Why Can't I Find Response Time Information About Plasma TVs?

Last Update date : 2012.03.29

You can't find response time information about plasma TVs because response time is an issue for LCD TVs, not Plasma TVs. Here's why:

An LCD display consists of thousands of tiny elements, each of which has a liquid-crystal solution in it. Super-small transistors mounted on the surface of each element (or pixel) switch voltages on and off to make those tiny crystals twist into different positions.

Light from a backlight source illuminates the rear of the individual LCD pixels. The position of the liquid crystals determines how much of that light passes through each pixel. By twisting these liquid crystals quickly enough, black-and-white images are created. Add some miniature color filters, and presto – you have full-color video.

For a simple real-world analogy, think of window blinds – changing the angle of the slats causes them to let in more or less light.

The backlight sources for LCD TVs are actually tiny fluorescent lamps, constructed in such a way as to ensure a uniform distribution of light across the screen. In an LCD TV, the backlight is always on and its brightness doesn't change. The twisting Liquid Crystal motion is what changes images from dark to light. The speed of the twisting motion - the response time - determines how well an LCD TV displays objects in motion. A slow response time causes moving objects to look blurry. A fast response time removes the blurriness. Consequently, response time is a critical measurement for LCD TVs.

Plasma TVs

Like LCD TVs, plasma panels are made up of thousands of individual pixels. These pixels are formed inside a structure of intersecting ribs sealed between two glass plates. Each pixel contains either a red, green, or blue phosphor and an inert gas mixture that is sealed into each pixel. When a charge is applied to any individual pixel, the inert gas is ionized, producing ultraviolet light.

This UV light then strikes the red, green, or blue phosphor at the rear of the pixel, causing the pixel to glow. Remove the charge, the gas deionizes, and the pixel stops glowing. Extra electrodes are employed to charge and discharge the gas as fast as 85 times per second, making it possible to show full-motion video and still images with a technique similar to pulse-width modulation.

For a real-world analogy, look no further than a fluorescent light. A plasma panel is simply a collection of thousands of small fluorescent lamps fired on and off at a rapid rate.

Unlike LCD TV pixels, then, Plasma TV pixels have no physical object in them that must change shape, and take time doing so, to display a moving picture without blurring.  Also, because the charging/discharging cycle for Plasma panel pixels is so rapid - up to 85 times per second, much faster than the eye can see - blurriness is not an issue for Plasma TVs and response time is not a critical measurement.

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