Step 7: 3D TV LED, LCD or Plasma

Which technology is best for you? Which has the best value?

By , Senior Reviewer

We were pleased to be able to review a couple of 3D TVs lately. This provided us with an idea of what kind of value 3D would offer as we sat and actually viewed a couple of hours of programming. One obvious point to note up front. There are differences between these TV technologies when viewing 3D movies and other content.

3D Plasma vs 3D LED LCDProcessing speed will be one of the battlegrounds between these competing technologies. Refresh rates in LCD and LED TVs have been increasing lately to 120Hz and 240Hz specifications. Plasma TVs have never really had to compete in this area as processing speed has not been a problem. Some plasma TV manufacturers nevertheless list a processing speed as 600Hz sub field drive to give the potential purchaser an indication of what an applicable processing speed might be compared to and LCD or LED TV. This difference gives plasma 3D technology a distinct advantage.

Some some simple interpolation we can see that most LCD/LED TVs will not be able to produce full 1080p HD viewing through both eyes. In fact one is likely to see something in the nature of 700 to 900 lines of effective resolution in a 240Hz specification LCD/LED TV. Plasma TV technology has the processing speed to produce all 1080p lines of resolution to each eye.

Why does this matter with 3D TV viewing? For the simple reason that LCD TVs will typically not be able to show 3D content in full HDTV 1080p. Through some light math and experimentation, our best estimates come in at about 600 lines of effective resolution capability for a 120Hz LCD HDTV, and 700 to 800 lines of effective resolution for a true 240Hz LCD TV. Plasma technology has the speed to delivery the full 1080 lines of resolution to each eye.

Does this really matter? Not too much since 750 lines of resolution still wallups that old best 480p resolution (think of progressive scan DVD).

Instead the more important issues surrounding the viewing experience such as judder, glasses comfort, motion artifacts, clarity of the delivery, and picture depth. Of course processing speed can have an impact on these and thus we will be watching closely for them.

We even noticed some differences in 3D delivery recently when reviewing two plasma TVs side by side with the same animated movie. One had a clearer picture to me. See our Best 3D TV Shootout here.

Price should obviously be a consideration in which technology 3D TV you buy as well. Right now the pecking order of lowest price (with similar features) looks like this. Lowest price LCD TV, next best plasma TV, last place LED TV. Of course this will change quickly.

As far as LCD TV, there is currently only one 3D LCD TV series available in the Samsung C750 series. The prices are very good for this impressive model.

LED TVs have superior brightness to plasma and LCD TVs, however I'm not sure how this translates to a better 3D TV picture since the viewing is through 3D glasses.

Overall I think plasma technology is going to be the best for 3D picture quality and picture depth and this view coexists well with my initial impressions and limited viewing thus far. Prices for 3D plasma TVs are not too inflated either.

A 12 Step Guide to Purchasing a 3D TV

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