What is the Difference Between Plasma & LED TVs?


Since the 1980s, television watchers have gone from big boxy TVs and their television consoles to very streamlined and mountable televisions with a crisp and clear picture. Televisions were invented nearly 100 years ago — in 1927, to be exact (though the first televisions were sold in 1929) — and one could say we’ve come a long way since then.

However, since the late 1990s, televisions have become more widely-sought after (especially with upgrading older television models!) due to the high quality of the products. Even more recently there have been questions about what kinds of television sets are better. For instance, a big debate is plasma TV vs LED televisions, which we will look into now, including asking: What is the difference between plasma and LED TVs?

What is a Plasma TV?

To get to the bottom of the difference between plasma and LED TVs, it’s important to first understand what a plasma TV is. Despite the fact that plasma TVs, also referred to as Plasma Display Panels, have not been made since 2014 nor are they longer on the market, they are still one of the most popular types of televisions in households across the US for many reasons including lifespan and durability. 

A plasma TV is a television display that contains millions of minute compact fluorescent lamps (or CFLs) that are turned on and off, according to the electronic circuit that subsequently regulates the individual pixels on the television screen.

This is also where plasma TVs get their name. Each of these microscopic CFLs are pumped with gas and once the gas has been triggered by the electronic circuit, the gas is called plasma. Therefore, the plasma literally lights up the plasma television screen. 

In the late 1990s and into the early and mid-2000s, plasma televisions were on the top of the list of TVs that a consumer would want to buy. The quality of the plasma televisions, even on large screen televisions, was a difference of night and day as the vibrancy and tone of colors on the screen had much more substance to them than older types of televisions.

What is an LED TV?

After unpacking what a plasma TV is, let’s look at what an LED TV is. Although when looking at a plasma TV vs LED, it may not seem too different, which is true, but there are small differences between the two. 

An LED TV is simply, a television screen that uses a backlight. This means that, similar to an LCD, an LED television makes use of light — hence the LED acronym of the name Light-Emitting Diode — rather than a gas or plasma. While an LCD TV uses cold-cathode fluorescent lamps for the backlight, an LED television uses the same foundation as an LCD but uses LED lights instead of CCFLs for the backlight. In fact, LED TVs and LCD TVs are so similar that they often can be referred to interchangeably.

Not only is there a difference between plasma and LED TVs but there is also a difference between LED, OLED, and QLED TVs. There’s not a large alteration between them as an LED uses the aforementioned LED lights for the backlight, an OLED — standing for Organic Light-Emitting Diode — utilizes its organic chemical elements to independently light up each pixel, and a QLED — which is a Quantum Dot LED — replaces older LED technology by showcasing a richer and higher dynamic color spectrum. So when you’re shopping for an LED TV, and come across OLED or QLED TVs, make note to check out those televisions as well.

What TV Should I Choose: Plasma TV vs LED?

We can’t tell you flat out what type of television to choose — although with plasma TVs not in shops, it’ll be more difficult to find one — but it certainly is important to understand the differences between plasma and LED TVs. Although both televisions will provide great sound and picture quality for years, it’s important to consider the display when choosing between a plasma or LED TV. 

Trying to make good use of a TV’s sound quality? You’ll need to be mindful of where the television is located within a living room, especially a small one, when considering acoustics. Will you need the television mounted on a wall or above a fireplace for an optimal viewing angle to take full advantage of the sharpness of the screen’s images?

MantelMount products, ranging from consumer-centric pull down TV mounts to second generation Pro pull down TV mounts made for heavier televisions, can be used to bring a great eye-level television watching experience to your living room or wherever you watch your television.

Whether you're reinventing ways to make use of your old plasma or you're in the marketing looking for an LED TV, your now have the plasma TV vs LED comparison to help guide your decision making. Whatever television you choose, it'll be vital to take into consideration sound quality, visual quality, cost, and energy efficiency to make your overall viewing experience everything it can be.