating around about Plasma televisions.

  • TheCommish

    Count on the Mambler for some energy insight. Solid comment Mark…great insight. Love the response link Juice…

    To me the most obvious advantage is the refresh rate for Plasma. I see what a slight lag does with LCD, and its not cool. I’m okay with it because 1) i’m used to it, 2) It doesn’t happen very often, and 3) my TV was under $600 on sale (Black Friday) this year. Samsung 40″ LCD 1080p 120hz.