April 17, 2006
Back in 2004 I wrote a post citing the merits of plasma displays versus LCD’s. At the time I was very pro-plasma and while I still consider plasma an extremely viable display technology, it’s time to re-examine LCD’s as I feel the displays have made significant improvements since my original post. A couple of areas in particular where LCD’s have shown great improvement of late are:
Price: To give you an example of how far LCD’s have dropped in price, back in 2004 a 37” Sharp Aquos LCD was $6,000, now a comparable display from Sharp can be had for less than $2,000. Another example would be the 15”-17” 4:3 LCD’s that in years past retailed for as much as today’s 20″-22” widescreen models.
Screen Size: An even better example of how much LCD technology has improved is screen size, or rather the price-to-size ratio. You can now purchase a 45” LCD for half of what that 37” display would have cost you just two years ago. Comparatively speaking, plasmas haven’t seen price drops this extreme because from the get-go manufacturers were focusing on plasma as the next-big-thing, but now that focus has shifted to LCD.
In terms of absolute screen size you need look no farther than Sharp’s 65” LC-65D90U for an example of how far LCD as come. The idea of a 1080p LCD that can display an image only 15” smaller than my front projector/screen combo kind of blows my mind, but hey I’m happy I’ll never have to worry about lifting it should we move.
Resolution: Plasma’s by and large haven’t bettered their nominal 1024×768 resolution, while 1080p (1920×1080) LCD’s are becoming commonplace. That’s not to say you can’t find 1080p plasmas, it’s just that those models have in essence flipped the cost paradigm around in LCD’s favor.
Image quality: Price, resolution and screen size aside, my biggest complaint with LCD’s in the past was always their image quality. Previous generations of LCD’s suffered from poor shadow detail, color shift and motion artifacts in fast moving scenes. I’m happy to say that many of these maladies have been minimized or, in some cases eliminated.
Recently I had the opportunity to put a Samsung LN-R409D through its paces and I was quite surprised by its performance. It only took a few seconds of programming on INHD to wake me up to the fact that I was holding onto some old preconceptions, with regard to what LCD was capable of. The 40″ LN-R409D had deep blacks that didn’t overshadow (pun) the shadow detail I was seeing and that combined with spot-on color reproduction prompted me to rethink my stance on LCD and ultimately to write this post.
Summary: LCD prices are dropping like the proverbial brick. This combined with the improvements mentioned above make LCD’s a must-see if you’re in the market for a new home theater display. There is, however, another piece of news that only reinforces my optimistic viewpoint for LCD technologies in the years to come.
Sony and Samsung (who happens to be world’s second largest maker of large LCD panels) have teamed up in a new two billion dollar venture to manufacture “eighth-generation” liquid crystal displays. This means the LCD price reductions we’ve seen thus far may be just the tip of iceberg.
Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Display Technology